Make It Yourself—Cheaper, Better and Faster!

Since the day I learned to make my own homemade laundry detergent (it did take a few attempts to reach perfection), I’ve become semi-obsessed with making my own household cleaners and some grocery items as well.

My benchmark is that what I make myself needs to be cheaper, better and faster than the store-bought version. Here are a few of my favorites and (I’m certain), soon to be yours, too!


BROWN SUGAR. Add 1 tablespoon molasses to 1 cup granulated white sugar for light brown sugar; or 2 tablespoons molasses to 1 cup white sugar for dark brown sugar. Do this in a bowl that is an appropriate size for the amount of brown sugar you’ll make. Using a fork, a pastry cutter or electric mixer, mix well until the molasses is completely incorporated and the color and texture are even. Store the fluffy, soft brown sugar in an air-tight container. That’s it—the best brown sugar ever.

GRENADINE. Adults know Shirley Temple for her beloved, innocent roles in films. But, most kids know her for the non-alcoholic cocktail named after her. Grenadine is the red ingredient in a classic Shirley Temple, also other cocktails like the Jack Rose, tequila sunrise and scofflaw. To make grenadine, place equal parts white granulated sugar and pure, unsweetened pomegranate juice in a sauce pan. Bring it to a boil. Cook just until the sugar dissolves or about one minute. That’s it. Done. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to a month. To make a classic Shirley Temple “mocktail,” mix together ginger ale and a splash of grenadine. Top it off with a maraschino cherry. 

LIQUID FABRIC SOFTENER. In a gallon-size container, mix 6 cups water, 3 cups white vinegar and 2 cups hair conditioner (the cheap stuff from the dollar store works great). Stir gently (don’t shake). Done! Use as you would any commercial liquid fabric softener.

WEED KILLER. Pour two cups plain, ordinary table salt (NOT Epsom salts, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt or any other version of salt) into a one-gallon container that has a lid. Add 1 tablespoon blue Dawn liquid detergent. Fill the container with white vinegar 5% acidity (supermarket) or 30% acidity (known as cleaning vinegar) to within a couple of inches from the top. Apply the lid then shake and shake and shake some more. The salt will eventually dissolve. If you want it to dissolve more quickly, heat vinegar and salt on the stove in a large pot, however this is not necessary. Shaking will work eventually as the salt is absorbed into the vinegar. The result is a weed killer that should be used only in areas where you do not want to replant like walkways, borders, etc. Multiple applications will eventually sterilize the soil so nothing grows. Note: If you want temporary results, i.e. you kill the weeds but want to replant in the same area, omit the salt. That’s right. Just white vinegar and a splash of blue Dawn will do it.

TUB SHOWER SCUM CLEANER. Pour one cup blue Dawn into a 32-ounce spray bottle (1/2 cup Dawn if you are using a 16-ounce bottle). Fill the bottle the rest of the way with white vinegar 5% acidity (supermarket). Apply sprayer top; shake gently to mix. To use: Spray liberally on the area to be cleaned. Allow to sit from 30 minutes up to overnight, depending on the severity of the problem. All of the offensive gunk and grime will break down and become soft and gooey. Simply rinse it away. For especially challenging situations—or if this is the initial treatment—use a sponge or brush to gently scrub the surfaces before rinsing. Magic!

By the way, my homemade laundry detergent is a bit more involved than space will allow here. But not to worry. You will find a complete photo tutorial with recipe and full instructions “Quick ‘n Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent.”


Photo credit: Joy the Baker

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