Eco friendly, MCS* friendly (& cheap!) washing “tabs”.

(*Multiple Chemical Sensitivity)

washing tabs


You will need:

Two or three bars of “vegetable oil based” soap – I used Palmolive olive oil soap, £1 for a pack of three, or thereabouts
Essential oils if you have a scent you want, but not essential as the soap will give a delicate scent.
Washing Soda Crystals – about a third of a 1kg bag (about £1 per bag)
A good sized (three pint or more) pan
1.5 pint jug
metal spoon, (or a wooden one specifically for this job)
A grater
A flexible plastic tub or a silicone baking pan
Storage container

Get your pan, and a silicone or metal spoon – if you use a wooden one, don’t use it for food again afterwards, as it will leech out soap and ruin your food!

Grate all your soap. Put a pint and a half of boiling water (from the kettle into the pan to save time and electricity), and put it on high enough a heat to keep it very hot, but don’t boil it.

Add a little of the grated soap at a time, sprinkle it on the top of the water so it doesn’t clump back up again, and gently stir it in. Do this until all your soap is dissolved into the water. This may take a little while. You can now turn off the heat under your pan.

Get yourself a jug, and put the soda crystals in, and make it up to a pint and a half – stir well. It likely won’t all dissolve just yet, but give it a good stir and pour it into your hot soap “soup”.

It should be a little thicker now than it was. Add your essential oils now if you are using them, and mix well.

While it’s still hot, pour or ladle out a layer into your baking pan, about half an inch thick. You don’t have to be exact. If it’s winter, you can place this outside or on a windowsill to cool quickly. When it’s set – you can test this by tipping the pan or pushing up the bottom – use a plastic knife to cut it into rectangles about the size of a dishwasher tab, no bigger. Or if you don’t have a plastic knife you can tip the whole thing out onto a chopping board and use a normal knife – just don’t use a normal knife on your silicone bakeware!

Just repeat this process until you have “set” and chopped up all your mix into chunks.

Stick these in a container or old ice cream tub, and use one of those little drawstring string bags, so for each load, put one or two chunks in, depending on the level of dirt on your washing. You don’t need to use fabric softener either, your clothing will come out soft without it.

I have been using these for months now. Give them a go – your health and your planet will thank you!

Home made, chemical-free “reed diffuser”

I was quickly browsing Pinterest the other day – for a couple of hours, like you do – when I remembered I needed to look up how to make a reed diffuser that has no nasties in it – these days I have reactions to a lot of chemicals, even just catching a whiff of something can make me react badly (okay, to be completely blunt, walking past someone in the supermarket who appears to have bathed in their chosen perfume will actually cause my stomach to involuntarily propel some of its contents up into the back of my mouth. It’s not fun, and yes, I would like to slap people who inflict their perfumes on within a 3 mile radius.)

But that said, it is always nice to live in a place that smells nice, it’s just that when you have a sensitivity to chemicals, you have to go about things in a different way.

So that in mind, I threw some search terms into the box, and went hunting. I found this page: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/homemade-reed-diffusers-147411 and decided that someone who says “wanted to avoid petroleum-based products” is thinking along the same lines as me, and I would use this as a starting point.

This is what mine looks like:

I used:

An old coconut oil bottle that I had cleaned out and removed the screw band that the metal tops leave behind
Glass paints and a stippling brush, because I wanted something a little more fancy than a clear glass bottle.
Some skewers with the points cut off,
Some essential oils (I’ll list them below)
Carrier oil – sweet almond
Gin – okay, I know it’s supposed to be vodka, but I don’t get out to the shops often, and it’s what I had on hand.

I had asked whether gin would be okay on the blog entry I found, but patience is not a virtue of mine when I am itching to get on with a new craft, especially one that has an immediate use, and so I just leapt in and tried it.

Once the paint was dry (Plaid glass paints, a little green, denim blue, gold and clear mixed together, three layers thereof to get the opacity I wanted), I got to mixing the smelly part.

Now here’s another thing about not getting out much – you have to make do with what you have – I had a rather strange assortment of oils. I found I had Cedarwood, Orange, Clove (yes, for toothache), Eucalyptus and Tea tree (yes, for bad skin, even at my age, so you won’t see me doing a how to on YouTube any time soon).

I noticed that after a while the clove oil left a nice almost flowery smell in the bathroom where the bottle lives, so I figure it can’t hurt to add some of that. And I know that when you mix two scents together, you can often get another where you can’t place either, because it’s a whole new smell altogether. Well that was the aim.

So I mixed:

24 drops Cedarwood
36 Orange
24 Clove
18 Eucalyptus
18 Tea Tree

I then topped it up with roughly 50ml of almond oil, and 80ml of the gin. My thinking is that the layer of oil will prevent the alcohol from evaporating too quickly.

Now I am not known for my luck, so wouldn’t you know it, today the local farmers have decided to muck spread all the fields around here, and the smell of dung is permeating the house, even with all the windows closed. So it may be a day or three before I can tell whether this is working as it should or not, or actually “pleasant” or not.

Nevertheless, I left the “reeds” (most likely bamboo, but it doesn’t say on the pack) in the one way up for a good hour, and then flipped them upside down. I did read that bamboo isn’t the most absorbent and won’t diffuse anywhere near as well as actual reed, but going down to the riverside to gather my own is something that will have to happen another day. Or another life – I would probably fall in. Or gather the “wrong type”.

So anyways, that’s my non-chemical reed diffuser made with stuff I had around the house. It doesn’t look terrible, it doesn’t smell incredibly bad, and I haven’t drawn blood making it, which is all too common an occurrence, so all in all, I would say a fairly successful craft experience. 🙂