Shopping Green Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,843 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,286 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Cleaning Up/Shopping Green Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I threw out the last of my toxic, scary, chemical laden (but “naturally fresh,” of course … pshaw!) cleaners out of the bottom of my cupboard.

It felt good.

Really good.

A couple of the spray bottles weren’t too bad, in terms of shape and size, so I rinsed them out thoroughly and decided to keep and reuse them.

Next: I filled a couple of too-cute baskets (one for the kitchen and one for the bathroom) with a few Mason jars, a squirt bottle or two, and those recycled spray bottles. And after that, I filled those bad boys with the following:

Homemade Soft Scrub (great for countertops and sinks and tubs)

  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 Castile soap
  • 2 T water

Mix together and store in lidded container of your choice. 

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1/4 Epsom salt
  • lemon juice

Mix the powders, then drizzle in lemon juice until soft and sticky. Spoon into ice-cube trays and sit on your windowsill to harden. Use 1 cube per load. 

Homemade Dryer Sachets

  • small muslin bag (think large tea-bag size)
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/8 cup arrowroot powder
  • handful of lavender and rosemary from the garden
  • a few drops of essential oil (lavender and/or rosemary if you like themes)

Mix the powders and herbs; drop in the oil(s). Tie up your sachet and toss in the dryer. (Or in your hubby’s stinky sock drawer. Or in your teen’s smelly closet. Or toss them at your doggy when he’s feeling particularly odiferous.)  

DIY Countertop Wipes

  • 4 old t-shirts that you’ve been meaning to throw out anyway, cut into squares the size of baby wipes (you’ll end up with about 8 per shirt)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 2 T dish soap

Mix water, alcohol, and dish soap and pour over squares. Store in a sealed container (a recycled wipes container works well, but a clear glass canister is prettier, IMO).  

Citrus Enzyme Cleanser

  • 2-liter bottle (Something that can be shook up. I know we’re all about things other than icky plastic ‘round these parts, but I gotta say, a recycled liter water bottle works well.)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 t yeast (This speeds up the process, but you can leave it out. It will take 3 months to be ready, instead of two weeks, though.)
  • 1 liter water
  • 2 cups citrus peels (I used grapefruit)

Combine all ingredients in bottle and shake thoroughly (sing a little Carmen Miranda while you’re at it). Shake once per day for two weeks (leaving the cap a bit loose—we’re playing with fermentation here, gals). To use, mix 1 cup cleaner with 1 liter water. This wonder stuff works on everything from mopping your floor to cleaning your toilet to spot-treating laundry to fertilizing your plants to an all-natural drain cleaner to your very own insect repellent. It may even alphabetize your bookshelf and make you dinner if you ask nicely.

I lovingly arranged all my new beauties, labeled them, and set each basket under the sink. Toxic free, sparkling clean home!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I love more of these recipes for safe home cleaners. I’ve got the first three in practice along with the homemade laundry detergent with felted wool balls for the dryer. Sometimes, I just add a drop or two of my essential lavender oil to the felted wool balls before drying and that works as well as the sachets. In past issues of your MJF magazine, there are wonderful articles about how to make safe home cleaners and I so appreciate the fact that you have been teaching us how to do this. It does feel good to know you have safe and effective cleaners to replace all those chemicals.

    In addition to the home, I followed up on one of the posts here about shampoo bars etc. I ordered from three different places and tried them all out till I found some that worked for my hair and scalp. Now, I am enjoying the benefits of shampoo bars followed by a vinegar rinse. My recent trip to the dermatologist gave me a high five for a healthy scalp too! Now this farm girl has clean shiny hair while she cleans up her house thanks to your help, Mary Jane!

    • MaryJane says:

      That’s just so very awesome Winnie! I so love knowing you and seeing what it is you’ll accomplish next.

      • Winnie Nielsen says:

        It is wonderful to be a part of the Farmgirl Connection!! It has been a great opportunity to learn some forgotten time proven basics and take those old ways and give them a facelift for the 21st century. Plus, it provides a framework of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle everyone benefits from. And…I am so glad I was encouraged to wear an apron for everything. Thanks to farm girl countrygrace, I have several of her grandma’s pattern full aprons for every season. They fit me, are simple and clean lined(for this kinda plain Jane I am) AND she made me the cutest Red Tractor Girl apron with some fabric I got in a MJF swap! So, I can always “tie one on” when housework calls my name!!

  2. If you haven’t quite transitioned to making your own dish soap,( that would be me ) my favorite is Mrs. Meyer’s. The scents alone make it worth it. Lemon Verbena, basil, lavender, geranium ( as in rose geranium) Makes me almost want to do dishes! Talk about aroma therapy. And if you haven’t transitioned yet to making your own laundry soap, 7th Generation makes a nice one with a super but light lavender scent. You can step it up a bit with borax.
    I love borax. Did you know it is a super safe flea killer/repellent for your rugs?

    • MaryJane says:

      I don’t make my own dish soap because there is a local company here that makes non-toxic dish soap in my favorite, lavender. I just put two loaves of bread out in the sunshine to rise (sun and warmth do wonders for bread–I use heirloom wheat made using a starter I keep on my counter–no store-bought yeast), and, yes, I enjoyed doing my dishes because of the aroma of lavender (aroma is a great motivator). I’ve seen Mrs. Meyer’s (awesome labels) and will pick some up to try. I always keep borax handy also.

      • Oooh , its a been a long time since I baked bread using my own starter. Back in my much younger days I made bread to barter for other things. I lived in a large tent on national forest land deep in the forest with only a campfire to cook. It was near the best trout stream in NH. I survived mostly on trout. ( ok ,truth be told, after 4-5 trout a day for over six months I have NEVER eaten trout since! ) The bread ,which I baked at friend’s house, allowed me to get simple essentials. I lived for over 6 months in that tent on only $ 50.
        Yes MJ , please do try some of Mrs. Meyer’s heavenly naturally scented products. I’ve been impressed with them and they are now available in supermarkets, easy to find.

        • MaryJane says:

          What wonderful memories you have! I cherish my tent memories also and that is where I first started baking in earnest with a starter. I made the BEST sour dough chocolate cake. Packers and pilots would travel miles to get a slice. I lived on trout also but I guess I didn’t overdose because that’s what I plan to do this summer–catch and eat trout. I was checking out my equipment yesterday and getting it ready for an afternoon … soon I hope.

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