Blog post 12: Ingredients

Which ingredients do I need to buy?

Good question!

Actually not many. With 6 ingredients (+ one essential oil), you can make laundry powder, softener, all-purpose cleaning, toilet cleaning and dishwasher powder.

And it is cheaper than buying commercial products! Great, he?

  Laundry powder Softener All purpose cleaning Toilet cleaning Dishwasher powder
Crystal soda x       x
Baking soda x     (x)  
Sodium percarbonate (x)       x
Citric acid       x x
Soap flakes x       x
Vinegar   x x    
Essential oil x        


In household products, soda is very often used. You will hear of “crystal soda” (sodium carbonate, washing soda) and “baking soda” (sodium bicarbonate, NL: zuiveringzout).

Keep in mind: They are quite similar; but crystal soda is more powerful and is therefore NOT appropriate for cooking/eating.

Baking soda, is a (water) softener, cleaning and abrasive agent, regulates pH, limescale remover (NL: kalksteen; FR: calcaire) and can be used in food.

In contact with water it forms carbonic acid (unstable) which breaks up into carbon dioxide (makes bubbles) and water.

Baking soda can be used almost everywhere in the house… here is my selection of actions:

  • Ingredient of the laundry powder
  • Odor remover: sprinkle, wait, then shake or vacuum clean the excess: Odor removal for shoes, closet, garbage, kitchen cutting board, matrass…
  • Scrub on a sponge (FR: récurer; NL: schuren): bathroom joints, oven, baking pots and pans (underneath, where it’s turning black)
  • Toilet cleaning
  • Toothpaste (baking soda; but it tastes very salty!!!)
  • Keep cut flowers longer beautiful: one teaspoon in water
  • Unblock pipes (1 cup (+/_ 2 cup vinegar) and afterwards very hot water)

Crystal soda is a surfactant and is used for white laundry as it is described to fade colored textiles. Don’t worry, not as bleach does; I’m using crystal soda for all my laundry, and I didn’t see the effect of crystal soda (yet). It has a cleaning effect, remove grease, neutralize acids.

It has similar action as baking soda except that it cannot be used in food.

Sodium percarbonate

Sodium percarbonate is made from crystal soda (surfactant) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which is a whitening agent (therefore some people add it for their white laundry).

I do use it for the dishwasher powder.

It is an excellent stain remover (even difficult ones such as coffee, red wine, grass, fruit, perspiration, blood) or to clean your oven, or greasy and dirty kitchen instruments: 2 soup spoon in 500ml warm water (don’t make too much, it loses efficacy with time)

Citric acid

Is present in many plants (lemon juice contains 5% of citric acid) and can be extracted from plants. You probably eat it without knowing it (flavoring and preservative in food and beverage: E330). It also remove limescale and improve the effectiveness of soap and detergents.

As you know, I use citric acid to clean my toilet; and is present in my dishwasher powder.


There are many types that you can use. The most important is that the soap you choose doesn’t contains glycerin (as it has the tendency to stay sticky in the water evacuation pipes…).

Here are the most common you can buy in Europe:

  • Aleppo soap is made in Syria, in the region of the city of Aleppo, from olive oil and laurel berry oil (added at the end of the process).
  • Marseille soap is made in France, in the region of the city of …. (do i really have to say it?), from olive oil and palm oil or copra oil (extracted from coconut). Beware of imitation using animal fat instead…
  • Black soap is sometime use as unique soap or mixed with another one. It exist in liquid form or creamy (2 tablespoon liquid = 1 teaspoon creamy black soap).

How to choose?

Both need to be imported from another continent (either the soap itself; or its ingredients). But with the actual fuss about palm oil (deforestation to plant intensive culture of palm trees), Aleppo seems the more sustainable (eco, fair,…). However, you have to see what you can easily get.

I’ve been disappointed by the  “soap flakes” from “la droguerie ecologique” which are apparently made of coco and palm oil only…so now I use Marseille soap flakes (that I buy without packaging at the packaging free shop).


Yes, you just need the cheapest type of vinegar: white vinegar.

I make my “all-purpose cleaning product” with it. I clean almost everything in the bathroom with it.

It is also my softener for my laundry.

Don’t worry, the smell of vinegar doesn’t stay!

Essential oil

I’m definitely not an expert in essential oil. I use those ones:

  • Lavender: nice smell and relaxing (laundry)
  • Tea tree: antiseptic (laundry)
  • Palmarosa : one drop as deodorant

Where to buy the products?

 First check close by home: bio shop, drugstore, bio supermarket or ask them what they can order for you. Otherwise, go online; but try to buy in your own country. In Europe the French brand ‘la droguerie ecologique” is quite known and they offer everything you need. It can be a good start, until you turn into an “eco-zero waste expert”.

If you live in the surrounding of Antwerp/Mortsel, I can combine orders to reduce transport and transport cost ( I can also make you a starter-pack) and deliver it at home by bike. If you are interested, write me via the contact form or follow me the EcoWithKids Facebook page (I’ll let everyone know before placing a new order).

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