This is like using a few items available in your pantry & working out what dinner you could make.

Lets look at the Under Your Sink pantry list of ingredients for homemade cleaning products. 

  • Crystal Clear - Sodium Percarbonate

  • Washing Soda - Sodium Carbonate

  • Bicarb - Sodium Bicarbonate

  • Borax - Sodium Borate

  • Coconut Soap Flakes

  • Citric Acid

  • Xanthan Gum

  • Liquid Castile Soap

  • Vegetable Glycerine

  • Essential Oils

  • Distilled/Demineralised water

  • Vodka

  • Silicone Emulsion

Besides being zero-waste, vegan friendly, eco-friendly & more, there is a reason each ingredient is in the toolkit which we will also explore.

1. Alkali's

Nearly all cleaning products by nature will contain an alkali ingredient, which means the pH > 7. Strong Alkali's are used to make soap through the process of saponification. The same principal applies when cleaning with them, as they turn the grease, grime & oils into a dissolvable ‘soap’ which can be cleaned away with water. 

By nature they have powerful degreasing & stain removing qualities as well as can soften water. 

Washing Soda, Borax & Bicarb are the alkali sodium cousins which range in pH levels & in power.  They can all be found naturally in ancient mineral deposits & in your Under Your Sink Starter Kits. 

Click on the tabs for a quick summary & the picture if you want even more detail about each ingredient

Washing Soda
Washing Soda - Sodium Carbonate

A  white powder crystal like powder which is naturally harvested from ancient mineral deposits found only in certain parts of the world.  Used for centuries & still today because in a whole range of uses in particular cleaning. 

It raises the pH of water which assists in breaking up grease & grime.  Strong degreaser, disinfectant & general cleaner.

The strongest of the sodium cousins  & most commonly used in commercial products. 

Borax - Sodium Borate

Borax like Washing Soda is a natural mineral that is harvested from certain deposits in the world. It has an array of commercial uses but when it comes to cleaning, it's a builder which enhances the action of surfactants (eg soap)  by softening water.  Also has moderate whitening/disinfecting power.

A controversial ingredient that is often promoted as great for health if ingested, this is where majority of the ‘safety concerns’ lay.  But in terms of cleaning with it, centuries have proven its benefits.

This is a great team playing ingredient that blends well with soaps & other alkali's to create a powerful cleaning mixture.

Bicarb Soda
Bicarb - Sodium Bicarbonate

This is a very well-known natural cleaning ingredient with many practical uses around the home. It just like the others (washing soda, borax) is naturally harvested from ancient mineral deposits. 

The chemical structure of Bicarb converts some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide providing a mild whitening/disinfecting power. It also is softening water which enables surfactants to work more effectively. 

By nature absorbs moisture, making this great to use in damp areas or as an  odour eater.

2. Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleaches are materials that release oxygen for cleaning, bleaching and dirt removal upon addition to water. They are a much safer alternative to chlorine bleach. This is the key ingredient in Napisan & other whitening products & also found in most commercial cleaners like dishwasher tablets, laundry powder.

Our Crystal Clear Percarbonate is a natural, powerful Oxybleach which is simply a combination of washing soda & hydrogen peroxide.

Sodium Percarbonate
Crystal Clear - Sodium Percarbonate

Percarbonate is the key ingredient found in Napisan without added fillers or bleach activators. It's a natural bleach & a much safer alternative than liquid chlorine options (with no pungent smell) 

It whitens, brightens & removes stains, is safe for coloured fabrics & septics! Made with simply Washing Soda & Hydrogen Peroxide (a natural safe hospital grade disinfectant) its a super strong all-round cleaner & degreaser . 

Brilliant in the laundry but also as a heavy duty general cleaner around the home.

3. Surfactants

There are MANY surfactants on the market – chemical companies are falling over themselves to invent new more powerful & now ‘greener’ options, because this is the function of cleaning that is vital in lifting dirt & oil. Two of the mot common are Soap & Detergent. 

Soap is made with lye (strong alkali), oils (plant or animal) & water. During the process the lye is fully converted to soap & no traces should be left in the end product. Let’s face it, oils can be expensive & during the war there was limited access to it. So, companies came up with other synthetic methods to create surfactants, many of which don't even contain a single natural ingredient.

For your toolkit, we offer 2 beautiful true handmade soaps, Organic Liquid Castile Soap & Organic Coconut Soap Flakes made with only pure virgin oils, water & lye. 

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Organic Castile Soap

This is simply a 100% pure liquid soap. Historically to be a true Castile Soap it must contain 100% Olive Oil as the base fat otherwise it is technically called a Bastile Soap. However, these days at least 80% olive oil can still qualify as Castile Soap to avoid confusion. 

It can be a liquid or hard soap depending on the lye (caustic soda) used to make it.  For liquid soap Potassium Hydroxide is used, which can also been known as Potash or Koh.

Our Castile Soap is a liquid soap, handmade in Melbourne from only pure organic virgin olive & coconut oil, water & lye.  It's versatile, safe & the gentlest purest form of soap. 

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Organic Coconut Soap Flakes

This is a 100% pure hard soap which has been grated into flakes for easy dilution in your DIY recipes. We have opted to used Coconut Soap as it is high in cleansing qualities with low suds (which is perfect for the Dishwasher & Laundry).

Our soap is s handmade in Sri Lanka from only pure organic virgin coconut oil, water & lye. As it is a hard soap the lye used is sodium hydroxide This means it's very high in cleansing properties & provided a lot more lather than Castile Soap.

It only has its own natural fragrance, none added! 

4. Acids

No, not talking about having some LSD in your toolkit, just some good old Vinegar & Citric Acid will do the job! Acids are at the opposite end of the pH spectrum to the alkalis (which are bases). The thing with Acids & Bases is they neutralise each other when mixed together. That is why I cringe when I see recipes suggest mixing vinegar with Castile Soap, never do this! Yet when used one after the other they make a great team. 

The problem with soap is the dreaded soap scum, which is the soap reacting with the calcium & other ions in the water. This is not limited to the bathroom, this also happens to your clothes when you wash with, leaving them stiff. The answer is rinsing with an acid to neutralise & remove any of that leftover soap scum. 

Vegetable Glycerine
Citric Acid

As the name suggests, Citric Acid is found in the rinds of citrus fruits. Historically these rinds were used to make Citric Acid however production via this method stopped in the 1900's & it is manufactured. None the less the chemical properties are the same & this is still a green eco- friendly cleaner.

Citric acid removes hard water deposits & neutralises soap scum making this ideal in the bathroom, as a fabric softener, disinfectant & rinse aid. Your perfect Vinegar alternative.

5. Emulsifiers & Thickeners

Although not essential to your toolkit, the ability to emulsify your essential oils & thicken your liquid products can come in handy.  What makes them great, is they don't react with the pH of other ingredients when mixing.

We recommend Organic Vegetable Glycerine & Xanthan Gum as your thickener duo.  

Vegetable Glycerine
 Vegetable Glycerine

A clear white sticky liquid which is actually a bi-product of the soap making process or made by itself using similar principals. It can also be known as Glycerin, Glycerine & Vegetable Glycerine just means there are no animal fats used the process.

Glycerine does not react with most other ingredients, it helds blend/emulsify things like Essential Oil & in particular Xanthan Gum into liquid solutions. 

It is also a wonderful moisturiser!

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 Silicone Emulsion

Silicone Emulsion is made from Sand & Bicarb to form a white powder like product. This is diluted to create emulsions like this which is used in a range of commercial/ industrial processes. It looks like glue & in an sense acts like glue.

For the DIY Dishwasher Tablet maker this ingredient is for you, simply mix approx 1/2 -1 teaspoon (yes that small amount) with the water you use to make your tablets. It will help bind everything together & prevent crumbling (even though crumbly is still fine, those bits can still be used)

Xanthan Gum
Xanthan Gum

Used from cosmetics to cooking, it works (& looks) very much like corn flour. It's a natural thickening agent and stabilizer which prevent ingredients from separating.

Made from natural sugars & the power of fermentation. 

Only the smallest amount is required to thicken liquid solutions & we recommend mixing with Glycerine first to create a gel that will mix easier with water.

6. Essentials

There are some other basic ingredients you will need in your toolkit that are pretty straight forward


When making homemade beauty or cleaning products that require water, it is best to use Distilled or Demineralised Water.  This water should have a neautral pH, free from minerals (ie not hard water)  as well as be free from bacteria or contaminants.  

Distilled water means it has been boiled & the steam converted back to the pure water. Demineralised is a process in which electronic currents remove the extra minerals in the water. 

Some commercial products will include alcohol as an ingredient because in some cases it is a solvent & disinfectant.  A common alcohol used is Isoprophyl (or rubbing alcohol) which is a petroleum based product.  For the purposes of our air fresheners & mild disinfectants we replace rubbing alcahol with good old Vodka.

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Natural fragrance & a whole massive range on qualities to help clean - you can't go wrong having a stash of essential oils.

Smell is a personal preference, so this you can experiment with unit you find your favourites. 

You could actually make every single cleaning product that you would normally buy in the supermarket - lets see what you can make.

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