The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Pantries and Preparedness. Ingredients that keep you able to clean and wash anything.

Last week our subject was about log lasting things to keep in your pantry.  They will not "expire" for many years so they make a good investment.  This week I want to do the same thing in the area of cleaning and laundry.  

I ventured back into town yesterday. It was very interesting.  In the bigger of the two supermarkets there was music playing and every five minutes  a recording played.  It went  "we are aware there are many things missing from the shelves right now due to unprecedented times but we want you to KEEP CALM."  It sort of had the opposite effect on me.  It wasn't calming.

Anything to do with cleaning, washing, sterilising and sanitising was either unavailable or limited. This included hand soap, body wash,  hard soaps ...  dish washing soap or tablets where you could have one item... disinfecting sprays were two items but there were none there anyway... and so on.

I am so glad I learned to make soap!  While it would take up a ton of space (and money) to stock up years ahead on laundry soap and all the different soaps we use it is pretty simple and inexpensive to store away items that will always let you make just about anything you want!
Apart from cleanliness and sanitation keeping things clean affects morale.  I am starting to get why soap was such a valuable item during the war and depression years.  Especially something that smells good!

Soap making is really easy.   I am going to link to some of my soap making tutorials and recipes.  Here you will find Rachel's homemade laundry soap recipe.  Laundry soap is a great way to get soap making!  You will also find a recipe that does not need caustic soda (which intimidates a lot of people but shouldn't!) as you use soap flakes.   However this makes beautiful soap.
Soap Making Part 1.   So we will start off with Soap Flakes.... in Australia the best is Lux Pure Soap flakes.  If you keep this on hand you are going to be able to make hand soap, laundry soap, wool mix... basically anything.  In the US I believe Ivory has a pure soap flake.   You are looking for pure grated soap.  Of course you could find a pure gentle soap and grate it yourself.

To enable you to clean windows, make gentle Wool Wash and many more items Methylated Spirits  
 is an  excellent thing to keep.     The Wool Mix recipe is a wonderful introduction  into soap making as it sets in a jar as a hard soap which you dissolve in hot water to use.  It is the most divine smelling mix...   Wool Mix   It contained  Eucalyptus Oil which is another item to keep on hand.   If you prefer you could use Lavender Oil.   Both scent things beautifully and both have antiseptic and strong cleaning properties.

This link is to another favourite soap I make that is so smooth.  It is a good soap for gifts.   Beautiful gift soap.    So I need to add Lye/Caustic Soda to the list of things to have in your cupboard plus Coconut oil.    Olive Oil is another thing I like to have on hand for soap making.

This post has the laundry liquid recipe that I use.  Laundry Liquid recipe.     So now I add Borax and Washing Soda/Lectric Soda  to my list of items.   The beautiful of most of these things is one packet is going to go a long way.   And most have many other uses!     If you use this recipe in a stronger concentration you have a laundry soaker.

I find that saving jars, buckets, items that could be used as soap moulds and an old cooking pot are all handy.   I have my soap making pot and whenever I am mixing something up out if comes!  

Epsom Salts is a wonderful versatile cleaner.  So is Vinegar.   Epsom salts can be added to your wash for a softening effect. You can clean your teeth with it and use it as a mildly abrasive sink and surface clearer.   Vinegar is an ingredient in Miracle Cleaner (see below) and mixed with a simple dish soap it will clean the shower screen. 

Hydrogen Peroxide is a multi purpose cleaning item.    Prepsteader on You Tube has a whole video on the uses of this.  I use it to soak the toothbrushes if anyone has been unwell.   It also makes a great laundry treatment/ spot remover.    

It is very easy to make liquid hand soaps as it is really just a runny version of any soap.  You can find many recipes for using soap scraps to make liquid hand soap.   Re filling your pump containers with soap you made yourself is pretty satisfying especially now they are hard to get!  I like to add a few drops of essential oil like Eucalyptus or a Germ Fighting blend. 

The best all round cleaner I know of is Miracle Cleaner.   This smells amazing, kills germs and you can make it up from ingredients already mentioned.  Miracle Cleaner.  If you clean with this your house always smells fresh too. 

In Australia we have Sunlight Soap or Velvet soap which are basic all purpose old fashioned soaps.  Many of us probably had our hair washed with Velvet soap at some stage.  You can wash your dishes or your laundry.  Vicky sent me some Zote soap from the US.  It made wonderful laundry liquid!     You will never be sorry if you line a few drawers with some bars of good all round useful soaps.  They take up very little space and they harden further over time which makes them last a long time when you do use them.   Some luxury beautifully scented soaps make your linen cupboard smell nice (and your linens) but in a shortage there you have your supply!  

My last tip is that if you purchase soap flakes to transfer them into a container rather than leave them in the cardboard box.   They retain the scent and stay better long term in a large jar or tin.  

Right now soaps are a great gift. Heike made tiny soaps and popped them into little tins to carry in your purse.   This was a nice idea for anyone!  Thoughtful!   My next experiment is to make soap leaves by thinly slicing freshly made soap into single use soaps.   I will report back on that! xxx


  1. Hi Annabel
    I worked in a school for sixteen years and was often given bars of lovely soap as a thank you from parents. I put them in our underwear/ nightclothes drawers to scent things and I am so glad I did! I have a good supply to keep us going.
    Thank you for all the info in this post - you and other bloggers are doing a great job helping people feel they can help themselves and do something useful.

    1. Dear Penny, Your soap supply sounds lovely! And here we are they are so valuable now!
      Thanks for your very kind comment. We can do so much and we have to stay positive and help each other, thank you! With love

  2. I have beautifully scented, luxury soaps in my underwear drawer. Every time I open it it smells lovely and is a little treat! I had never even thought of putting it in with my linen, so I will have to do that.

    1. Dear Su, My blankets and linen both have the soaps. I think they keep moths out too as they dont like strong smells. But this has given me a secret soap supply and always added scent. I always heard stories of how soap was so sought after in the depression etc and never really imagined we could ever see soap not on the shelves! And here we are! With love

  3. Hi Annabel... just curious if you're on a septic system at your property?? We are on a bio cycle at our new property and I'm trying to get my head around what I can and can't use down the sinks, drains etc... I've been buying products that say grey water friendly etc.... thanks Ruth x

    1. We have been on a septic system for about 40 years. We learned early on that anything that solidifies when it hits cold water can be a problem. In the first few years we had a septic backup and when septic service came out to work on it they showed us a block of solid laundry soap at the entrance to the tank. This was powder type detergent that had turned solid when it hit the cold water at the entrance to the tank. They told us to switch to liquid detergent and we have never had the problem again. We use a very few natural cleaners here. We use a pure safflower oil bar soap, Bon Ami souring powder, a little bit of toxic type toilet bowl cleaner as needed and a natural dish soap and detergent for the dishwasher. We are very careful not to put bleach into the system and use hydrogen peroxide instead. We clean with microfiber cloths and water everywhere that we can. We do not use fabric softeners. We do have a disposer in our kitchen sink but we don't run large amounts of food down it and only the bits that get rinsed off plates, etc. I hope this helps!

    2. We have a communal septic system and as Lana says there can be problems with things that solidify when they hit cold water. People putting oil or fat down the kitchen sink can cause blockages so we wipe/ scrape every last bit of fat off pans before washing and I regularly follow with soda crystals and kettlefuls of boiling water. I know fat can clog up most systems.

  4. Dear Annabel, thank you for this post again, I read your blog all the time, but I never commented, as we are connected on fb. I can't wait to see the results of your thin soap leaves. I was thinking about this as well, but did not get a good idea about it yet.So I keep on giving soap in cans. Big hugs from Heike (((())))

    1. Heike! Now I know your screen name also! I love your idea so much. I will post my experiments... The little cans are lovely. Well Lorax suggested a couple of ideas i.e. to do droplets of soap to set like chocolate dots... only they re soap dots... single use. If all goes well tomorrow I am going to try something! With love

    2. Hello Annabel, I like the idea with the soap dots. Next time I will make soap I will try it, I guess.

      I have a little blog as well. But the last 2,5 years I did not write anything. Loosing my beloved friend had made me unable to do somthing like blogging. Lately I think about reactivating it. With lot's of love

  5. Dear Annabel,

    I am another one that keeps soap in the drawers. It always smells fresh and pretty when they are opened.

    Epsom salt is also good for the garden.

    My main go to cleaner is plain metho and water. I use it to clean just about everything. For my showers, a mix of vinegar and detergent in a spray bottle is the best cleaner of scum that I have found. Citric acid is a great cleaner of toilet bowls. Another good thing to have on hand.

    I have made laundry detergent for many years, mostly the dry version, but at the moment I am using a store bought one. I use a very small amount of laundry soap in my twin tub and no fabric softener. The sun always dries things nice and brightly.

    I will be interested in seeing your soap leaves, they sound like a great idea.

    Have a wonderful week,

    1. I also use methylated spirits. This used to be used up in the hospitals here for disinfecting items! So I know it would be great for the home. Love, Bridge

    2. Dear Tania, The sun and breeze honestly do more good than anything else. There is a scent to sunshine that cannot be explained too!
      If things work out I am going to try attempt one at individual/purse soaps tomorrow! I will post my results! Thanks Tania, with love

  6. Thank you for this post! My daughter and I recently made the Miracle Cleaner and wow, does it do an amazing job and smell lovely! I've been sharing with my mom as well, and she is equally impressed :) I'll be checking out the soap making as that is something I am very interested in.

    1. Dear Jenny, If you enjoyed making and using the Miracle Cleaner you would love the Wool Wash. I use this for all woollens, blankets, underlays, quilts and so on. It smells heavenly and leaves everything so so soft. It is amazing! Each step gets you closer to soap making too! xxx

  7. Dear Annabel and Bluebirds
    While everyone was busy buying up the toilet paper and flour I was picking up extra eucalyptus oils, washing soda and vinegar. I already had a good supply of soaps and body wash for us to use and loads of dishwasher items, in fact anything to do with cleaning I have loads here.

    My husband was shocked when it was moved up into the house the other weekend.

    I love the Miracle spray and will be making up some to take with me for cleaning the shop at Montville.

    Not ready to venture into soap making yet, I know I have a couple of really large pots in storage that would be perfect for the job.

    I know I will have to replenish items once I am allowed out but for the time being we have barely made a dent in what I have here. I found that some of the scented soaps left an oily residue as they aged so something to think about.


    1. Dear Lynette, The big pots would be perfect. I quite love my soap making pot. It might get a workout in the next few days.
      It was really good that you stocked up on eucalyptus oil and washing soda etc. I love all these things and they go a long way. Same with the miracle cleaner. I have given bottles as gifts and every single person has loved it and asked for more!
      Thanks Lynette I hope you are getting lots of knitting done! With love

    2. I have been speaking to Jo from the Montville shop about cleaning it before we reopen. I am going to be helping her, it will be a massive job because it is an old cottage with high ceilings so I am making a list and putting things in a basket ready to take with me. About 18 months ago I was in Coles and they had some rubber gloves on the clearance trolley - 6 pair which I picked up, because I had this feeling, and they have been popped into the laundry until needed. They are going in the basket along with 2 litre bottle of Miracle Spray and cloths. Just wondering if there is a good window cleaner that we can make - the windows up there have small panes of glass so it is not going to be easy to get them clean due to the timber surrounds that will also need cleaning.

      Getting some knitting done - my mind keeps wandering to the next job that needs doing when I am knitting. Working on Navy Blue items at the moment - while the light is good it is easier to sew them together and finish them off. Not the best colour to be working with in the darker winter months.

      Lynette XXXX

  8. This is wonderful and helpful information. Those announcements in the store would make me feel like running away! I wonder who thought that was a good idea? Just imagine if you worked there and had to hear it all day!

    I have very sensitive skin so I try to never deviate from what I know does not make me itch or break out in a rash. So we do not use anything with fragrance in it in our home. I just try to keep months worth of everything on hand in case of a supply disruption. I buy our bar soap from a small company that makes it by hand and it is just organic safflower oil and nothing else. I was fortunate to have just gotten 55 bars the week before everything went crazy. My Mom always tucked bars of soap in the linen closet so when I think of home I think of towels and sheets that smell like the old deodorant soaps like Dial or Irish Spring and not something that had a lovely scent. LOL!

    1. Dear Lana, I did wonder if the store had consulted for any advice on this as it was so dumb. In my experience especially with the government if they tell you NOT to worry about something then it is time to worry. Well last week they told us NOT to worry about food shortages. mmm So DONT PANIC similarly made me wonder if I SHOULD be panicking! hahah!
      I am so glad you stocked up on soap! I make one that is just olive oil and goats milk. This is my most gentle one. It can have honey added. I was thinking of this in regard to having baby supplies just in case..
      In my linen press I have a huge jar of soaps that I have been given over the years, they are so pretty and smell lovely but there they are ready when needed! With love,

  9. Hi Annabel,

    Just a thought regarding the single use soap....a warmed vegetable peeler may give you the thin leaves. Or dipping the back of a tray into the soap mix and letting it set and then slicing it and removing the wafers. Otherwise you could do little droplets chocolate chips but the flatter ones. Might be a lot less fiddly.

    1. Dear Lorax, You are my out of the square thinker! These are great ideas and I think the droplets idea especially is a brilliant concept. Yes like little smarties or cough lollies sizes that are soap! Another thing is my handbag always weighs a ton so I need something not heavy so I assume that for others too. I am getting on to some experiments! I hope you are all good and laying low. With love

    2. I just used a veg peeler to cut slivers from some soap I made last weekend, it works a treat and I didn't need to warm it. Thank you for that tip.

  10. You mentioned Ivory Flakes for the US. This product is no longer made. You can buy and grate Ivory bar soap (which is what we used for dishes in the 1950s). Ivory Snow is a detergent, albeit a very gentle one.

    Another Miracle Spray fan here, and I have turned on so many people with it!

    1. Thanks Maxine... I googled and saw there are other companies making pure soap flakes also. Good to know so thanks for the tip. I am glad you like the miracle spray too! I always have some made up! xxx

    2. There are Ivory soap flakes on the Amazon site but holy molecular monkies that stuff is $45 for 19 ounces. I have very soft water and a septic system to work with and we've found that most inexpensive shampoos, powdered detergents, and even some liquid dish soaps will cause our drains to clog.
      I do not recall having trouble with the homemade liquid detergent causing our drains to clog but it did tend to turn our whites a dingy gray. I was using the recommended amount but it might well be that was simply too much for our soft water.

    3. It is recommended that before swapping to a homemade washing powder or liquid that you wash whites in washing soda first, this removes the build up in the fabric from the commercial stuff which is what causes the discoloration.
      And now I will shut up...

  11. This is a wonderful post, Annabel. I also love Methylated Spirits as it used to be use din hospitals for disinfecting items/cleaning. So I always buy it in big stocks. I also love your recipe for laundry liquid. It is beautiful. I have always wanted to try the wool wash and to try and make soap. I should try the beginner one first lol. I also love the Miracle Spray. I keep hearing about hydrogen peroxide, so it is on my list to learn about and research. to think only a few items can make so much and are non-toxic. Thank you. Love, Bridge

  12. Annabel,
    I have a really good supply of soaps, bodywashes and laundry supplies, but I also have supplies to make laundry soap as well. I started making it in 2002. It was the best ever for when my oldest worked at a dairy farm. And Borax has many great uses so it's multipurpose. I am going back to making my own once I've used up the big stash I got free from the good couponing days.
    I hear you about a heavy purse mine is too. I keep little zip pouches with samples that I got in the mail in them so I always have some kind of emergency supplies on hand. Haha everyone makes fun of the salt and pepper packets in my purse, but hey if I'm broke down somewhere with no help around that runned over squirrel in the road will be tasty with salt and pepper! Haha just kidding! I keep salt and sugar packets in case I need to make an electrolyte solution quick.

  13. Your blog is just wonderful. I found it quite recently due to a link on Harvest lane Cottage. The labels you used for your homemade items are adorable and would certainly cheer up the shelves. Would you mind sharing thm?
    Thank you!!


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