Following on from Surfactants P6: Cleaning Solutions For Around The Home (updated version), I thought I would share the latest experimenting I have been doing with some of our new products, particularly a new surfactant.
I decided to make up a general purpose concentrate gel that gives you bang for your buck, and most importantly, really cleans well. It is 100% natural and biodegradable too.
I like lauryl glucoside here because it creates very stable foam and is, I find, the strongest of the glucosides. It also has a fantastically thick paste-like consistency that can boost the whole formula.
But our star ingredient in this recipe is the sodium lauroyl sarcosinate. It is the first anionic surfactant to feature on Essentially Natural, and is proudly sourced from natural ingredients and is easily biodegradable. The anionic surfactants are very powerful detergents and are typically used in household cleaners. They also have properties that give them the ability to be thickened by salt (so no need for xanthan gum), and sodium lauroyl sarcosinate responds uniquely to pH: it goes beautifully thick and viscous at pH 5! So if you add just enough citric acid solution to bring the pH down to 5, you get the most wonderful gel-like consistency.
The below recipe makes a concentrate gel (and quite a lot of it) that you can then use either on its own for particularly tough and grimy patches, or diluted in water as a general purpose cleaner. It works out incredibly cheap and you probably won’t need anything else. It really blasts through grease and shines up my stovetop like nothing else. You can use it in the kitchen, bathroom, floors and windows, and anywhere grimy.
This is a great opportunity to reuse the buckets that various EN products come in, such as the Epsom salts. I always keep the buckets once the product inside is finished, and you can easily peel off the label and relabel it for another purpose. The bucket is a perfect storage container for the all purpose concentrate.
650ml distilled water
1 heaped tablespoon lauryl glucoside
2% salt - so around 15ml or 3 teaspoons
Citric acid solution
Preservative eg Geogard 221
Essential oils (optional) try spearmint or peppermint, the citrus oils, lemongrass, rosemary or basil.
Blend the two surfactants together, then add about a cup of water, stirring gently so as not to create too many bubbles. Add in the salt and stir well until the mixture thickens up slightly. Then add the rest of the water, cup by cup, stirring continuously. Lastly, and this is where you will need to get out your pH test strips and test, add the citric acid solution, teaspoon by teaspoon, stirring in between until you reach a pH of 5. You will notice the mixture thicken up significantly and maybe go a milky colour (this goes away). Stop as soon as you reach pH 5 or else your mixture will go all liquidy again. Once you have your thickened concentrate, you can add in the preservative and any essential oils if you desire. I added about 10 drops of spearmint for a touch of freshness.
Use on its own for tough spots, or you can dilute it: 3 spoons in a jug of hot water is enough for general cleaning for me.
If you miss the pH mark and your mixture ends up a bit liquid, don’t worry, it will still be just as effective. You might just want to have it in a spray bottle instead of a bucket.
This concentrate can be used on its own or diluted with water. Please DO NOT dilute it with soap-based solutions such as castile soap or any other soap made with KOH or sodium hydroxide. You will be left with a gloopy mess.
This all purpose cleaner is very easy to customise to your needs.
Another great addition for general germ killing is colloidal silver. Substitute half a cup of the distilled water in the recipe for half a cup of colloidal silver.
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