Green Cleaning from “Down Under” ~ DIY Peppermint Cleaning Paste & Gentle Laundry Powder

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It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.


Get Your Green Cleaning On! DIY Peppermint Cleaning Paste and Baby Laundry Powder--Brought to you from "Down Under."{Today, I'm pleased to introduce to you Sarah Teng of Little Fig. Sarah has a gorgeous blog and today brings you all a real treat–some fabulous green cleaning recipes to you all today. I have relatives “Down Under” so it's a double pleasure to bring her to you today. Note that Sarah is talking about spring…for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere, fall is upon us, but things are backwards “down there.”}

Here in New Zealand, or ‘Down Under’ as it’s otherwise known, spring is bursting forth in leaps and bounds. In Wellington, where I live, that unfortunately guarantees a certain number of wet, windy days. But when the sun does shine down warmly I almost taste summer just around the corner. Hopefully that means fits of spring cleaning enthusiasm will set in soon too…

Spring Flowers and Birds' Eggs. True signs of the freshness of spring.

Baby Blue Bird Eggs and Tiny Flowers–a true sign that spring is on the way

With the arrival of my first child nearly five years ago, spring cleaning in my home morphed from an array of spray bottles and disinfectants to various potions concocted of baking soda, vinegar and essential oils. I bet some Whole New Mom readers can identify!

One of the big inspirations behind my transition was discovering New Zealand’s own ‘Green Goddess’, Wendyl Nissen (think 1930s homemaker meets Michael Pollen), who happily obliged me with an interview for my blog recently. A best-selling author, she was once the high-flying editor of a string of women’s magazines.

Nowadays Wendyl much prefers pottering in the garden with her chickens or perusing second hand bookshops for old fashioned homemaking manuals.

And she has built up an impressive collection of these books – 200 and counting – which, she says, have taught her a new way to live. Held within their pages is a simpler, more self-sufficient take on life.

They are also the source of Wendyl’s cleaning and beauty recipes, which she tests and refines in her kitchen before sharing them with readers. While most of the recipes are reasonably straight forward, taking less than 15 minutes to make, demand for ready-made products grew quickly. And so the ‘Green Goddess’ brand was born.

In a striking contrast to commercial cleaners, Green Goddess products provide not only a complete list of ingredients on the label but also the recipe for making it yourself. For Wendyl this is how it should be, because once upon a time these recipes were shared freely among women. Wendyl has kindly agreed for me to share two of them with you here.

First up is my personal favourite, peppermint cleaning paste. Not only is it surprisingly effective at cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces, but it leaves a fresh mint smell lingering long after the job is done. (Synthetic air fresheners are one of Wendyl’s pet hates, so incorporating essential oils into her cleaning products has the dual purpose of added cleaning power and a beautiful fragrance).

{From Adrienne – Please note that there are affiliate links in the post – if you click on them and make a purchase, I might make a commission but your price remains the same, and you help keep this free resource going–thanks much!}

Natural Peppermint Cleaning Paste from "Down Under" - Clean your house without chemical nasties--and for less money!

Mmmm….A great cleaning paste enhanced by the great smell of peppermint!

Wendyl also has a range of especially gentle products tailored for babies’ needs. Feedback from many mums has been that quitting supermarket laundry powders in favour of this simple version has brought about remarkable improvement in their children’s eczema.

Laundry Powder gentle enough to use for baby!

Laundry Powder that's gentle enough for baby!

For more DIY Home and Beauty Recipes that I think Wendyl would approve of, check out:

Alcohol-Free Hairspray that Works!
“Best” Eye Makeup Remover
Amazing No-Streak Glass Cleaner
Homemade Foaming Soap

What natural cleaning products do you use in your home?

Sarah TengSarah is a Kiwi mum of two and a ‘Real Food' convert. She is currently studying a Diploma of Nutritional Science at a naturopathic college in New Zealand. Sarah started her blog, Little Fig, to share her passion for wholesome and probiotic foods, and to celebrate the local food heroes and heroines in her corner of the world.

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Is the Wendyl’s Green Baby Laundry Powder suitable for HE (high efficency) waching machines?

  2. Rhoda Edwards says:

    Thank you so much for the free books! I am going to make some purchases from vitacost soon I am very interested in the coconut oil deals. I am also interested in soap nuts even though I can’t figure out how nuts can wash clean. I am trusting you here! Thanks again and have a great weekend.

  3. Evie Dawson says:

    I now do everything in my power to avoid those toxic chemicals I believe are harmful to my family’s health. You can make your own cleaners with items from your pantry that work just as well and smell better! I would have added essential oils, like tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil also. 🙂

  4. The bathroom cleaner sounds great, can’t wait to try it, but I do have a question. Is it safe for tile and grout? I am new to trying all natural cleaners and we just had our tub converted to an all tile shower and I am trying to find a safe and effective natural cleaner and/or daily shower spray using essential oils . Thanks so much!

    • I will have Sarah reply – thanks!

    • Hi Rene, I don’t have either surface at my home so can’t speak from experience, but I did a bit of googling and there are numerous recommendations for using baking soda for cleaning tiles and grout, with no noted issues. I can vouch for the fact that it is definitely an effective cleaner though 🙂

  5. Hi Adrienne. Thanks very much for posting these recipes. I’m writing to suggest another typo correction. I became suspicious about the proportion of liquid to dry ingredients in the cleaning paste recipe, so I followed the link to Wendyl’s site to see the original recipe. I discovered that the liquid amount was reproduced correctly, but the cream of tartar is significantly overstated above. The recipe on Wendy’s site indicates 1 tablespoon rather than 1 cup.

    Unfortunately I had already mixed 1/2 cup each of baking soda and cream of tartar, so I have quite a bit more CoT than I need in mine. Fortunately I was only planning to make half a recipe, so I didn’t use a whole cup of CoT! Guess I’ll just cut my mixture with more baking soda and save some for a future batch. 🙂

  6. Hi Adrienne,
    Thank you for the wonderful post. Can you tell me what is Washing soda? I have never heard of it before.

  7. Does the peppermint oil in the cleaning paste have any other properties besides the smell? I have a cat with a neurological condition (don’t ask) and he can’t tolerate the smell of my peppermint oil even a day after I use it (found that out the hard way). It’s very likely he won’t be able to tolerate many other essential oils, either, as scents set him off. Unless you know one that soothes hot-wired kitties and scrubs bathroom surfaces at the same time?

    • Hi Kris. I am thinking Sarah will chime in late but I am thinking you could use whatever scent you like. Lemon would have some antibacterial qualities which would be nice :). Maybe try catnip oil :).

      • I’m just starting my essential oils journey so I don’t know much, but I did read last night that all citrus and pine oils are bad for cats. I know they all hate anything citrus with a passion. As for catnip … it’s banned from our house. 🙁 Somewhat like a hyperactive or autistic child, my cat is overstimulated by sensory input. When problems are mild he’s poorly-behaved, and when he goes haywire, every nerve in his body turns to fire and he exhibits signs of pain and panic, and he begins to twitch and spasm so hard sometimes he can’t even stand up. The vet has him on skullcap and passion flower oils in his food, and a flower essence mist to spray over him when he’s starting to act up, and that really, really helps. Fortunately we already lived an unscented life before we got him, so I didn’t have to get rid of anything but the catnip toys. If I bring anything scented into the house, like cleaning supplies, they need to be calming scents that soothe the nervous system. Maybe I could ask his vet what oils I could use – he’s a holistic vet and will know what’s safe. Should have thought of that first.

        • I can ask the owner of Native American as well to see if he has any thoughts…

        • From the owner at Native American: You should not use essential oils on cats because they are too powerful for them. Just by having them on your person or in the air is enough. If you want to try to experiment, use the Calming oil and see if that will assist. I know it works wonderful for my dog.
          Have a great day.

          • Wow, that was fast.

            I looked up the calming oil and two of the ingredients are citrus, but the last one is patchouli, which I have on hand. I can try having the scent out and see how my cat behaves before mixing it into the cleaning solution. I also have geranium oil on hand – it’s not rose (thanks, Sarah) but it is anti-bacterial. We’ll see if my hubby wants the bathroom to smell like old lady. 😉

          • Make sure to let me know how it works out :).

          • And … we have a winner! Here’s my scientific method: I had my husband smell the patchouli and the geranium, and asked which one he wanted the bathroom to smell like. He grudgingly decided the geranium was less offensive. Next I set the open bottle on the bathroom floor about a foot away from the cat, so he could run away if he wanted. He let me know it was too strong and a bit offensive, but he only backed away a bit. After a minute I capped the bottle and put it away, and we sat back to see if he’d start showing symptoms.

            One evening a while back I had put a few drops of peppermint oil in the shower, and while you would think most of it would wash away, in the morning the bathroom smelled pleasantly of peppermint. When the cat came upstairs and smelled it, he went into bounce-off-the-wall hyper-drive, then began to violently attack our other cat. (Aggression is a sign of anxiety and distress.) I know he often reacts badly to strong smells, but it didn’t hit me until just then that peppermint is in the same family as catnip, and catnip stimulates him into hysteria. (We’re talking five days of acute distress, being afraid to walk on the floor, intermittent muscle spasms/twitching, that sort of thing.) I brought him downstairs away from the peppermint and within minutes he was calm and peaceful again.

            So after he smelled the geranium, we sat and watched him for hyperactivity, aggression, and twitching. He sat there, highly suspicious, for a couple minutes. “I know that awful stuff is still here somewhere, waiting to sneak up on me!” Then he decided it wasn’t coming back to get him, curled up on the bathmat, and took a nap. Yes! Calmness!

            I’ll make a small batch of the cleaner next, just enough to try it out once and make sure it goes well for everyone involved. (My husband might take one whiff and veto the whole idea, but we’ll see.)

          • Wow – great news! Thanks for taking the time to come back and share!

    • Hi Kris, yes peppermint essential oil has antiseptic qualities which make it really great in cleaning products. What about rose essential oil? It also has antiseptic properties, and will smell divine.

  8. 1 cup for a load for the laundry powder? Are you sure? Seems like this recipe doesn’t make much more than three cups… And the bag she sells wouldn’t last very long…. Maybe it’s a few tablespoons?? Just checking… I really want to try this.