Household Products: Homemade Goes Well

Household Products: Homemade Goes Well

A liter of water, 50 grams of Marseille soap shavings, two tablespoons of baking soda, one or two of soda crystals… Here is the recipe that Andrea found on the Internet to make his own laundry. It was three years ago. Since then, the Montreuilloise has been swimming in the deep end of do-it-yourself (DIY) household products. She makes her washing-up liquid as well as kitchen and bathroom detergents, for example from white vinegar, which she also uses as a fabric softener. "On the one hand it's cheaper and on the other hand it's natural products and it's quick to make, but I have time because I work from home and I don't have a child, explains the 30-year-old, communicator. The only industrial thing I use is K2R stain remover, but I try to replace it with “terre de sommières” [ultra-fine clay powder known for its degreasing properties].”

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And she is not the only one to have converted to homemade for the maintenance of her home. Over the past five years, the French, already rallied to the doctrine of "eating better, consuming better", are more and more numerous (24% according to a 2019 Ipsos study for Leclerc's New Consumption Observatory) to favor raw and natural products, for cleaning. A practice motivated by the desire to preserve the environment through the use of less harmful products, including for human health, and with less packaging, but also for the savings made in the long term, as recommended by the Ecological Transition Agency.

Hannah, a thirty-year-old British living in Haute-Savoie, agrees: “I bought a kilo of Marseille soap flakes for 15 euros from Casto to make my detergent and I lasted a year while a can of '1.5 liters [which allows between 30 and 40 washes, editor's note] costs around 10 euros. And then, it works, the clothes are very clean. Essential oils [which are used to perfume, but can be harmful if misused, editor’s note], on the other hand, it is not necessarily necessary. DIY household enthusiasts who are also helped by the proliferation of books (1) or applications, such as Kelvin, as well as the plethora of preparation tutorials available on the Net. In stores, the references of raw products, they accumulate on the shelves, the large distribution having in turn sniffed out another good vein of greening – more than 100 million in turnover in 2021, according to the panelist Nielsen.

"An additional mental load"

Last year, Leclerc launched its authentic Clair range (with bicarbonate at less than four euros per kilo) when Carrefour, with its Essential brand, offers a finished product for less than one euro. “We started selling raw materials more than twenty years ago and it's been five or six years since it started to work well. From now on, there are at least 25 brands on the market”, confirms Didier Le Gars, director of Ecodis, a pioneering company with its eco-labeled brand, the Ecological Drugstore. Among its flagship products sold in organic groceries: baking soda (around 4 euros per kilo) and white vinegar (2 euros per litre) of course, but also percarbonate of soda (just over 5 euros per kilo), of which the action is whitening, cleaning or stain-removing – not to be used on any material, such as wood or aluminium.

"We only sell 100% active ingredients and there is no bullshit, it's a bet on the time that the consumer will devote to this," boasts Didier Le Gars. But, it is an additional mental load and with the Covid, there is a return to ready-made products because people are fed up with them. In the Parisian suburbs, George, 28, managed to convince his eight roommates to go homemade – apart from dishwashing liquid – from a zero-waste perspective. "It's a way of reaffirming a certain form of autonomy, pleads the doctoral student, who has some notions of chemistry. The brakes are consumption habits: it's easier to go buy your detergent at the supermarket than to bother doing it, but we don't need to type in abrasive products because we are diligent on all that is cleanliness. And informed. Because it is better to find out: some mixtures can be ineffective, even dangerous, if ingredients are mixed with more chemical products.

(1) Do everything yourself, ed.Tana or My Homemade Cleaning Products, ed. Hatchet.