Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Laundry Soap

We are in the middle of an experiment in the fine art of "Saving Money". I don't know if you've noticed or not, but things are starting to get pricey.  (And if you haven't noticed that yet, I have some questions for you regarding your whereabouts for the last year or so.)

We're a one income family, and as such, our Money Tree has dwindled down to more of a sapling, really. I'm always looking for ways to save money or use what we have in better and more efficient ways.

One day I stumbled upon the recipes for making your own laundry soap and figured I'd give it a try. Turns out, it's a great recipe that works well and can pull double duty around the house. The recipes come from The Duggar Family (you can google them if you don't know who they are), and I highly recommend trying these out!

The Recipes

Powdered Laundry Detergent:
1 (or 2) bar(s) of Fels-Naptha soap..or Ivory
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
-Put everything in a food processor and pulse until powdered. For a light load, use 1 TBS of powder. Use 2 TBS for a heavy or large load.

Liquid Laundry Detergent:
4 cups Hot water
1 (or 2) bar(s) Fels-Naptha or Ivory soap, grated.
1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
-put grated soap & water in a saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until soap is melted.
-fill a 5 gallon bucket half way with hot tap water. Add soap, washing soda, and borax. Stir until powder is dissolved. Now fill bucket the rest of the way with warm water. Cover and let stand overnight to thicken.
To use: stir and fill a clean lidded container half full of soap, then fill the rest of the way with water. You'll need to shake before each use. 5/8 of a cup for top load machines, (approx. 180 loads) 1/4 cup for front load machines (approx. 640 loads).
You can add a 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. But add it after the soap has cooled.

My Verdict:
The powdered soap works great. I use 2 bars of soap per batch and think that's right for me. A nice, light smell. I use Ivory, although I may try the Fels-Naptha brand soap too. I have found Fels-Naptha at Walmart for .97 a bar.

The liquid version has been great. First off, make sure you grate the soap. Very important. I also think 2 bars is the way to go in the recipe as well. To use it, I fill a flip-lidded 2 quart container with the soap and add the water (I use a cleaned out Cat Litter container), although I use less water than called for. I then use my immersion blender to blend it all together, dropping in a few drops of essential oil as I do. Cleans great and whitens whites. Can't complain about that. The soap itself smells wonderful, but doesn't leave much of a scent on the clothes. It's taken me some time to get used to that, but since they smell clean, I am learning. Besides, I can use fabric softener, right?

Will I get 640 loads out of it? I'm guessing not. First off, I don't use an actual 5 gallon bucket. Second, I find I'm not watering down each batch as much as called for. I use less water to keep the soap a bit thicker. Finally, I'm using it for other things besides laundry, so it's pulling double and triple duty for me. I'm guessing, based on how I'm using it, that I'll still get roughly 250 to maybe 300 loads of laundry out of this. Considering it cost me under $2.00 to make, I'll chalk this up as a very big Win.

I've also used this liquid stuff in my steam cleaner. Carefully. I add it to the filled water tank, stirring to make sure it totally dissolves. In my opinion it out cleans the store bought solutions, which are really pricey.
I use this to clean out the mice cage too, and have had great results. There's not a lot of sudsing, so it's a cleaner rinse. And the mice like the lavender smell, I think. (Seriously, the little boogers do).

Again, I recommend giving this a try. If you do, please let me know how it goes for you. I'd love to hear it!
If you visit the Duggar Family website, they have other recipes (some are "Duggar-sized") for family favorites as well as a good fabric softener idea. Check it out!

Update: 4-28-12
It's been a year now since going Homemade with detergent. I love it. Absolutely. I keep both the powdered & liquid versions around. Incidently, I have also been using Fels-Naptha as my go to, one and only stain treater. Wet the stained area, scrub the soap onto it, then put in the wash. Presto-Pasta! Stain is gone. At less than a dollar a bar, and with a success rate of nearly 100%, I'm voting a big Yes on that. Another cost cutting thing I've been doing is to water down my fabric softener. I pour the softener into a gallon jug, then fill the now empty FS container with water and begin adding water to the jug as well, repeating that until jug is full. The effect is the same as full strength, only now my FS lasts a lot longer. Easy-Peasy.

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