Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saving on Laundry, Part I

Unless you're a nudist or a very wealthy person with staff, you're probably doing laundry. I know I am! These days, there are a million products on the market to make clothes cleaner, brighter, softer, whiter, fluffier....it's amazing!

It can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. I started making my own laundry soap, and it saves us a lot. There are just three ingredients (plus water). and it works just as well as the laundry detergents I used to buy. This recipe makes about 2 gallons of gel type laundry soap. I had to make some last night, so I took a few pictures!

You will need:
1 cup grated laundry soap (Zote, or Fels Naptha), or if you make soap, you can use that!
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
water, and...
a grater, measuring cup, spoon, cook pot and a bucket for your finished soap that holds at least 2 gallons.

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First, grate the soap (a fine grater means you'll spend less time waiting for the soap to dissolve) and measure one cup of grated soap. (WOW, that is some PINK soap!)

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Add it to 3 pints of hot water in a cooking pot.

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Stir, over low to medium heat, until the soap is fully dissolved.

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Add the half cup of borax, and stir until dissolved.

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Add the half cup of washing soda and stir.

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The mixture will begin to thicken and it will become more opaque.

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Put some cool, plain water in the bottom of you soap storage bucket (just a little, to keep from melting the bucket). My bucket is a 4 gallon one, so I don't really measure - I just know that when I'm all done, it should be half full. Pour in the hot soap-borax-washing soda mixture and stir.

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Add more plain water until you have two gallons. Upon sitting and cooling, it will thicken and 'gel up'. Kinda neat, in a mad-scientist sort of way.

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The gel is difficult to measure, so I stir mine into little clumps. It's still weird and lumpy, just easier to tell how much of it you're using.

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Then, store your bucket-o-soap in your laundry area.

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I keep my big bucket on top of the dryer but if you're ambitious, you can funnel it into old laundry detergent bottles.

I use a half cup per load maximum...so two gallons will do 64 loads of laundry at the very least. This is not detergent, so it is NOT sudsy. It does, however, get our clothes clean. The soap adds a nice scent. If you want more scent, you can add essential oil to the laundry soap. If you do, you may want to stir it before measuring.

I have found the washing soda at one of the Kroger owned supermarkets in our area. It was about $3 a box, and will make many, many batches of soap. I found the borax at Wal-mart, and honestly, I don't remember the price (sorry). I think it was under $3 when I bought it. I've been using them both for so long that it may have gone up since I bought those ingredients. I got the zote soap at Save-A-Lot, and I've gotten Fels Naptha at Safeway...and THEN I learned that if you make soap, you can just use homemade. I make soap, so I'm saving trimmings to use once I run out of the 'boughten' ones.

I've learned a few things from my laundry soap experiments:

If you go to the laundromat, I bet you don't want to lug a 2 gallon bucket of soap with you. You can mix the dry ingredients in a baggie or plastic container, and use them that way. You may want to put them in while the washer is filling to give the soap more time to dissolve. (Grate the soap very fine, and you should be okay.) You only use 1/2 tablespoon per load.

This is laundry soap. It's not a miracle replacement for every laundry cleaning item on the market. You will still need to pre-treat a stain from time to time, or use a little bleach on your whites...that sort of thing. It is good laundry soap, though.

If you change the ingredients, you change the results. Different laundry soaps or homemade soaps will give a different color, scent, etc. That is really no biggie, but you may want to play around a little and see which soap you like best.

On the other hand, I had a little trouble finding washing soda, and I used baking soda. It didn't work as well. One time I got cute and used liquid 'baby wash' instead of the grated soap. I thought it'd be a great substitute, since it doesn't need to be dissolved! I thought I was brilliant! I thought it would smell like lavender!

Well...baby wash is not the same as a bar of soap. The chemical composition is different, so the end product is different. Instead of a strange gel, I ended up with several gallons of....er.....snot. It was kinda cool, in a little kid science experiment sort of way, and it still cleaned our clothes, but it was a pain to work with. (And the lavender scent was diluted by the other ingredients and water, so I didn't get that either.) Lesson learned.

Products are just one aspect of laundry - we all have habits too. Good habits can save you some money. Lazy habits can cost you. I'll post about those some time soon.

1 comment:

stacey said...

you never cease to amaze me!

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