Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How To Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Okay, so I am trying to save money however I can, you know: pinch the penny till it screams. I came across making laundry detergent and in our family that washes a load of clothes a day (especially hubby's work clothes) this sounded like a good idea. I also found other cleaning tips that I will share at the end after explaining how I made the laundry detergent.

1/2 bar of Colgate's Octagon All Purpose Soap ($1.30ish per bar)
1 cup of Borax ($4.00ish per box)
1/2 cup of Baking Soda (5o cents per box)
5 gallon bucket with lid (free from husband's work)

~The Borax took me a while to find and I finally found it at Western Supermarket on Rocky Ridge Road in Birmingham, Al. It was about four dollars, I forget the exact amount, though.
~The Octagon soap was also at Western Supermarket and about a $1.30 a bar. The original recipe I came across called for Fels Naptha soap but I could not find that anywhere. Any all purpose soap or even Ivory will work for this, if you can't find anything else.
~The Baking Soda I already had on hand for cleaning my glass top stove. Cost at Walmart is about $0.50. Side note or rabbit trail: Use the recipe for an all purpose cleaner at the bottom and sprinkle baking soda on top of it, it will clean your smooth glass top stoves better than the expensive stuff that smells bad

#1 First step: cut up or grate soap into pieces and place in a pot with approx. 4 cups of water. Heat until pieces dissolve.
The Octagon soap is like a glycerin or cake soap and come to find out is what my great-grandmother and great grandparent-in-laws used to wash their clothes.

*Now I must caution you on the next steps! Take it as user experience or me just being ditsy.
I didn't look back at the directions as I was making this, so I goofed.*
After you cut up half the bar and place it in 4 cups of water to melt,
#2 Second Step: Place the mix in the 5 gallon bucket.
#3 Third Step: Add more water and the cup of Borax, stir.
#4 Fourth Step: Add more water, and the half cup of Baking Soda, stir and more water.
DO NOT add the baking soda to the mix still in the pot or you will have a science experiment on your hands! Can you tell that is what I did?!
It started growing and growing and growing. I had to grab another pot and separate the mix but it kept on growing and bubbling so I ran for the 5 gallon bucket in the laundry area and dumped the whole mix in that. I added water, and after it stopped growing I added the Borax. It caused the mix to gel some and stop the bubbling foam trying to take over. So sorry I didn't get pictures of that, they would have been Internet worthy for sure, but I had other things on my mind at the time. I am sure you understand.

Let the mixture sit for 24 hours in the 5 gallon bucket with the lid on and stir before using. The consistency will be neither a liquid or gel, unless you adjust the amounts of soap and Borax (less making more of a liquid, more making a thicker gel). You can experiment to see what works for you, but a cup of the mixture is enough for a load in the wash for us. Disclaimer: mine turned into more of a liquid because I didn't add the ingredients in the right order, but it still works beautifully. It doesn't sud up like I expected to, but the clothes smell wonderful.
Rest assured these ingredients do really clean clothes, individually as well. These three ingredients will clean your clothes, remove stains, and keep them white.
The cost is nothing compared to what you pay for the more expensive ready made kind and this way you know you are not putting anything toxic on your clothes. I won't go into all the math except to say I was paying about $0.28 cents a load for my detergent, and now I am paying about $0.01 a load. That is a savings of $0.27 a load! If you figure a load approx. a day for us, that is a savings of $98.55 a year!!

Now for my other tips relating to laundry:
~Tip 1 Instead of using the expensive fabric softener which has strong perfume and who knows what else in it, use vinegar. Yes, vinegar! Use the recommended amount for your washing machine in the fabric softener spot. I put four drops of Bath and Body Works Fig and Brown Sugar eccentric oil in mine to give it a nice smell. Just make sure it coincides with the smell of your laundry detergent and use the fabric softener rinse cycle. The clothes do not come out smelling like vinegar but instead smell fresh and clean because vinegar, in its sour content, removes bad smells. For those of you wondering, vinegar is made from the oxidation of ethanol in an alcohol-containing liquid, such as wine, fermented fruit juice, or beer.(source: wisegeek)
The savings you ask? About $73 a year. If you add in making our own laundry detergent then we are up to $171.55 already a year savings.
~ Tip 2 Cut your fabric softener dryer sheets in half and only use half a sheet in a load. We tried only using vinegar sprayed on a washcloth, but we still had static in our clothes. So far, the half sheet has been easy and works just fine. Savings: about $8.oo a year. Maybe that doesn't seem like a lot but you are still getting twice as much for the money.
~ Tip 3 Instead of buying name brand stain removers for clothes, especially for the kids clothes, use dish washing liquid. I use whatever I have on hand, but don't use anything with bleach in it or you will bleach your clothes. Just dab on the spot and put aside until you wash the item. Don't leave for more than a week though, or the soap may stain the stain on the clothes. I consider this one free, because I already have the soap and I don't have to buy any especially for this use.

Other cleaning tips:
~ ALL PURPOSE Cleaner Take a spray bottle and pour in one ounce of vinegar. Fill the bottle with warm water and add one Tablespoon of baking soda to bottle. Do not add baking soda before adding the water to the vinegar or you will have a volcano erupt from the bottle. Add drops of essential oil, like peach or orange, to the bottle for a pleasing scent.
~ STREAK/FOG FREE MIRRORS After cleaning the mirror, rub a little vinegar over the surface with a clean rag. This will keep it streak free and prevent it from fogging during showers. If it starts to streak again, reapply.
~ SPOT CLEANER FOR CARPET This is for if you have a carpet cleaner and have the solution on hand. Take one ounce of the carpet cleaning solution and place in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with water and spray on spots, letting sit for about five minutes. Rub gently with a clean rag to remove spots.
~ STAINLESS STEEL SINK CLEANER I know it says it is stainless, but I get brown residue on the bottom of my sink. So does everyone I know that has a stainless steel sink. Simply wet the sink and sprinkle baking soda, let it sit for about 15 minutes. Use your dish sponge or scrub pad to scrub away the stains. Then rinse with water. Baking soda will not harm you if ingested and also works as a grit in cleaning dishes.
~ BURNT RESIDUE IN PAN simply sprinkle salt over burnt places and let sit overnight. The salt makes the burnt pieces brittle and easy to break up. If the burnt residue is stubborn, try adding just a little water to it.
~ HOMEMADE TOOTHPASTE Now I don't use this one often, but it does work. Take a baking soda and place a small amount in the bottom of a shallow dish. Add a tiny bit of water and some peroxide. Dip in toothbrush and clean away.


Jeremy and Michelle said...

thanks for all the tips - I'll have to look in to some of those. The laundry detergent looks very appealing! See ya' tomorrow!

ATinkLife said...

I just bought the Oxygen soap at my Publix for 35 cents a bar! I bought ten!!! LOL, I am really getting into this stuff.
Note: I did end up adding more Borax to ours, liked the outcome better. And, my hubby wants me to make a more concentrated form for his stinky nasty work clothes, to which I say 'no problemo'.

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