Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Keeping It Clean

Believe me, I'm as surprised about this post as you are. Over the past few months, I have been barely keeping my head above water and have had little to post about, since I have basically been doing jack shit around the farm. But that's all changing. We'll talk about that later. Though I have forgone most of my "making it from scratch" schtick to Trader Joe's convenience (it just had to be), I realized there was one thing I just couldn't give up on. Homemade laundry detergent.

My sister-in-law, Stephanie, gave me this recipe for the liquid version and I cannot live without the stuff anymore after having thoroughly enjoyed my first batch, which, I might add, took almost 5 months to use up. Though skeptical of its effectiveness, my SIL's husband, who works in the restaurant business, is the true testament to how well this soap gets the job done. If this detergent can get out restaurant grease, then it can certainly take care of my dirt. And boy, has it!

Once I tell you how easy it is to make, if you aren't on the make-your-own-laundry-soap bandwagon already, you're going to kick yourself for not having tried it before. And the savings! I think it comes out to be about 2 cents per load. How can you beat that?

Liquid Laundry Soap

1 bar of soap (I used Kirk's Castille with my first batch and my own homemade goat's milk soap with this last one, which is why the color is kind of orangey - I put calendula in my soaps)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda (not baking soda)
3 gallons + 1 quart water

Grate bar of soap. In a pot, combine the quart of water with soap flakes. Heat until soap is melted, but the water is not boiling. Add the borax and washing soda and stir until it thickens. In a clean 5 gallon bucket, pour in 3 gallons of warm water. Add the contents of the pot and mix well. Leave the mixture to stand overnight. It will thicken and become kind of lumpy and gelatinous. Don't worry, it's supposed to look like that. Stir before use. I use a big paddle; my SIL uses a broom handle.

Now you have lots of soap to clean your nasty, filthy clothes. Easy peasy, no? Truth be told, my ultimate motivating factor for making this detergent the second time was when I realized that it would actually be more of an effort to walk the half block to the store and stand in line to purchase it. You can't argue with that. Trust me, I tried.

I have heard that some folks have had trouble finding washing soda. I get mine at the local coop and have seen it in "regular" grocery stores from time to time. But did you know that you can actually MAKE the stuff from baking soda? Yeah, that shit blew my mind. Apparently, this is due to their close similarity in chemical composition, but to explain that would make me have to get all sciencey and shit, and that's actually beyond me at the moment. So here's a link on how to do it. I found out about this neat little trick through Lori's Latest - And other tales from the homestead. She's got fabulous tips and interesting things that she posts on her Facebook page. Go "like" it and tell her Itty Bitty sent you.








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16 comments:

  1. That is SO COOL! I'd never thought of making my own laundry soap. My only issue is that I'd want to make a smaller batch of it - I live in an apartment building and don't have space to store a huge vat of soap. Do you think this recipe could be halved easily? And does the kind of soap matter at all?

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  2. This is the recipe I've been looking for my whole life. I'll let you know how it works out.

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  3. I say pick a soap that you like. My castle and goat's milk are kind of at the extremes of the soap spectrum, so I'm sure any bar will do. I heard Fels Naptha is a good one. As far as cutting down the recipe, totally would work. Another trick I hear about was to pour it into galling milk jugs that you can tuck away somewhere. Floor of the closet, next to the shoes? :) Also, I forgot to mention that this stuff doesn't suds so it's perfect for HE machines.

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  4. @ Erica - if you don't get a good clean with about a 1/3-1/2 cup with this, just up the amount you use. Heard that you have to fiddle around to see how much you need. I use a 1/2 or maybe 1 cup for really disgusting stuff.

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  5. Is there a different benefit from making it liquid? I use those ingredients (along with baking soda and essential oils) in a powder form. I have noticed that there are sometimes chunks of washing soda in the bottom of the machine which wouldn't happen if was already dissolved.
    Just curious.

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    1. The liquid form makes it so that doesn't happen. You can also wash everything in cold water without worrying whether or not the soap will dissolve, which is more energy efficient.

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    2. Thanks, next time around I'll have to give this a try :)

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  6. Not like the bars of soap made with animal fats and lye that Grammy used to make but very useful! I still have some of that grated (Grandpa grated it for me)in an old coffee can in the laundry room. I am hoarding it;-)

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    1. you got any of grammy's recipes for that soap laying around? the stuff was the bomb!

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  7. This is awesome, I just bought a small soap today so as soon as it's gone i am giving this a whirl, thanks for the 411 and welcome back!

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  8. Do you have to add anything to this detergent to keep your whites white? Years ago I made more of a powder form from my own handcrafted soap. It seemed like everything got dingy. I think this recipe makes more sense. I'll give it a try. Thanks.

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    1. I would try a natural bleach alternative to help out (peroxide, vinegar, lemon juice, water) or bluing.

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  10. Would this be safe for front-loading machines?

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    1. It's perfect for front-loading HE machines!

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  11. I wish you were still blogging.I'm a big fan. Have you completely given up or is there still hope of a resurgance?

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