Friday, March 16, 2012

the laundry story

I did it! I made my own laundry detergent. [beam] Here's how it went down.

Here's the recipe, just to recap:
   1 4lb box of Borax
   1 4lb box of Washing Soda
   1 4lb box of Baking Soda
      these three were all in the laundry aisle (actually, they were out of the Washing Soda, but they normally have it)
   3 bars of Kirk's Castile soap (you can also use Ivory or Fels Naptha, but apparently this one is all natural)
      this was with the regular bar soap in Health & Beauty
I chose this recipe because she said you can get everything at Walmart. I'm not super excited about shopping at Walmart, but it's where I go because it's cheap and I can get everything I need there. So if I can get all my laundry soap stuff there, too - bonus.

Note: The Kirk's Castile soap says "original coconut oil soap" and I was concerned it would make everything smell like coconut. It doesn't. It's smells beautifully like soap. I was pleasantly reassured.

My original thought was to use a 5-gallon bucket, but then after buying the ingredients, it seemed overkill. So I broke down and bought the one container big enough at Walmart. I think my boys actually were getting annoyed with how long I stood in the container aisle going back and forth about buying this thing. It didn't look the way I wanted it to; it didn't look farmhousey. At. All. And I was nervous because the lid didn't seem to stay on well. I kinda got really hung up on that "air-tight" part of the instructions. But I was getting impatient with having the ingredients on my table and nothing to put them in.

So I started pouring the boxes of washing soda, baking soda, and Borax into this container.

Note: It gets pretty powdery in the air. Don't breathe too deep. I did find the powders a their scent. Not bad. Just strong.

Then the soap. I bought the el-cheapo grater at Walmart, too. (97c maybe? No more than a buck or two, certainly.) I wanted the soap to be light and fluffy. I tried the 2nd smallest setting, but it seemed bigger than I wanted.

So I tried it on the smallest setting. It clogged. No soap was getting through.

So I went back to the bigger size, and it looked like this. (So pretty, huh??)

Then I realized that once I added the grated soap, it would be very hard to mix all this. Once it's all together, it's kinda dense. So I moved everything to an old 25lb. bird seed bucket (I washed it first). It's slightly smaller than a 5 gallon bucket. I didn't have a lid for it...but I'm choosing not to be worried for now. Later I'll find a more farmhousey bucket I like better.

It also gives me an EXCELLENT use for my grammy's wooden spoon. All my life it has been the chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-spoon. It's perfect for it. But it is just plain, unfinished wood, and it's fairly chipped and cracked now, and it makes me leery of what's hiding in there, so I had resigned myself to retire the spoon and hopefully do something crafty with it later. Something amazingly creative and brilliant.

Like drill a hole in it and hang it up.
(There's only so much you can do with a spoon.)

This is my big helper during this process. He loved it. As long as you can keep him from stirring too fast...

And the results?

Well, I didn't go easy on its first load, that's for sure. I live in the land of a 5yo who has "accidents" and a 2yo still learning. I had a verrrrr(rrrr)rrry pee-soaked load that I was actually saving to use as my first load. This is my life - if my laundry soap can't keep up, there's no point. Why go easy the first load? I'm not going to keep to laundry soaps on hand.

The recipe says to use about 2 tablespoons of soap, which equals 1/8 cup. (The measuring cup I bought doesn't have tablespoons. I'm hoping to switch to a smaller scoop at some point.)

I also added white vinegar to the load as fabric softener. This is supposed to both soften the fabrics (which doesn't matter as much to me; we didn't use fabric softener before) but also remove any last soap residue from the clothes. That'd be nice. The place I took my recipe from said to put it in the fabric softener dish. I don't have one of those. So I took a chance and poured it in the dish we have for bleach. The dish doesn't hold it until a certain time and then dispense it, it just drains right in. It said not to use much, about a quarter of a cup, which worked out to be just about the top of the dish, so I don't really measure it anymore.

Now, I'd like to say that I opened the washer and was greeted by the most wonderfully clean smell ever.

I can't.

But that's because I didn't finish that load of laundry, and I'm kinda bummed about it, because I didn't get to finish the experience. But, being first trimester as I am, my dad took pity on me and finished up the load for me. My mom folded it. (Thanks.)

But then I was able to get an unbiased opinion. She said she came across only one pair of shorts that still smelled like pee. I can handle that!!!! And since then, I can't remember any other pieces of clothing that have smelled less than clean when they come out.

I call that success.

A couple more tips:
1 - I put in the soap first, then started the water, before loading the clothes. This gave the soap a chance to start dissolving by itself without clothes sitting right on it. I don't know if it really makes a difference or not, but given the bigger shavings of soap, I'm trying to give it a fighting chance.
2 - It does smell slightly of vinegar when you open the washer with the wet clothes. But by the time they come out of the dryer, they're fine.

I do not/am not counting loads to calculate the savings. I will, however, keep track of how many days it lasts. But since I didn't really keep track of how long one bottle of detergent lasted me before, so I will have to do some kind of general average to figure out how it compares.

Overall, though, I like it. I like how purely soapy it smells. I like using soap from a big bucket. I like making it myself. I like using less for each load.

And I like using only things that God put on the earth. That's my favorite part. I'm not trying to live "crunchy," "organic," or "natural." I'm just (very slowly and one attempt at a time) trying to live a little easier, simpler, and more honestly, using what God gave us to begin with. Makes sense.

No comments:

Post a Comment

stuff you want to say (show some comment love!)