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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Self-Reliant Clean, Homemade Laundry Soap

Once on the mindset of environmental awareness, leaving a green footprint, becoming more self-reliant, being an educated consumer, and of course saving money, we get on a roll of what next we can do for a healthier lifestyle.

Cleaning our clothes is a part of our everyday lives and how we go about it can be more than mindlessly doing what it takes to get the job done. Are you loyal to a certain brand detergent or do you buy whatever is on sale or for which you have a coupon? Do you faithfully use a clothes dryer because you have no choice or are always rushed for time, or do you try to use a clothes line whenever possible to save money or energy? All personal choices we may never have thought much about before environmental concerns became a public awareness movement.

Making your own laundry soap may initially seem like something you would assume you hadn't the time to be bothered. But once you try it, you'll find that the ten minutes it takes to mix the ingredients is definitely worth it because one batch will last you for weeks. Not only that, but for a cost of less than $22, you'll have enough on hand for dozens of loads of laundry. Figure a typical laundry bottle of 50 fluid oz. has enough for perhaps 32 loads at about $5 a bottle. The recipe below for a powder laundry soap makes 32 cups.  You only use 1 - 2 tbsp. per load, so if one cup is equal to 16 tbsp. that means you'll get at least 8 loads per cup. Thirty-two cups of soap for $21.89 plus tax is a substantial savings.

There are other reasons to make your own. Perhaps you are sick of being part of the system capitalizing on the power of advertising with consumer spending. Perhaps, even though you recycle, you are tired of all those plastic bottles or boxes and the environmental impact to make the packaging in the first place. Perhaps you're tired of worrying about the soup of chemicals washed down the drain with every load. Making your own with any products means you are in control, you know exactly what the ingredients are, and how safe they are for both your family, the water table and the environment in general. For people with sensitive skin or allergies, understanding the ingredient list may be the most important.

Many people just assume that homemade isn't as good as commercial formulations. The billion dollar advertising industry has this mindset effecting every aspect of people's lives. Remember, you are paying for the name, you are paying for the cost of all that advertising. You will have to experiment with how much detergent you use for the type of dirt your family gets into, but you may be pleasantly surprised that a homemade version works just as good, if not better, than the chemical-laden commercial products on store shelves.

An additional plus with homemade soap is that commercial soaps may be too sudsy for water efficient washing machines. HE machines use less water and need detergents which rinse faster and more efficiently. Clothes with leftover soap residues end up looking dingy and we just assume it is because the soap isn't working. In reality, it is because the soap isn't being rinsed out properly.

Here is what you'll need:


1  4 lb. 12 oz. box Borax (2.15 kg) (Sodium Tetraborate)

1  4 lb. box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (1.81 kg) (Sodium Bicarbonate)

1  3 lb. 7 oz. box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda  (1.56 kg) (Sodium Carbonate)

3  bars of Fels-naptha soap or pink Zote soap

1  container of Oxyclean (3.5 lb or 1.58 kg)

Start out by getting a 5 gallon bucket. Dump all the powdered ingredients into the bucket.
Using a cheese grater, grate the Fels-naptha or Zote soap so it falls right into the bucket as well.
Use a lid to the bucket and simply mix by shaking and turning the bucket upside down a few times OR use a large restaurant size spoon and hand mix to blend everything.
Store in a smaller container such as a large plastic tub or cookie jar. Just be sure to have a lid to keep out pets and children. Use a scoop of some sort that you can judge to measure from 1 - 2 tbsp. per load. The grated soap pieces will dissolve in the wash water even if you choose to use cold water.
The smell is nice and not overpowering. You can always add your own scent using lavender, sweet orange or tea tree essential oils. How much you use is up to your own experimentation with what you like.

If you want a homemade stain remover, here are three great recipes:


1/4 cup Baking Soda

Enough Hydrogen Peroxide to make a paste.

Rub a bit on the stain before washing.


1 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid

2 cups Hydrogen Peroxide

Mix in a spray bottle and use as needed on stains.


1/2 cup Baking Soda

1/2 cup Hydrogen Peroxide

2 cups water

Mix in a bottle and spot treat stains.

Enjoy not having laundry soap on every store list! 
Less to spend, less to haul.