Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

This is a basic recipe for laundry soap. I like the simplicity. I like to save some money. I used to buy the cheapest laundry soap - a large off-brand bottle for 8 dollars (ish). But this is definitely cheaper than that.

As I've said before in other posts, the recipes I have here are not my own (unless I've told you that I made up the recipe, and in that case, it *is* my own). I just put my own twist on them and take a few pictures and share them with you. Because I like to share. I would hate to take anyone's glory by telling you I made up a recipe for laundry soap all on my own. You can do a quick web search and find roughly 4.2 million recipes for laundry soap. So this is just my variation of many a web search for laundry soap recipes.

Cost Analysis
(Wow, that made me feel really smart, writing "cost analysis". I think I might need to get a life. 

My bars of Fels Naptha soap usually cost about 97 cents each, and the washing soda and Borax boxes are a few dollars each, but they each hold enough for at least 6 to 8 batches of soap, respectively. So, after adding and dividing and multiplying, we're looking at less than $2 per batch of soap.

Details: Each batch makes a little over a quart of soap. Probably about 5 cups or so. It also depends on how fine you grate your soap. We'll go with 5 cups per batch for the math here. My scoop is about 2 tablespoons (it's a 1 ounce scoop), and I use one (sometimes rounded) scoop per load. That means you're getting about 40 scoops per batch. Let's just say about 35, (to be conservative) in case you like to round your scoops sometimes.

At $2 a batch, and a conservative 35 loads per batch  (drum roll please...), that's (just less than) 6 cents a load. Wow! If you want to add the cost of white vinegar in place of fabric softener, you might add about a penny per load? I'd still say that's a pretty good deal!

Even if my math's all wrong and it's twice that price, it's still cheaper than store-bought detergent.

Enough math. On with the recipe.

Homemade Laundry Soap (on the cheap)

1 Fels Naptha Laundry bar
1 C Borax
1 C Washing Soda

Not an ingredient for this recipe, but you may want this also: White Vinegar.

I'll explain a bit later...

First, grate up the soap bar.
You're welcome to use a food processor if you want, but I prefer a Microplane grater. It makes such nice small and easy-to-dissolve soap shavings.

Plus, it's pretty.
Pretty soap shavings.
I really like these. 
They almost look like cheese.
I like cheese too.
Never mind.

Next, add the Borax and Washing Soda to the bowl.
You can stir it all together, and if you need to get the clumps out, just stir a while until it's nice and smooth. Be careful stirring, though, unless you want to have a sneezing fit. This happens to me sometimes. Yikes!

Now if you want some smoother soap, or if your clumps are pretty big, or if you used a food processor to grate the soap, you're welcome to put the washing soda and borax right into the food processor and pulse until it's smooth.

I did that with this batch because I had lots of clumps. Borax likes to clump up, especially if it's kept under the sink and there is a tiny leak under the faucet and the box gets a bit damp. Ahem.
Pulse a few times...
See how smooth it gets when you mix it up like this? Beautiful.

However, I don't always make it this way (with the food processor). It tends to concentrate the grated soap more, and then the batch doesn't last as long. After this batch, I decided that if I need to break up the clumps in the future, I'll do the borax and washing soda in the food processor first, and then add it to my grated soap. It makes for a fluffier end product, which lasts a bit longer. I'll leave it up to you though. I'm all about letting you do it your own way. Don't say I didn't give you options.

So here's the final product. Stir it up a bit, then you can add it to whatever you keep your soap in. I prefer beautiful blue Mason jars.

Use a funnel to scoop the soap into the jars and voilĂ ! Laundry soap on the cheap. Ready to use.

The container on the right is what I usually use on a daily basis. My scoop sits inside the jar. I don't fill it all the way, so my scoop still fits in.

As you can see, this batch made about 2 quarts. That's because I made a double batch, but I ran it through the food processor. If I hadn't done that, it would have been more fluffy and I'd have had almost another whole quart jar full. But it's up to you, either way you're saving some money!

So pretty.

This pictures shows a different double batch I  made without using the food processor. You can (hopefully) see that it's a different consistency, and it made more than just 2 quarts. So I like it this way - but like I said, you can make it however you want. And either way, it's still pretty.

Now I do understand that "pretty" has nothing to do with how well a product works. So I'm here to tell you that this soap works really well. I have been using it for over a year now, I think, and I have absolutely no complaints. Not a single one.

It makes the laundry smell wonderful, and cleans great too. And I've already mentioned the benefit of being way less expensive than what you buy in the store; and I know exactly what's in it.

The Vinegar
Here's where the vinegar comes in. I don't buy fabric softener or dryer sheets. I decided a long time ago that it would save me money not to buy it, but also that I don't like the feel of my clothes when I use it. Also - it causes towels to not absorb water. Who wants a fluffy looking towel (like on the commercials) that doesn't absorb any water? No, thank you.

So I stopped using it years ago. Instead, I use white vinegar in the wash *instead* of fabric softener. I pour it right into the fabric softener cup thingy, and it does the job.

I don't use it in every wash, only once in a while.
Or when I remember.
Or whenever I feel like it.
For example:
~If I have a load of extra-dirty clothes, and I'm using extra soap, I might use some vinegar in the rinse cycle.
~If I have a load of clothes or towels that got left in the washer a day or two too long (ick!), I'll wash them again and use the vinegar in the rinse cycle. Also, in that case, I sometimes even put some vinegar right into the wash. It's a great deodorizer.
~If I'm just washing towels, and I remember, I'll use vinegar as a fabric softener.
~Totally unrelated: vinegar and water makes a great hair conditioner too. But I'll leave that for another post.

When you take out the clothes, you may smell a hint of vinegar, but once the clothes are dry, you won't even know you used it. It's wonderful!!

So get on it friends, save yourself some money and make up a batch of laundry soap.

If you want...

I don't want to be bossy or anything.

But you really should make some. 

Homemade Dishwasher Soap

I had been wanting to try to make my own dishwasher soap for some time and I finally got around to doing it a few weeks ago.

I had been buying the Costco-sized (and brand) dishwasher gel, and it worked; but I kind of wanted to get away from the bleach in it which sometimes ended up on my dishrags or towels or hands or get the picture. Besides, I wondered if I could make it for way cheaper than I could buy it.

I looked around online for a recipe, and found some, but because I never had the exact ingredients they did, I opted to improvise.

Here's what you'll need if you want to wash dishes in your dishwasher like I do. And I know that you all want to be like me. So here they are:

You'll need:
Washing Soda (not baking soda...) 
Canning Salt (or any salt; kosher would work fine too)
Lemi-Shine (or citric acid, but I can't find that so I'm using this. If the store carries it, it's in the dishwasher soap aisle. I got mine at the Walmart down the street.)

You'll also need some White Vinegar. (But not quite yet.)

I'm sure somewhere out there in the world, someone makes this the same way I do, but I'm not going out to look for it. I won't claim this as my own recipe; just my variation.

Here's the basic recipe I use:
1 C Borax
1 C Washing Soda
1/2 C Canning Salt
1/2 C Lemi-Shine

Mix all the ingredients together, and voilĂ ! Homemade dishwasher soap. I mixed it up in a snap-ware container, and then shook it up to mix it all together. I then filled an empty Lemi-Shine bottle for easy dispensing into the dishwasher. I just fill my two soap cups mostly full - I probably use a rounded (or sometimes heaping) tablespoon of soap per load.

Prices are different wherever you go, but I figured the price for this is somewhere around .05-.08 cents per load. I can't honestly remember how much my other soap was, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't that cheap.

The Verdict
Here's the best part: It works GREAT! I do a load of dishes most every day, and sometimes two. I cook, I bake, and we don't use paper plates or cups, so I'm washing our dishes a lot. But I actually don't mind doing the dishes, especially when I realize that it really doesn't take up all that much time. My girls are in charge of unloading the dishwasher, and when it's time to load it up, all it ever takes is about 5 minutes.

Years ago I used to gaze into my dish-filled-sink, and dread the task of dishes. I had lived without a dishwasher before, so I'm not sure why I had a problem filling my *dishwasher* with dishes so it could *automatically* wash my dishes for me.

But when I realized that it really only took about 5 minutes of my time (literally, I timed it...) to fill the dishwasher and get on with my chores? Piece of cake. So now, when I dread the task, I remind myself that A), I have a dishwasher in the first place, which is a super-huge blessing, and 2), I only have to spend about 5 minutes filling it up. It really only ever takes that long.

So anyway, back to my point.

This dishwasher soap works really well, cleans all my plates and bowls and jars and silverware beautifully. I suppose if you have hard water you might want a bit more of the Lemi-Shine (or similar), but you'll have to see for yourself.

Now, here's where the vinegar comes in. You know how you can buy those bottles of rinse agent for something like $8 per bottle? Maybe I'm exaggerating, but it seems like they're so expensive.

I'm here to tell you: White vinegar works great as a rinse agent in the dishwasher!! Just pour in vinegar instead of whatever rinse stuff you use now (if you use any at all). Pour in vinegar until the pointer points to the "full" line and see how well it works.

I use glass all. the. time. We drink out of Mason jars, I use them for storing food, making kefir, you name it, I've got a Mason jar for it. :) Whenever I see the jars the girls take out of the dishwasher, I'm super impressed at how clean they look! Glass looks great with this stuff, the silverware looks great, the plates are clean.

I know, I'm rambling again. But this stuff works so well I just had to share!

I hope you get a chance to try it.

p.s. Something else you should know - you can use your washing soda and borax to make laundry detergent too; I'll post that one later. But it works great too, and makes my laundry smell heavenly!! Oh, and using vinegar instead of fabric softener? Also a very good idea.

Ok. Stopping now.

Happy dishwashing, y'all.