Monday, April 14, 2008

Boondock Frugality in the Laundry Room

This morning I recieved an email from my sister , who is considering trying to make her own laundry detergent. It occured to me there may be other folks out there who are looking to save money, and may be interested in some TNT ideas. So, today, I am going to postpone my previously planned entry in favor of frugality.

8 or 9 years ago, I was becoming frustrated with the high cost of commercially available laundry detergents, especially the "gentle" ones, marketed towards families with infants. Although no longer an infant, my daughter had extremely sensitive skin so I was finding it necesary to pay those high costs. I found a "recipe" for homemade laundry detergent which promised to be gentle enough for diaper laundering, yet strong enough to clean a Homesteader hubby's soil covered jeans. I gave it a try and was amazed, not only at the ease of preperation, and the financial savings, but also at it's effectiveness, and how gentle it was for my daughters skin. I was sold! The recipe is as follows:
1 Box Borax
1 Box Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda!)
1 (Bath size) Bar Soap (such as Fels Naptha or Ivory, I prefer Ivory)
Simply grate your bar soap as finely as possible, and mix together with the other ingredients. I find "sandwiching" the grated bar soap between the Borax and the Washing Soda in the container then mixing works well.
I went to the store and purchased a grater just for this purpose. I made sure it included a very fine grating option. I then grabbed a large bucket, and mixed everything together. I found, once mixed everything fit quite nicely (and handily) in two large coffee cans.

This mixture requires a mere 2 TBSP per load ( we have a large load capacity washer, and the 2 TBSP is sufficient) I use a medicine cup (such as is included in children's cough syrup, or "Nyquil") for measuring/scooping. Just pop it in the coffee can on top of the detergent. For cold loads, I "soften" the detergent a bit with a little hot water, before switching over to cold.

This detergent has no fillers, as you will find in most commercially available detergents. Therefore, you don't need to use as much per load. The other big benefit is your clothes will no longer pick up the dinginess from those fillers.
The last batch I made I was unable to find the Washing Soda, so grabbed a container of what I thought would be an okay substitute. I think I like it even better! I grabbed the generic brand of "Oxiclean". The available size buckets seemd smaller than the boxes of washing soda I had used in the past, so I used 2 buckets per recipe.

Important Note: Washing Soda is not recommended for wool or silk items! I'm not sure about the "Oxiclean", but I did forget tried felting a wool item in it with no repercussions. You might want to check the warnings on the label before trying it with wool or silk

A lot of folks find it necessary to add fabric softener to their laundry. I rarely use any additives for this purpose, but there are exceptions, such as bath robes. For these items, as well as towels I opt to simply add a 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rinse water. You may also want to try mixing up 2 cups each of white vinegar and baking soda in a large container (an empy gallon size vinegar bottle works well). Once the excitement settles down, add 4 cups water. Pop the bottle in the laundry room, give it a good shake before measuring out 1/4 cup for your rinse water.

These options will reduce the static, but will not scent your laundry. Neither will it leave your towels smelling "sour" For "scent", I've found hanging my clothes outside on the line provides the best scent of all! Of course, I have found it wise to avoid this last procedure if the neighbors are burning ;-)


Kim said...

Thanks for the helpful hints. Let me know if you want me to show you how to put links in your post as words, rather than entire url's.

HDMac said...

Well, friend, this is VERY informative! I am going to have to share this with my DD. And you KNOW I just love your blog!