Thursday, October 1, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap & Other Cleaners

Recently I had offered to go speak to the MOPS group at our church (Mothers of Preschoolers) about making your own homemade cleaners. I'm not 100% sure why I did this as I don't, on a regular basis, make my own but the desire is certainly there. I used to attend this group & was even on the Steering Team up until this year. Then I decided it was better for me to be home as much as possible this year, but I'm digressing here.

So I spent some time researching homemade cleaners on-line. Go ahead, just Goggle "homemade cleaners" & see how many links come up. There are a gazillion or two. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration but there are certainly dozens of them. Many repeat the same recipes but there really are a lot of different ones.

I was originally only going to discuss how to make various cleaners. Then I found myself with a free afternoon on Tuesday so I went to run some errands. I decided on a whim to buy the ingredients for homemade laundry soap & whip up a batch. I wanted to hand out samples at the MOPS meeting.

Homemade laundry soap is nothing new but it has been sweeping the web recently. It seems like every other blog post I read has someone else trying to make this or some other homemade cleaner. It truly was easy. The recipe I went with was found at this website & I used the 2nd one listed although I only made a 5 gallon bucket.

  • Borax
  • Washing soda (not baking soda - washing soda)
  • Grated soap (typically Fels-Naptha)
Where do you find these things? I found all of them at my local grocery store in the laundry section. The borax & washing soda were together on the shelf & the soap was near the stain removers. I spent about $8 for all three.

How to do it:
  • Step 1 - Grate the soap

I bought a small hand-held grater at the dollar store specifically to use for this project. It is a very fine grain. I wouldn't recommend that. You do not have to finely grate the soap - you simply have to grate it in to small pieces to make it easier for step 2. I used an entire bar of soap.

  • Step 2 - melt the soap (in 4 cups water)

Soap is melting nicely but it took quite a while to do. It clumped up when it went in the water but eventually all of it did melt. I think it took close to an hour but I wasn't timing it.

  • Step 3 - measure out the borax & washing soda (1/2 cup borax & 1 cup washing soda)

Try not to spill this all over the counter as you are working in the kitchen. I almost dumped it AND the melting soap. It's an art form - really.

  • Step 4 - Fill the bucket (I'm using a 5 gallon one - it cost about $5 at Wal-Mart) half full of hot water from the tap just as the last of the soap is melting.
  • Step 5 - Dump the melted soap & pre-measured borax & washing soda into the hot water in the bucket. Stir until they are all dissolved.

  • Step 6 - Fill the rest of the bucket up with hot water from the tap. Stir.

And here is the final product - 5 gallons of homemade laundry soap. Pretty impressive huh?

  • Step 7 - let it sit overnight (preferably 24 hours but mine only sat for 10). It will form a gel. Stir before each use. Use 1 cup per load.

I filled 30 jars of this stuff (about 16 oz. each) to give away at the MOPS group. A few jars were smaller & a few larger. I still have 1/4 of the bucket left for my own use. I've been washing clothes all day today with it & so far so good.

The big test was some urine soaked clothes. One of the boys (not naming names here) had an accident in the night which still happens on the rare occasion. He changed his clothes, tossed his blanket over the wet sheet, and went back to sleep. ::sigh:: He gets points for not waking me up but he really needs to learn to start telling me when this happens so I can wash his sheets and clothes first thing in the morning. I realized what happened when I sent his brother to collect dirty clothes this morning.

I did end up washing his shorts three times today. I used vinegar as a "fabric softener" to help eliminate the order but these really were soaked badly. Even if I had used regular laundry soap, I would have had to wash a couple times I think. This last wash I let to soak for 30 minutes & again added vinegar to the rinse cycle. Hopefully this works. (Yeah - third wash is done & they smell clean! I think the extra long soak certainly helped in this matter.)

I have read cost analysis of homemade laundry detergent & most break it down to only costing 1 penny (that is NOT a typo) per load. That is truly amazing I think.

If you go to the link I cited above (or just click HERE), there are 10 different recipes for making your own laundry soap. There are some for a powder mix as well if you would rather not do the cook version.

As for other abound on the Internet.
  • The Dollar Stretcher discusses various problems & solutions to them such as how to make dishwasher detergent last longer & does include recipes as well. One thing I would want to point out here is using the right amount of detergent for your dishwasher. Most modern ones only call for 2-3 tablespoons to work effectively at cleaning your dishes. I know I typically filled both dispensers but no longer!
  • Debt Free Adventure has a recipe as well for homemade dishwasher detergent as well as the cost breakdown. He also shares how he made it with photos which are always helpful.
  • Suite also has an article on homemade dishwasher detergent with some more cost analysis.
  • NaturoDoc has an article on homemade cleaners that discusses the health benefits as well as gives some recipes for making things such as window cleaner, drain cleaner, rug cleaner, and far more.
  • Tree Hugging Family has an article that lists 25 Safe, Non-Toxic Homemade Cleaning Supplies.
  • Care2Make a Difference has one of my favorite articles. If you scroll all the way to the end of the article (8 short pages), there is a pdf download of how to put together a non-toxic cleaning kit. I used the window cleaner from this article for the giveaway at the MOPS class.
Those links should keep you busy for a bit. A lot of the recipes are repeats but a lot are unique & different. There is definitely enough information out there to help someone replace all of their store-bought cleaners with homemade cleaners made from only a few ingredients that only cost pennies per use. Pretty neat isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the awesome soap recipes Lisa... where do you find the time?! -Jen


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