Sunday, March 7, 2010

Making Laundry Soap

My new laundry routine is -- (subtle drum roll) -- making the laundry soap!

Yep, you heard me right… I actually make time to make the laundry soap that washes all of our clothing and linens. My preference is liquid and there is a bit of a trick to getting it right.

Is this practice worth the time and effort, you ask? I think so, and now I will show you why.

#1. cost – saves hundreds of dollars a year

#2. I love the way my clothes get clean and how they smell and feel.

#3. All those laundry detergent bottles I “threw away”. I now reuse! And I reuse vinegar bottles, juice bottles etc. for this purpose as well. This is my one desirable use for plastic as I continue to de-plastic my kitchen and cooking methods. The key word REUSE (means you don’t even have to recycle!)

About every 3 months I assemble these ingredients:

½ bar of Zote Soap, grated (see substitution options)

1 cup of Arm& Hammer Washing Soda (sodium carbonate, not to be confused with baking “soda” which is sodium bicarbonate)

1 cup of Borax

I found the Zote Soap and the Borax no problem, available at most of the stores where I shop. I had a hard time finding the Washing Soda, but research taught me that “PH Plus” that you use for swimming pools is the same thing. Check the ingredient contents on the package. It should say “sodium carbonate” and nothing else.

It’s really important to know a little about what is used and what substitutions are appropriate. Then it may take time for you to perfect your own recipe depending on the quality/makeup of your water.

My first batch did not turn out quite right. I made it way too thick. (I mistook the perfect consistency while still warm for the finished product. When it cooled, the substance took on a solid form in the bottle!) Now, when I pour the finished recipe into the bottles, I leave about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle with air space for shaking and diluting as needed. As you perfect the proportions, you will get a feel for the right fill level.

First, I grate the soap. I tried a food processor but it is so easy to grate it by hand and cleanup is much easier.

The grated soap goes into a big sauce pot with 6 cups of water and I cook it on medium heat until all the soap is dissolved. The Zote Soap dissolves easily and does not make the “noodley” texture that others speak of in other online forums.

I get my 5 gallon bucket ready, yes 5 gallons so that you don’t make a big mess! Hot tap water goes into the bucket first, filling about ¼ of the way. Next, I pour in the contents of the pot and immediately, I add 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda, stirring and stirring with a long handled, sturdy spoon. The mixture thickens – a lot! Start adding more hot tap water and keep stirring, filling the bucket about 2/3 of the way to the top.

I store these bottles in a cupboard in the garage and use them as needed.

For our household laundry needs and the type of water we have (hard water), I find about ¾ cup of my homemade liquid laundry soap per load is ideal. Shaking the bottle each time you use it is the only way to keep the mixture balanced. It may start to separate some with storage.

Leave it to my Cousin’s kids to tell me how to do laundry! Bethany referred me to this recipe and let me know that she uses “ a couple of tablespoons” of white vinegar in place of Fabric Softener in her last rinse dispenser. I have found this to be an amazingly easy way to wash clothes with the best of results! No more “waxy/perfumey” feel and smell to my laundry! No static, no vinegar smell and just the right amount of softness to the fabrics.

One final tip. Adding a few drops of your preferred pure essential oil (I use lavender) to the liquid laundry soap as well as to your vinegar bottle lets you customize how it all smells. You are in total control!

Trying this practice will find you enjoying fresh, clean laundry as you take a huge step toward eco-fying your laundry routine.

Worth the time and effort? What is your opinion?
Next, I use a big measuring cup with a pour spout, I pour the contents into my plastic bottles, using a funnel, a little more than ½ of the way full. I then let the bottles cool, sometimes for a couple of hours. Just about the time the bottles feel luke-warm, I add more hot water and shake them again, leaving some air in the top of the bottle for future shaking and remixing.


Lisa Sharp said...

Very cool! I made my own shampoo this week. I haven't made laundry soap before. :)

I have thought about it but one thing at a time hehe.

Bethany said...

Yay, I'm famous!! I'm glad you like making your own laundry soap as much as I do. :0)

... It's The Journey said...

Lisa, will you share your shampoo recipe? or a link?

Bethany, yep, you started the whole thing. After raising 4 kids, I had to learn to do laundry from you! :)