About 5 years ago our aging washer (it’ll be 20 years old here before too long) got sick enough to have to call the repairman in to give her a look over.
Happily it was a fairly simple (although not inexpensive) repair.
But what shocked me most was the comment the repairman made.
He said, “You’re using too much laundry detergent.”
Now – you gotta know that I’m a bit of a cheap-o, and I’d always prided myself on using just a little bit less than recommended by the manufacturer of the laundry detergent per load. With satisfactory results, I might add. And so I was puzzled.
I replied, “How can you tell?”
He said, “Run your fingers over the inside of the drum here.” And he demonstrated.
“That film is built up detergent. It builds up on your clothes, too, and damages them.” He went on to explain that I could probably get away with using HALF of what the manufacturer recommended.
Something to ponder, to be sure.
A couple of years later, when doing our routine grocery shopping, I stopped and looked in horror at the outrageous increase in the cost of – yes, even the generic! – laundry detergent!
I turned to John and said, “That’s just not right!”
And so I started doing some research and experimenting.
Often this researching, experimenting, and thinking will include a question that I have a feeling probably originated with my Grammy years and years ago.
“What would they have done 100 years ago?”
Okay – so some of you would say I’m kinda granola, and I make way too much stuff from scratch at home, that it’s too much bother, and not worth the time or effort. I’ll admit – I came to the same conclusion after trying out the home made dishwasher detergent I gave a whirl a couple of years ago – not worth the effort, and less than satisfactory results.
But hello?! People have been washing clothes for millennia. Without the mass-produced goo that we fork out nearly $20 for.
I’m not saying I want a wash board and a sturdy rock on the side of a stream – but I want something I can make affordably at home – that actually works!
Is that asking too much?
So – as it happens, I happened to find just the right formula, and for the past couple of years have been making my own laundry soap. With lovely results. Ridiculously cheaply.
I’ve had quite a few people ask me to show them how to make this, and for the recipe, and I keep meaning to add it to the blog – so here you go. How to make your own laundry soap.
You don’t need much to get it done.
A large container – I use the last container I had from when we bought the expensive stuff – over and over and over again. If/when it dies; I’ll use one of those gallon containers you can put water in the fridge with. You know – something like this:
Then you need a funnel. I have this little set from Kitchen Aid – it has a silicone tip on it – which works PERFECTLY for this application – you’ll see why in a minute. Seriously – if you don’t have these yet – you need them. Just in general.
Then you need Borax. It’s super old school and you may have never bought it – but you can bet your grandparents or great-grandparents had it on hand. You probably have walked past it in the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store a bazillion times and not even realized it’s there. It’s there. Buy it. It’s cheap. It’s awesome for homemade cleaning supplies! (DO NOT, however, ingest it. Got it?!)
Next, you need washing soda. This is also something you can find in your local grocery store on the laundry detergent aisle. It’s pretty cheap, too. Know what? You can make your own with stuff you already have at home. Get a glass baking dish – you know, the kind you bake brownies in – put an inch or so of baking soda in the glass dish. Preheat your oven to 400° F. Place said glass baking dish with baking soda in the oven. Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool. Voila! You know have washing soda. (BTW, this is another one of those you shouldn’t ingest. Store it in an air-tight jar.)
And, lastly – you need Dawn dish soap. The blue stuff. Yes, you can try the other stuff if you want. I’ve just found that the blue stuff (which works particularly well with cutting grease) works best. Trust me on this.
See: everything you need here:
First – put 4 Tablespoons of washing soda in the funnel.
This is where that silicone tipped funnel comes in handy. You’ll need to break up the little clumps that will inevitably be in the powders to get them into the container.
Next, add the Borax. Again – I use the funnel tip to squeeze the clumps through and into the container. Works like a charm.
Next step: I add a pot full of boiling water to the container via my handy-dandy funnel. It’s about 4 to 6 cups of water.
Then I let it sit for about 15 minutes – so that the powders melt down in the water.
Next, I add cold water until the container is nearly full. Leave about an inch of head space. Lastly – add 3 Tablespoons of the blue Dawn dish soap.
After the dish soap has been added, I put the cap on the container; shake it around a bit to mix stuff up. And then use it.
And that’s it.
THAT. IS. ALL.
Did I mention it was ridiculously easy?
So back to the washing machine appliance repair dude. Remember how he showed me the grody film in my washing machine?
Yeah – it’s not there anymore.
What’s more, my towels have never felt/smelled cleaner.
There are some things you need to know.
This stuff is not the thick gooey stuff you buy at the grocery store.
This stuff will be kind of a watery-type consistency. That is normal.
I use the same cup to measure the laundry soap into the washing machine with that I did with the old commercially produced laundry soap. Measure for measure.
Yes, you’re right. It doesn’t smell flowery. That kinda freaks some folks out. I like that it doesn’t – we’ve got enough allergies to deal with at our house.
All tolled – it takes maybe 15 to 20 minutes to mix this stuff up and put into use. Depending on how long you wait between the boiling water part and the cold water part.
And – you WILL feel empowered and invincible and considerably richer once you start making your own and leave the commercial stuff in the dust.
Have at it!