Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jumping on the DIY Bandwagon!

So, my husband is on a mission to make a substantial dent in our debt this year. Basically, that means taking a closer look at where we spend our money and cutting out some of that unnecessary spending that seems to attack our bank account each month. 

One of the things he wanted to try was making our own laundry soap. Now, laundry soap is not a huge expense for us. I only ever buy one brand, I can only find it at Menards, and it only costs $3 a bottle. I would typically buy 5 bottles at a time and that would last us a good long while. By the time it was time to replenish our supply, I couldn't remember the last time I had to bought it. But, he wanted to give it a try, so I was fine with that.

If you've ever checked into it, I'm sure you've seen that there are about a million recipes for making homemade laundry detergent... especially if you like Pinterest. I think that making powdered detergent is less time consuming, but we have always used the liquid, so that's the route we went. This recipe came from my friend Erin over at She's been making it for her family for quite a while now. The nice thing about making it myself is that I know exactly what's in it - and exactly what's not. I can pronounce everything, which is a good thing too!

We took the plunge Friday night. I was able to buy everything at Meijers in the laundry section and it was ridiculously cheap. We had the first batch made in about 20 minutes and were able to use it the next day. I don't have an excess of time, so the fact that it was so quick definitely got a gold star from me. I didn't take pictures or anything like that, but here's the process in a nutshell:

What you need

(1) Fels Naptha Bar - at my Meijers it was located on the other side of the laundry aisle by the bar soaps in the grocery section
(1) box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
(1) box Borax
5 gallon bucket with a lid

What you do

  • grate the entire bar of Fels Naptha into a small bowl using a cheese grater
  • bring 4-5 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan
  • add the grated Fels Naptha to the water and turn the heat down to medium
  • stir continually until all the soap is melted (be careful not to let it boil over) - the mixture will be frothy
  • set aside the soap mix and fill your 5 gallon bucket half full with hot water
  • dissolve 1 C washing soda and 1/2 C borax into the water 
  • pour in the melted soap mixture and stir until completely mixed
  • add more hot water to the bucket, filling it to about 2 inches from the top
  • stir it up again and put the lid on
  • let it sit at least 8 hours (overnight worked well for us - make it after dinner and let it sit in the basement)
  • when you take the lid off, it will be gelled - we have a paint stirring attachment for the drill and used that to mix it all up. Your other option would be to use your hands to break up the gel, but I'll let the drill do the work for me. 
How to use

We filled up old laundry detergent bottles with the homemade soap. I like the convenience of having the measuring lines on the lid - and the idea of not having to dip a measuring cup into the detergent every single time. You will want to use about 1/2 C of soap per load and don't freak out that the soap doesn't foam up in the washing machine. That was a little strange to me at first, but I used it with all of the laundry this weekend and it seemed to work just fine!

I have UBER sensitive skin so I'm excited that it's unlikely I'll react to this detergent. It smells really clean and fresh, but I think I'm going to add some lavender essential oil to a batch and see how that turns out. I have a delicious lavender and tea tree oil blend that I think would be fantastic in a laundry soap!

Husband is definitely a fan. We have enough stuff to make 25 gallons of laundry soap before we'll have to buy more Fels Naptha bars (but at about $1 per bar, when we run out, the cost to replenish that stock will be minimal). I'm pretty sure it'll be spring before we need to mix up another batch of laundry soap, although we did give a bottle away for a friend to try. Considering I'm not out by Menards very often to buy more laundry soap, the idea of not having to think about running out is pretty sweet. It's funny how you always need to do laundry when you're low on detergent... I'm excited to have everything on hand to make more when we need it!

If you make your own laundry soap, do you have any tweaks you recommend?

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