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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Call Me Granola

Let me tell you first of all the reasoning behind this post. Sean & Nathan tend to react over time to detergent and fabric softeners. I've moved to using only "Free and Clear" types of laundry products to keep out dyes and scents. I've also been increasingly dissatisfied over the past year with my laundry. The clothes seem increasingly dingy over time and I'm not a big bleach fan for whites (see above--kid and hubby might react). I also don't like pumping more chemicals onto clothes.

Now, some laundry facts I know.
  • The bulk of the lint in your dryer is fibers from your clothes which is why they wear out over time.
  • Detergents don't need to suds to be effective. In fact, the more suds you get, the more phosphate types of chemicals would be found in your detergent.
  • When everyone started going to 'super-concentrated' detergents, they took out the fillers (such as shredded styrofoam) to reduce the package size.
  • Tide can rust your machine over time and is one of the most harsh detergents on the market.
Armed with my knowledge, I started looking into making my own laundry detergent about 8-9 months ago. When I was looking, I could only find recipes for a liquid detergent that made 5 gallons at one time. Sean had a cow every time I mentioned making it. You have to admit, a 5 gallon bucket of 'slime' isn't something that's easy to store. I looked but couldn't find any powder recipes that people actually liked after they used them.

Recently, my friend Holly posted a blog that she made her own POWDERED laundry detergent. I was so excited and started researching. In the end, I decided to use her recipe and see how it went. I made it earlier this week and LOVE it. So quick and easy!! (I'm sure Holly thinks I'm ripping off her idea, but I'm so thankful that she kept going until she found me a powdered recipe that makes less than 5 gallons at a time!!!)

First you go to the laundry product aisle of your grocery store, Target or Walmart and pick up the following three items:

1. Fels Naptha Laundry Soap (or Ivory Bar Soap)





2. "20 Mule Team Borax'' or whatever borax they have. The 20 Mule Team brand seems to be the most common.














3. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not Baking Soda and not the new powdered A&H laundry detergent) This ingredient was the hardest to find, but I got it at my Kroger store. My fancy Walmart didn't have it.








To make the detergent, grate the Fels Naptha (or Ivory) and make 2 Cups of shred. (About 2/3 bar of Fels makes 2 Cups shredded soap.) I used my Pampered Chef grater and had it done in less than 5 minutes. You can use a hand grater or even your food processor. Mix the soap shred with 1 Cup Borax and 1 Cup Washing Soda into an airtight container. Add 1 Tbsp. per load (2 if heavily soiled). It won't give you lots of suds, but it will clean your clothes better than the expensive commercial stuff.

This recipe makes 4 Cups of detergent which is 32-64 loads of laundry (16 Tbsp. per cup x 4 Cups = 64 loads unless you use 2 Tbsp per load which cuts it to 32 loads).









I'm also giving up on fabric softeners to go back to good old fashioned White Distilled Vinegar. I use the Downy Ball and fill it to the line with vinegar. It will remove ALL scents from the laundry and you will NOT have a vinegar smell on your clothes. This tip was all from Holly and I researched it out as well.

Vinegar is a natural way to soften clothes without harming the fibers of the cloth. It removes odor (like sweaty kid smell) and leaves your clothes soft. I don't like smells added to my clothes, but if that is important to you, check out Holly's find with her Dryer Sachets. She is in love with them, but I'm happy with my now smell-free clothes.

Other benefits I'm finding to the whole make your own thing are that I'm being more environmentally friendly, I'm using less harmful chemicals on my family and I am saving money. Everyone thinks money was my motivation, but in this case, not true. However, to give you a handle on the costs, the Fels Naptha was $0.98 for one bar. The Borax was $3.20 for a 76oz box and the A&H Washing Soda was $3.01 for a 55oz box.

I used 2/3 of the soap (let's call it a full $1.00) plus 1/8 box Borax (actually it was less, but I'm rounding up to make sure I'm not cheating on the price) at $0.40 plus 1/6 box Washing Soda at $0.51. For 34-64 loads of laundry, it cost me $1.91. Even at only 32 loads, the cost per load is $0.06 per load. For 64 loads, it's down to $0.03 per load. And I might have 2 boxes in the cupboard, but not a 5 gallon bucket. I'm thrilled.

4 comments:

Brenda Sherman said...

Robyn -

Here is my question - do you use the whole box of soda and mule team with the soap or just a certain amount?????? I love the idea - you have inspired me!!

Robyn said...

You don't use anywhere near the box. In fact, probably less than 1/8 box.

Measure out:
2 Cups Grated Soap (Fels Naptha or Ivory)
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Washing Soda

Mix together and put in airtight container.

You use most of the bar of soap, but you'll have borax & washing soda for times to come.

Lara Erickson said...

This is so cool. All of my boys are sensitive to detergents, but Caleb is the worst. I love the vinegar. Tried with my towels today and they smell fantastic!!! You have always been such a great source of information for me!!! What a blessing. I am so excited to try out the soap.

Lara

Lara said...

So I decided to see what I could find in our grocery store in town. We do not have a Wal-mart(gasp) or a Target in our town. Just grocery stores and 1 grocery/clothing store. Anyway, I was looking down the detergent isle and found all three together on the shelf!!! I was quite excited. No shopping around. Thanks again.8

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