It's interesting to me to hear old time remedies, and cleaning tips like using vinegar as a fabric softener... somewhere a long the road, we've been conditioned that we need to use chemicals and "special" cleaners for things. What strikes me even harder, is how often I'll try an old fashioned cleaning solution, and find that it works BETTER than the store bought supplies. Not only that, but most of the solutions I like best also happen to have WAY less chemicals. At the very LEAST, I can pronounce the ingredients in my cleaning detergents.
I've started making my own laundry soap a while ago. I wanted to wait until I made my second batch before I shared the recipe I came up with by combining tips and ingredients of a couple different recipes I found on line. Most of the recipes I found on line call for a castile soap, which I can get in the laundry section of a nearby store, but SouleMama shared that her family uses Dr. Bonner's soap (which is still a castile soap) It's also fair trade and all natural, so I chose to use that. Amanda's recipe is for dry soap, and since my washer seems to be lax in it's rinsing, I chose to try a wet version. I also think the wet mix goes a little further. You can also use soaps like Ivory and I've heard a brand called Zote works too. I have only used Dr. Bonner's Peppermint. Each bar is around $4.00 a bar. I can get it locally for about $3.85.
Another key ingredient is washing soda. DO NOT confuse WASHING soda with BAKING soda. Arm and Hammer makes them both, but they are not the same. Washing soda is sodium carbonate or soda ash, and baking soda is sodium BIcarbonate. I could not find this anywhere locally, but ACE Hardware carries it, and if your local store doesn't have it on it's shelves, you can order it on line, and have it shipped to your local ACE for free to be picked up. That's what I did. A box of it cost me $3.79. I'll be able to get quite a few batches of soap from one box.
The other two ingredients are easy to find. Borax and Baking Soda. Borax (and sometimes baking soda) can be found in the laundry isle of most stores. At our WalMart, there was a HUGE bag of Baking Soda in the pool isle. 12 pounds of it! lol That will last me even longer than the Washing Soda. It was a little over $6.
HERE is a printable version of this recipe.
You'll also need:
1 container that will hold 2 gallons. I bought my container at WalMart for less than $10.00
1 Cheeze grater
1 Pot that can hold 10 cups of water on the stove
1 bar Dr. Bonner's soap, grated.
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup borax powder
*optional: 5-6 drops essential oil for added scent. In my case that would be peppermint, because that's the soap scent I used. You can make whatever scent you'd like tho.
Put the grated soap and 6 cups of water and heat in your pot on a medium heat until the soap is melted. Here's what things look like at the start of the heating:
I stirred mine most the time. Add the washing soda, baking soda and borax. *add essential oil now if you choose to use them. Stir all ingredients until the powders are also dissolved. Here's what they look like when everything is added and disolved:
Pour 1 gallon and 10 cups hot water into your jar (it is especially important to warm a glass jar this way before adding the mix from the stove.) Add the soap mix to the jar and stir. (There are 16 cups in one gallon. You should have a total of 32 cups of water or 2 gallons TOTAL water in your mix when you are finished.)
Let the mix stand for 24 hours before using. It will thicken to a consistency of what most people call "egg flour soup" thickness. It's lumpy, and that's normal. I use 1/2 cup of the finished mix with each load. Here's what the solution looks like 24 hours later:
From what I've read on line, this soap also works in HE front loading machines. I don't have that kind, so I don't know personally. On all the sites I found with laundry soap recipes, commentors that did, and had tried it, said it works good! I do know it's a low suds solution.
If you find that your wash isn't coming out as nicely as mine... you may try adjusting your ingredients according to whether or not you have hard or soft water.
HARD WATER: If you have hard water, your water has high pH. Try using less Baking Soda. Baking Soda is used to raise pH.
SOFT WATER: If you have soft water, your water has low pH. Try using less Soda Ash, which lowers pH levels in water.
You might also just try using smaller amounts of solution and see what results you get.
Additionally, I use vinegar as a fabric softener inside a Downy Ball. (even though the ball says not to use with anything OTHER than Downy... I'm a rebel like that.) I fill the ball according to it's instructions for the size load I have. It dispenses the vinegar at the right time in the cycle. There's no vinegar smell to my loads when they are finished either!
When I'm not using my solar dryer (laundry line) I plan to use Wool laundry dryer balls. (which I still need to make) The lanolin in the wool acts the way a dryer sheet would act in the dryer, cutting down on static.
My laundry is coming out feeling more clean. I never noticed that my soaps were leaving a residue until I felt laundry that DIDN'T have that. The peppermint isn't strong enough to make my laundry smell like it, so I'm adding some more peppermint scent in the form of essential oils. Instead, the laundry comes out odor free, even when it goes in stinky. My whites seem whiter to me, and everything except thicker towels are super soft even when they are dried on the line.
ALSO... reading on line, I think I could use this solution on my dishes... I'll be trying that soon to see if it's true.
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