Tuesday, May 4

Brewing some bubbly....

...but not the kind one might think.

Three weeks ago, I got an email from my husband at work that said "We should do this..." Knowing him as I do, I was a bit nervous to open it and see what it is he thought we should do. Turns out it was a pretty neat idea.

He sent me an email with a link to an article from the Wall Street Journal about laundry detergents. The email and accompanying article basically said this: 1) You're probably using too much detergent per load which causes harm to both the environment and your wallet, and 2) big brand laundry detergent is mostly water. It also said that you could probably get away with washing your clothes without any soap at all, but that struck me as kinda gross.

The article gave a recipe for making your own laundry detergent. It claimed the recipe worked as well as, if not better than, store bought soaps, and would be a whole heckuva lot cheaper. Like, 90% cheaper.

So, we followed the instructions and made our own home-brew:

• 4 cups of water.

• 1/3 bar of cheap soap, grated. (we grated up an entire bar of Dial Antibacterial Pomagranate Somethingorother, and it smells delish!) (also, it's easier to use a potato peeler or knife than a grater)
• 1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda).
• 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax. (my stepmother used this for years on her well water laundry)
• 5-gallon bucket for mixing. (make sure you have a lid!)
• 3 gallons of water.






Mix the grated soap in a saucepan with 4 cups of water, and heat on mediumish until the soap is completely dissolved.
Add hot water/soap mixture to 3 gallons of water in the 5-gallon bucket, then stir in the washing soda and Borax, and continue stirring until well mixed.

The Bunny supervised her daddy's efforts

Let the whole shebang sit for 24 hours, and voila! Homemade laundry detergent.



I was a skeptic, but it turned out pretty awesomely. I would reccomend waiting 36-48 hours before using it, and stir it a few times each day. The fist day we used it, the detergent was gloppy, and it kinda grossed me out. But after several stirs, it is nearly identical to store-bought soap (with less irritating dyes, too!), it really does smell heavenly.

Oh yeah, and it cleans clothes better than I thought it would.

I use about half a cup per load, unless it's full of particulary nasty clothes, and I've yet to find something that didn't come out perfectly clean.

It was $6 total, and we formulated that we are spending about 2 cents per load... as compared to over 20 cents with Detergent That Shall Not Be Named.

We may not always stick with the home brew, and I still use store-bough softener pretty regularly, but it is a great way to save a little money and a small way to go a little green.





ps- I forgot to mention how much the kids got a kick out of this. There are no pictures of the two eldest Bees because, true to their nature, they hovered and then flew away. But, they enjoyed helping when they could, especially the stirring part. This would be a great family activity to try out!





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9 comments:

  1. I'm glad it worked out! I buy environmentally friendly detergent and softener at Costco, which I will be oh so sad to leave when I move.

    I'm really not sure what my hangup is, since I bake my own freakin bread and make my own hummus and other insane things, but I have a thing about buying "real" environmentally friendly cleaning products, even when the glass cleaner is little more than watered down white vinegar. It's a sickness. And a weakness for the amazing smells of Method and Mrs. Meyers.

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  2. I love this. We started using less detergent when we started cloth diapering because detergent build up is a big issue with diapers.

    We now only use about a tablespoon of super-concentrated, earth-friendly, expensive, cloth diaper friendly detergent for everything, but I may have to look into this for our regular clothes.

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  3. Oh we are so doing this.telling summer now.

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  4. I just may have to try this! :-) We have a particularly bad habit of washing clothes, leaving them in the machine too long and then having to rewash them. This would probably save us a ton!

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  5. I am so going to try this...!

    But I do have to say I understand the Method madness, @erniebufflo. Yum!

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  6. Oh we are so doing this.telling summer now.

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  7. I'm glad it worked out! I buy environmentally friendly detergent and softener at Costco, which I will be oh so sad to leave when I move.

    I'm really not sure what my hangup is, since I bake my own freakin bread and make my own hummus and other insane things, but I have a thing about buying "real" environmentally friendly cleaning products, even when the glass cleaner is little more than watered down white vinegar. It's a sickness. And a weakness for the amazing smells of Method and Mrs. Meyers.

    ReplyDelete

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