Healthy body, healthy spirit, healthy mothering. This is the journey I have set out on with my two amazing children.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Have I gone too far?

Guess what I did this weekend?  

You will never guess so I will just tell you.  *drum roll please*

I made my own laundry soap.

Why?  Because I have stopped buying it in plastic and I have to pay a small fortune for the powder that has no phosphates in it.  Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Tia has clearly lost her mind is really serious about protecting her wallet the environment" and you would be right.  Phosphates in our water supply are causing a multitude of problems because Phosphorus, a naturally occurring element, is a primary source of plant nutrition.  Unfortunately we are putting WAY too much of it into the water supply.  Basically it is washing down our drains and into our streams, lakes and rivers.  When a water source has excess Phosphorus algae begins to take over (algae feeds off the Phosphorus).   This puts a financial strain on our municipal water treatment plants as they have to strain out even more algae than normal.  It also tends to clog up the pipes, literally.  Algae, by the way is that gorgeous slimy, often green stuff floating on stagnant ponds, a typical part of nature but not something we want in our drinking or bathing water.  Oh.  And one more quick point.  Our government has been very much aware of this problem since the 1970s but leaves it up to state and local governments to limit the amounts of phosphates that can be sold in their areas; if you want to know more check your local statutes.  

So while reading one of my daily blogs I stumbled upon this very topic and decided it was time to make another batch of homemade laundry soap.  Yes, I have made some before, the powder kind and I didn't like it.  Hopefully this liquid will be better.

What you'll need:

  • 1 big bucket.  I used a 5 gallon all-purpose bucket (with lid) from Home Depot. 
  • 2 C of finely grated pure soap.  I like Fels Naptha which I can buy really cheap at my local grocery store.  Some recipes said bars of Ivory work great too.
  • 2 C Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.  This removes dirt and odors.
  • 2 C Borax.  I have only ever seen the 20 Mule Team brand but I am sure there are others out there.  This is a whitener and helps to remove odors.

This is what finely grated Fels Naptha looks like.  I grated it using my standard metal cheese grater while watching Grey's Anatomy.  Just watch your fingers when the bar gets tiny.

I gathered my supplies and got to work.  In a fairly large pot start heating 1 quart of water.  When it starts to simmer add the 2 C of soap.  Stir until completely melted.  Take it off the heat and stir in the washing soda and borax.  It will begin to gel pretty quickly.  I let this cool a few minutes before I dumped it into the bucket.  Add 2 gallons of water.  I used cold water but next time I will try hot and see if it makes a difference.  Stir well and let it sit overnight.  It will continue to gel and tadaaaa!  Liquid laundry soap.  Use 1/4-1/2 C per regular load and up to 1 C for heavily soiled clothing.

I can't say for sure but most web pages that I checked (I am actually not the only person doing this) said this costs anywhere from 3 cents to 8 cents per load of laundry.  Seems pretty darn cheap to me.

Warning:  This does NOT look like regular liquid laundry detergent.  One web comment I read described it as thick egg-drop soup...and that is the most perfect description possible. It is like a watery gel and I debated putting in this next picture but what the heck.
If it makes you feel any better, Kelen was squealing "MOM THAT'S NASTY!" as he poured so I could snap a quick picture.

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