Homemade laundry detergent

I remember learning that I could make laundry soap myself and how empowered I felt for having one less item to get at Wal-Mart, which at that time, about 16 years ago, was the only option other than the grocery store in our small town.  Of course after I tracked down the items to make it, I quickly realized that I still had to purchase the ingredients, but after making it over and over, I am happy with how long a batch lasts so it relieves me from adding laundry soap to my shopping list frequently.

When I first started making this, I made the liquid kind and kept it in a big 5-gallon bucket by the washer.  Eventually I tried the powder version, and I prefer it now because it’s super quick and easy to make and can stay in a smaller container but still lasts a long time.

Yesterday, Anna and I made another batch and remembered to take some pictures, so without further ado, here is our homemade laundry detergent tutorial!

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Ingredients and amounts:

  • Bar soap — 1 bar  (Fels Naptha, Zote, any kind you like.  Find the cleaning bars in the laundry detergent and/or cleaning aisle.  I really like Zote but the only kind I had on hand at the time was Tone body soap, so I used that.  Worked fine before so I’m using it again.  It really depends on your preference.)
  • Washing soda — 1 cup  (Also in laundry and/or cleaning aisle.  Only kind I’ve ever seen is Arm & Hammer.)
  • Borax — 1 cup  (Find next to washing soda.  The only brand I’ve found is 20 Mule Team.)
  • Baking soda — up to 1 small box  (Generic is fine, and this is an optional ingredient.)
  • Essential oil of your choice — a few drops  (Also an optional ingredient for a nice aroma.  Sometimes I put it in if I remember to but usually I don’t.)

Tools:

  • Container with lid
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Knife for cutting up bar of soap
  • Grater or food processor
  • Measuring cup

**Note:  All of the tools I use are used exclusively for soap-making, as it’s a real pain to wash them good enough to be put back in the kitchen again.  I keep all of it stashed in an empty cat litter bucket in the laundry room and just pull out the bucket when it’s time to make some.

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First, I cut up the bars of soap.  I use an old knife that is so old I can’t remember where it came from.  I was blessed with a secondhand mini food processor, so I roughly cut up the bars of soap and toss them into the bowl of the processor.

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You can also grate the soap, which I used to do and hated.  You want it as fine as possible, which is another reason the processor is so handy.  I toss in a little of the washing soda with the soap so the soap doesn’t gum up in the processor.  It helps make it into a fine powder.

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Once it’s finely chopped, toss it into your container and continue until all of the soap is chopped/grated.  This is what it looks like in the food processor bowl:

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Now it’s time to add the other ingredients.  Add the 1 cup of washing soda,

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the 1 cup of borax,

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a small box of baking soda (if desired), and enlist the help of the photographer to do the stirring.

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This is what the final product looks like, a finely ground mixture.

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If you choose to add an essential oil, now is the time.  I used lavender this time.  Just add a few drops (however strong smelling you like) and stir.

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You are now ready to do some laundry!

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So let’s do something fun….calculate the cost!  Yep, I’m nerdy like that.  Obviously your cost will differ at least slightly from mine unless you live in my exact area and shop at the exact same places as I do.  It will also vary depending on what brand of bar soap you use.

Bar soap     .50 each

Washing soda     .41 per cup

Borax     .42 per cup

Baking soda     .40 per box

Total for 1 batch = 1.73 (I always make a double batch so this would be $3.46 for a double.)

I have a 2-tablespoon scoop that I keep on top of the container to use for measuring.  I use half of the scoop ( 1 tablespoon) for almost all loads and a full scoop (2 tablespoons) for really dirty stuff like my husband’s work clothes and the dog’s blanket.  A double batch makes 37 scoops, which is 74 tablespoons.  Theoretically, I could get 74 loads from this double batch, but more likely I will get about 55 loads.

Cost of laundry soap for my double batch is $3.46 divided by 55 loads = .06 per load.

What a great deal!

 

Send free faxes

I know this doesn’t happen very often but every once in a while I end up with a form or something that can be faxed rather than mailed.  This saves an envelope, postage and delivery time, not to mention the time and gas spent for me to drive almost 20 miles one way to the nearest fax service plus the fees charged for sending it.

But what if you don’t have a fax machine at home?  I certainly don’t, but I do have Google and searched one day for free faxing online and sure enough it is possible.

So I have now used two services to send free faxes.  The first is Fax Zero, which allows a max of 3 pages plus the cover.  This is usually the one I use because most items are only one page.  However, I ended up having one that was several pages and searched for a service that allows more pages while still being free and found MyFax.  (Only the first fax may be free with MyFax.)  I have had success with all of the faxes I have sent with both services.

Don’t you just love free?

Savings potpourri

finance_piggy_bank_coins_lineartI’m always looking for ways to cut costs and love to share ideas with others.  That’s why I an excited to share this neat package of lots of money saving ideas put together by the University of Missouri Extension.  Living on Less gives a comprehensive list of cost cutting ideas in several areas.

I have yet to try every possible way of saving money so I am committing to trying all the items on this list (that apply to my family and our lifestyle) before the end of 2014.  I will post details here when I try something on the list so stay tuned, and please feel free to share out any of the ideas that you try!

Oh, and I love the cool little check boxes next to each one!  (I cannot control my compulsive tendencies, which include the need to check off things on a list.)

Old school land line (and internet) savings

lady on phoneDo you still have a land line phone?  You  know, a real phone that has an actual wired connection?  We do, and I know many people around here that still rely on this old fashioned communication device, mostly because cell reception is often spotty in our very rural area.  As another bill to pay every month, I’m always looking for ways to keep the land line bill as low as possible and being the resource maven that I am, I came across a program offered by our local telephone company and thought I would pass it along to anyone who may qualify.

CenturyLink offers savings of up to $12.75 per month on home phone service through their Lifeline program.  The application is short and simple, and the qualifications are reasonable so  it’s certainly worth checking out the program details.  In addition, CenturyLink also offers a discount program for internet so you may want to check that out also if you have their internet service available in your area.