Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Going green.

Saturday I took my first big step towards being a "greener" household.

I made my own liquid laundry detergent. Boo-yah. I sho' did.

Via Pinterest, I found this brilliant tutorial. Thank goodness I thought to half the recipe my first time. I was unsure if all the ingredients (including the water) would fit in my big pot, so I took the safe route and only made a half batch. Sure enough, I was right, and from now on, I will make this stuff in half batches.

I found both the Borax and the Arm & Hammer super washing soda in my trusty Wal-Mart Supercenter (look on the bottom or top shelves if you don't find it at first). I had a bar of soap in my arsenal already, so I just used it. It was some fancy-schmancy pinky-purple bar of French soap, which made my liquid laundry detergent a pretty pale pink color. Ooh-la-la. I also took the time to read through ALL of the comments on the tutorial blog post, just in case there were any extra tips. Sure enough, many people commented to use only half a bar of soap instead of a full bar. Since my fancy-schmancy soap was a smaller square-ish size, I considered it equal to a regular half bar of soap.

The hardest step in all of this is the grating. I don't have a stand-up grater, so my arms definitely got tired grating my bar of soap. It did kind of give me a sense of Pioneer Woman (not the Ree Drummond-variety, but the real deal like my grandma was who was born in Indian Territory) grating that soap. I then halved my soap shavings, saving part of it for when I make another batch on down the road.

Another smart thing I did (imagine that) was to save my last two liquid laundry detergent containers. Ah, recycling at it's finest. Plus, the cap can be used as a measuring cup as it's capacity is a 1/2 cup just like this recipe calls for. I know how to use my noggin every once in a while...

If you make this laundry detergent, keep in mind three things:

1. Yes, it will coagulate (watch out, big word), meaning it will thicken up and get quite gelatinous. When I made this, I had enough to fill one jug completely and another jug 1/4 full (remember, I made a half batch). Next time I make it I will think ahead and pour both of them half full, giving me room to shake them up before pouring it out if they are really thick. So, don't be afraid if your batch turns out really thick. You can still use it, and most of the comments said their batches were pretty thick so it is completely normal.

2. This does not produce suds. (Suds do not necessarily equal "clean".) This was hard for me to grasp at first, but now I am a couple of loads in and believing in the magic.

3. My batch turned out very lightly scented. Since I use dryer sheets (I tear mine in half to make the box last twice as long), I don't need the detergent to scent my clothes because they end up smelling like whatever dryer sheet I throw in there. I'm pretty sure this detergent alone will not leave much of a scent on your clothes. When I used store-bought liquid laundry detergent, I usually went for the "free" versions without the scents or dyes anyway.

According to the tutorial, this liquid laundry detergent is a huge money-saver. For the $6 spent on a box of Borax and a box of Arm & Hammer super washing soda, this apparently will make enough detergent to clean approximately 576 loads. (I'm guessing it might make less for me since I never feel like I get as many loads as what they say on regular laundry detergent anyway.) Regardless, considering I normally spend $6 on one container of All (or Tide or whatever) that probably gets me somewhere around 50 loads, this is pure gold. You don't have to be a math genius to know that ends up costing mere pennies per load. And better for the environment to boot. And maybe better for your clothes as well since it doesn't have all the artificial crap in it.

So, do you think you'll try it out?

Next up for me: homemade dishwashing detergent, which by the way also uses Borax and Arm & Hammer super washing soda. (And hello, did you know you can use plain ol' white vinegar for rinse aid? Genius, I tell ya'.)

I'm loving this "green" stuff. Watch out, tree huggers, I'm comin' your way!

{Edited to add: I also just read about the benefits of white distilled vinegar in the laundry, so I am adding 1/2 cup to every load (there is a spot in my washing machine I can pour it in to be released during the rinse cycle). Apparently it not only whitens whites and brightens brights (ah, I am a poet), but it also softens the laundry and eliminates static cling. So maybe I can stop using the dryer sheets after all and switch to lavender sachets to scent my laundry...hmmm....}

**I do not have a high efficiency washing machine, nor do I have a front-loader. You should probably read through all the comments on the tutorial blog post to see if it would work in either of those (I think I remember reading that it would).


cssolomon said...

OMG- I have totally been thinking about doing this as well...unfortuantely not neccessarily to be green, but just to save money. I have one kid, I can imagine 4 males can do some serious hurtin' on the laundry. I will have to watch your tutuorial this weekend.

Lisa said...

valerie I love my powder that I made out of A bar of "Fels-Naptha" soap. It's right there with the soda and the borax and get this...it's 97 cents. and since it is traditional laundry soap you can scrub it on stains. I have super sensitive skin/and allergies to scents and while the detergent was very strong and lemony, my clothes were soft and clean smelling but not perfumy... I could not grate my soap so get this i used my food processor and grated it, then pulsed it with the blade. :)

The Busters said...

I definitely want to try this!! I have seen these recipes before and keep meaning to do it. Thanks for the motivation. Oh and my mom and I made the bolognese sauce you posted and it was DELISH!!! Thanks for that recipe!

Rhonda said...

It whitens whites and brightens brights. I want it to soften softs!

Thanks for the great tips!

Thyen Party of Four said...

LOVE IT!!!! I've thought about making my own detergent for some time ... Ang makes it and dish washing as well :) Vinegar is my best friend - and I use it everywhere :) You're right - it brings memories of my grandma as well :) Isn't it funny with so many 'things' out there to make life 'easier' - so many people are resorting back to the basics - I love it! Thanks for your post!! :)