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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Saving money doing laundry

Today I was in the kitchen making lunch and my 3 year old (who loves to be involved in anything I'm doing in the kitchen) saw the cheese grater in the drawer, and said "Time to make soap mommy!"

Now, for many households I realize this would sound very odd, but not in ours! Because she knows my thrifty ways and my oh-so-fabulous laundry soap recipe. If you aren't making your own, and I haven't enticed you enough, read on...

One of the topics of last year's MOPS meetings was homemade stuff. And one of the women shared her recipe for homemade laundry detergent. There is a liquid and a powder version. You may have seen the Duggars' liquid method, and I know many people make it this way. But the powder version is wayyy easier, and honestly I would have never tried the liquid version since it seems too time consuming for me. But if I can put 3 ingredients into a bowl, and mix, you can too!

All you need is 1 box 20 Mule Team Borax (76oz), 1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55oz) (NOT baking soda), and 1 bar of soap (Fels Naptha is the most preferred). All of these can be found in the laundry aisle of your local store. Fels is actually an old-fashioned laundry soap which is great for stain-fighting; you can even rub it directly onto stains.


Step #1: First, you grab that cheese grater and grate the bar of soap. I've heard most people use Fels Naptha, but you can also use others, such as Zotes (found at Home Depot) or Ivory. I was using Fels Naptha for months, but decided this time to try Dove because that is the brand that a dermatoloist recommended for my daughters' eczema. I figure if its gentle and safe enough for their baths, it's got to be the best for cleaning their clothes, especially in this cold dry winter season.

Now, this is the most tedious step, so be sure to enlist a little helper (or however many you have!) Can you tell she loves to do this? She does! She really can't grate it with her little hands, but she sure thinks she's helping!

In this picture my little helper is holding a bar of Fels Naptha.

The picture below shows what the Fels looks like vs. the Dove, once they are grated. The Dove grates much more fluffier, almost like snow. But they both dissolve great in the washer.

Step #2: Add 1 cup borax

Step #3: Add 1 cup Washing Soda

Step #4: Mix all 3 (grated soap of your choice, borax, and washing soda) in large bowl and store in an airtight container.

Just add 1-2tbsp per load. For front-loading machines, place directly into the machine, not into the dispenser cup.

Your laundry will be soft, clean, and odorless. It might take awhile to get used to if you're used to that fresh downy smell. But we had to switch to sensitive soaps/softeners because of our girls' sensitive skin so we have to do without that nice fresh scent anyway. But if you really want that fresh scent you can add oil, which I believe can be found in the laundry aisle as well. Also if you have really messy kids (who doesn't?!) you can add a scoop of oxyclean powder to your mix. I usually use the spot spray for stains and that works great.

If you're still not convinced, here is the price breakdown:

1 box Borax...$3.38

1 box Washing Soda...$3.24

1 bar soap...$1.00

I have not figured the math myself because you still have plenty of borax and baking soda left for future batches, but according to my trusty MOPS friends, the breakdown comes to just PENNIES per load!!

If you read my blog last week on homemade dishwasher detergent, then you read that white vinegar can be used as a rinse agent. Well, it works the same for laundry! As soon as I read that it can be used in place of softener, I gave it a try. And it works great!  Just fill up your softener compartment (or even use it in your downy ball) with plain white vinegar and run your load.  It acts as double duty because it is a natural cleaner for your washer...bonus! Your clothes will not have any trace of vinegar smell, I promise!! Even on just 1 rinse cycle. I do have a bounce dryer bar in my dryer that helps soften too, but I am saving $$ by skipping out on dryer sheets.

Give it a try!



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