Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gratitude, Day 4

Today, I'm grateful for the internet, or rather, all the people who are willing to share their tips and tricks for saving money on household expenses on the internet.

I've joined the throngs of others who have taken to making their own laundry soap.  I've done two batches of the liquid kind using this recipe (from a former coworker):
4 cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha Soap bar
1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

Grate bar of soap and add to sauce pan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
Fill a 5 gallon bucket to half-full with hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water, stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
Stir again. Then fill a used clean laundry soap dispenser half full with soap, and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use.
OPTIONAL : You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled.
YIELD: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons
TOP LOAD MACHINE: 5/8 cup per load (180 washes)
FRONT LOAD MACHINES: 1/4 cup per load (640 washes)
It should be noted that I followed in my former coworker's footsteps by using a bar of Ivory soap instead of Fels-Naptha when making this.  Also, I didn't water the soap down when I poured it into an old soap bottle.  I just used less.  (This meant I didn't have to stir the bucket of soap as often to refill the bottle.)  It worked great, but when the second batch was getting low, I decided it was time to give the powdered version a try ... mostly because I really dislike the refill process when my bottle gets low (scooping out soap from the bucket and pouring it through a funnel into the bottle one ladle at a time).

I used the instructions found here.  I did not go out to purchase a new box of Borax or of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.  I figured with only 2 cups missing out of the box of A&H and only 1 out of the Borax, it should be a close enough mix still to work.  One bit of wisdom I can pass along?  Don't store these items in an area where there will be a lot of moisture (like in the basement).  They turn into giant bricks of soap stuff.  I ended up using one of those grater things they make for pedicures to file my way through them.  (It was clean and unused, so I figured it'd be fine.)  That actually made it go pretty quickly ... until it wasytime to get out the cheese grater for the soap.

I bit the bullet and actually purchased Fels-Naptha soap for the powdered version, so I had 3 bars to grate.  My hands are still quite sore ... though they smell lovely enough.  Once everything was in my 5-gallon bucket, all that was left was to stir ... and stir ... and stir.  Since 4 of the ingredients are white powder, it's hard to tell how well it's blended.  So, I just used the grated Fels-Naptha as a guide.  Once it was fairly evenly distributed through the mix, I called it good.

As is stated on her blog, this recipe makes about 2 gallons of powdered soap and has a very mild odor.  As for cost, I've invested:
$6.99 Oxy Clean
$3.27 Fels-Naptha (3 bars @ $1.09 each)
$2.39 store-brand baking soda
$5.00 Borax
$5.00 Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
$22.65 Total
That's $22.65 for 211.5 ounces (or 10.709 cents per ounce) of laundry detergent of which at I am supposed to only have to use 1-2 Tbsp per load due to the lack of fillers.  My local Walmart sells a name-brand powdered laundry detergent in a 140 oz package for $17.97 (12.836 cents per ounce).  So, this should be an economical solution for my household.  I'll attempt to get my children to agree to help me track the number of loads of laundry we get out of it, and I'll let you know when I run out to give you an idea how long it lasts in a household which currently includes me, my 20-year-old clotheshorse daughter, and my 16-year-old son.

Freebie whiteboard from work

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