Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Watch Out, Tide!

I'm not one to suggest to the austerity gods that I'm switching to their team, but unemployment has taken a toll on my cash flow. Even so, use of laundry detergent still scores fairly high on the need/want continuum. But, as I have learned, alternatives are available.

Tide won't lose its prominence in America's laundry rooms, but my laundry bill just got cheaper.  I manufactured my own laundry soap, in my own kitchen, in fifteen minutes, for less than $10.  And I have enough supplies left to make at least 24 more batches.

The Secret Laundry Detergent Recipe

1/2 bar soap (I used Ivory soap, but another good choice is the quintessential laundry bar, Fels Naptha)
1/2 cup washing soda
1/4 cup borax
1 1/2 gallons water

Gather all of the supplies.  You will need a large kettle for boiling water, a wooden spoon, a grater, a large bucket or other container for mixing, and containers for the finished laundry detergent. I bought the washing soda, borax, and soap at Smith's (a Kroger subsidiary company) in Cottonwood Heights.

Grate the bar of soap. Send the family outside, so they don't assume you are grating Monterrey Jack cheese for tacos. Maybe this would be a nice April Fool's Day trick ... note to self.

Place a large kettle on the stove and heat 2-3 cups of water to boiling. Add grated soap and stir until dissolved.

Remove the pot from the stove. Add washing soda and borax to the soap mixture.

Pour the mixture into the larger container.   Add remaining water to make 1 1/2 gallons. Stir well. Okay, you don't need to use a wire whip, but you will want to ensure that all ingredients are fully blended.

Pour mixture into bottles. If you use a funnel, it will be less messy. I retrieved my bottles from my laundry room trash.  Let bottles stand for 24-48 hours before using. Homemade laundry detergent may have a somewhat unique, white slime consistency.

Detergent making is one of those new "finds" I will probably continue long after I have a new job or source of income. In addition to the dramatic savings on the cost, imagine the mountains of plastic jugs in our landfills that will be eliminated if we manufacture our own laundry soap. Homemade detergent doesn't take much time to make, and since you are making soap, it doesn't mess up your kitchen too badly.  Best of all, it really does get the laundry clean.

If you are less adventurous than me, but still want to save on detergent, Mary's Laundry Blog does a weekly survey of the best prices for laundry detergent and supplies. I was amazed to hear of a blog like Mary's. No narcissistic "it's all about me" posts or even a regurgitation of Mary's latest life drama. Just good advice on stain removal and keeping clothes fresh and clean. Imagine.

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