Sunday, February 22, 2009

Laundry Soap, Part Deux: It works, IT WORKS!

I literally can not explain how excited I am right now. I have made homemade laundry soap for less than $0.05 per load. No phosphates. No yucky environmental damage. AND I SAVED A SHITPILE OF MONEY.

Even Husbandly One agrees that the enviro laundry is clearly "clean" and smells that way. I may break in to tears any second.

The recipe...

One cup grated Ivory soap (more on that in a minute)
Half cup Borax
Half cup washing soda (NOT baking soda, there is a big difference)

I'm done now. That's it, that's the whole recipe. For a normal load, use one tablespoon, For super dirty stuff, use two. The end.

All three ingredients were readily available in the laundry aisle of the grocery store (look up!), I did find it funny that the washing soda box recommends adding a half cup of the stuff to normal washing powder to feel the full benefit. Umm, I'm using less than a teaspoon and I'm pretty happy, thanks.

The Ivory soap....either unwrap it and leave it to harden for a week (makes it easier to grate) or freeze it for a few hours, which is what I did. One cup of finely grated soap is about three quarters of one bar, FYI. (I froze two because I didn't know what to expect.) And ALL of the sites I visited recomnend you NOT use whatever leftover bar soap you have laying around, as the scents / chemical agents in most bars may stain your laundry. Just use some kind of pure soap and you're good to go.

Mix the grated soap with the two other ingredients. Now, the Borax box advises you not breathe in the dust, and one of the many places I found this recipe mentioned you should mix it with a mask on. I didn't use a mask, I was just careful to keep my face away from the mixture.

Now, once you have your fabulous laundry soap, you can add two tablespoons of powdered Oxy-Clean if you want (I didn't, although several sites mentioned it) and some essential oil if you want a scent. (I did this, bought lavender oil, which I did NOT include in my cost calculation above, because it's not really necessary, and because I have no idea how to figure out what ten drops of oil out of a bottle cost.) Next batch, if I want a real scent to keep Husbandly One happy, I will probably add 15 drops instead of ten.

This detergent does NOT make suds...which makes it weird when you see it, but also makes it suitable for front lading washers.

I saw a few posts that recommend you add vinegar to the rinse cycle periodically to clean out any soap residue in the machine, and suggest you can use a Downy Ball for this. Vinegar is a natural fabric softener and does NOT leave a vinegar scent to the wash. I don't use fabric softener, haven't for over a year, but I plan to buy a Downy Ball. I will use it everytime I empty my container of soap. (about every 25 loads.)

Dudes, I am beyond excited. My efforts at self sufficiency (baking, making my own butter, knitting, gardening, etc) have all been fun, but THIS? This is something that I can benefit from in my own home, both from an economic and environmental perspective, and ALSO easily share with others.

Off to make more soap, so I can give "samples" to the girls at work...

EDITED on march 19 to add: I have now read that this soap should never be used with bleach. Why? I don't know but I assume the reason is due to some chemical reaction. So please, make the soap. Skip the bleach.


Green Grrl said...

This is very exciting! :)
I've been thinking about doing this too but I've always wondered about the ivory soap part. Wonder if I could substitute a locally made plain soap instead?
I have a top loading washer - do you think I'd have to use more of it per load?

Congrats on a super successful experiment! :)

Irma said...

Well, Green Grrl, I have only been washing ny clothes with this soap for about, oh, four hours now, so I'm not exactly an expert, but here goes.

I also have a toplading machine, and have now done four loads with one flat tablespoon of the stuff. Clothes are CLEAN and smell that way. (The smell is due to the lavendar oil, I'm sure... id doesn't small like lavender, exactly, but it DOES smell like cleaning has occurred....I will add more lavender oil to the next batch to keep Husbandly One "comfortable.")

As long as your local plain soap is exactly that, just SOAP, then I see no reason why it wouldn't work. Because I am making baby steps in my enviro ways, I would suggest you start with the Ivory, just to see the results, and then experiment with your soap. That way you will be able to gauge its effectiveness.

Pamela Dawn said...

WOW-- CAN I SAY WOW AGAIN!!-- This is too cool-- Gash- even I can make that!! so, I am not a co-worker, but how about a sample!!! How are you doing? did you get pictures for D's project??!! I had to help him make a turtle out of a pasta sauce jar this weekend-- kids are fun!!-- Happy soap making and it sounds great-- p

Robbyn said...

I can't believe I've never done this yet...thanks so much for sharing your experience...I need to get off my duff and make some of my own :)

Robbyn said...

I'm back...just bought the ingredients (who can go wrong with just THREE??)...and will be stirring it all up soon...wooo!! All the recipes I saw for it said fels naptha soap...I didnt know I could use Ivory, so woohoo, now we'll be clean AND cheap, ha!

Irma said...

Yeah, I saw the fels naptha soap mentioned all over the place too, Robbyn, but found many sites that said, "If you can't find THAT, use Ivory." I can't wait to hear how it works for you!

Anonymous said...

Came accross your site from Farmgirl Susan - Love the homemade soap idea and have been wanting to try it. How is "washing soda" labeled, I've never seen it. I wash my work clothes (not super fancy but business) separate from my greasy, dirty, hard working man's - does it seem to fade or be harsh on woman's clothing? I don't blog...yet, so I'll check back to see if you post a reply. Jessie in Idaho.

Pamela Dawn said...

hey girlfriend! where is my sample!!!-- and I am waiting to see your reply to Jessie-- ;)
I am going to try this one-- really, I mean really, I am!! ;)