- toilet paper
- laundry soap
- cleaning supplies/household cleaners
- bottled water
- kitty litter
I've not yet figured out a way to make my own toilet paper or kitty litter (and I don't think I want to). And I could make my own pants and underwear, but I'm not that talented of a seamstress (also: don't think I want to). And as ridiculous as bottled water is, having a stash in the fridge gets me to drink approximately 300x more water than I normally do, so it's a ridiculous, frivolous purchase that I feel is justified. But cleaning supplies and laundry soap...that's something I can handle.
So last weekend I set out to make my first ever batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent. The recipe came from a certain incredibly fertile television family whom I don't care to link to and assume you could easily google to find the source yourself. But they have a nice, simple recipe that I modified ever so slightly. Here are the ingredients:
4 cups water, 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap, 1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, 1/2 Cup Borax. You will also need a clean 5-gallon bucket with a lid, and some old laundry soap containers, rinsed out kitty litter containers, or anything smaller and more manageable than a 5-gallon bucket. Unless you like pouring your laundry soap from a giant hulking 5-gallon bucket. Then by all means, go ahead.
Here is how to make the magic happen:
First, grate the bar of soap into a medium-sized saucepan. Use a cheese grater. And don't whine that it will ruin your cheese grater, because it's SOAP for cryin' out loud and your grater will end up cleaner than when you started.
If you are like me and have zero upper body strength, get a bodybuilder/hyperactive teenager/special helper to grate it for you. It will take approximately 2 minutes instead of 37. You will end up with a mighty pile of shavings that looks like delicious, delicious cheese.
Add 4 cups of warmish water to the saucepan full of
Heat on medium until it all dissolves into a lovely smooth soap soup. Stir it lots, and be patient. This part takes time. Maybe ten minutes. Or less, if you get impatient and crank the heat because you are bored. But I would never do such a thing.
When it's ready, it will look like this:
Now if you're thinking ahead, have that bodybuilder/hyperactive teenager/special helper mix the rest of the ingredients together while you are watching soap melt. In the five-gallon bucket, add 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and 1/2 Cup of Borax. Fill the bucket halfway with hot water, and stir everything up until completely dissolved. Then, by the time your soap is done melting, everything else will be ready for the next step. Look at you...savin' time. Makin' soap. You're awesome.
So let's see...your washing soda and borax are dissolved, and your soap is melted. Add the melted soap to the mixture in the five gallon bucket. Give it a stir and then fill the rest of the bucket almost to the top with water. We left a few good inches at the top to make it easier to stir/pour later on.
Stir it all up, put on the lid, and go do something for 24 hours. Really, wait a whooooole day. The magic is happening. Magic takes time. It is worth it. Because 24 hours later....
OH GOD NO.
You have just made a 5-gallon bucket of mucus.
It did exactly what it was supposed to do. Yay!!! Now stir it up! Mush it with your hands (very satisfying). Notice how clean and fresh it smells. Mmmmm! Now fill your smaller soap container half-full of the lovely gel soap. Fill the container the rest of the way with water. And you're done! Remember to give your container a good shake before using, because it will all gel up again.
For a top load machine, you'll need about 5/8 Cup per load (OMG 5/8? For serious? It can't be 3/4 of a cup or 1/2 cup? Get an old measuring cup and mark it with a sharpie. it is now your official laundry measuring cup)
For front load machines, just use 1/4 Cup per load
Don't ask me about those fancy HE machines, because I don't have one.
If you don't like the laundry-fresh scent of fels-naptha and washing soda, you can add several drops of essential oil to your soap. (Add after it cools).
This recipe makes 10 gallons. TEN GALLONS of laundry soap. The ingredients cost about $7.00 total, and I have enough washing soda and borax left over to make a zillion more batches.
- Do not eat grated Fels-Naptha even if it looks like delicious delicious cheese.
- FIND THE WASHING SODA. Do not substitute baking soda or anything else. Washing soda. It will be hard to find, but be patient. I finally found mine at Fred Meyer out in the sticks. City folk apparently don't need washing soda.
- Look by the laundry detergent at the grocery store for the ingredients. I found most everything along the top shelves.
- Google lots of other recipes and figure out which one you like best. This is not the only one. Others call for different soaps, different ratios, etc.
- Experiment. This is my first batch, and I'm guessing we'll want to tweak the recipe for strength/smell in the future. Although right now I'm really digging how it smells...
Stay tuned for the results post, where I tell you if it actually works!