Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Saving $ with homemade laundry detergent

You might recognize this photo from my thrift store canister makeover post.  Now, it is filled with homemade laundry detergent!  It all started when I noticed my white clothing was turning a grayish color in the wash.  I was determined to find a solution, so I goodled it.  What I learned, took me on a fascinating journey to better understanding my washing machine, how to properly care for my clothes and appliances, and save money in the process.

I found that this homemade recipe for laundry detergent cleans my clothes better, removes hard water build up, is safe for my septic system and pipes, and is a lot less expensive!  I have an HE front load machine but you can use the same amount of detergent in any machine.  It is highly concentrated with less suds.  Don't be fooled...suds are not what makes your clothes clean!

You will need just three ingredients...

1 Bar of  Fels-Naptha Soap (this is a bar laundry soap used for pre treating stains on clothes.  You will find it in most grocery stores near the detergent.  It is also used to wash away the oils from exposure to poison ivy.  Many people take it camping!)

1 cup Borax (also in laundry aisle)

1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (same as soda ash used for pools)

1. Shave 1 bar fels naptha with a grater using the tiny holes (You may want to take it out of the package and dry it out a day or two so that it grates easier.)  Add to the borax and washing soda.  Stir well.

Store in an airtight container and use 1 to 2 Tbsp per load of laundry.  If you have really hard water, use 1/8 c. of the mixture, and adjust the recipe to 2 c. borax and 2 c. washing soda.  I mix it with a little warm water in a plastic cup with a tongue depressor that I keep in the laundry room.  This helps dissolve the bar shavings a little bit before adding the mix to the washer.  I feel like a chemist!

So far in using this homemade detergent, my new white undergarments are staying white. :)  I also learned that you can save even more money by making your own soda ash.  Just bake regular baking soda in the oven at 400 degrees for one hour, and it turns to soda ash!  To learn more about it, see this link or this link. The great thing is, all I had to buy was the fels naptha.  I already had the baking soda and borax, so it was nearly free! The bar is around 99 cents and you can get washing soda here for around $2.49 for 55 oz.

This lady made a year's worth of detergent for $30.00!

Now, remember this post on great uses for vinegar?  I learned another use.  Use vinegar as fabric softener! I have been doing this for weeks now, and it really works.  Don't worry, your clothes will not smell like vinegar.  My husband was skeptical until I had him do the sniff test. They passed.  Vinegar  is a natural softener. I add 1/4 c. white vinegar to the rinse cycle (just put it in the fabric softener dispenser).  It also keeps my whites from graying, removes soap residue from the washing machine, and  reduces static in the dryer!  Yay!  I buy big containers of it at Walmart.

Another tip... While I was doing my research, I learned that to reduce drying time and static cling, you can also use wool dryer balls.  Then you can save on your utility bills.  You can put your dial on less drying time.
To learn more about how to make your own, visit this site.  You will want 100 percent wool yarn (no "super wash" or "machine washable" kind).  The site suggests thick, lightly spun roving yarn in bright colors so you can easily identify it in the load.

One Final Tip...I learned that to properly care for my washing machine, every few months I should give it a deep clean, inside and out.  To do this...

Start the cycle with the hottest water on the largest load setting.  Add 2 cups of vinegar and run all the way through the cycle.  Then do the same thing only use 2 cups of bleach.  Finally, run a load with nothing in it on a setting of your choice.   Clean every 6 months.  (You may not want to do it that often if you have a septic system least the bleach part)

And there you have laundry tips to save you money now, and in the long run!

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