Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent and some meals, too

I have a rare Monday recipe (instead of my usual weekly meal plan post--if you opened this post looking for meals, scroll down the bottom) for you this morning, one that isn't *quite* the same as my usual posts.

About a month ago, a natural living speaker came to my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. She shared lots of hints on using natural cleaners in your home, and then had a raffle for some homemade natural cleaners.

I won homemade all-natural laundry detergent, which I took home and tried out on a load of mildly dirty clothes. It worked great, but I wondered how it would stand up to some really, really dirty clothes. I got my chance for a trial run when SPH and R returned home after a weekend tent camping trip.

You know how certain clothes get so dirty, so mud-ridden, that they can almost stand up on their own? These were the type of clothes SPH and R brought to the laundry room after they unloaded their camping gear.

The result? The homemade laundry detergent worked just like store-bought detergent. I couldn't believe it. So this past week, I picked up the ingredients, made some of my own, and have begun using it.

The best part? All told, it cost less than $4.50 to make enough for 160 loads of laundry. The even better part? No chemicals, no gunk, no nothing to harm our environment. Sounds pretty good to me!
Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar, Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap -OR- 1 cup liquid Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap* (from Whole Foods)
1/2 cup washing soda (sold at Meijer's)
1/2 cup borax (sold at Target)
5 gallon bucket with lid (sold at Home Depot)

Using a food processor with a grater attachment, or an old-fashioned regular grater, grate the Castille bar soap, or simply use the liquid Castille.

Heat 6 cups of water until very hot, but not boiling. Pour the water into the 5 gallon bucket, and add the Castille soap. Stir until dissolved.

Add washing soda and borax, and stir until dissolved.

(for this next step, you really want to make sure that the bucket is in a place where you will be storing it, so you won't have to carry it. Once the bucket is full, it is heavy!)

Fill the bucket within a few inches of the top, and stir well. Let stand overnight.

In the morning, stir again. There will be a gelatinous topping, so you want to stir the detergent, until it is the consistency of egg-drop soup.

You are now ready to use the detergent. I used a ladle and a funnel, and re-used several plastic juice and cider containers, and poured the detergent into several smaller containers, and stored the rest of the detergent in the bucket.

TO USE: Simply add 1/2 cup of the laundry detergent, while the water is filling the basin, so it mixes with the water.

*Dr. Bronner's comes in all sorts of nice scents, I chose a citrus scent, which works great. However, since the scent comes from essential oils instead of chemicals, it is much more subtle than traditional detergent. If you want stronger scents, add essential oils. But honestly, I love the way clothes just smell, well, clean.

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And our meals for the week:

Meatless Monday Challenge

Pasta Puttanesca, Broccoli, Bosc Pears
Homemade Falafel, Hummus, Cucumber Salad
White Chicken Chili, Corn Spoonbread, Pineapple
Gnocchi with Peppers in a Goat Cheese Sauce

Have a sweet week,


Rachel Klimala said...

Can you use this with HE?

JerseyBaby said...

Rachel, I had the same question, and it looks like you can. Apparently most WashingSoda-Castille-Borax soaps are low suds and thus okay for HE.

Sweet Pea, have you tried this with an HE washer yet? I'm so excited to try it!

Sweet Pea Chef said...

Yes, it works in HE washers! :)

Laura said...

Thanks! I'm anxious to try this out. I've never made the liquid version before. I really liked the powdered one and honestly, it washed my cloth diapers the best of anything I have tried to date. I'll be trying this when my soap nuts run out!

JerseyBaby said...

I just made a big tub of this tonight, along with a refill of our borax-based all purpose cleaner, and am ridiculously excited to do a load of laundry tomorrow.