Turning the Tide

5 Nov

As many of you know, we are embracing a frugal lifestyle in order to live on one income.  It is a constant learning curve, and one that makes you stop and think, “Do I really need/want that?  How long would I have to work to pay for that?  Is that something I can make myself and save money?”

This lifestyle involves cutting the budget where ever possible, from the most obvious (food, entertainment, whooping it up on the town) to the things that don’t readily come to mind (cleaning supplies, personal care items).  The internet is a great source of recipes and how-tos, it just takes a little time and patience to track down the information and the supplies.

I have heard of people choosing to make their own laundry soap, and agreed with the arguments:  you’re buying mostly water anyways, it’s full of chemicals, it’s so cheap to make yourself.  So I wondered, how cheap could it be?  Answer: extremely cheap!

The recipe I found, that I made out of ordinary items, works out to a whopping two cents per load.  That’s right, folks – two cents per load.  For those of you brave enough to try it on your own, here is the recipe.  I use liquid, but this can also be made into a powder (it won’t be quite as thrifty, though).  The hardest part was locating the 20 Mule Team Borax and the Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.  Thanks to the “big box” mentality of stores, which has limited our selection to just the brands they think we want, very few stores actually stock them (I did find 20 Mule Team Borax at Target).  I found them both at Ace Hardware (but at different stores), and just recently at my local IGA market.  A quick search on Google should help you locate them.  The borax and washing soda are roughly $4 a box, and will make many, many batches of soap!  You may never have to buy it again!

Liquid Laundry Detergent (found on A Sonoma Garden’s blog and on tipnut.com – a great site!)

Makes 2 gallons, or about 32 washes per gallon (1/2 cup per load)

1/3 cup grated soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap – $2.99 at Trader Joe’s. 1/3 of the bar equaled 1/3 cup grated soap. Fels Naptha is another choice)

1/2 cup Washing Soda

1/2 cup Borax powder

Essential oils, for fragrance, if desired (I didn’t use, and didn’t factor this into the cost)

2 clean gallon jugs (old laundry jugs or milk jugs work fine)

In large pot, heat 4 cups of water to a boil, add grated soap and stir until melted.  In a separate pot, heat another 4 cups of water.  When soap has melted, add the washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat and add the other 4 cups of hot water, stir well.  If you are adding any essential oils for fragrance, add them now (10-20 drops ought to do it).

To each gallon jug, add 11 cups of plain water and half of the soap mixture.  Use a long stick to stir well.  Soap will gradually cool and thicken.  Stir often (every 15-30 minutes) for a couple of hours.  (I didn’t do this and ended up with a soap layer and a water layer.  I just shake the jug before measuring and it mixes up fine.)

Shake before using.  Use 1/2 cup per normal sized load.  Soap will not get the wash water sudsy, but it is working.  Clothes don’t have a fragrance, but they are clean. Plus, for only TWO CENTS per load, it’s a screaming deal!

For even more laundry savings, get some “dryer balls” to use instead of fabric softener sheets.  They work great!




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