Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Laundry Detergent DIY

Yes, I am one of those weirdos who makes my own laundry detergent. There are several reasons for this madness. And believe me, about halfway through this batch, I really thought this was madness. Mostly because I didn't write down the instructions last time and forgot one very important crucial step. More on that in a minute. Here are my general reasons for making my own laundry detergent:

1.  It's cheaper.
2. It makes my life much easier.
4. It only takes 1 - 2 tablespoons per load. That's it. And no dryer sheets.
5. Did I mention it's cheaper than buying the pre-made at the store?
(Actual recipe is at the bottom of this post. Just in case you don't want to read my craziness.)

The recipe I use is for the powdered version. If you are looking for a liquid version you'll need to look elsewhere. The liquid recipes just look like way too much trouble to me. For this recipe, basically you just dump everything into a large container and mix, except the Zote. It's a bar of soap. So most of the instructions you'll find online tell you to grate it. I did this once. I nearly lost what's left of my feeble mind. Seriously. All of the recipes call for Zote or Fels Naptha soap - grated. If you want to see the differences in the two, there are several comparison articles you can find through google. I personally like how the Zote smells. And it seems to dissolve fine in hot or cold water. And you can get it in pink. Sold! Last time I made this I found a video on microwaving the Zote to remove the moisture then just crumbling it. I was ecstatic! It works like magic! HOWEVER . . . this is extremely important. And I forgot this step. See that exploding Zote in the picture? Cool, huh? BUT do NOT do that! 
Here's the step I forgot. Cut your soap into about 1 inch squares. THEN put one at a time in the microwave on a plate. Start with 30 seconds to 1 minute. All microwaves are different so experiment to see what works best in yours. Whatever you do, DON'T put the whole thing in the microwave. Because 3 hours later you will still be putting Zote in the microwave, crumbling the edges, putting it back in the microwave. 
And you will hate me. 
And you will hate your dirty clothes, if you don't already. 
And you will hate anyone who is anywhere near you telling you how crazy you are, like your adult daughter who keeps looking at you like you just walked off the funny farm and rolling her eyes. 
And you will hate the very idea that you thought you wanted to make your own laundry detergent in the first place. 
Trust me on this. 

And then you will get impatient and put it in the microwave for too long. And you'll end up with something that looks like this. Burnt soap. Eeeuuuuwwwww. You know what burnt popcorn smells like? Just imagine burnt soap.It isn't pretty. And it doesn't smell nice. I recommend you have 2 plates of Zote going at one time. Let one cool while the other is heating in the microwave. I just used a heavy duty paper plate, you know one of those expensive dollar store kind.  Be WARNED - any moisture that is still in the soap will be really HOT!!! Your microwave may smell like soap for a couple of days. You can get the smell out by heating a cup of white vinegar for a minute then just wiping out the microwave with a damp cloth. Unless you didn't follow instructions and tried doing the whole bar at one time. Then you will need to clean all the soap that fluffed up over the edge of the plate and got all over the microwave. You should trust me on this, too.
So, after you've cut your Zote into squares, and put one square at a time in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute, it will grow to this big fluffy thing. I just peel off the part that has dried out and stick any wet pieces back in the microwave for another go. I did end up getting the grater out towards the end. It does grate a lot faster after microwaving so you might want to use a combination of the two, microwave and grate.
Yes, I wear gloves. Not because any of it is toxic, but just because I have super sensitive skin and usually end up mixing the whole batch with my hands. Without gloves I would be washing my hands every 2 minutes. And that would slow down the progress. Patience is not one of my strengths.
Here is a link to a video that breaks it down. They were smart. They used a bowl. Duh. Maybe I will remember next time!

SO . . . 
2 containers of this 7th Gen Oxi stuff - about $5.00 each
I've also used  Oxiclean and the Kroger brand. I think the 7th Gen works a little better, but that could be just because it was cheaper. Or because I'm a sucker for something that says, "Free and Clear." I picked this up at Big Lots. Kroger carries this brand but they have changed the packaging. So if you look for it at Kroger, it won't look quite the same.

One box of 20 Mule Team Borax - about $5.00
Most places that carry laundry detergent carry this.
2 bottles of Purex Crystals, whichever scent you prefer - about $4.00 each
I like the purple. But this time I used one purple and one blue. I guess I wanted more color. If you insist on using dryer sheets, skip this step. I have found I have less static in my clothes by using the Purex and skipping the dryer sheets. It also leaves no oily residue on your clothes that destroys the fire retardant properties of children's pjs. So for me, this is a win/win! And my clothes come out just as soft and fresh. 
Plus it's one less thing to store and remember to do. I'm all about consolidating tasks and storage. Have I mentioned we live in a RV?

2 bars of Zote soap - $.97 each
You will find this in the laundry detergent aisle with the other products used. It comes in pink and white. Kroger used to carry it but this time I was only able to find it at WalMart. And it was in a really odd place, like the middle of the aisle in between several brands of  laundry detergent. I had to look several times before I found it. You can use Fels Naptha soap, also. You would think they would be in the same place on the shelf. But don't count on that. I use the Zote because I just like how it smells. 
And I prefer the pink. Mostly because it's pretty. 
But this time I used one white and one pink, not for any particular reason. It was a weird shopping trip.

One box of this washing soda stuff. About $5.00
Also found in most stores that carry laundry supplies.
2 boxes of Arm and Hammer baking soda, or one large box - about $1.00 each for the regular size box.
If I'm at the grocery store, they usually don't have the large box. So it just depends on where I'm shopping. WalMart usually has the large box in the laundry aisle. But you can also just pick up the regular old baking soda in the baking aisle of your local grocery store.

Once you have all your Zote microwaved and crumbled, or microwaved and grated, or just grated if you are just desperate to build your arm muscles, you just dump everything together and mix. Easy peasy! I wash about 8 loads of clothes a week in a large capacity washer. This mixture lasts me about 9 months. My clothes come out clean and smelling fresh, not like a perfumed laundry soap. 
You only need 1 -2 tablespoons, I promise!
 This is what it looks like all mixed up. Pink and blue and white. Lovely! 

After you mix it all up, just store in a container. I fill a small jar or plastic container to use when I'm doing laundry and store the bigger one in my storage room. This is what my container looks like. It's just a plastic one that I got at the dollar store. It will hold the entire recipe, however, it is easier to mix in a big bucket or large stock pot. And I highly recommend if you live in close quarters, like an RV for example, that you wait until a nice day and do all the dumping and mixing outside. I did this batch inside. I sneezed a lot. Really. A lot. Even with the windows open. Definitely an outside project.

For some stains that I know won't come out in the wash I use plain old peroxide, especially for things like blood or little potty accidents. It only costs about $.60 per bottle and works great! Just pour the peroxide on the stain before washing.

If my calculations are correct, that's approximately 270 loads of laundry for $32.00! Disclaimer - math is not my strong suit. But I can tell you it lasts me about 9 months doing about 6-8 loads a week. 
So don't trust me. You do the math. My math is not known for being reliable.

So here is my recipe:
1 box 20 Mule Team Borax
2 regular boxes of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda OR 1 large box 
          (depending on what's available)
1 box Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
2 containers 7th Generation Natural Oxy Stain Remover Free and Clear 
          (Or OxiClean or a generic of your choice)  
2 bottles Purex Crystals
2 bars Zote Soap 
You will need a large container to mix and store.

Grate the Zote OR cut into approximately one inch pieces and microwave each piece for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Allow to cool then crumble into container. If there is some that didn't crumble, you can also grate what is left or reheat again.

Then just dump everything together and mix with a large spoon or your hands.

Use 1-2 tablespoons per load of laundry.

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