Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Cheap - Cleaning Laundry & Dishes, Homemade & Natural

My latest project is homemade detergents and soaps on the cheap. I have found a number of recipes that add up to around 1 cent per load. That's pretty awesome. These recipes are good for people with sensitive skin or allergies. They are free of most of the chemicals found in their commercial compadres. I will be trying these out in the next two weeks and will let you know how they turn out. Before I get to the recipes, let me give you two laundering tips that will let you ditch the fabric softener and the dryer sheets, both of which are scary in their chemical make up and expensive to boot.

#1 - Dryer Balls - These bad boys are super cool! They soften clothes by aerating during the drying cycle. Throw two in with every load. I have used these for over a year. Under $3 at Amazon. I believe I have also seen them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Beware of flimsy versions that are too light. I bought some extras that are yellow and they have cracked.

#2 - Scent Clothes with Essential Oils - Put some essential oils on a rag and throw it in the dryer with the wet clothes. The possibilities are endless with essential oils. You can make scents that are soothing, invigorating, energizing, and clarifying just to name a few! Whip up a blend that works for you, store it in a dropper container and keep it with your laundry supplies! Better yet, support a local business and have Holly Dunbar, owner of New Moon in La Plata, whip you up something fresh!

OK! Now for some recipes on dish and laundry soaps!

Tip Nut Recipe #10 for Laundry Detergent – (Powdered)
Makes 3.25 cups (About 6 loads)

  • 1 cup Vinegar (white)
  • 1 cup Baking Soda
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/4 cup liquid castile soap

Mix well and store in sealed container. I find it easiest to pour the liquid soap into the bowl first, stirred in the washing soda, then baking soda, then added the vinegar in small batches at a time (the recipe foams up at first). The mixture is a thick paste at first that will break down into a heavy powdered detergent, just keep stirring. There may be some hard lumps, try to break them down when stirring (it really helps to make sure the baking soda isn’t clumpy when first adding). I used 1/2 cup per full load with great results.

You can add between 10 to 15 drops of essential oil (per 2 gallons) to your homemade laundry detergent. Add once the soap has cooled to room temperature. Stir well and cover. Essential oil ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.


Passionatehomemaking Dishwasher Detergent & Dish Soap
Makes 1.5 Cups / Use 1 Tbsp per load

  • 1/2 cup Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds (a balanced biodegradable formulation of natural derived surfactants with natural fir pine needle oil)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 drops tea tree oil
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

Combine all ingredients and store in a covered container. A glass quart jar with lid works perfectly. Use approximately 1 Tbsp per load. Try experimenting with the quantities of soap depending upon the hardness of your water. In the NW, the water is very hard, so the 1/2 cup Sal Suds works for me.

You can also use this recipe for dishwashing soap as well – simply dilute it with additional water. 3-4 cups of additional water should be about right. I add enough water to fill up a large 32 oz spray bottle and use that to spray down my dishes. You conserve a lot more soap by using a spray bottle!


Passionatehomemaking Homemade Laundry Detergent
Recipe adapted from Green Clean by Linda Hunter

  • 1 cup castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or Mountain Rose Herbs are good choices as they are organic and main ingredients are coconut oil & olive oil) OR Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 cup baking soda or washing soda
  • vinegar

Warm the salt and baking soda in water until mostly dissolved. Transfer to a one gallon container. Add your soap fill the rest of the jar with water, this giving you 1 gallon of detergent. Use 1/4 -1/2 cup per load, depending upon how dirty the load is. Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to your wash during the rinse cycle. This works as an effective fabric softener and disinfectant. Depending upon the hardness of your water, you may want to decrease the water quantity or increase the soap quantity.

Please note: do not add essential oils to your detergent. These oils will break down the fiber in your clothing. If you want a particular fragrance, try putting a few drops of essential oils on a rag and throwing it in the dryer. This will add fragrance but not transfer to your clothing.

Review: This recipe does clean very well, although I was not impressed by the cleaning job it did on my cloth diapers. Hard to give an exact price calculation on this one, but I figured this recipe makes enough detergent for 64 loads (at 1/4 cup per load) and with the ingredients costing no more than $4.00 (on the generous side), your total cost is most likely less than $0.06 per load.

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