In part because I get caught up in these DIY, throwback, self sufficiency trends that are going around, in part because I have been bored and curious as to how it would turn out, in part because I DO actually want to try to curb the many processed, chemical laden things that come into our house (she said as she shoved Heath bars into her mouth and wears her jeans from Target that smell vaguely of formaldehyde from packaging while Tyson chicken nuggets cook in the oven for her kids...). AND because I found an ancient bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap on the basement window sill that was my gram's from Lord knows when, and I was thinking "What can I do with it?" - Thanks Gram, for your random inspiration to do things that make life more
ANYWAY... Kept finding liquid recipes that all seem like the end result is GLOP - slimy gooey liquid laundry soap, and I thought that sounded repulsive, especially when combined with the idea of stirring it up and ladling it into the washing machine. Plus I figured that CAN'T be great for the machine, right?
So then I kept looking around, and I came across this super simple recipe for laundry soap powder and thought I'd give it a whirl (Thanks, Matt Jabs!).
Here's the scoop:
1 c Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (purchased at Ace Hardware, also at Jewel (Albertson's grocery chain))
1 bar Fels Naptha laundry soap (purchased at Ace Hardware)
I have to say, the Fels Naptha has a really pleasant clean smell in bar form, so I was excited to not lose that "clean laundry" scent in this experiment.
So I grated the bar of Fels Naptha with the finest grater I had, and since the bar was fresh (not dried out) I popped it in the oven on a cookie sheet for a few minutes at a low setting to dry it out a little bit to avoid clumps or goop. The bar yielded about 2 cups of shavings.
The whole time I was grating it I just kept thinking of tasty Parmesan cheese
Mixed it in with the Borax and Washing Soda and stirred it up, popped a lid on the container and shook it up some more.
Borax, Washing Soda, and grated Fels Naptha
So it doesn't look like it makes a lot of detergent/soap, BUT you only use 1-2 tablespoons of it per load, so it will go a long way. AND I have a ton of Borax and Washing Soda left, enough to do a couple more batches down the line, at least.
And the results?
The first load I did was a load of towels, because they get funky after sitting in the laundry basket between wash days, and frankly if this concoction ended up horrible, I have no problem with stains, marks, or anything else happening to our towels. And they came out clean! It is hard to get your head around not having the perfumed "fresh scent" telling you that something is clean, so I found myself snuffling along the length of the towels, trying to get a whiff of funk, but no funk. Spots were out. They were clean. I was pleasantly surprised.
The fresh scent of the Fels Naptha did not come through as a "scent" in the end result, but that's okay. Many have recommended adding a few drops of an essential oil to the mix for a scent if you want to have one, and maybe I'll do that down the line. But it was a "fresh" scent - like by virtue of being an absence of chemical fragrances, if that makes sense? Kinda like when you hang dry your clothes on a sunny day. Nothing beats that fresh smell and feel, though it doesn't really "smell" like anything. Y'know?
As always, even though there's a significant savings (I think the breakdown is about $0.05/load versus $0.20-0.25/load with Tide or other commercial products), 15-20 cents isn't enough to necessarily justify doing this all the time, even though that could easily add up to $100+/year if you are doing about 10 loads of laundry/week. But when combined with the idea of knowing what's going into your detergent and being make-believe-self-sufficient, it becomes something I think I am game for trying to keep up with.
This doesn't even count the 2-3 loads upstairs that need to be washed. There may be some savings to be had...
Check out the link above and read through the comments - lots of suggestions for things to add (scent, Oxi-Clean, stain pretreatment, etc.) and give it a whirl!