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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

DIY Laundry soap

Easy and Inexpensive DIY laundry soap

I have been making my own laundry soap for four years now.  I love that its super easy to do, I can make large quantities to last a while, and I know what goes in it- and what doesn't.  Of course, coming in at just under five cents a load helps too. (Even when you see the "off brand" laundry soap on sale for $3, it typically does 36 loads coming out at almost double the cost of my homemade stuff)

Have you ever noticed that almost all of the less costly liquid laundry soap is blue?  Have you ever noticed that blue is directly opposite yellow on the colour wheel? These laundry soaps do not really "whiten" your clothes so much as dye them blue, off setting the look of any yellowish stains. The, hands down, best (and fortunately cheapest) whitener I have found to date has been direct sunshine.  Drying your clothes in the sun will bleach out berry, sauce and even cloth diaper stains while naturally whitening all your whites.
Now lets go to the other end of the spectrum and examine the very expensive laundry soaps.  You know the ones that come packed in their own pods and you put the whole thing in the washer without the need to measure. Only about 2% of the soap contained within each pod is liquid, the rest is tightly packed powder. That suggests to me that powder works at least at well, if not better, than their watered down liquid counterparts. And yet, liquid soap costs more to buy.  Why? Simple- the public is willing to pay more. Let's all choose to opt out of that cycle right now.

In the past year there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people making their own laundry soaps. This, obviously, does not sit well with laundry soap manufactures and the pressure from this is - I believe strongly- the reason you can no longer buy all required ingredients for laundry soap in any one single commercial store.

What you will need:

Washing Soda (I use the So Clean brand and buy it from No Frills)
Borax (I use the 20 Mule brand and buy it from Wal-Mart)
Laundry Bars (I use the Sunlight brand and buy it from Wal-Mart and I use about six bars per batch)
Baking Soda (I use the Great Value brand and buy it from Wal-Mart)
Wooden spoon
Large bowl
Large- preferable resealable- storage container (Mine is a 16 L pail left over from the bakery where That Guy works. Please check out bakeries, grocery stores or wineries/ brew-your-own wine or beer locations for similar pails they will be throwing out)
One Cup measuring cup

In a perfect world you will have bought your laundry bars in advance, unwrapped them and left them to dry for at least a few days.  The recipe will work exactly the same without drying the bars, but you will notice a higher yield of grated soap from dry bars.

Step 1. Over your large bowl, using your micro plane grate your bars of soap
            The soap will grate into tiny, curly strings. These strings will dissolve best in water if they are broken                        up into a more powdery form.  To do this simply play with the soap curls in your hands and the curls will break into tiny bits like a powder.
soap curls
breaking up the soap curls
soap powder
Step 2. After all your soap is grated, into your large pail place 2 cups grated soap (un packed), 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax.  Add a sprinkle of baking soda.  Stir with the wooden spoon until well combined.  Repeat this step until complete.

Step 3. Use only 2 tbsp of soap per load and enjoy fresh, clean laundry for a fraction of what you were spending before.

Its a very reasonable practice to use a measuring spoon when adding your 2 tbsp of soap to the wash, but since measuring spoons are sold in a set and you only require the tbsp this might be frustrating.  Instead consider getting your hands on a plastic scoop found in powder baby formula. The scoop is included in each can so will be thrown out by parents frequently. The scoop is equal to 1 tbsp.

A common misconception is that the more suds one sees the better the cleaning power. This is simply not true as the cleansing ingredients have very little to do with producing suds.  This laundry soap is a low suds formula so please do not despair should you open your washing machine and not notice an abundance of suds.

There are many recipes out there for DIY laundry soap. I have tried a lot of them and this is my personal favorite and one I have tweaked over the years.  I have tried making the "liquid" version and found that it was more complicated and did not suit my family as well.

You can even invite your best little man to help you grate the bars of soap.  :)
Happy money saving, gentle readers!

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