Uttered countless times daily by a two year old.
Answered not quite as often here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Laundry, frontier woman style

Somehow, our family has amassed more clothes, sheets and bath towels than should be humanly possible for a family of 3 and a half (the unborn boy child doesn't count as a whole yet, right?). The result? Piles of laundry that always seem to take up residence on my bedroom floor. 

Despite my main floor laundry room (a big bonus in our 1963-built house), those piles don't seem to make the trek from my bedroom to the washer as often as they should (I'll have to have a chat with them about that). But what I discovered today could, could change that...at least for a few days. 

Did you know you can actually make your own laundry detergent? Seriously! Of course, before Tide, people (ok, women) must have done this all the time, right? But for some reason, it never occurred to me to give it a try. 

The other day, a friend shared a detergent recipe with me that seemed easy enough. A bar of laundry soap, some Borax and a little laundry powder. Sounded like a piece of cake--and it really was. And here's the best part--it WORKS! I just washed up a load of the unborn boy child's stuff, and it came out smelling ultra clean and fresh. And the homemade detergent is cheap!

Wanna give it a try? You'll need: 

1 bar (5 1/2oz) Fels Naptha laundry soap (or equivalent)
1/2 Cup Borax
1/2 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

Here's what you do: 
Grate the bar of laundry soap (I found mine--and the washing soda, too--at my local grocery store) with a food processor. Add Borax and washing soda to your grated soap, give it all a few pulses to mix it all up real well and voila! Laundry detergent! Store in an airtight container and use about 1-2Tbsp of powder per load.

* When you grate the soap, it kicks up a lot of soap dust--try not to breathe it in or you'll end up in a coughing fit like I did.  
* Pair with vinegar in your wash cycle to soften up clothes and avoid soap reside/buildup in your machine. Just fill the liquid fabric softener holder in your washer with regular vinegar and it'll do the trick. 
* Be prepared to field questions like "You made your own laundry soap? Are you crazy?" from various friends and family. 
*There won't be as many suds as with regular store-bought soap, but it's no big deal. Suds don't clean clothes, soap does. 

As cool as this is, it would still be great if my piles of laundry would jump into the washer themselves, add a little homemade soap and get down to business. While they're at it, they can fold themselves, too. 

A girl can dream, right?