My last few posts have been rather heavy, so I thought it was time to lighten things up with something a little calmer, more mundane, more domestic. The obvious choice, of course, is laundry. Oh yes, my friend, I am indeed writing about my laundry today, and yes, it is going to be amusing. Money-back guarantee.
I have wanted to try my hand at making my own laundry detergent. I have been scouring the internet, reading various blogs and recipes and instructions. And today was the day!
On my grocery list today were two key ingredients: Borax and washing soda. The Borax was easy. It comes in a 2-kilo box that says BORAX in big letters across the front. But what the hooey is washing soda? I didn’t see any such thing in my cheap-and-basic grocery store of choice, so I made a second stop at the expensive-and-fancy grocery store that I miss so very much but I rarely go into because I’m trying to be a better steward. Still no washing soda. I picked up every box and bottle in the laundry aisle and read the labels, hoping it would say “washing soda” in small letters somewhere. No luck.
But there were several brands of oxy-cleaner stuff, so I just bought one of those instead. Obviously.
When I got home, I got back on-line and did some more research – starting with a basic question, which I posed to my friend, Google: What is washing soda? And it turns out that it’s kind of like baking soda, but with more carbonate and less water (or some such blather). You can make washing soda by pouring some baking soda in a baking pan and baking it at 400 degrees for an hour, stirring it up every now and then. So I did that.
I read a few more blogs and compared a few more recipes and decided to go with a powdered detergent instead of a liquid. Apparently, Borax loses its effectiveness when it sits in water. (At least, I think that’s what the one blogger meant. What she said was, “Borax loses its poop”. I just went with the assumption that she meant “effectiveness”. ) And I also wanted to use the oxy-cleaner of which I was now the proud, new owner.
For future reference (‘cause I know you’re all totally dying to try this yourselves), here’s the recipe I settled on. Take one bar of soap and grate it on a fine cheese grater (or just chop it up with a big knife because it seems easier than gumming up your grater). Put it in an airtight container and mix in one cup of washing soda, half a cup of Borax and half a cup of oxy-cleaner stuff. Mix it thoroughly, but watch out for powdery fumes blowing up your nose. A well-ventilated area (outside!) is a good idea. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per load (depending on the size of the load). They say it’s safe for HE machines because it doesn’t get very sudsy, but I can neither prove nor disprove that.
And cue bright yellow stains down the side of one bed sheet. Apparently Big Bird lost his “effectiveness” while flying over my clean laundry.
Sept. 17, 2012 update: I have been making my own laundry soap all this time – meaning I’ve had to make it again since the end of June and I’m making more today. Not bad for a family of 6. I doubled the recipe the second time I made it. And I used my stick blender to get the soap chopped up nice and fine. I chopped it up roughly with a knife first. Then put it in my Tupperware container with the oxy-cleaner and Borax (so the soap wouldn’t clog up my stick blender). To keep the powder from billowing up into my face, I draped a kitchen towel across the top of the container and held it around the stick-blender. Once the soap was nice and fine, I added the washing soda, gave it a stir, and done!