Let’s Get Agitated

washing machineToday we are going to discuss homemade laundry solutions. Had you going for a minute, making you think I was posting pet peeves and spewing righteous indignation. Nope. We are going to come clean in several other ways – detergent, fabric softener and stain remover ways.  I am not making my own products because I am preventing global warming, reducing my carbon footprint or parading for Green Peace.  I am making them so that I have complete knowledge of all the ingredients involved and also because it is so much cheaper. And who doesn’t like cheaper? I have pinterested myself to death over these recipes until I found the ones that work for me.  Mind you, no one reinvented the wheel here.  Your great-grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave laughing at us because these are things she used all the time before industrialized mass production made us all lazy senseless mass consumers. So here are my favorites, with links to the pages attached to the titles.

Powdered Laundry Detergent – This one was tough for me because I do so love the smell of Gain in all its glory.  (Yeah I hear you. Gain has scent beads now, but have you priced them!!!) But looking at it a different way – now the laundry scent does not interact with my perfume.  Mind you, if Gain made a perfume, I would probably wear it.

Now, most people swear by Fels Naptha. Personally, I cannot stand the stuff.  I do not like the smell or consistency.  However, Fels Naptha does seem superior in getting out oil based stains, strong odors and the urishol oils from poison oak, sumac and ivy. So if you have laundry with these characteristics, Fels Naptha may be the soap for you.  I personally prefer Zote, even though it is trickier to grate and blend (unless you buy it pre-flaked).  BTW – according to their website, there is no difference in the pink, blue or white Zote soap other than color. Face it. Pink just looks prettier and we are all swayed by appearances.

The following is touted to be a years worth of detergent for a family of 4. This batch ran me about $28. Without the Purex crystals it would be around $18.

3 bars Fels Naptha or 2 bars Zote Soap
1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax (76 ounces)
1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (55 ounces)
1 LARGE box of baking soda (4 pounds)
Oxyclean ( 3 pounds generic – it is $3 at Family Dollar)
Purex Crystals (1or 2,  55 ounce containers – purely optional)

Use 2 Tablespoons per normal load. Super stinky or filthy, use 3-4 tablespoons as needed.

Step 1 – Gather all of your ingredients and a ginormous bucket or container – we are talking laundry basket size here folks.  Some people mix it up in doubled black garbage bags but you better have good upper body strength as it is unwieldy and bags may rip.
Step 2 – Grate the soap. Fels Naptha is a hard bar and grates up finer than Zote.  When grating Zote, grate in small batches and toss with one of the powders to coat the strands and prevent clumping.  If you want it finer, you can process the soap grates with some of the powder in the food processor.
Step 3 – Mix it all up.  It works best of you alternate the ingredients in layers, like you would lasagna, to make mixing it evenly easier. Store in an airtight container.  It can clump so I use a rice bag in each large container as prevention.
Note:  The Purex crystals add color and scent to the initial product, i.e it looks prettier and has a scent that you are used to smelling in powdered detergents.  However, I have found that the scent does not stay through the rinse cycle.  So next time I will eliminate this $10 addition for even bigger savings.

Fabric Softener – I liked this recipe because I had some Purex Crystals leftover and it worked very well. Not a strong scent – just softness with a clean subtle scent. The vinegar tones down the stronger scent of the crystals. Note:  If you are really cheap, one cup of vinegar alone in the rinse cycle works well also, but leaves a no scent at all. I think this works better and leaves  just enough scent to say “I’m Clean!”.

1/4-1/2 cup Purex Crystals
1 cup hot water
1 cup baking soda
6 cups distilled vinegar.

Use 1/2 cup per load.

Step 1 – Mix together the hot water and crystals in a glass bowl. Set aside.
Step 2 – Place baking soda in a LARGE LARGE bowl. VERY VERY SLOWLY add the vinegar, stirring until the baking soda dissolves.  If you add to much or rush you will experience Mount Vesuvius spewing baking soda and vinegar to the far reaches of your kitchen kingdom. See chemical reaction here -and you are using a much larger amount.
Step 3 – Add in the dissolved crystals. Mix well and pour in your container. DO NOT SHAKE for a few hours.  Remember Mount Vesuvius. However, do shake prior to each use.
Note:  I have found that the crystals take a long time to dissolve, so I go ahead and add them semi-dissolved in Step 3 and let them dissolve over time.

Stain Remover – I store this in an old dish detergent bottle for easier application. It does tend to separate, so just shake well before each use. This even removed some stains I had left on clothes after using Shout brand stain remover. NOTE:  Do not use on anything you plan to wash with chlorine bleach.

2/3 cup of Dawn
2/3 cup ammonia
6 Tablespoons baking soda
2 cups warm water

Mix well and place in a spray bottle or condiment squeeze bottle. Shake before each use.

There are simpler recipes, more involved recipes, greener recipes, smaller batch recipes and so on.  But these have worked well for me leaving me with clean soft clothes that have not experienced any noticeable fading over the last three months.  So go ahead and take them for a spin.

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