Monday, August 29, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent and Toilet Paper

Look, this is the way I look at things...If you're out of bread at your house, you don't HAVE to run to the store and buy more...You COULD make it yourself...It would probably taste a whole lot better than store bought bread anyway...If you're out of mayonnaise or salsa or even pasta, you COULD make those yourself, too. If you're out of toilet paper, you COULD....wait...ok sometimes you DO need to go to the store. But not always...So before I run to the store (did I mention I live out in the boonies?) I ask myself if the item I need is something I could make myself...Sometimes, the answer is YES.

Yesterday was one of those days. I was out of laundry detergent,  so I decided to try and make some myself. I was tired of paying an arm and a leg for it at the store and I had heard that you could make it yourself at home. I had also heard that laundry detergent made at home was  more natural, better for both you and the environment and could choose your own scent(s)...or choose to leave it unscented...If you make it yourself, not only to you save a bundle of money, but you also don't have any of the chemicals or harsh ingredients that are usually found in store bought laundry detergent. Good enough reasons for I decided to give it a shot.

I was a little apprehensive at first, because I thought if it was anything like making lye soap, I was going to be in for a big learning curve. But, this was surprisingly easy to make-MUCH, much easier than making lye soap and I was very happy with the results. I doubt if I will ever buy store bought laundry detergent again.

This is how I made my homemade laundry detergent.

First, let me mention that there are so many recipes for homemade laundry detergent on the Internet,  I am hesitant to add one here. I will give you the link where I got mine from and say, that, while I was very happy with the results, I think this recipe was a little hard to understand and follow...I have since seen others on the Internet that seem much easier to follow...Here is the link where I got my recipe...and it works fine...Homemade Laundry Detergent
 Most of the recipes out there all list basically the same ingredients. Just decide if you want to make one gallon, two gallons or just a quart and look for a recipe for that...the recipe I used made about 1 1/2 gallons.

You will need:

washing soda (not baking soda) usually found in the laundry section of your grocery store
a bar of soap
a large pot to "cook" it in
a large container to store the finished product in
a spoon to stir with
a grater to grate the soap with
fragrances, essential oils (if desired)

Simple enough, right?

The type of soap that is often recommended is a laundry bar soap called Zote or another soap called Fels Naptha. This is not set in stone, though...You can experiment with this...I used a bar of cold-process soap that I had made previously. I have also heard that you can use Ivory soap.

Whatever type of soap you use, you are going to grate it. This is so it will melt easier. Some recipes call for using 1/3 bar, 1/2 bar or even the whole bar of soap. I used 1/2 bar and the next time I make it, I think I will try using the whole bar.

It is a good idea to assemble all of the ingredients that you will need ahead of time.

Get the borax and measure it into a dish.

Get the washing soda and measure that, as well.

Select the type of soap you will be using and grate it.

Pink Dog soap
Grated Soap
I used a bar of soap that I had made previously, called Pink Dog soap. Pink Dog is a cold-processed soap that was tinted pink, but had no scent, so I thought this would be a good soap to use as a base. I grated my soap with a hand cheese grater.
If I didn't want to use my own soap, I would have looked at the grocery store for Zote or Fels Naptha, as recommended.

 I would have used Ivory soap, as a last resort, if I couldn't have found the others.

Also, get your essential oils or fragrances together, if you are going to use them...For my recipe, I used 1/2 oz. orange essential oil and 1/2 oz lavender essential oil.

Also, get the required water ready.
Pre-measured Water

Ok, so some of the recipes vary a bit here, but basically you put some of the water (read the recipe) in a pot on the stove, heat it and add the grated soap. 
Add Grated Soap to Water

 Stir the mixture until the soap melts.

Remove it from the heat and add the washing soda and borax.

Mix well
Add Fragrance or Essential Oil
Stir until dissolved. Then, add the remainder of the water and stir again.

At this point, you may add essential oils or fragrance if you want your detergent scented. I added orange essential oil because I read that it helped cut grease, and I also added some lavender essential oil...just because...
I do notice that sometimes the essential oils separate a bit from the rest of the mixture, so I just shake or stir it before each use. To me, this is no biggie...

After you have added any fragrances, you cover the pot and allow the mixture to sit overnight. Sometimes the mixtures "gels" and sometimes it stays watery. It works fine either way. It may depend on the soap you are using and/or your water type.
This is where some research will come in handy. There are some recipes that say that you may need to play around with the ingredients a bit depending on your water. If your water is hard, for example, you may find that you may need to increase the borax or the washing soda. My water is hard and it seemed to work fine, but you may have to experiment with this.

Finished Product
Also, this is a low suds laundry detergent, so don't expect to see a lot of bubbles. But, from I understand, the bubbles in commercial laundry detergents are mostly for "show" and are not what actually does the cleaning. This homemade version has all of the ingredients necessary to clean clothes...

Just for the record, though, the next time I make the laundry detergent, I will probably try another recipe and use a different soap...just to be different...and just to see if I can get one to "gel" even though I know it doesn't really matter...but just know...gel is...kinda cool...

This a how my homemade laundry detergent looked when it was finished. The recipe I used made about a gallon and a half. I put some in a little jar so I could take a picture of it...closeup...but I haven't done that yet.

Now that I have finished making this batch, I have stumbled upon another recipe that I will probably try next time. This recipe is from a blog called The Simple Dollar. I think this one is much easier to follow and this guy got brownie points with me because he tested the homemade laundry detergent against the commercial stuff. He actually had a control and got two shirts, squirted mustard on them, tried both the commercial and his homemade laundry detergent and....well, you have to read it yourself... It is here. Don't hate me after you read his instructions because his are so much clearer and easier to follow...but I guess it's a little too late to tell you that now...:/

Thanks for reading...Hope you try making your own laundry detergent soon!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cotton Pickin' Cotton or Cactus Jack

Well, if you were a cotton boll like one of the many millions in the field across the street from us, you might have thought that you were going to live forever. After all, you dodged the bullet with that last tropical storm that never came. You might have even been thinking that you had  nine lives like that proverbial cat with nine lives.

But, you would have been  wrong, because today the cotton pickin'cotton picker GOT YA! Sorry about that. So long, fellas...

But that reminds me...Today the choice of the day we make Cotton Pickin' White soap or Cactus Jack soap? I thought that in honor (memory) of the Cotton King bolls that were, we should have opted for Cotton Pickin' White soap, but I got overruled.

So, this day turned out to be Cactus Jack Soap Day...not a bad day to have, though...Cactus Jack soap is a lot of fun to make...and even though I wanted to put simulated "spines" on top and got overruled (again) and had to put cumin seeds instead, it was still a fun experience.

So, the first step was to measure the lye and mix it carefully with the water and let it cool down. While we waited for the lye mixture to reach the appropriate temperature,  we hunted for the elusive prickly pear cactus.  We scouted around the desert brush for hours, found some cacti, whacked off some pads and brought them home. We got a million cactus splinters all over our body, but...

OK, we didn't really do that...We went to the store and bought nopalitos (cactus) already despined, washed and ready to go...ho hum...But one day, I do want to go scouting around in the desert brush for hours and whack down some cactus...but I'll skip the part about the million cactus splinters all over my body...or maybe I'll have just one splinter... for effect...I don't know...No, on second thought, I'll just skip the whole splinters all over the body part.

So, then the cactus was pureed in a food processor and added to the lye/water mixture.  We left them both in the bowl together to fight it out awhile...They started out a little rowdy, but after awhile, they both calmed down...and there was peace in the cactus lye valley.

 Next, it was time to color the soap. This is one of my favorite parts.
We were trying to keep the soap as natural as possible, so we wanted to use a natural ingredient for coloring. We chose nettle powder. Nettle powder turns the soap a nice shade of green plus it has the added bonus of being good for the skin...

So, into the pot went the nettle and we blended it up. I really like the shade of green that it produced.

Next, we mixed the oils/butters. This particular recipe had olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, canola oil and lard. We heated the oil mixture to about 100 degrees.
Last, we blended everything together and added the fragrance. We choose bay/pepper/lime for this loaf. It really is a nice combination, an interesting treat for your nose..

We poured the creamy green concoction into the loaf mold and put the soap "to bed" to gel. The next day we cut the soap and placed it on the curing racks to cure. This soap was such fun to make and I really love the way it came out. I can't wait to try it!

Update: 4/2013
By the way, we did finally make the Cotton Pickin' Cotton soap, too!