I don't know when I decided saving money was more important than, say, being normal. It could have been the time I strung yarn all around my small, one-bedroom apartment in order to hang-dry my clothes. Or it could have been the time I hand-sewed a thrift store shoe back together. Or maybe it was the time I didn't have any yarn, so I vigorously brushed the cats and hand-wove their loose fur into a skein, in order to complete a hat order.
(The last one didn't actually happen.)
So when I read a blog post on The Simple Dollar about homemade laundry detergent, I jumped at the idea. Keene, bless his soul, is just as weird and cheap as I am, so he went along with my plan.
The only problem I encountered is that washing soda is very hard to find in some areas. We checked the grocery store and a Walmart, but no luck. I finally bought a box of baking soda, figuring I could work with it in some way. Only after buying the baking soda did I hear that some hardware stores carry washing soda. Aye, aye, aye.
Fortunately for me, because I didn't want to go to any more stores, I googled "replace washing soda with baking soda" and found a recipe online. Hooray for unprepared washery!
So, here is the recipe we went with (which strayed quite a bit from the recipe I had found on Google):
1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
2.5 cups of Arm & Hammer baking soda
1 bar of Zote washing soap
The bar of Zote isn't necessary, however. You could use almost any kind of regular soap. However, as Tipnut.com suggests, "You can use any soap that lists sodium palmate, sodium cocoate, sodium tallowate, etc. Just be sure you are using real soap and not detergent beauty bars with added free oils." Oils or dyes can cause a bad reaction and/or possibly ruin your clothes.
The first step is grating the bar of soap. This step alone is why I highly recommend Zote. Once grated, the shavings act like miniature worms when shaken. I picked up a pile of soap shavings and dropped them into the bowl, watching them wriggle and settle after a minute. Wowie!
Next, heat the shavings in a pot on medium-low, with just enough water to cover it. Stir frequently, until the soap is melted completely.
Add salt to taste.
(You didn't actually drink it just then, did you?)
Next, fill a bucket with about two gallons of hot water and stir in the melted soap. Then, pour in the baking soda and stir some more.
It was at about this time, while sitting on the kitchen floor, stirring a bit bucket full of steaming liquid, that I said, "I bet anybody passing by our window thinks we're in here cooking up some meth."
(That being said, I'm not sure how meth is prepared, so my observation may be wildly off. It wouldn't be the first time. I also thought crack could be injected and had no idea until recently that opium was related to heroin.)
And that's it. Simple. The mixture will be thin. To wash a full load, you use a 1/2 cup. For a soiled load (trying to stifle giggles here), use 1 cup.
I wanted to do a wash test, to see how well this detergent works. I sifted through a pile of laundry but saw nothing terribly dirty (there's a first for everything). In a moment of inspiration, I grabbed a white t-shirt and swiped it across the stove and counter, still covered in the grease and sauce and seasonings from dinner. (I get very messy when I cook. The kitchen usually looks like a battlefield afterward. Dead bodies and all.)
I upped the contrast in this picture so you can see just how much crap was on the t-shirt afterward.
This morning, I checked on that shirt. While the detergent gave it a good try, it couldn't completely eliminate the grease stains which I had just asininedly smeared onto my shirt. (Don't bother looking it up, that's not a real word.)
A for effort, detergent. But you can't compete with my retarded whims.
Aside from the new stain, however, the shirt looked really clean. I was so confident in my new detergent's ability that I sniffed a pair of my undies. It was not without some trepidation, but I was nearly certain that I would not be displeased. Not to mention, I have only about a 25% sense of smell, so even a less-than-stellar washing might have gotten past me.
But I'm here to tell you, the undies were so fresh and so clean. You might even say they were panty-sniffingly fresh!
That shall be the name: Kelli's Sniffable Undies Detergent. It'll be huge.
Notes from the Future: I discovered that one cup of baking soda mixed with one cup of Borax acts as a dishwasher detergent too. Throw in two tablespoons of vinegar into the rinse aid compartment, and you've got yourself some hippie-fresh dishes!