Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Big Savings

I accomplished a lot in my little bungalow and on the grounds today!  It always amazes me that I am still putting in a full day's work and our home is so widdle! :-)   We do have a large flower garden to keep weeded and a vegetable garden.  I'm still working on organizing my aunt's barn, too. I never get bored.. that's for sure! My hands are always busy.

I even found time to prepare a batch of homemade laundry detergent.  I've been making my own laundry detergent for approximately 3 years. I always put off making another batch until the very last minute. I'm not sure why because it takes less than 30 minutes to make. I think it's the grating of the soap. It's my least favorite part of the process. Once I start the grating I always chastise myself for putting it off because it's done in no time at all. Sometimes if I'm overly ambitious I will grate the entire bar so I have a head jump on the next batch.

There are quite a few recipes online for making your own detergent. The one I use was found on Crystal's Family Homestead Site. I double the recipe to fill up my bucket which is supposed to give me enough detergent for 160 loads. I purchased all three products at Winco. I put the entire cost of the product next to each item. Remember that you're only using a small amount for each load. You can see how inexpensive it is to make. I used to be able to find the Washing Soda at Walmart but they stopped carrying it. I believe they still carry the Borax. I've read that you can order all items online. I think Food Maxx used to carry some of the products also.

1/3 bar Fels Naptha (1 bar $1.09)
1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Washing SODA (not baking soda) (1 box $2.77)
1/2 cup Borax ($3.86)

Here is how I make it:

1. Grate the soap (I also save slivers of bath soap to add).
2.  Place the grated soap in a large, tall pot. Add 6 c. hot water. I don't put the temperature on high because it will boil over and make a mess. I turn it on low to medium and keep an eye on it.
3. Once the soap is melted in the pot I add the washing soda and Borax. I stir until it's dissolved.

4. Place in a large bucket.
5. Add 1 gallon of hot water plus 10 c. water and stir.
6. It will thicken into a kind of gel as it sets overnight. You can add essential oils if you want a scent. You can use 1/2 to 1 oz.
7. I use 1/2 cup of detergent per load of wash.  It cost me $1.60 to fill this big bucket with homemade detergent!!! Pretty good, huh? A friend uses this detergent in her high efficiency washer with no problems since it does not have a high suds. She uses the same amount as she would any other detergent.

Crystal figured out the cost of the detergent and it came out to .01 a load. When you compare that to the detergents on the store shelf you'll see it's quite a savings.  That was a huge enough saving to convince me to try it. Our clothes have never been dingy. Also, my husband is not able to use scented detergents but this detergent does not effect his skin.  The only load I do use store bought detergent for are my towels.  When we lived at a previous home the well water had a mineral that gave my towels a funny smell.  They would probably be okay by now but I have always used the store detergent (currently using a brand from the dollar store). I also add White King water softener to my white load (washed in warm water) and let them soak for 30 minutes. Other than those few additions the detergent has always worked great for me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Use it up: Food

There is an old saying that goes....

                 Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. 

Today is my 'use it up' day! 

I sold and gave away a lot of things we owned when I knew we'd be selling our home and moving to a tiny place (less than 300 sq. ft). Most likely, we'll be here until next Spring if not longer so I'm still evaluating all that we moved in light of an upcoming move. One of the items I did drag along were 2 HUGE plastic tubs of material. I promised myself that if I didn't make use of the material while living here that I wouldn't move it to our next home. 

Considering our current financial situation I'm looking for ways to use up what I have on hand. 

So, today I dragged out one of the bins in hopes of starting a scrap quilt. I used to make expensive quilts in previous days that never cost less than a $100.00 a quilt. Making a pricey quilt is out of the question these days since we are living on a very limited budget.  Since I have so much material already at my disposal I decided to see if I could find a cute FREE pattern online. I spent some time last night looking at scrappy quilt patterns and found one that I want to use. Here is a picture:

Obviously, my quilt will not look like this one. But, I do have quite a few darker colors so I'm hopeful that I can produce a quilt that may be similar. My plan is to make each of the grandchildren a quilt when they turn 13. We'll see how that goes!

The 'use it up' philosophy can be applied all throughout our home. I had a small baggie size of turkey meat in the freezer that needed to be 'used up' so I made a stir fry with green peppers, onions and carrots and added a small amount of oyster sauce and sesame oil. I'm determined to use up the meat in the freezer before I purchase anymore. 

How many times do we purchase a 'new' product when we have several products at home that will do the same job?  We just don't 'like' the product at home  or we're bored with it and want to try something new. Sometimes I used to think I'd be more motivated if I had some new cleaning product to try.  But, much to my shame, I had several products on my shelves that would do a similar job. I was so wasteful! 

Do you have ways you 'use it up' before purchasing a new item?