I posted a question to the world the other day, regarding if anybody actually used natural/homemade/whatever cleaning products. Do you really clean your stove with vinegar? I mean, we hear about these easy homemade natural cleaning products all the time but I always just assumed that people just say “I hear vinegar works well to clean stoves.” and then use 409 or whatever newfangled specially designed cooktop scrubby tool or “Natural” as in “I paid three times as much as a chemically brand and I’m not sure if it does anything but holy goodness, it smells amazing” product. The answers came back leaning a surprising amount to the affirmative. To the “Yes, I really do”. Apparently my friends are a bunch of sub/urban homesteading hippies.
One recommendation I got was make-your-own laundry soap. My friend Stephanie who runs the blog Granite Gurus and is pretty much a positive attitude house everything expert sent me a link to the recipe that she uses and swears by. My biggest concern with this stuff is whether or not it was safe/good to use on my clothes. My precious dark washed denim. My collection of cardigans. The thing about Steph is that we’ve known each other for several years and I’ve never seen her a) wear anything besides black or b) look anything besides impeccably dressed, so I decided that if this is what she’s washing her clothes in, she’s probably onto something.
We were almost out of laundry detergent, so I figured it was a perfect time to try it out. Using this recipe from The Hen Pen as a guideline, I set out to make my own laundry soap. It was kind of an adventure. First of all, where do you even get essential oil from? Health food store? Check. I found quite a selection at my local Good Earth (Tangerine was among the least expensive, so that’s what I ended up with). But then the only castille soap bars they had were a different brand from the one used in the recipe, so I didn’t buy them there. I went to Whole Foods and found that they only carried the same brand, so I grabbed it there. I also grabbed baking soda and looked for Borax but they didn’t have it there. I had to make a Target run anyway, so I looked for it there, but nope. So as a last resort, even though it hurt, I went to Wal-Mart and sure enough, I walked out of there with a box of Borax. And only a box of Borax.
All of the recipes I read online before getting started mentioned grating the soap by hand. Yeah, no. I couldn’t handle the little chunks and imagined finding them embedded in my clean clothes and started breathing a little funny, so I pulled out the food processor. I used the grater attachment and followed it up with the regular chopper blade thing until I had a powder. I was a lot more comfortable with the powder. And then I strained it through a colander… Because I didn’t want any scary chunks. After inhaling said powder, now I’m not sure what route I will take the next time I do this.
I pulled out a trusty giant vintage Tupperware canister that’s kind of too big to use for very many things, but I keep around because… well, I keep stuff. Especially vintage stuff. Especially when it’s green. Or orange. Or yellow. What I was making was a half batch (so 2 bars of soap, 4 boxes of baking soda, and half of a box of Borax) and the big canister was the perfect size in addition to being cute and not making me feel bad about myself every time I opened the kitchen cupboard it usually lives in.
I tried it out with a load of the man’s gross work laundry, you know, just in case I had screwed up and it was going to dissolve fabric on contact, or turn things blue, or some such thing. It worked. Even his white socks were decently clean looking, which isn’t something that happens a lot.
I feel like I also get a prize because I figured out two bonus features about this concoction, and they are very important. 1. When I wiped up what I spilled on my lovely beige laminate countertop, it magically brought up a red stain from smoothie making with it. So it can double as a scouring powder, apparently. The other, and this one is way, way more important: I have a front loading HE washer. It’s the first generation Maytag Neptune, so I think it’s about 10 years old. We don’t need to discuss the funk that happens in HE washing machines. We all know about it. Tide even makes a special product to get rid of it. My washing machine funk is gone. In one day. After just three loads of laundry. So now you also know the secret to getting rid of the smell in your HE washer. I may have just saved your life.
I’ve already put a few scoops of the laundry detergent into a shaker bottle and used it as a homemade scouring powder in my 20+ year old porcelain coated sink and it’s pretty dreamy. Shake it on, sit around while it sits there and works and smells yummy, then a quick scrub and a rinse. The verdict? It totally works.
But I’m not going to stop washing my hair or anything like that.