If you want a fun challenge, try doing Beth Terry's "Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash" over at My Plastic-free Life. When I first stumbled across this challenge I thought it would be easy. But then I looked in my recycling bin and realized that I use alot of plastic. I have plastic shampoo bottles, a plastic shower curtain, plastic sour cream containers, plastic hummus containers, plastic bags of baby carrots, plastic laundry soap containers, and the list goes on. There must be a way to decrease the amounts of plastic we buy and use.
Although my co-op has a vast bulk selection that I try to use as much as possible, I started thinking about what kinds of things I could make at home instead of purchasing in plastic and possibly save some money as well. I decided to start with making my own laundry soap. I can buy some of the ingredients without any packaging and the rest I can buy in bulk in cardboard boxes.
So then I told my a few friends and family that I was going to make my own soap. They gave me a look like this....
Those of you who have followed this blog in the past may remember my dog Chloe. For those newer to the scene let me introduce you to my overly anxious, very neurotic, hyper beagle Chloe. She has the perfect blank stare for occasions where she knows you are speaking to her but she still needs to process the information. The ears go up, she tilts her head, and she furrows her brow.
Well that's kind of the look I got. It's alright though. Before starting my adventure to become more self sufficient I thought that laundry soap couldn't be made anywhere but a factory, even if I was buying the eco-friendly brand. I had visions of me, a bar of soap, and a washing board down at the local creek. I love Little House on the Prairie but no thank you. But after looking into it, we don't need or should want many of the complex chemicals found in store bought laundry soap.
For example, Optical Brighteners: Have you heard the phrase "Makes your whites whiter"? The products that claim to make your whites whiter and your colors brighter don't actually clean your clothes better. They use optical brighteners, a synthetic chemical, that cling to your clothes after washing and it converts UV light into visible wavelengths, hence you seem brighter. Since I tend to be more on the dark and twisty side anyways, I'll skip the outpouring of visible wavelengths.
There are also many places online that talked about dangers from Phthalates used for fragrances and synthetic surfactants. Some reports claimed that Phthalates could impact our hormonal blance but honestly my eyes are now crossed from looking through the quagmire of information. You be the judge.
Here's what I do know.
- Previously I was buying ECO brand soap from Costco for about $20 for 3 - 4 months worth of soap. I spent about $12 for enough soap to last me at least 8 months or more (I'm horrible at conversions so I'll just update the post when I finish this batch).
- I was buying my laundry soap in large plastic jugs. Although that plastic can be recycled, it's still a product that has been produced using energy, chemicals, and fossil fuels. If I eliminate the need for the plastic in the first place then I'm helping reduce plastic from the source.
- If I go to my co-op to buy laundry soap in bulk then I'm paying astronomically high prices. Go back to point one, rinse and repeat.
I looked around online and found tons of sources for my "recipe". They all were very similar and all contained a few basic ingredients.
- Soap: Soap acts as a surfactant in your laundry detergent. Basically, they grab onto the dirty bits in your laundry and hang out with them in the water while the washer is churning. This allows your clothes to get clean. There are several forms of soap you can choose from: Zote, Fels Naptha, Dr. Bronners/castille, even good old Ivory. Use the soap that best meets your personal needs for being cost conscious and eco-friendly.
- Washing Soda: Arm and Hammer makes Washing Soda (sodium carbonate). It will help soften your water so if you have hard water then your recipe should include more washing soda. It also helps remove stains from your clothes. Can't find washing soda? Make your own (and it's cheaper!). Here's a recipe.
- Borax: Some recipes did not include borax but it is a natural whitener and it boosts the effectiveness of your soap.
- Baking Soda: Some recipes also didn't include baking soda but I live in a home with chickens, cats, dogs, and general stinkiness. I added the baking soda to help eliminate odors and many reports said it helped soften clothes. I can also buy baking soda very cheap and in bulk so why not.
- Vinegar: I use vinegar as an additive but it's not mixed into my soap. Sometimes soap can build up in your washer or on your clothes and vinegar removes that soap scum and it acts as a fabric softener and odor remover. And no, your clothes do not smell like vinegar when you wear them.
Here's my laundry soap solution.
|3 Bars of soap = 15 oz. of soap. I grated it using my food processor.|
Add all the ingredients to the bucket and shake shake shake. Here's how it should go into your washer.
And now you all know the secret of my very, very, very bad handwriting.
Check out the Homestead Barn Hop every Monday for other ideas!