We have been homesteading now for a few years. Homesteading as in trying to live sustainably, using less electricity, conserving everything, and eating and cooking with whole foods preferably grown on our own land or locally produced. This is not something that we started immediately, but has grown and is still developing. I can say that 80% of the meat we consume we raised and that will be increasing this summer as will our vegetable and fruit products. But, what about cleaning supplies?
Many thanks to our friend and fellow Cooperative committee member, Ann, for a recipe to make laundry soap. The following recipe makes 5 gallons of liquid soap and she told me that it will last her family of four 7 months with her front loading clothes washer. We have a top loader, so half as long. The cost for all the ingredients? About $9 with enough leftovers on the washing soda and borax to make two more buckets. For a fabric softener, we use a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. No, the smell rinses out. You won’t smell like a pickle!
Homemade Laundry Detergent
1 bar of Fells Naptha Soap
1 ¼ cups of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1 ¼ Cups of 20 Mule Team Borax Powder
1 ½ tablespoons of essential oil, lemon or lavender work well (optional)
1 5 gallon bucket with cover
1 long wooden stick (old rake handle of long dowel rod work fine)
Grate the Fels Naptha (I use a food processor)
Heat 6 cups of water in a large saucepan to a boil
Turn off heat
Add grated Fels Naptha soap to water, stir and cover
Stir gently about every 5 minutes until the soap melts
Add essential oil, if using
While Fels Naptha is Melting
Fill the 5 gallon bucket ½ full of HOT tap water
Sprinkle 1 ¼ Cups Washing Soda into bucket of HOT tap water
Sprinkle 1 ¼ Cups Borax Powder into bucket of HOT tap water
Stir until dissolved
Pour slowly the Fels Naptha soap mixture into the 5 gallon bucket
Continue filling the 5 gallon bucket until full with hot tap water.
Continue to stir about every 10 minutes until it starts to gel
Place cover on 5 gallon bucket
In about 24 hours detergent will gel and look like egg whites.
Stir detergent before each use. Use ½ cup to 2/3 cup per load. (1/4 cup HE washers)
Works best in hot or warm water, not cold.
Safe (because it is low sudsing) for HE* machines and front loaders.
*always check manufacturer’s recommendations