Thrifty Friday — Laundry Edition

Oh goodness, the video just killed me–I love the frilly little dress she holds up at the end. Today I’m taking a sabbatical from edible recipes to talk about homemade laundry detergent—not as tasty, but definitely cheap and useful. My experience with using this type of soap has been nothing but positive. My clothes haven’t undergone any extra fading and they smell fresh out of the washer, as clean clothes should. Having said that, with my particular recipe you don’t get a special scent as with store bought detergents, but I have seen a couple of folks substitute scented castille soap for Ivory. (Skip to recipe for Dry Laundry Soap.)

By some, this laundry soap is considered “all natural.” I put that in quotation marks because, frankly, I have no idea what it means any more or if it’s even a positive attribute. Sassafras is all natural, and known to be a cancer causing agent. Raw cane sugar is all natural, but in excessive quantities can cause serious health problems. So why do we care if a product is all natural? I don’t know. I digress.

Getting back to why this recipe is “all natural,” we examine the very few ingredients. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, and a much easier way of saying sodium tetraborate. Apparently it’s harvested by evaporating lake water and keeping the “stuff” that’s left behind. Who knew? (Short, sciency-looking video on the subject can be found here.) Then there’s the washing soda–sodium carbonate. This chemical is commonly extracted from the ashes of plants and like borax, has a number of household cleaning purposes beyond the laundry room. The Ivory soap has also been around for a while–130 years, according to the P&G website. They claim 99.44% “pure soap ingredients” as opposed to synthetics, and do not contain any perfumes or other potential irritants.

Without further ado, the recipe:

Dry Laundry Soap
Makes: just including ratios here, but we’ll say 2.5 cups, or 40ish loads of laundry
Takes: under 20 minutes
Totals: again, ratios, but for the 2.5 cups it’s $2.08, or $0.05/load

Ingredients:
2 part borax ($1.35 for 1 cup)
2 part washing soda ($0.60 for 1 cup)
1 part grated or microwaved Ivory bar soap (~$0.13 for 1/2 cup)

Directions:
Take your bar of Ivory soap and put it in a large microwavable container. Use the default setting on your microwave and nuke it for about 45 seconds. Your bar will begin to bloom. Pull it out, break off all the dry pieces and placed them in a plastic baggie. WATCH YOUR FINGERS because anything that isn’t dry sticks to your skin and burns like crazy. Repeat the process until the whole thing is in brittle pieces, then crumble it into powder through the baggie.

Mix your soap powder with the borax and washing soda. Viola, you’ve got laundry detergent. Store it in an airtight container to keep moisture out, or it’ll clump. I use about a tablespoon per load, but will add a little extra if it’s an especially large amount of laundry. That’s it! Happy weekend, and happy thrifting.

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