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Friday, October 29, 2010

October Freshness

Wow. Does Fall just seem to be stuck on fast forward or what? I'm still trying to figure out where the time has gone? I've had a number of things keeping me from garden, house, and craft projects, plus the garden is pretty well done for this year aside from some butternuts that are still ripening. The tomato plants are still producing their second-round crop, and Mr. Stripey who played stubborn all summer long, dropping his blossoms, has finally put out this late in the year! My, and his tomatoes were well worth the wait!

I had to clear out my old house at the ranch, which was serving as an art storage facility, because a good family friend will soon be occupying it. So, now our garage is inundated with large paintings and canvases. Some of which have spilled into the house. Also, I had to bring back my old furniture which I couldn't bear to part with, so combined with Lee's furniture we currently have a maze to navigate on a daily basis. Trying to make sense of it all hasn't been easy, especially when you have a ton of daily tasks already to keep up with. On top of that, Lee is putting together a short film and we've been using a spare room at the ranch house in which to put together the set. Tomorrow is the test shoot. Honestly, I can't wait until it's over. It's been a lot of stress to get it together in such a short time, and at the busiest time of the year when holidays are one right after the other! Holidays are basically on the back burner right now, not that we are the type of people who go all out anyway. If Lee didn't have kids, I would suggest we just ignore the holidays this year completely. The icing on the cake was that we both got sick this week, and I'm still sniveling.

Anyway, somehow amidst all of this chaos I was able to experiment with some laundry soap recipes. I made a pact to stop using manufactured detergent full of chemicals, and decided that as soon as our last bottle was empty I would start making our own. No more fabric softener or dryer sheets either! I thought initially that it was going to be a lot of extra work for a tiny amount of savings if any, but when I added it up it turned out to be much less expensive per load than any brand bought in the store. Another fella online has documented all the facts and figures if you are interested to see just how much you can save. Mind you, his recipe is different from mine, but you get the idea. Plus, it's perfume free, so anyone with allergies or sensitivities can rest assured that it is safe for them. It's biodegradable, and there's no wasteful plastic packaging! The Borax, Baking Soda & Washing soda come in paperboard boxes, and the soap is wrapped in a sheet of paper, all of which can be recycled but will biodegrade even if they aren't, unlike plastic bottles.

I even reused our old plastic detergent bottle to house my homemade laundry soap. I rinsed and thoroughly dried our old detergent bottle. First I chipped out the inner spout with a screwdriver (use safety goggles!!) to make the opening larger. Then I made a funnel from the top of a 2 liter soda bottle to fill the detergent bottle with my powder detergent (the spout of a regular funnel is too narrow and the grated soap gets stuck.) The cap/cup = almost 1/2 cup, which is about what I use per load. The powdered soap pours just fine.

I've been using the soap for a week now, and so far I've noticed that it washes really well. It doesn't leave behind any scent, but it also doesn't leave behind any odors either. My biggest fear was that it wasn't going to get smells out, but I did the ultimate test and washed the dog's blankets. It worked great! They smell clean without that fake, chemical fragrance that most detergents leave behind. The whites look really white, and I almost want to say that they look better than with the commercial detergent. Try it for yourself and see how it works!

Powder Laundry Soap Recipe

1/2 cup soap flakes*
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup washing soda
1/4 cup Borax

1. Grate bar of soap with the finest grater.

2. Mix all ingredient in a large bowl.

3. Store in a sealed plastic container.

4. For top loaders use 1/2 cup. Front loaders use 1/4 cup.

*You can sometimes find a bag of soap flakes in the laundry isle, but I used a laundry bar that I grated up by hand with an ordinary cheese grater. It's just soap, it washes off like dish liquid, so it's okay to use the one you cook with. If you can't find a laundry bar, use a pure bar of soap like castile or even Ivory (no moisturizing bars, etc, because these can leave a film on your clothes).

Fabric softener?  Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. No, your clothes will not smell like vinegar. Dryer sheets? The vinegar takes care of static cling. You might also consider wool dryer balls. Don't care about perfume free and love having scented clothes? Purchase pure essential oils in a scent that you love. A couple drops on a dryer ball or homemade dryer sheet (piece of felt) should do the trick. You can also add a few drops to the wash cycle if that's not enough. Happy laundering!

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