Turning the Tide
Today’s post is going to appeal to environmentalists, compassionate vegans, and cheapskates. My family is going to share our new laundry routine which not only minimizes the impact on the animals and our precious dwindling fresh water supply, but also saves us enough money each year to pay for a vacation.
This post will not appeal to people who prefer to pay ridiculously high prices for fragrance infused chemical compounds which are first tested on fluffy bunnies before being distributed and allowed to erode the fabric of our society all in the name of Fresh Spring scented undies.
I used to love the most perfumed laundry detergent money could buy. I wanted the neighbors to know when I was washing and drying my clothes because of the huge cloud of pink fog flecked with glitter that hovered over my block. However, after years of this I began to have skin reactions to certain products and had to experiment with many different detergent/ fabric softener combinations. The trick was finding a detergent that my skin didn’t react to AND didn’t cost as much as rent. I found some generic options that saved a few bucks but after a bit the red bumps and itching would return.
More recently, I decided to avoid detergents and companies that test their products on animals (see * below). I like to think that I am voting with my dollars – the huge jugs of laundry liquids seemed more like voting AND giving financial contributions to a candidate that I don’t even like in the first place. We found some pricey yet ‘good’ companies and paid out of the nose to be good Earth citizens. Then Shannon and I Googled our options and came up with a much better solution. FYI- that was a slippery pun that I don’t want simply washed down the drain and forgotten- shoot, my bubbly enthusiasm has done it again- ug, really? I need to scrub these…. AHAHAHGGGHH!!!
Below, you will find a simple recipe for making your own laundry detergent. It takes less than 2 dollars to make 40 dollars worth of detergent. It eliminates the giant plastic bottles, the corporate evil, and the tested (yet still faulty) name-brand, phosphate-infused sludge… and it’s as easy as making a bowl of oatmeal. We’ve been very pleased with our several months of success and savings. The clothes become actually clean instead of just smelling like it.
This purple wrapped bar is more difficult to find but it is vegan. I’m not saying it doesn’t sneak a bite of milk chocolate from time to time, but its heart is in the right place. I am a big fan of the lavender but there are plenty of scents you can find or create yourself using scented oils.
If you have a fancy IKEA grater sitting around then you should use it for this- otherwise a regular grater will work. Just shred 1/2 of the soap bar and try not to sprinkle it onto omnivore salads as a joke. Feeding people soap isn’t funny unless you get away with it and I don’t get in any trouble for mentioning it. Otherwise it’s a big no-no.
Next, heat up 6 cups of water, but don’t let it boil. Once the water is hot, but not boiling, sprinkle the shredded soap into the hot water and stir until it dissolves. This takes only a moment.
Once the soap solution is mixed add 1/2 cup of the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.
Then add 1/2 cup of the 20 Mule Team Borax. Never fear, this product contains no mules.
Once you have all of the ingredients stirred in you have the option to continue stirring for a few more minutes or using your handheld blender to really mix everything together well. The blender option helps the final product’s appearance but not its effectiveness. Either way will work, so no pressure. Relax for crying out loud.
Get a five gallon bucket or other container that can hold almost 3 gallons of liquid and allow for some stirring action. Please keep in mind that five gallon buckets are drowning hazards for young children and should be treated like the dangerous tools that they are. Keep them away from kids ESPECIALLY when they have liquid in them.
Now comes the easiest part. Add 6 cups of hot water, then add the mixed up soapy solution, and then pour another gallon of hot water on top. Stir the contents of your bucket for a short minute and put the lid on it. This will need to be put out of the way for 24 hours while science happens. After 24 hours, stir everything up for the last time and begin using your awesomely cheap, safe and effective laundry detergent. You will know you’ve done well if it reminds you of egg drop soup.
My family has found a lot of success with this detergent recipe. I suggest keeping your old detergent containers and refilling them over and over with your new homemade solution. This will help you hide the fact that you don’t support animal testing, fresh water destroying phosphates or flushing money down the drain. Sometimes it is just easier to be closet crunchy.
As for fabric softener, we have switched to vinegar. I swear on a stack of Forks Over Knives DVDs that this does not make your clothes smell like a salad. I add about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup per load depending on how steady my pouring hands are. This one simple addition in our automatic fabric softener dispenser has made a huge difference in how clean our clothes get. After the drier, the clothes smell like a summer breeze wafting through a field of lavender filled with happy bunnies munching on sweet clover.
We are only on our fourth batch of detergent and our family-of-five takes about a month to finish just one of them off. If you have any tips or tricks or corrections, please leave them in the comments section so we can continue to refine our process as we move closer and closer to the perfect solution. FYIAgain- that was another soapy solution pun… I felt it should be pointed it out. It was funnier the second and third time in my opinion.
*Since this posting, it has surfaced that there may be more compassionate choices besides Borax. Please review the comments below from a lot of great community collected information. Go Veganauts!!