Monday, April 18, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

One way I save a few pennies for our large family is by making my own laundry soap.  A friend gave me the recipe and showed me how.  It's kind of hard to figure out just how much it costs, but I believe it's less than $2 for about 2 gallons of laundry soap.  Some ingredients take some looking for, and the price can vary drastically from store to store. 

There are three basic ingredients in my recipe:  Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, Borax, and Fels Naptha.  It's important to use washing soda, not baking soda.  (You can chemically change baking soda to washing soda by baking it!!)  I've had better luck finding this near Amish communities.  I've paid as much as $5 a box, and as little as $2.77 a box.  It comes in 55 oz. boxes, and you only use 1 C. per recipe. Borax is easy to find in just about any grocery store or Walmart.  Fels Naptha is trickier.  I've searched and searched in stores I knew carried it.  Sometimes it's with laundry products, but sometimes it's with bar soaps (it's in a bar).  I've seen it for as much as $1.69 a bar, and just recently I found it at our Walmart for only 97¢ a bar. 

Here is the recipe I use.  If you Google Homemade Laundry Soap, you can find many, many recipes.  Most are variations of this.

1/2 bar Fels Naptha, grated
1 C. Borax
1 C. Washing Soda
Optional water-soluble fragrance

2 gallon covered bucket

Put grated Fels Naptha in a stock pan with 6 C. water.  Cook until soap melts; stir occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Add Borax and Washing Soda; stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 C. hot tap water into the bucket.  Add soap mixture and stir.  Add an additional one gallon plus 6 C. water and stir.  At this time you can add fragrance, if you prefer. 

The recipe says to let sit 24 hours, stir and use (about 1/2 cup per load).  I don't always let it sit that long, and there's no problem.  Sometimes it has a thick gel consistency.  Sometimes it's gel on the top, but watery on the bottom (I stir it up before each use to get some of each).  I don't know why it varies. 

I think it cleans as well as anything.  You can use the Fels Naptha bar as a pre-treater, too.  I miss the strong fragrance of store-bought laundry soap.  I haven't found a fragrance to add that matches it.  If you don't mind the lack of fragrance, it's no problem.  The soap smells very strong when you make it, but it doesn't stick to your clothes.  (Make a batch of soap and your whole house smells fresh and clean!)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dreams Really Do Come True

We came home from Kalahari late Wednesday night, not knowing our house would soon be a water adventure!

Bill woke me up before 8 a.m. Saturday.  "I don't have time for this.  The sump pump pipe came apart, filled the chicks, and half of them are dead."  What a way to start your day!!  William and I spent the next hours tending to both the living and the dead.  I gave the 9 survivors a blow-dry on my lap.  Amazingly, they don't struggle much; a little at first, then they close their eyes and accept their fate.  They remained in a stunned state all day, huddled under the heat light. 

We quickly realized the sump pump pipe was in crisis.  It continued to pop off and shoot water-like-you-wouldn't-believe out.  This is not sewage water, just water it had pumped off the floor.  It was a cycle--pump it up, shoot it out, pump it up, shoot it out.  Oh, and then the kitchen sink got in the act...and the toilet, too.  The water wouldn't go down, William would plunge it, it would go down, but shoot out of the sump pump pipe onto the basement floor.  Ugh. (Yes, we finally had sense enough to unplug the sump pump.) Not knowing if the problem was with the septic tank or the pipes, I told Bill we'd better get a septic tank guy out here, STAT.  No problem, how about TUESDAY morning?  Fine, we'll just be in waterworld for four days!! 

So, we've been very gentle with our water usage.  Dirty dishes fill the dishwater, and my laundry pile isn't going anywhere.  I flush the toilet and stand back.  We showered at our friends' house. Bill ran a hose from the sump pump out to the backyard, so our basement wouldn't fill up any more.  This morning Bill tells me he dreamed last night that water was pouring through the ceilings.  Oh, thank the Lord that was just a dream!!  (Hint: foreshadowing) 

Well, the other day I was listening to a call-in home repair show on the radio.  Someone had gurgling toilets/sinks whenever the washer ran.  Our sinks have done that since we moved in, and the sump pump would occasionally back up in the bathroom sink.  The solution offered--check the venting; just run a snake down the vent pipe on the roof and look for clogs. 

Today as an attempt to do ANYTHING to help the situation, Bill climbs on the roof with his snake and puts it down the two vent pipes.  One is clear, but the kitchen one is totally blocked and the snake won't go through.  At this time, I am taking a Pentecostal nap in my bed.  I hear some water hitting the floor, and think, "Great, the toilet is overflowing again."  But it is strange how loud it is.  Then William is yelling at Sarah over the roar of the wet/dry vac.  I go down to investigate and find water pouring through the kitchen ceiling around the light fixture.  We scramble for buckets to put under four streams.  Oh, thank you internet for all your useful information, but curse you for telling my beloved husband to run a hose down the vent pipe to wash the blockage out!!!  The blockage remains, and 15 minutes of hose running went all over my kitchen floor! 

Dreams really do come true!!  Even nightmares!  WAH!