28 April 2008

Laundry Experiment, part 2

(Do you have any domestic discoveries that you've learned from experimenting? I'm all ears! Post your comments, tips, and bright ideas here or e-mail them to me, and I may use them in future posts on this blog. Thanks for sharing, and may all your laundry come out smelling and looking better than it does right now!)

I like calling it the "Laundry Experiment." Calling this an experiment gives me the upper hand: I am the scientist creating the controlled conditions under which the outcome is analyzed and conclusions are made based on the findings. This is the kind of science that I whole-heartedly enjoy: the practical and fun kind. While laundry is practical (rather necessary), some would argue the fun part. Some like me. But today I had a little fun making my own laundry detergent.

I've been wanting to post on this subject, as this is not the first time I've ever done this (it is in fact the second time). And I even took photos of the process. And it is a process I hope to keep "tweaking" until I get the results I am most satisfied with, hence experiment. But here is where I found this information: The Simple Dollar. This man's tutorial on how to make homemade laundry detergent is very good, includes a video clip of the clotted goo, results as well as price comparison to Tide. I also enjoyed reading through the comments from readers who have their own two cents to throw in (pun intended), and found them to be somewhat helpful. So I'll just post my "nutshell" version, in case you don't want to bother reading someone else's blog.

Homemade Laundry Soap

  • 5 gallon bucket
  • pot big enough to boil a little over 4 c. water
  • dry and liquid measuring devices
  • stirring device (whisk, wooden spoon, chop sticks, your hand)
  • cheese grater or sharp knife to whittle the bar of soap
  • stove
Ingredients (found in the laundry/soap aisle at your grocery store):
  • Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
  • Borax
  • bar soap (any kind will do)
Directions in a nutshell:
  • melt soap in 4 cups boiling water on the stove till dissolved (shredding the soap helps cut down the melting time)
  • mix soap liquid with 3 gallons warm water, 1c. washing soda and 1/2 c. borax in large bucket
  • let it cool and rest 24 hours, stirring occasionally. It will turn into slimy, glumpy, perfectly usable and highly affordable laundry soap.

The soap I used this time was a $7.50 bar of very fragrant soap my Mom bought for me when we visited the Renoir exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art last October. (Thanks, Mom. I'll think of you every time I do the laundry.) I grated it up in my food processor, and ended up using only half of it this time (about 3/4 c.), hoping the end result will be less chunky than last time. I'll save the other half for the next batch.

Here's what it looked like on the stove. Once it melted, the liquid was rather surprisingly clear, but quite sudsy.

Once the rest of the ingredients were added in, the mixture looked milky and still quite sudsy at the top.

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