Saturday, October 07, 2006

Homemade Detergent, a Simple Conservation Measure

Having a dog with a birth defect made me think about the different things that can cause genetic problems. Many of these are just accidents of nature. In Snickers case, it was probably due to inbreeding. But some causes could include exposure to chemicals, radiation, or other materials. So, what could I do this week that might help reduce the chemicals added to our water supply?
Because I am home with Snickers for the week, I thought it would be fun to figure out if I could make my own laundry detergent. My husband and I do the laundry for my in-laws and my sister in-law is very sensitive to perfumes. She developed this problem after having Guillian-Berre, a neuromuscular disease. No one really knows what causes this disease, but she never fully recovered and has a number of residual issues because of it.
I currently have four two gallon jugs of detergent in my laundry room that take up a lot of space. There are a number of mystery ingredients including surfactants and boosters. I don't know what they are, but I do know that these jugs take up a lot of space, there are perfumes,(the clothes don't seem to smell fresh without the perfumes), and whatever is in them, goes into the sewer system and off to the water treatment plant. I always buy on sale, so they were inexpensive. I think they all pretty much clean the same.
So, I went on line and found a recipe for home made detergent. Just type detergent in your search engine and you'll find multiple sites with the same recipe. It just takes three ingredients; 1 cup grated soap, 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup laundry soda. I used bars of Ivory soap which I grated in my food processor. Why put soap through my food processor, you ask? Well, what do you wash it with when you are done grating food? Once I was done grating the soap, I measured it into a large roasting pan (roomy for mixing). Then I added half that measurement of each of the borax and the laundry soda. Both of these are VERY inexpensive in the laundry section of the grocery store. As I was measuring out the dry ingredients, I noticed that the grated soap was "sweating", or giving off moisture. I put it out in the sun to dry a bit. Then after a few hours, I stirred in the dry ingredients.

I only used one tablespoon to a large load of laundry. Yes, it's true! I was amazed at how clean and sparkly and fresh smelling my clothes were. I have very hard water and I think the softeners really helped. I will definately make my own detergent again. Not only do I know what's in it, but it takes up a smaller footprint in my laundry room, is very inexpensive, and I think it works better than what I bought in the store.

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