Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tackling the Laundry and Making Mistakes

For a couple years, I was very good about making my own laundry soap, using the Borax-Washing Soda-Grated Fels Naptha soap recipe (it's everywhere online).  This was about way more than just looking for a less chemical-ridden alternative - I was dealing with some extremely lean financial times as a single parent (child support had gotten extremely patchy) with my adult daughter and her husband and my grand-daughter living with us. Lots of laundry, little money, and paying what a large container of commercial laundry detergent costs quite literally meant we might not be eating a few meals during that pay period.

Well - things changed.  My kids are all out on their own now, and Michael and I are making a family together as a couple.  Money is still an object, but we have enough to meet our needs, so we can focus on changes for the sake of health instead of strictly being about money.  He liked my homemade laundry soap, and I was happy to keep up with it (the cost of that commercial product is like a free dinner out!) until my RA flaring last year got so bad that I just couldn't handle anything involving large containers or stirring, or...anything.  And he was already doing so much daily that I couldn't (in addition to very long workdays), that I just didn't have the heart to even suggest he take over this task as well.  We sucked it up, and went back to buying commercial detergent, and tried not to think about the wasted money or all the chemicals going onto our clothes and bodies.

I've been wanting to get back to this, and by coincidence Real Food, Real Frugal started a Natural Home Challenge, and that gave me all the remaining motivation to get on with it!  Do head over - check out the great homemade laundry products and tips are being gathered together there, and add your own!

Now - I decided to try one of the recipe posted rather than my old one... and selected Homegrown and Healthy's recipe.  I like that she has variations - you can choose a powdered formula, liquid or even whipped.

I had some Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap on hand, and decided to use that rather than buy some Fels Naptha (which works well, but is also fairly caustic).

I made a couple mistakes here -

First, I doubled the recipe which means there was a whole lot of powder to have to slowly stir in and get thoroughly melted.

Second, I didn't read the recipe closely.  You are supposed to boil the water, add the powders and dissolve them and then - THEN! - add the soap.  I boiled the water, added the soap, and then put in the baking soda...

Oh. Dear. Suds.

A wall of foam rose up out of the pot like a living thing while I tried to philosophically consider  that there are worst things that can wind up all over your flat-top stove than a suds-monster of soft-scrub.

For the record - adding Borax almost immediately dissipated that foam, so mistake 3 might be adding baking soda before Borax.  Except it wouldn't have been a problem at all if I'd put the soap in when I should.

This is chemistry - remembering the properties of what we're working with matters!

In the end, it all worked out - we have a big batch of laundry soap (that has a lovely peppermint scent) and my stove-top is clean.  A mistake with no horrendous consequences is just a learning experience!

Shared with:  Natural Home Challenge Week 1
Tuesday Greens, The Backyard Farming Connection Hop, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, The Gathering Spot, Trick or Treat TuesdayTutorial Tuesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Seasonal Celebration Wednesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Whimsy WednesdayWellness Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Two Girls and a Party, Show & Tell Linky, Down Home Blog Hop, Wow Me Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Small Footprint Friday.


  1. Thanks for sharing your tips! I will sometimes just use a quarter cup of Dr Bonner's Peppermint Soap in my laundry. It does a great job of freshening and cleaning my towels and bedding.

  2. Haha, I bet I waould make the same mistake..

  3. uh oh! At least it was a "clean" mess you had to clean up :). I make my laundry soap, but find the powdered variation is the easiest. Thanks for sharing your adventures on Wellness Wednesdays @

  4. And to make matters worse, now we all get to read about the mistake. I even shared this post on the H&H wall ;)

  5. hahaha! I'm just telling myself I may be saving someone else from making the same mistake!

  6. Great way to look at things when it erupted! Thanks for linking up with Tuesday Greens!

  7. Thank you for sharing ideas on how to avoid any soapy eruptions- oh my I suppose your stove top was super-clean afterwards!! Rebecca @Natural Mothers Network x