Tough Times = Homemade Laundry Soap
I could never be a homesteader. I like shopping malls and restaurants too much. So for a long time, I resisted doing something as pioneer-ish as making my own cleaning agents. It seemed too..... well homesteader and pioneer-ish for lack of any more adjectives. And besides, I really love Tide, and really love my routine.
But my husband's construction occupation is still in recession mode.
I've started making our laundry soap. There are thousands of recipes online. A quick Google search will even turn up how-to videos.
After six months of trying multiple recipes, I've settled on using Fels-Naptha bar soap, 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda. I grate the soap into a gallon of water in my largest stock pot. I bring this to a boil, stirring often. After the soap is dissolved, I add the borax and washing soda to the hot soapy water, stirring until both are dissolved. I add two more gallons of water, and then let this sit overnight in the stock pot.
In the morning, I squish the soap. Sounds funny, huh? The soap becomes gel like, and the clumps need mashed into a liquid form again. Hands work best, and it makes your skin really soft! I then divide the soap between three gallon jugs. I use 1/2 cup per extra large load. This concentration is a bit stronger than some recipes. My men work at construction sites, landscape jobs, and a horse stable daily; I need powerful stuff to tackle their laundry.
One batch of soap takes me about twenty minutes to make in the evening, another twenty minutes to divide in the morning. The three gallons last us a couple months. The box of borax and washing soda seem endless - a one time purchase for months. My initial investment six months ago cost less than a small bottle of Tide. The Fels-Naptha, the one item I have to purchase for each batch, costs $.99 at my local Wal-Mart. We've saved money.
These are tough economic times. We wrestle with the how to continue to live on one income, and are constantly looking for ways to reduce our living costs. I'm nowhere near ready to move west and stake a claim. But if making my own laundry soap means we can continue to get by on one income, and I get one more day at home to invest in my children, I'll learn to do things differently.