Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Laundry Experiment

Laundry.  Blech!  Probably one of my least favorite household chores.  For one reason only.  It is never done!  I love fresh clothes from the dryer.  Love to see them neatly folded and in there place (a rarity in this house), love the smell of clean linens as you slip into bed.  But no matter how much you get accomplished in a day, you know there will be dirty clothes as everyone changes into PJ's, there will be dirty towels in the morning from all the showers, and those fresh, clean linens will now be considered, umm, not in the morning.

So laundry in this house full of people is an ongoing event.  If you don't hear the washer and dryer going on a daily basis, something is amiss.

So in the interest of saving a little moola, and since in the last couple of years my skin has decided to become a little more sensitive, I have been looking online at homemade laundry soaps recipes.  Interesting.  And since my nose also doesn't like the smell of most laundry soaps and fabric softeners, I like the fact that I can create a scent of my choosing.

So this week, after pinning this article and then reading her homemade laundry soap recipe, I decided to not only clean out my washing machine but also to try some of these recipes I keep reading.

ecoKaren has some great ideas on her blog.  I liked her laundry soap recipe and was tempted to try it.  I still might down the road, but the problem here at our house is our water pressure.  At least that is what I am assuming it is.  I love using baking soda and vinegar in my wash.  So for a little while, I was putting it in the soap dispenser drawer on my washing machine.  Not a great idea.  All the powder gunked up behind the drawer itself and caused a blockage.  I don't know if this is because of our low water pressure or the machine itself, but I decided to hold off on the powder direction.

Further searching found this recipe on an equally great blog.  First go-rounds on recipes I usually try to do exactly as told so I can see how I can tweak it to my liking.  I followed recipe as is on the blog and added about 1/6 ounce of sweet orange essential oil.

There were a few options for the bar of soap.  The Fels-Naptha brand happened to be the only option available here in the boonies.  The local health food store however, had lots of options in essential oils.  I love the clean smell of citrus so for first go round I bought sweet orange.

I added the essential oils while the soap was melting.  The heat would let the essential oils melt and spread more evenly through the mixture.

While the laundry soap was brewing, I started on the dryer satchels.  For actually fabric softening, I add white vinegar to the washing machine in place of fabric softener.  Works great.  I wanted something for the dryer to add scent.  I decided to stick with the orange theme and grabbed some dried orange peel at the healthfood store.

To make the dryer satchels is really pretty simple.  Most blogs, website, etc. all had the same recommendations.  Add something unscented for weight, dry beans, flaxseed, etc.  Then add your scent items.  I read mixed reviews on adding essential oils to the mixture.  Some said to be careful because the oils could heat up and transfer to your clothing.  Others simple made felted balls and doused them with essential oils and said they have never had a problem with the oil transfer.  I am experimenting to see which theory I go with.

Here is what I put in my dryer satchel.  A handful of dry navy beans for weight, one tablespoon dry orange peel, 10 cloves, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and a few drops of sweet orange essential oil.

Finished products!  The kitchen smelled heavenly as these were being made.

Lessons Learned:

I think I may tweak the soap recipe just a tad.  Less water and a little more cleaning agents.

These dryer balls are awesome and I will be making a basketfull of these so you can choose your scent for your own load.

Dried ingredients are expensive.  This spring, summer I will be collecting and drying local wildflowers for my own use.  And drying citrus peel is very easy so I will be doing this on my own as well.

What's It Cost:

Box of Borax    $3.38
Box of Washing Soda   $3.24
Fels-Naptha    $0.97
Essential Oils   $4.19
Dried Orange Peel  $2.34 (for a small bag with about 1/2 cup)

Not too shabby.  The Fels-Naptha bar will make three batches if you use exactly as in the recipe.  The washing soda and Borax will make a LOT of batches considering you only use 1/2 cup for each batch.  The recipe as is makes about 2 gallons of laundry soap.


The first load of wash has been washed.  Clothes came out smelling clean and faintly of orange.  Perfect.  No overpowering scent but definitely clean.  They are now in the dryer.  I will update you on results, but so far, everything is great!

Dryer is done, clothes all warm and smelling great.  There is not an overwhelming smell of orange.  But as the basket sits in front of me I can definitely smell the orange spicyness of it.  I think I will either make larger satchels or put two satchels into the dryer.

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