Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cleaning Up Our Act

Returning to laundry basics

We’ve been hanging our laundry to dry for about a year now.  I love the way it smells and even the act of hanging the laundry and gathering and folding it is a relaxing task I look forward to. Hanging laundry forces me to slow down and enjoy a simple pleasure while being more thoughtful about our use of energy. Honestly, it makes me feel good every time I do our wash. 

We still have a dryer and, yes, it is used on occasion, but very rarely any more. We just don’t have the need. One thing that has made this change possible for us is our wonderful screened in porch. Hanging laundry each week would not be nearly as easy if we had to depend on the weather. After all, everyone who lives in this house works full time and has a very busy schedule. Weekends are the time for us to tidy the house, do laundry, gather groceries, work around the yard and hopefully find a moment to relax before heading into another work week.  I’m sure this is a familiar scenario for most of us.

 If it’s raining on the weekends we don’t have the luxury of waiting for a nicer day to do laundry. So, no matter what the weather, unless we are out of town, the laundry is done Saturday morning.  The back porch has a clothesline running the entire length of the porch and there is a folding drying rack out there. If it’s sunny and we’re inspired to move the rack, it gets pulled out in the sun, but honestly it mostly stays on the porch. Rain or shine out goes the laundry on Saturday morning. If it’s nice and our schedule allows, the laundry gets put away Saturday afternoon.  If it’s rainy or we don’t have time it stays on the line until it’s dry or we get around to it. It’s a perfect system for us.  

So a year of hanging laundry has gone by, and we are ready to take the next step. We decided to make our own laundry detergent. I found a recipe online that made a nice big batch and gave it a try.  

Here’s the recipe

Laundry soap 

2 gallon bucket

1/3 bar Fels Naptha bar soap
1/2 c. washing soda
1/2 c. borax powder

Grate soap and put it in a sauce pan
Add 6 cups water and heat until soap melts
Add washing powder and Borax and stir until they dissolve
Remove from heat
Pour 4 c. hot water into the bucket. 
Add soap mixture and stir
Now add 1 gal. plus 6 cups of water and stir
Let soap sit for 24 hours. It will gel.

use 1/2 c. per load

You can add an essential oil if you want. I didn't this time to see how it is unscented. 

We've been using this detergent for several weeks and it seems to do an excellent job of cleaning at pennies per load. I'm excited about our new soap, which I think is much more environmentally sound and it definitely will save us money.  My only question about my ingredients is the Fels Naptha soap. According to what I read originally the soap has been around for 100 years and so I assumed (never assume) that it was a safe or at least more environmentally friendly product. But, after some poking around on the internet I'm finding mixed reviews.  Some say that the soap contains at least one petrochemical ingredient and others say that there is no longer any petrochemical products used in the soap.    I don’t know. I might try Ivory instead in my next batch. If anyone has any feedback on this it would be greatly appreciated. In the end, I think I probably have a better product now than what I was buying previously at the grocery…cheaper anyhow. 




  1. So, is your recipe 'phosphate free'?

  2. As far as I know. There is no sodium triphosphate listed on any of the ingredients.

  3. This is great, Deanna! I too hang my laundry, though, it looks like this last weekend will be my last hanging outside until spring, as the clothes froze rather than dried! But, not to fear, I have two nice lines in my basement - not quite as fresh smelling, but just as green! Thrilled to have the laundry soap recipe - I wonder if you can use it in a low water front loader?
    Green Dreams,