Help me make laundry soap- dry vs liquid, which one is better
I started using homemade laundry soap about a month ago and LOVE it. I do use one bar of dr. bronners (currently it's citrus, but will try lavender next), 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup baking soda. I often threw baking soda in with laundry like towels or my husband's smelly basketball jerseys. I love having it in the laundry soap mixture so I don't have to mess with it.
Occasionally I'll put some vinegar in for the rinse cycle (my machine has a separate compartment for this but some people use a downy ball). Our water is a little on the hard side so the soap can leave a residue. The vinegar helps eliminate that and also functions as a fabric softener, it also keeps your black blacker.
I've made homemade dry laundry soap for about 2.5 years. I liked it.
Just a few weeks ago I made my first batch of liquid. Here are my pros and cons of liquid soap vs dry:
Takes more space. I have a 5 gallon bucket plus a 2 gallon bucket for a 6 month supply. For dry soap. I used to just use the 2 gallon bucket for a 6 month supply (and it wasn't totally full).
Better use of the soap. With my dry soap, I couldn't easily grate it extremely fine, so not all the soap was actually being incorporated into the wash. With liquid, it's premelted so it's all being used for cleaning action. I believe I've noticed the wash being cleaner now (though I don't have complaints about the dry soap - was good enough for me to use for years).
Cheaper. Since you get better use of the soap, you use way less of it (and the salts) per load. The amount of liquid you put in is actually more than the dry (1/2 cup vs heaping tablespoon for me) but the liquid is diluted so the amount of soap and salts in the 1/2 cup of liquid is less than a heaping tablespoon.
I have to say that the difference in preparation time is fairly marginal - more time making the liquid, but not by enough for me to care about.
So the bottom line of my review is that either dry or liquid is worthwhile to do. So if for some reason liquid is just really intimidating (though it shouldn't be - it's easy peasy) or you have major space constraints or don't want to get a bucket, do try the dry stuff, it's good. But if you are willing to store more, or make batches more often (every 2 months instead of every 6, for example), the liquid stuff is better, imho.
DRY LAUNDRY SOAP RECIPE
1+3/4 cup borax
1+3/4 cup washing soda
1 bar Ivory Pure or Fels Naptha soap
1) Grate the soap. You could use a grater, or just use a knife and keep cutting it as small as possible, or run pieces of it through a food processor. I used a food processor for it for a while but it kind of died after a while (I don't think it was the soap; it was just a cheap one).
2) mix with the borax and washing soda.
3) You're done :)
4) Use 1 tablespoon (I heaped it) per load. It's always nice to add vinegar to the rinse cycle too.
I usually make 3+ batches at a time.
LIQUID LAUNDRY SOAP RECIPE
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1 bar Ivory Pure or Fels Naptha soap
1) Hmm... I'll have to come back and edit this post after I run and grab my instructions. I've forgotten how much water to use. Will be back.
Note: You may have to hunt around a little for washing soda. It IS different from baking soda - similar, but different enough that you'll want the washing soda (they are called baking and washing sodas for a reason). I tried WalMart and 2 grocery stores, and at a third grocery store I finally found it. It's not expensive ($2.99 a box for Arm and Hammer for me). Borax is easier to find (about the same cost per box, but a bigger box).
MrsH, so you are saying you use 1 bar less of soap for your recipe. That would be great if that worked because when I did the math and my homemade soap is more expensive to make than store bought natural stuff. I was mainly doing this to save money. How much powder per load do you use?
??? A whole batch of mine costs about $2
Also, I make my own vinegar. Since it has a laundry application, I'll add my instructions for that here too.
I have a crock (the kind you put flour or sugar or whatever in - made of ceramic). I put apple cores and peels and bruised apple pieces and anything apple related (I've used pears too) in the crock, with water filled over the apples. I also weight down the apple pieces so that they don't go above the surface of teh water (they can mold if they do). Because I'm a really high-tech girl, I use a rock for this purpose, a flat rock that seems to do the job.
I think people prefer to use non-chlorinated water, but I just use my tap water and it works.
I cover it with a lid but not entirely. I want to keep dust out and minimize evaporation but I want it exposed to a bit of air. So I'd prop it open a tiny bit or lean the lid to the side or something.
Here's the part that requires a little magic. The first time you make a batch, it might not do anything for a while. In fact, you might not even be in a good area to do it at all. Carla Emery (author of Encyclopedia of Country Living) said she never had any luck with making vinegar. You have to catch the right beasties from the air to make it happen. If you have fruit flies in your area, this is a good thing for your vinegar. Obviously you don't want fruit flies in your kitchen, so you might put your crock out on the porch or in a shady place in your back yard. (ETA: you don't NEED fruit flies to make it; they carry the bacteria that make vinegar on their feet. So they can HELP colonize your vinegar. But they are not required, and they are not directly part of the vinegar making process. The bacteria can get there some other way, they can just be in the air or maybe even the fruit you use is already precolonized, etc.)
Otherwise maybe you might buy a container of RAW apple cider vinegar, and pour some in your virgin mixture. The point is to get the stuff going. It's similar to compost; your first pile will be slow but after all the right beasties are in your compost area, they'll get right to work with any new stuff.
Since my vinegar is active (and I never wash my crock between batches, either), it takes a couple of weeks to vinegarize, for me. I strain it and pour it into a gallon jug with a funnel. I reuse the same apple pieces for more than one batch, often. I also feel free to start a batch with only one apple core; I just keep adding to it as I get apple pieces. That will take longer, of course, but it works.
I always shake my head in disbelief that I can make better vinegar than Carla Emery, but I also know it's nothing to do with skill. I just have the beasts here.
I would probably be reluctant to make my own vinegar in a southern climate, as I imagine it would just attract too many flies. Unless I had a good shady place somewhere outside. Here in MA (and even moreso in Northern Kingdom I'm sure) it works just fine, I don't have anything buzzing around my crock and I keep it right on my kitchen counter.