My exciting laundry


Today almost felt like spring. So I did almost-springlike things. I started a flat of seeds, fixed the Squirrel-Proof Net Tent after its unfortunate collapse beneath the weight of snow last weekend, and weeded and harvested a few bits of yum from inside it.

I hunted around for helleborus and other signs of almost-spring.

But my most ambitious act in celebration of almost-spring involved laundry. I have been excited about laundry this week.

Why, you ask, would I be excited about laundry?

A few months ago, a friend of mine gave me a recipe to make my own laundry soap. I’ve been meaning to try it and finally got around to it this week. It’s easy, and my laundry detergent now costs $.01 per load. This is the kind of thing that really excites me.

You can get all these ingredients (except the lavender oil) at most any grocery store.

So I mixed up a batch. Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 pints water (6 cups)
  • 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap, grated
  • 1/2 cup Super Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup borax
  • 2 gallon bucket
  • 1 quart hot water
  • 6 cups + 1 gallon hot water

Grate the bar of Fels-Naptha as you would a chunk of cheese.  Mix the grated soap in a medium sized saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat on low until dissolved.  Stir in Washing Soap and Borax.  Stir until thickened and remove from heat.  Pour one quart hot water into a two-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and scented oil (optional) and mix well.  Fill bucket with additonal hot water and mix well.  Set aside for 24 hours until mixture thickens.  It will have a slight gel consistency.  Use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mixture per load, depending on the hardness of your water (harder water, more detergent).  This is a non-sudsing, fragrance-free (unless you add the optional scented oil) laundry product.

I added some lavender essential oil I happened to have on hand. Here’s the result. (And a word of warning — if you try this, wash your hands thoroughly before putting them anywhere near your eyes. Trust me on this! But that’s a whole nother story.)

Turns into a very scoopable gel

The ultimate cheapskate: I store the detergent in a recycled cat litter container.

And then the most exciting almost-spring part. In classic Southern Urban Homestead style, I washed my laundry with my homemade detergent, and I hung it out to dry in the winter sun on my clothesline. I love doing this so much that I actually wrote a song about my laundry last year. Here, in case you don’t believe me, are the first few lines:

I like my laundry on the line;

Prayer flags in the spring sunshine.

When I get to heaven,

I’ll hang my laundry on the line.

It will be on my next CD, due out later this year.



Filed under Conservation, Gardening, Making things

6 responses to “My exciting laundry

  1. And thanks for the “scoop” on the laundry detergent. I’ve often wondered about that one myself. Thanks for sharing all of this. Almost-spring is the perfect description of the weekend we had, is it not? I think so. Can’t wait for the new CD. Love the lines above – both the lyrics and the clothes-… (line).

  2. pathacrosslauren

    Hi there, I just wanted to say that I love your post and laundry song and the photos of the laundry detergent making process are inspiring too. Looking forward to more beautiful music.

    • Hi, Lauren–thank you. Your blog is really interesting too. I also taught myself to knit. Well, actually YouTube taught me. I’m still learning . . .

      • pathacrosslauren

        Thanks! Youtube helps for knitting .. is another great resource that you may have heard of. If you haven’t, they have videos for just about every stitch.

  3. I loooooove hanging laundry outside–we look forward to that season every year! There is no dryer sheet that can make them smell anywhere that good. Plus there’s the fun of telling people you have a solar-powered dryer, and then when they look all impressed and quizzical, you tell them it’s a clothesline. 🙂

    I’ll have to think about this homemade soap thing… sounds promising.

    And we are cheapskates too–we use those kitty litter buckets (washed out, of course) for *everything*! (paint, birdseed, kindling, basement garbage can…)

    • “Solar-powered dryer”–that’s good, Karen!

      I love me a good bucket. If you try the soap, let me know how it goes. (And wash your hands really, really well after mixing it up!)

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