Laundry Soap

First off, I have been dealing with a bunch of fatigue and lack of creativity. For a while now. It's why I haven't posted about the plum project that we worked so hard on. I don't know if I'm just burned out on it or what, but I feel like I have nothing to say about it. Maybe I should just post the pictures without commentary. 

I also promised a discussion about the Oat Dough I made, but then I discovered my oats had been rancid before I used them and the stuff tasted nasty. So I didn't even have a good product to discuss. I am really winning this week, huh?

But one thing did go right!

I have been meaning to make my own laundry soap for about two years now. Unfortunately, Mr. Moon has trouble gauging when he needs to add laundry soap to the shopping list, and waits until we are completely out on/right before laundry day and we don't have time for experiments like making laundry soap. Combine that with trouble finding the ingredients, and it's taken two years to have all the ingredients AND the time AND the lack of store-bought soap to even be able to make some. This time only because the bottle I bought--exactly the same brand and scent as I used before--was driving my asthma nuts as soon as we opened it, even after the clothes had been washed, dried, and aired out. YUCK. I returned it, and came home to make some laundry soap instead of buying more. I'm just done with my asthma getting irritated and getting headaches from laundry scents.


My biggest problem with the free and clear soaps is twofold:

1) They often are not truly unscented, but actually use a masking fragrance or a chemical to remove the naturally occurring fragrance. No matter which method they used, I seemed to have a reaction to it (either in my lungs if they used a masking agent or my skin if they used a removal agent); and

2) They would leave the clothes smelling Not Clean.

Now #2 this is a huge issue for a lot of reasons. For one, if I had even the smallest suspicion my clothes weren't getting clean, my OCD would go into overdrive and I would end up re-washing everything I own and throwing away anything I couldn't easily wash. I've done it twice, it's not fun. For another, we are societally trained to associate the perfume with a Clean feeling, even if the clothes aren't actually CLEAN! In the short term, I had to switch back to perfumey laundry soap to trick my OCD into saying SEE THESE CLOTHES ARE CLEAN and forcibly not allowing myself to fixate on the idea that they might not be. But that is exhausting, and not a sustainable solution. I wanted something that got my clothes clean without perfume.


Important to note is that we have hard water. When we moved in I had no idea, since there are no rust stains in the tubs and toilets as I'm used to with hard water. I knew "hard water" meant a heavy mineral content, but I had no idea that there were different kinds of "hard water" and not all of them leave red stains on the plumbing fixtures! It was water bath preserving the plums that finally clued me in, when the water turned WHITE fairly quickly due to concentration of minerals as the water evaporated off. Explains a lot actually.

One of the things it explains is something we already knew, that powdered detergent doesn't dissolve well in our washer. The 'Rents still use powdered detergent, but I got tired of our clothes coming out of the dryer covered in soapy granules. So dry soap isn't an option. Had to make the liquid stuff.

I love One Good Thing By Jillee and when it came time to make my own, having already futzed around the internet looking for directions, I knew she had a recipe and directions I liked. And of course, she did! Jillee's Directions! No need for me to reinvent the wheel here.

It took about ten minutes, since we have a stand mixer grating attachment. It was super easy, and super fast. Only thing is, I followed the directions for the 2 gallon batch, not the 5 gallon batch--the only difference being water quantity. And that was apparently a problem!

The problem was NOT that I had about a cup more than fit into my containers. No, that was fine. The problem was that after the detergent cooled, it gelled into something that was NOT conducive to pouring. The smallest container of course cooled and gelled first, and I added some water to try to dilute it. With... well, UNmixed results:

I had ALREADY shaken vigorously! Well it took a little more elbow grease and Mr. Moon assuming the male role in the relationship (i.e. more vigorous shaking than my poor, sore arms could manage), but between the two of us we managed to get the water to incorporate into the gel blob so we had a pourable substance. Fortunately, the rest of it was in much bigger containers so they hadn't cooled as much yet--they were still pourable. We dumped one whole bottle of soap and half the other one into an empty kitty litter bucket, added warm water to both, and now we have a perfectly useable laundry soap for a fairly insignificant cost. About a year's worth for effectively $3.

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Ok but DOES IT WORK?! Like, On the clothes?!

Preliminary results are good.

The Fels Naptha we used had enough of a scent to it (not perfume but a natural scent created when oils saponify) that it was a little overpowering in bar form. But that one little bar made A LOT of liquid soapy detergenty stuff! I was standing over the concentrated version as it was dissolving in the pot, and while it was unpleasantly strong, it wasn't making me gag or cough or sneeze or anything--so that's a good sign! The final result doesn't have an overpowering scent at all, it's very pleasant. It DOES have a scent to it but nowhere near what I was getting even in the less-scented versions of store-bought laundry soaps. And if I wanted to I could add some essential oils but I wanted to see how it was working without them.

So far so good! Smells came out of armpits and dish towels, so that's a REALLY good sign. Now, this picture is a little misleading because it included Mr. Moon's jeans from a week of teaching boy scouts to shoot archery in a sand pit, but just SEE how dirty that water is:

Nasty! But you know what it means? THAT DIRT IS NOT STILL IN MY CLOTHES.

So I say go for it. For $3 I got the same amount of laundry soap as I paid $18 at Costco. It was super easy to make, stores fine by all reports, and cleans my clothes better than the Arm & Hammer with Oxyclean I've used for years. The only thing I don't know yet is how it treats the clothes long-term. If there is remarkably increased wear and tear, meaning if these chemicals are harsher than the store-bought ones, I may need to figure something else out. But that is something I won't know for months.

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Have you made your own laundry soap? What results have you had? If you haven't, have you considered it? Tell us in the comments!

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