“I Can Make That Myself”: Laundry Detergent

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I’m not sure how long ago I first heard about someone making their own laundry soap, but it sounded so simple — and so cheap — it just made sense to try it. When my friend Kristina posted on our photo blog that she had tried it, the idea seemed even more credible. But then school and work and moving and life in general kept me so busy that every time I reached the end of a detergent bottle, it was just easier to grab a new one from the grocery store and tell myself that maybe I would try making my own after that one.

With life settling down a bit since graduation and our move (and my success with making my own dishwasher detergent), though, I became even more determined than ever that I need to try making my own laundry soap. This week, with my last bottle of laundry detergent balanced upside down to let gravity pull down the final drops, I decided that now was the time.

In typical fashion, I researched a variety of recipes and read through pages of comments, perusing arguments about the pros and cons of each recipe, method, and ingredient until I began to second-guess the whole idea.
In the end, though, I settled on a small batch of powdered laundry soap to try it out (rather than the five-gallon bucket of liquid laundry soap). I started with this recipe, but ended up adding the rest of the bar of soap after noticing how much more soap other recipes called for in proportion to the borax and super washing soda.

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DIY Powdered Laundry Soap

2 cups Borax
2 cups Super Washing Soda
1 bar of Dr. Bronners soap (I used the citrus scent)

1. Grate the bar of soap, using the food processor (you can also do this by hand, but several reviews I read suggested that the food processor makes it finer and therefore easier to dissolve, even in cold water)

2. Add the Borax and Super Washing Soda to the food processor and process until fine.

3. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Use 1/4 – 1/8 cup per load.

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I have only done laundry once since making this, but so far it seems to be working well. The clothes smell clean (though I can’t smell the citrus of the soap) and don’t seem to have any residue.

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Sewing Curtains (the Easy Way)

Over the past two and a half months since we moved, I have been slowly rearranging, replacing, and adding touches to the house to make it feel more welcoming, more like home. Sewing new curtains for the living room/dining room was near the top of my list of projects when we moved in. When we agreed to move into the house, Maggie had already hired a friend to sew fabric blinds for all the windows. After she finished the upstairs blinds, though, I asked if I could sew my own curtains for the first floor to let in more light and better match my vision for the space.

After searching for curtain ideas and feeling dissatisfied with the heavy fabrics of most curtains, I stumbled across this photo on Pinterest:

Curtain Inspiration

The bright light and colorful yellow edging caught my attention and became the inspiration for making curtains. I knew I needed something that offered some privacy (more than sheer curtains), but still let in plenty of light (an essential for me in a home space).

After some searching, I found a good deal on mini pom pom fringe in bulk from this site and ordered two spools. I bought five flat twin sheets from Wal-Mart, all in plain white. I cut open the ends of the hem to allow a curtain rod to pass through and re-sewed the edge to make it neater, which ended up being the most complicated part of the project (with the last two curtains I finally realized that I could just fold over that top part and not have to rip open any seems, which was so much easier). Then I measured and hemmed the bottom so it reached just to the floor. Finally I sewed the trim along the sides (if I had more of the trim I would have added a row of the trip along the top seem as well, but I only had enough for the sides). After pinning (and re-pinning) the trip to the first several curtains, I finally discovered that it was a lot easier to sew on and actually stayed smoother when I didn’t pin it.

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The stitching on the first couple curtains turned out pretty rough as I figured out the rhythm our housemate’s sewing machine (I’m not even going to post a picture of the horrible stitching on the back of those first curtains, even after tearing it out a few times), but by the time I finished the final curtains, things became a lot smoother and straighter.

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In the end, uneven stitching and all, I felt pretty proud of how they turned out. The white and yellow brightened up the room considerably, giving it a clean, peaceful feel, and the curtains drew together the two rooms.

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“I Can Make That Myself”: Dishwasher Detergent

Several of my friends (including Kristina) have tried making their own laundry detergent. Hearing their descriptions of how cheap and easy it is has placed making my own laundry detergent on my list of things to try this summer (once I finish off the bottle of detergent I currently have).

In the meantime, though, the house we  moved into has a dishwasher (which I have come to appreciate far more than I expected). When the sink leaked, soaking the box of dishwasher detergent that we found in the cupboard when we moved in, I started to wonder whether I could make that myself as well. Some research online quickly revealed that I could.

I found one article that compared six different recipes for powdered dishwasher detergent, which I found helpful. Based on that article, I chose the following recipe:

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

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1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
½ cup kosher salt
5 packets unsweetened lemonade mix

Mix all ingredients and store in a tightly sealed jar. Use 1 tablespoon per load, or 2 tablespoons for extra-dirty dishes. Makes 42 loads.

Cost: 2 cents per load
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The verdict? It was super easy to make (it only took a couple minutes to measure the ingredients and mix them together) and seems to clean our dishes well so far. My own issue has been with the citric acid in the lemonade mix making it clump over time (which you can see a bit in the second photo above), which a few of the recipes I found had warned that it might. So far its still been usable, but I may look into some solutions for that with the next batch I make.