Tuesday, May 22, 2012

While I'm Away, DIY Cleaning Pt. 1

A Girl from A Boy, A Girl, and The Marine Corps is here to share some cleaning secrets! I definitely plan on doing these when we move into our new house! 
DIY Laundry Products:
How one Girl avoided eating Top Ramen to pay off her student loans

When I graduated from school I felt great!  I had graduated top of my class and been honored with an award for the highest GPA and praised in front of everyone at graduation for my hard work.  I was flying high…  until I got my first student loan statement.  I looked at my loan amount, I looked at my monthly payment and thought, “Two years of hard work and I won’t even make enough to cover these??!!!”  So, what’s a girl to do?

I decided there had to be ways to cut my expenses without cutting so much that I had to eat Top Ramen for the next 20 years of my career to survive.   There had to places all over the house and our life that I could cut our expenses without killing our ability to have a life.

First up:  Laundry.

You wouldn’t think it, but I do A LOT of laundry.  I average 5-7 loads a week, and I don’t have kids.  Both the hubs and I have to wear work specific clothes.  I have scrubs, he has a work uniform and don’t get me started on washing is military stuff, which is a whole bag of mess in it’s self.   How can I cut my laundry budget without sacrificing clean clothes?  I make my own laundry soap.  Sounds crazy, I know, but I save a small fortune.

I have sensitive skin and must be cautious about the soaps I use.  We also have an HE washer, so we have to be careful about the soaps we buy.  This leads to a $6 bottle of All brand Free and Clear every month (sometimes more often).  Add in the color safe bleach, since nothing we own can have normal bleach, and dryer sheets and you’re looking at a lot of money. 

Let’s start with my recipe for Laundry Soap:

·         1 Bar Felz-Naptha Bar Soap.  You can use Zotes if you want, but Zotes has optical brighteners which is what makes Cammies fade. You will find that some say you can use Ivory soap, but don’t.  Soap made for skin and soap make for laundry have different fats in them that are specific to what you are cleaning.  Skin soap will not get your laundry as clean.  (I buy my bar soap at Winco for about $1.20, but I know other retailers carry it.  It is a specialty item though and I am unable to get it on base)

·         1-2 cups Washing Soda.  I use Arm and Hammer brand but any brand will do. This can be found in the laundry soap aisle.

·         1-2 cups Borax.  Also found with the laundry soap.

·         ½-1 cup Baking Soda- this is optional.  I like to use it because I think it makes my laundry smell cleaner by getting rid of all of that yucky body odor from our clothes, but you don’t have to use it.

Now that you have the ingredients, the instructions:

·         Grate your bar soap with the smallest grater you can find.  I have a lovely bity one that I bought for like $5 and it makes lovely, fine little flakes.  If you don’t have this, or can’t find it, a Magic Bullet or food processor will work, but I personally feel like it makes the flakes chunkier and thus they don’t dissolve as well when washing.

·         Next, mix the bar soap flakes with the other powder ingredients well.  The powders are very light and will make a mess, so mix gently. 

·         Now put it all in an airtight container.

You can use 1-2 TBS per load depending on size and how soiled the items are and that is it.  I personally have never needed more than 1 ½ TBS even with the hubs filthy cammies.

*The variation in the amounts of powder use is based on personal preference.   I have found that I like the 2 cups with one bar of soap, but some like the 1 cup.  When I used 1 cup of each, ½ cup baking soda and 1 bar of soap, my mixture lasted for nearly 6 months!!!!  And since you do not use all of the Borax, Baking Soda or Washing Soda in each batch, it made my use less cost less than a penny per load.  You can’t beat that.  When I use the larger amounts, I’m at less than a 10th of a penny per load.   And it takes less than 15 minutes to make, and I still have Borax and Washing Soda left after making two batches.

So with that lovely laundry soap, what did I do about color safe bleach?  Hydrogen Peroxide.  Seriously.

1 cup Hydrogen Peroxide per Gallon of water.   That’s it. 

Now I don’t have a gallon bucket lying around, but I did have an empty bottle of All liquid detergent.  So, I washed the bottle and did my amount based on the fact that the bottle held 1 quart of liquid.  Easy peasy.   And you have choices.  You can do the larger amount and soak your items for 30 minutes prior to washing, or you can do what I do.  Add it straight to my laundry, soaking is great for stuff that needs more attention though.  You will still need to use bleach for things that call for actual bleach, but this works great as a color safe bleach and is safe to use on delicates like bras and wool.  I hear you can even use it on SILK!  But I don’t own anything silk, so I’ve never tried.

What about fabric softener I hear you say.  What do I do there?  Well, you have three amazing options.
1.      Vinegar.  Not kidding.  I don’t know how or why, but you can add vinegar as a fabric softener to your washer just like you would any other liquid softener.  I don’t do this because I like baking soda in my laundry soap and I really don’t need a volcano of suds flowing into my hall.  ;)

2.      Dryer balls.  These are available on base for $2-$3 and places like Fred Meyer or other such retailers for $5 or so bucks.  They last 3-5 years and require no chemicals at all.  I’ve been using them the last 8 years and have only had to replace them once.  You simply put them in your dryer and go.   I never take them out.   They not only cut static and fluff your clothes, but they decrease your drying time as well.  If you have a timed dryer, you can go from a 60 minute cycle to 45-50 minutes depending on what you are drying.  I have a sense dryer and it is done in about 30 minutes.   I think this method best because there is minimal waste, no chemicals and I save money twice- the product and the energy. 

3.      But you really want dryer sheets?  You can live without them?  Well, cut them in half.  You will never notice the difference in softness, but will have to buy them half as often. I’ve done this for years as well.  I have a box of dryer sheets I use for our sheets since the dryer balls aren’t great for that and I literally cannot remember when I bought it because it’s been so long.  And my sheets do not feel any less soft with half a sheet and neither did my regular laundry prior to the dryer balls.  

Keep in mind one things about fabric softener:  Though your clothes smell nice and feel soft, they actually decrease the absorbency of the clothes and towels.

So there you have it.  That’s how I cut a lot of money out of my budget with very little heartache. 
A Girl is a 20 something blogger who began blogging in 2008 as a means of coping with a deployment.  She is a Vet Tech by trade and loves her work in Emergency and Critical Care.  She is married to a 10 year veteran of the USMC reserves, whom she meet shortly after he returned from a deployment.  They have been married for four years, have three, very bratty dogs, and are currently trying to muddle through the aftermath of a difficult deployment for both. 

Check out her Frugal Fridays for more tips on DIY ways to save money with very little hassle.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This is so helpful! I'll have to try that recipe! ;)