10 Minute Homemade Laundry Soap

Laundry Square

If I told you that you could wash all your laundry in a month for only a quarter and about 10 minutes of your time, would it be worth it to you? A batch of this stuff takes roughly 10 minutes to make and will last anywhere from 3-8 months depending on how much you use per load and how many loads you do. An entire batch (448 oz.) costs about $1.83. I assure you, it is worth your time.

Before I start in on this amazing stuff (of which you will find I am SUPER passionate about) let me address the upfront concerns that I, and probably you, have had about laundry soap you make yourself.

1. Do your clothes smell good?

I have a slight obsession with pleasant smells. I always want my house, my linens, and my clothes to smell good and I have gone to great lengths to accomplish this. For my laundry, I used to spend inordinate amounts of money on not only detergent but add on top of that every single product on the shelves to make my clothes smell like my Nammie’s (grandma’s) used to. It was totally possible for me to spend over $50 a month on laundry products. Yikes! To answer this question, my clothes smell no different to me. My husband trains horses so you can only imagine how not-pleasant-smelling his work clothes are. However, even when I wash them with my own laundry soap, they don’t smell any worse or any better to me than with Tide or Gain or any other brand name laundry soap. Now, I do use fabric softener (although vinegar works just fine too) and I sometimes use the Downy Beads to give it a boost but I would have done that with regular laundry soap anyway. The difference now is that I can buy those kinds of products with zero guilt since I’m saving a truckload on the soap itself. As far as my Nammie’s laundry smell? Hanging my clothes outside has proven to be the answer. Totally free, totally easy, and smells glorious in my book!

2. Do your clothes get clean?

I have a somewhat messy 4-year-old and a ridiculously messy 2-year-old and I can tell you that stains are completely commonplace at our house. I use a regular stain remover like Spray and Wash or sometimes Clorox 2 but as far as the laundry soap goes, not any different than any other I have tried. Our clothes are clean but stains are still the bain of my existence. I have found that getting stains out has more to do with how soon you wash the clothes than what kinds of products you use.

3. Is it safe on HE machines?

I have an HE machine and so does my mother who also uses this recipe. We have been making our own laundry soap for at least 3 years and have had no problems to date. If you google “homemade laundry soap he machine” you will find mostly positive comments and just about every homemade laundry soap I have seen uses almost the exact same ingredients with very similar measurements. The HE machines can’t handle a lot of suds but this is supposed to be a low-suds detergent. I have also heard that liquid laundry soap is almost always better than powdered forms on HE machines. If you’re really concerned check your owners manual or call the manufacturer.

4. Are the ingredients safe?

If you were to research the ingredients in homemade laundry soap as opposed to store-bought laundry soap, you would probably find that homemade is almost always safer than store-bought. Not that I would drink this stuff, but I feel totally comfortable with the mostly natural ingredients. I have very sensitive skin and I haven’t seen any problems in that regard with this laundry detergent. But as always, do your own research if you’re still concerned.

5. How long does it take to make?

Ok are you ready to have your mind blown? This was another big hangup of mine and why it took me so long to catch onto the DIY laundry soap train. I watched my sister make laundry soap one time, grating the soap by hand and trying to pour this globby mess out of a bottle into her machine. I have experimented a little with this recipe and have found some serious shortcuts and tricks to make this as painless as possible. Most days that I make this (which I only make it about once every few months) it takes me all of 10 active minutes, if that. It takes a while to let it cool but since that doesn’t require my attention, I don’t count it. You may need once a year an extra 15 minutes or so to grate the soap and measure it out into baggies, which is what I do, but it saves you loads of time down the road. Also, a food processor and immersion blender make this job super easy and incredibly quick. You can make it without these but in my book, it wouldn’t be worth the time investment. I bought both my food processor and immersion blender at different yard sales for about the price of a month of store-bought detergent.

Let’s Get Started

Are you ready to get started?! You will need the following ingredients:
Ingredients2

  1. Fels Naptha Soap Bar
  2. Borax
  3. Super Washing Soda

All of which can be found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store, probably on the bottom shelf. I have included links to both Amazon and Walmart (I used the link where I found it the cheapest) but quite frankly, I was amazed at how expensive these are online. I can buy each ingredient for under $5 (and the fels naptha for less than $2) at my local grocery store.

For tools you will need:

  1. Large pot
  2. 4 or 5 gallon bucket
  3. Food processor or hand grater
  4. Immersion blender or large whisk
  5. 4 one gallon containers (I use old laundry soap containers)
  6. Kitchen scale (optional)
  7. Small plastic baggies

Step One:

Fels Naptha2
I do this step once every year or two usually. I buy 4 bars of fels naptha soap and grate them all in a food processor. Use the finest grate you have and if there are any large chunks, mince them up with a knife. The chunks will not dissolve unless they are finely grated or minced. Then I use a kitchen scale to measure out 2/3 of a bar. I have already done the math for you so don’t let it be more complicated than it is. One fels naptha bar weighs about 5.7 oz. so 2/3 of that is about 3.8 oz. I separate each batch of grated fels naptha bar by weighing out 3.8 oz and putting it in a small baggie. Four bars will yield 6 batches, which is enough for at least a year or more. Doing this ahead of time will save you the largest chunk of work and time.

Step Two:

When you’re ready to make your laundry soap, heat up 8 cups of water (not to boiling but obviously hot) and pour in one bag (2/3 of a bar) of grated fels naptha soap. Stir or mix with an immersion blender until dissolved.

Step Three:

Pour in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of super washing soda. Stir or mix with an immersion blender until dissolved.

*Note: Try not to allow your water to boil or it will start to suds up with the soap in it. It just needs to be hot enough to allow the mixture to dissolve.

Step Four:

Fill your 5 gallon bucket with 3 gallons (48 cups) of hot water from the tap. I actually drew a line with a permanent marker on my bucket so I wouldn’t have to measure 3 gallons every time. Empty the contents of your pot into the bucket. Mix with an immersion blender or large whisk until mixture seems properly diluted in the water. Let sit until mixture comes to room temperature, preferably overnight.

Step Five:

This is what the soap will look like after cooling to room temperature. There are several inches of congealed soap sitting on top. You can use your hands to break it up or just start mixing again with the immersion blender.
CongealedThis is what it looks like after a couple minutes of mixing.
Blendfinal
Mix, mix, mix! The more often you mix the detergent while in the 5 gallon bucket, the less you’ll need to shake it in the container to keep it from congealing. I usually mix it with the immersion blender once after adding the mixture to the bucket, again after it starts congealing and before I go to bed, and once in the morning before I start to empty the mixture into my detergent containers. That seems to be the trick and I rarely need to shake my container afterwards.

Step Six:

Fill your laundry detergent containers with the soap. I use old Gain containers and fill them with a ladle and a funnel. Each container should only be about 3/4 full. This allows for room in the container should you need to shake the detergent a little in case it congeals.

I made you a little label that you can print out on waterproof sticker paper and stick on your containers. These labels look like they would work but I actually ordered and used these ones. It helps to have the recipe on the back so you don’t have to look it up every time you go to make it. 

Download (PDF, 847KB)

And there you have it…the easiest laundry soap and $30 of savings per month. That’s almost $400 a year! What could you do with that extra money? I hope you do something fun with it…tell your husband that you worked hard to make it and so that’s your extra money

 

10 Minute Homemade Laundry Detergent
Super easy and quick DIY laundry detergent to help you save loads of money.
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Ingredients
  1. Water
  2. 2/3 Fels Naptha Bar (3.8 oz) grated
  3. 1 cup Borax
  4. 1 cup Super Washing Soda
Instructions
  1. Heat (just under boiling) 8 cups water in stockpot and add grated fels naptha bar. Stir until soap dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat and add borax and super washing soda. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Fill 5 gallon bucket with 3 gallons of hot water. Add soap mixture and blend with immersion blender until completely dissolved (about 2 minutes).
  4. Allow detergent to cool to room temperature or overnight. Blend with immersion blender two more times, allowing to sit for several hours in between to avoid congealing.
  5. Empty detergent into containers.
  6. Use 1/4-1/2 cup per load of laundry.
Adapted from Life at Cobble Hill Farm Blog
Count the Happies http://countthehappies.com/

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Let me know if you try this and any questions or concerns you have. I’ll do my best to answer them! Happy Laundry Day 🙂

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Spring Cleaning Checklist

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Spring fever, for me, is usually accompanied by this insane desire to declutter, demuck, and deep clean everything in my house. It is akin to the nesting instinct I always get in the last couple months of pregnancy. It’s like, I don’t care what is on my schedule, I’m getting to every item on this list of “Crap to Clean.”

I thought I’d share my list with you in case you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of spring cleaning. I’ve organized each item by action.

Declutter

Declutter2

This means to go through everything and throw out what you don’t use and can’t donate.

  • Clothes/accessories
  • Food
  • Toiletries/makeup
  • Medicine
  • Dishes
  • Cleaning supplies

  • Tools
  • Linens
  • Toys/books
  • Craft/art supplies
  • Papers
  • Electronics/wires

Deep Clean

Deep Clean2

These are some things you can deep clean, meaning wiping down every nook and cranny.

  • Fridge/freezer
  • Stove/oven
  • Microwave
  • Toilet

  • Sinks
  • Tub/shower
  • Washer/dryer
  • All floors

Wash

Wash2

Here is a list of things you should wash that you probably don’t get around to very often. 

  • Baseboards
  • Door frames
  • Ceilings/walls
  • Light fixtures/fans
  • Windows/sills
  • Window coverings

  • Blinds
  • Pillows
  • Blankets/quilts
  • Mattresses (and flip)
  • Rugs
  • Furniture with fabric

Dust/Polish

Dust2

In order to keep the wood in your home shiny and healthy, it should be polished at least once a year. Here are also a few other things that could benefit from a once a year dusting and polishing.

  • Furniture
  • Silver
  • Cabinets

  • Wood trim
  • Items of decoration

I made a fun little printable for you if you’d like to stick it on your fridge and check things off as you go. Come on, I know you love to check stuff off a list. It’s weird how psychologically it makes us feel more accomplished.

If you would like this cute printable to get you started, go ahead and click on it to print or download. It’s free. You’re welcome ?

Download (PDF, 631KB)

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Have you started your spring cleaning yet? What is the worst part for you?

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Quit Your Job as the Maid: 4 Step Training Process

***This is the fourth post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 1Post 2, Post 3

Train Square

My 4-year-old son has this…we’ll call it an issue…where he wants to change his clothes a thousand times a day. You can bet that doesn’t go over well with this Laundry Slave. The other day he wanted to wear one shirt to school and then bring a different one to change into after school. I gave him a flat “no” and he continued to insist. I finally said, “When you’re ready to do the laundry, you can change your clothes as often as you want…” He cut me off and said, “Ok, I’m ready for you to teach me.” ? I hadn’t realized I had offered an invitation.

Here’s a 4 step training process to help you follow through once you’ve invited your kids to learn something new.

1. Acknowledge

Acknowledge2

While studying to be a teacher I learned about all kinds of ways to motivate children. There are sticker charts, verbal praise, silent praise (such as a high-five), rewards in the form of treats, toys, and privileges. There are all sorts of extrinsic (or external) motivators. But what really struck a chord with me is what Vicki talks about and comes from the psychologist Rudolf Dreikurs, which is intrinsic (or internal) motivation. That is, doing something because you know it’s right and it makes you feel good on the inside. It is very unlikely our young children will develop this if we continue to reward them with praise or treats every time they do something right.

From the time my son was very young I would say, after cleaning up a mess, “Awww. I love it when our house is clean. It feels so good! Don’t you think?” I would try to draw attention to the internal feeling that we get when everything is put away and cleaned up. I would point out, “It’s so nice to be able to find our things because they’re put away where they should be.”

Before I knew it, he started pointing out the same things and feelings. He actually appreciates the feeling of a clean house. That doesn’t mean he’s always clean, but neither am I. When it’s time to clean up though, he’s all about putting things away and making everything look nice. He genuinely likes the feeling he gets afterward.

In order to fuel their intrinsic motivation we can’t keep giving an empty, “good job” every time they do something right. We don’t want to teach them to do things only to please us, although it may start out that way. It is far more effective to show them that we noticed what they did, point out the benefits, and let them know we appreciate it.

Not only does this teach self-motivation but it also helps instill a sense of gratitude in our children. If we not only acknowledge their effort but then express gratitude for it, in a specific way, it will help them to feel that sense of contributing to the family. It helps them to feel like they matter and are important and depended upon. They are also likely to mirror that gratitude and be more appreciative of others’ efforts.

We can do this by:

  • Acknowledging their accomplishments: by saying something like, “I see that you picked up your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper this morning.”
  • Bringing attention to their abilities: such as, “man, making toast can be hard sometimes but I see you did it all by yourself.”
  • Asking them to talk about how they did it: by using questions such as, “How did you know how to do that? What did you do first? What was the hardest part? What did you do to solve it?”
  • Once they master a task, moving on: there is no need to keep discussing it once they’ve mastered it. Bring the attention to the new task at hand.

2. Build

By looking at the information you collected during the observation period you will notice the things your child can do but doesn’t always do on a regular basis without reminding. You can bring up this list and invite your child to pick one thing from that column to work on next. Brainstorm ways to help her remember to do it or make it easier to accomplish. This step of the learning process is much easier if you start with something the child already knows how to do but doesn’t do it regularly. It is less stressful and instills confidence in the child to be able to accomplish more difficult tasks in the future.

3. Teach

Laundry2

This process is very similar to the teaching model I learned while studying elementary education. It is “I do, we do, you do.” This gradual approach to handing over the reins helps children develop confidence in their ability and excitement to try new things on their own.

First, we model how to do something. Then we invite the child to do it with us. Eventually, we allow them to try it on their own. You may consider ways to accommodate her if a step is too difficult. For example, I had to move the hooks lower for my son to be able to hang his coat up by himself.

It is also helpful, if it is a task they already know how to do, to do kind of a pretest. Ask the child to show you how she does it. You may notice that she knows most of it but is missing a couple of steps. Acknowledge what she does right and then model the parts she needs to work on. Break it down into small, manageable steps. Allow time for her to practice and master the skill. Make sure you’re consistent and have faith that she’ll develop the habit.

Habits 

It is especially helpful, when developing a new habit, to have what experts call an anchor. It is something that happens right before the habit that will serve as a built-in reminder. For example, we brush our teeth after we eat. The act of eating is a reminder that we need to brush our teeth. We put our dirty clothes in the hamper after we take them off. Anytime you can point out an anchor and associate it with that new habit they’re working on, they will be that much more likely to remember.

Systems

My first job was at a burger joint called The Malt Shop. I was only 14 and felt a little overwhelmed during the training process because I felt like there were so many things to remember. It was reassuring to know they had systems in place, especially when it came to starting and ending a shift. There were certain steps to take and it was all written down. If I was ending my shift and was in charge of cleaning the shake area, I had a written list of all the things I had to make sure were stocked and cleaned before I could leave. For the first few shifts I had to look at the list constantly. Over time, I got into the habit of doing everything on the list without having to look at it.

I believe we can easily implement these systems in our homes and it will make the training process so much easier for both us and our kids. If our kids can read, make a simple checklist for them as they learn certain skills. If their job is the bathroom, keep a little checklist under the sink that shows all the parts of cleaning the bathroom: put everything away, scrub the tub, scrub the toilet bowl, wipe down the counter and sink, wipe down the toilet, wash the mirror, vacuum and mop the floor. If your kids are too young to read, make a list with simple pictures of each step. My 4-year-old son has a list of things he needs to do every day before we leave the house. They are 3 simple clipart pictures I printed and taped to his door. They are a boy making his bed, a girl putting her dirty clothes in the hamper, and two little kids putting away their toys. 

4. Maintain

clean toys2

This step is one of the hardest because it requires ongoing commitment and consistency. We tend to want to step in for a couple of different reasons:

1. When we’re in a hurry.

Keep it in perspective and do your best to patiently stay put and watch as your child continues to master these skills. Get in the habit of allowing extra time so you don’t feel pressured to jump in and help.

2. When we realize they do a lot more than their peers.

Our children are running their own race and there is absolutely no reason why we should ever look at our kids’ friends and wonder if we’re expecting too much. Remember, this isn’t just to help us out, it helps our kids develop their own sense of worth and confidence. They’re fine, I promise.

And there it is folks, the last step to quitting your job as the maid. Just think about how much your kids are going to benefit from learning to do all these things and the freedom you will have once they master it all!

Know that this training process is an investment you must make in the beginning. It takes time to teach our kids new skills. However, once they’re taught, we don’t have to worry about it anymore. If we help them develop these habits when they’re young, we can look forward to many years of enjoying more time with them and being more emotionally available in order to develop a close relationship. 

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Where are you starting with your kids? What part of this process do you think will be the most difficult to implement? How will you overcome that?

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Because of Him

Because of Him

My 4-year-old son has become preoccupied with the thought of death lately. He tells me all the time that he doesn’t want me to die and that he doesn’t want to die either. The other night we watched a movie about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I tried to explain the most grandiose and complicated event in all of history to my preschooler, praying that it would give him hope when it came to the thought of death.

I know he has many years ahead of him to try to understand the meaning of that matchless sacrifice. It gives me comfort and deep gratitude to be able to explain to this impressionable little boy that death is not the end. That if we strive, every day, to make good choices in this life, we will be together again.

With Easter coming up, it is always a special time to reflect on the most important part of our lives here on this planet. The most important person who ever lived, and the most important message to share with our children. It is because of Him that all of this is possible.

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Happy Easter everyone! Don’t forget the real reason we celebrate and find a way to share that with your children. It’s more than just a mutant rabbit who lays and hides colorful eggs. 

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Easy-Peel Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs Square

One of the many cultural differences between my husband and me is the way we celebrate Easter. I will give props to my Mexican family though, they’re much less commercialized.

When my son was born I was so excited for his first Easter. I was shopping for Easter presents, coloring eggs, and all the while my husband was scratching his head. It hadn’t occurred to me that he didn’t know anything about the Easter Bunny. When he asked what this was all about, I nonchalantly explained the obvious. Before Easter, kids decorate eggs and the Easter Bunny comes in the night and hides them, leaving the kids a present after they find the hidden eggs. 

I could tell by the look on his face that he was thinking I was just as crazy as any Mexican superstition I have deemed ludicrous. 

So he pulled my ‘logically-thinking question’ on me. The same one I ask him when he throws out a ridiculous superstition that makes absolutely no sense. He said, “So tell me, what does a rabbit who magically lays brightly-colored eggs, hides them, and leaves a present behind, have to do with Easter?” 

Touche. 

I have no explanation.

But I don’t care because I love Easter!

Easter eggs1I was one of those weird kids that could eat hard boiled eggs all day, every day. I always looked forward to Easter because it meant LOTS OF EGGS! I would just sprinkle them with salt and devour. Sometimes though, the yolks were a little strong and I’d end up only eating the whites. 

My favorite way to eat hard boiled eggs, waste-free, is deviled eggs. For every single Easter, family reunion, or picnic at the park, I swear we had deviled eggs. My mom’s are the best because…everyone thinks their mom’s are the best. But for real, most people love my mom’s deviled eggs. Even my husband, who can’t stand mustard, likes my mom’s deviled eggs.

So when your kids fail to find all those hidden eggs, instead of letting the lost ones rot out in the yard, try real hard to remember where you put them and make these. You won’t regret it. Pinky promise.

Oh by the way, I totally found the fail-proof method for peeling hard boiled eggs. Believe me when I say I have tried a whole lot of “fail-proof” methods that have turned out to be more “fail-prone”. But trust me, this is the only method I’m willing to stand behind. So when you’re decorating your Easter eggs, cook them this way and then when you’re ready to make the deviled eggs, peel them like this. Then call and thank me. 

Mom's Deviled Eggs
Yields 24
An easy and delicious way to use up your Easter eggs.
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Ingredients
  1. 12-14 eggs
  2. 3/4 cup miracle whip
  3. 2 1/2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  4. 1 Tbsp. minced onion
  5. 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  6. 1/4 tsp. seasoning salt
  7. 1/4 tsp. pepper
  8. paprika for garnish
For the eggs
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add eggs once it's boiling. Return to a boil and lower to a simmer for 13 minutes.
  2. Add eggs to an ice bath.
  3. Decorate as usual.
  4. To peel, place 2-3 eggs in a mason jar with the lid on and shake several times. Peels should almost fall off themselves. If not, add a tablespoon of water to the jar.
For the filling
  1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks to a medium bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the yolks and mix with a fork. Continue to mix until mixture is creamy. An immersion blender helps enormously with this step.
  3. Transfer mixture to a small, plastic baggy and cut a small hole in one corner. Use the bag to pipe the mixture into the holes in the egg halves.
  4. Sprinkle with paprika.
Notes
  1. Whenever I'm making hard boiled eggs, I always add an extra egg or two in case some of them fall apart or break during the cooking process. This recipe is intended for a dozen eggs which is why I would start with 14.
  2. Feel free to adjust measurements for the filling. Depending on how creamy you want it, how much garlic and onion you can handle, etc.
  3. I used dijon mustard for these but my mom uses regular mustard. Whichever strikes your fancy works great.
Adapted from Kerrie Jensen
Adapted from Kerrie Jensen
Count the Happies http://countthehappies.com/

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Let me know if my tricks worked! How do you make deviled eggs?

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