Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Cleaning #2 - Occasional Series - Laundry

In keeping with a Spring theme and my desire to be Spring Cleaning even though it is still snowing outside, I am adding another post to the Green Cleaning Occasional Series.  Today I am going to focus on the laundry.

A few years ago money was very tight for us and the high cost of laundry detergent int he supermarket really hacked a chunk out of my budget.  It was then I discovered ways of making a simple, effective and low chemical washing supplies.  Now that I know how to make them I rarely buy the expensive brands in the store anymore!

For more recipes like these, I recommend the book "The Naturally Clean Home" by Karyn Siegel-Maier.  She gives lots of recipes for crafting chemical free cleaning solutions.  For the last Spring Cleaning occasional post check out this link.  And if you want to make your own soap from an herb, check out Soapwort.

Laundry Soap
These are the three recipes I rely on when making my own laundry soap.  Which one I make is mostly determined by what ingredients are on hand.  Each recipe uses washing soda.  Washing soda, also known as Soda Ash is sodium carbonate.  I obtain mine from the WalMart in the laundry soap aisle near the large boxes of baking soda.  I have noticed that some grocery and health food stories also stock it.  Washing soda is caustic, so I recommend gloves when you work with it or your hands can get raw.

Laundry soap
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax
1 bar lavender (or unscented) castile soap, grated (about 1 cup)
¼ cup baking soda
15 drops lemon essential oil

Put on gloves. Add washing soda, borax, grated soap, baking soda and oil to lidded container. Cover and shake well. Use 3 Tbsp. detergent per load, or slightly more for very soiled clothes.

Lemon Laundry Soap Powder
½ cup washing soda
1 cup finely grated pure soap
½ cup salt
½ cup borax
½ cup baking soda
¼ teaspoon lemon, lavender, peppermint essential oil or eucalyptus oil

Put washing soda in a clean plastic bag and crush finely with a rolling pin.  Mix crushed washing soda with rest of dry ingredients.  Add the essential oil and mix thoroughly through the powder.  You can do this with rubber gloves or put the powder in a large plastic bag and knead if thoroughly from the outside.

Use 1 Tbls. for a small load, 1 ½ tables for a medium load and 2 Tbls. for a large load.  For the results of a liquid soap, dissolve the soap powder in a jug of hot water before adding to a top-loading machine.  For a front loading machine, dissolve powder in a small amount of hot water and add to dispenser.

Lavender Liquid Laundry Soap
Gentle on septic systems and the environment and you can save quite a bit compared to commercial laundry detergent.  And it will leave clothing smelling wonderful and feeling soft.

½ cup liquid castile soap
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax
2 to 3 teaspoons lavender or lemon verbena essential oil
7.5 quarts hot water

Mix all ingredients in 9.5 quart bucket and stir well until soda crystals and borax are dissolved. Decant into clean plastic detergent containers.  Shake the mixture before using.  Use about ¼ cup per load.  I try not to keep this longer than 3 months before making a new batch.  It does not spoil, however.
Rinsing Agents/Softeners

When working with laundry something to leave a fresh scent or help with static cling is always helpful.  The following recipes can be used for that.

Laundry Rinse
1 large handful of fresh mint
2 handfuls of fresh lavender
3 cups water, boiling

Chop or cut up the mint and lavender into short lengths including leaves, flowers and stems and place in a large bowl. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the herbs until they are well covered, adding more water as necessary.  Allow to cool.  Strain into another container and add a pinch of borax.  Stir well.  Decant the liquid into a bottle straining one last time to keep sediment or stray herbs out of your final product.
Directions for use: add ½ to 1 cup of this liquid to the final rinse in the washer or place it in a spay bottle and mist your laundry as your remove it from the washer or dryer.

The vinegar in these next two recipes will help remove soap residue from fabric giving them longer life and brighter colors and helps to eliminate static cling from the dryer.

Lavender Fabric Softener
Formulas don't get much easier than this one, both fragrant and effective. I have one of the fabric softener balls and it will hold ¾ cup of softener so I can drop this in at the beginning of the wash and not have to wait for the rinse cycle.

1 gallon vinegar (buy a 1 gallon jug of vinegar and take out 1 Tbls. of liquid)
20 drops lavender essential oil

Add the lavender essential oil to the vinegar right in the original container and you've got instant fabric softener! Shake well before using. For a large load, add 1 cup during the rinse cycle; use 1/2 cup during the rinse cycle for smaller loads.

Lemony Fabric Softener
There's nothing like the smell of lemons to suggest freshness. As many who follow me know I am a sucker for lemon, so when I found this recipe in “The Naturally Clean Home” I had to try it.  There was no need to improve on it.  It is perfect for giving you lemon wonderfulness and it works perfect in my fabric softener ball.

6 cups vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup baking soda
15 drops lemon, lemon verbena or lemongrass essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a heavy-duty plastic container. Add 1 cup to the rinse cycle for each load for truly lemon-fresh clothes.

Dryer  Sachets

I make Dryer Sachets at the Backyard Patch filled with dried herbs like lavender, peppermint or lemon verbena, but if you have need for quick scent and have a few essentials around the house, you can try this instead.  Place 2 to 4 drops of essential oil on a 4 inch square of cotton cloth.  An old hankie will do, or just cut squares of muslin.

Here are a few Essential Oil combinations you can try:

Lavender and/or chamomile for relaxation and to aid sleep
Eucalyptus and Peppermint to relieve cold symptoms
Patchouli and Sandalwood for manly scent
Scented geraniums or Violet for a floral smell
Rosemary, Clary sage and thyme for a savory or earthy tone

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