Saturday, September 13, 2008

Drying clothes

I'm cutting back on my dryer use and could really use a clothes line! Right now I have a three quilts, a set of sheets, several towels in assorted sizes, and a few pieces of clothing hanging around the house and inside the garage drying.

I think we can really reduce the electric bill with less dryer use. Turning the thermostat down made some difference so I'm positive about the dryer. I don't think it'll have much impact with me just draping the bedding around the house to dry and still using the dryer for towels and clothes. Until I get a clothes line I'm going to continue draping the bedding around the house and the towels, too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Great Goodwill finds!

My Goodwill finds for the week! Quite a load of useful stuff for just $32.

Goodwill is an excellent place to find gently used items of all types for really cheap! I shop there often for clothes for my kids and myself, and I find great household items there too.

This week I've been there twice! For $32 here's what I got:

* Girl's bike in great condition -- $8
* Electric skillet in great condition -- $8 (we were just saying we needed another one)
* School outfit, top and bottom -- about $2 each piece
* Three-piece dress outfit (I got the pieces from three different racks, a skirt, top and wrap) -- about $2 each piece
* Two pairs of barely worn girls' shoes (they're too big for anyone right now but with as many girls as I have it won't be long before someone can wear them) -- $2 each
* Lunch box, brand new -- $1.50
* Few other little assorted things (hair rubber bands, etc.) -- $2.30 in total

These things were all in excellent condition and will get lots of use at my house!

Goodwill's prices are a bit more than what you would pay at a yard sale but then again you don't have to wait until the weekend or sort through piles of stuff that probably should have been thrown away!

Sometimes I go into Goodwill looking for certain things and come back out with them. Sometimes I'm looking for something and leave with things totally different. And sometimes I just go in there to see what treasures I can find!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Homemade dish detergent

In my research for homemade laundry detergent recipes I ran across one for homemade dish detergent that I thought I'd try. I think it is actually for the dishwasher but I wanted to try it in the sink too.

The recipe I found calls for a cup each of borax and washing soda mixed together. You use only about a tablespoon per load of dishes.

I got a container about the size of a large yogurt container and just put in equal parts of borax and baking soda, and scooped out about a tablespoon and added it to my running hot water. I put the dishes in and I kid you not, I could see them getting clean. I had some tough stuff in there as we had spaghetti the night before and all we did was just rinse the food off of the dishes and stack them up.

The dishes came out very clean and fresh with minimal work from me. I'm delighted! This concoction is definitely being added to my existing arsenal of cleaning products (baking soda and vinegar mostly with a couple of eco-friendly products I purchased.)

As soon as I run out of the dishwashing detergent I'm using now (it's eco-friendly) I'll be using my homemade version.

I chalk my entry into the world of homemade cleaners up as a shining success. They work, they are environmentally-friendly, they are very easy to make, and they're cheap!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Homemade laundry detergent a success!

Here is my container of soap shavings that is the base of my laundry detergent. I used a paring knife but a cheese grater would most likely be easier and quicker. The shavings are a tad big but they are so cute!

Here is the finished product -- soap shavings, borax, and washing soda. It was very easy to make and works great too!

My dip into the world of making my own laundry detergent is a success! It was very easy to make and my clothes turned out very clean and fresh.

Here's what I used:
Bar of white soap
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda

Using a paring knife, I shaved the entire bar of soap. This took about 20 or 30 minutes but I was also taking care of a 16-month-old during that time. (I shaved the bar into one of my many plastic 0ne-gallon ice cream containers that I have saved over the summer. Yay! Finally a use for them, although I could use something half the size or less.)

Next I just added the borax and washing soda, put the lid on the container, and shook it up. I dropped a scoop (about 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons, I didn't measure.) All done!

Easy enough.

I put my concoction to the test right away. There just so happened to be a load of almost dry clothes in the dryer that judging by the smell, had been left in the washing machine too long. Yuck. If it could get that clean it could get anything clean.

I put a scoop of detergent in the washer, turned on the water and threw in the clothes, just like you would with any detergent. I would normally have put a half a cup or so of vinegar in there but I didn't have any.

The clothes came out of the washer looking and smelling very clean and fresh, without much of a noticeable scent. They came out of the dryer feeling like I should have put some vinegar in the water.

I pronounced it an overall success. Next time I will cut down on the amount of detergent used and add a bit of vinegar to the wash water.

As for a cost breakdown, the bar of soap was about $1, the box of washing soda was $2.99 at Kroger, and the Borax was $3.49 at Kroger. There's enough washing soda and Borax to make tons more laundry detergent. I'm also going to be using it to clean other things, though.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Homemade laundry detergent recipes

I've been researching ways to make homemade laundry detergent. Basically, there are three ingredients: bar soap, borax, and washing soda.

There are two methods to making it; one involves boiling water for a gel detergent, and the other doesn't involve any water for a powder detergent. In the interest of simplicity, I decided to focus on powder recipes.

Here are a few great recipes I found:

Homemade laundry detergent recipes from

Powdered Laundry Detergent - Recipe #9

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)

Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

Powdered Laundry Detergent - Recipe #4

2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (finely grated - you could also try the other bar soaps -- Ivory or Zote))
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

Homemade laundry detergent recipes from

Laundry Detergent: Basic Mix

* 1 cup soap flakes

* 1/2 cup washing soda

* 1/2 cup borax

Laundry Detergent: Soft Water Mix

* 1 cup soap flakes

* 1/4 cup washing soda

* 1/2 cup borax

Laundry Detergent: Hard Water Mix

* 1 cup soap flakes

* 1 cup washing soda

* 1 cup borax

Liquid Laundry Detergent

* 1 cup of any of the above mixes

* 2 tablespoons glycerin

* 2 cups warm water

Mix ingredients and store in a sealed, labeled canister in the laundry room.

To use, measure 1/2 - 3/4 cup of the mix and wash your clothing in warm or cold water. Use cold water for the rinse cycle.

Here are some more informative links:

A great step-by-step guide with photos and a wonderful sense of humor from This one is actually for gel detergent.

Recipe from

Information from Yahoo Answers

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Homemade cleaners

Who else is using homemade cleaners? We have used natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar for some time now, mainly because they are easier on everyone's skin and lungs. Extra benefits are a better clean, a more environmentally-responsible clean, and a cheaper clean!

I have been researching ways to make cleaners and have found some great recipes. Here's a great list from my favorite frugal message board:

Recipes for homemade cleaners

I'm specifically trying recipes for homemade laundry detergent and will share more with you on that in the days to come.