My making this is really about sustainable living. It goes back to my now lost wish to have a very large farm garden in retirement and my dreams of keeping chickens and other livestock over summer. I was looking for a simpler way of life, one more connected to the earth we share and more in tune with its grandeur. I can't do that on the same scale at all, but that doesn't mean I need to leave it all behind. I still want to find ways to treat our earth better. Cutting costs is also very much part of it. With the encouragement and advice from a friend, who has used a very similar recipe for years, I went ahead.
The recipe I used was from David Suzuki.org and is the first one on the sheet.
The first thing I had to do was find the ingredients. I knew you could get Borax everywhere so that was step one. Then I started searching for bar laundry soap. My friend uses the good old fashioned Sunlight laundry bar (She lives on the east side and finds it at one of the big groceries there) but I couldn't find anything like that here in Spruce Grove and I looked everywhere. Washing soda was also non existent locally. My friend sent me a link to Well.ca
Washing soda This is the washing soda I purchased. A nice big bag of it. I used only 1 cup for this first batch so I will have many many more batches from this investment of $6.99. The recipe calls for a half cup but the water here is quite hard so it was doubled. I may try tripling in the next batch, but so far so fair.
The other interesting thing, that I only came across today as I wrote this, is that you can make washing soda from baking soda. It doesn't look that hard to do, so if you don't want to go out and buy it, you can get there from what you can find. And here is a link to the interesting video that shows what needs to happen as it is changing from one to the other! He does it stove top for this video, but recommends doing it in the oven.
Soap Flakes This is the soap flakes I purchased. $13.79. I chose this brand because that was what came up when I was looking. There are several other varieties and quantities showing up now. Look around and see what works for you. Again a nice big bag and it will last a very long time.
They have many kinds of soap for laundry. Looking and reading up on what makes a good laundry product, I kept coming up against Castile soap, which generally refers to any vegetable oil based soap. Search Well.ca for laundry soap and Castile soap and you get dozens of options. If you prefer, fels naptha soaps can be had at Amazon as well as the Sunlight brand and these are all recommended for laundry. Some people use good old Ivory brand bars. Lazy me. I choose not to have to grate it myself!
And a box of Borax for about $7.00.
These are the Canadian prices from this website and my local store. I could have gotten the supplies at Amazon and other places, but chose Well.ca on my friends recommendation. Plus, Well.ca had a few other things that I am happy to have, like lavender oil, to scent my soap. I suspect they are a much smaller enterprise than Amazon and I like that about them too.
I followed the recipe step by step, exactly as it says, and the end product is a kind of jelly like thing. It dissolves quickly in the water and seems to do a great job and because of that lavender oil (not required), I get clothing that smells quite pretty too. If I hadn't added the lavender scent, I suspect the clothes would just smell... clean.
It made slightly over 7 litres of soap, about half my container full. Next time, I will be filling it. Easy peasy and seriously cheap. My batch is going to last a long time, me with my wee washer and only me to care for. I use a half cup in the machine per load (a measurement cup from the last container of store bought detergent) and at that rate, I should have about 60 wash loads.
From my original investment in ingredients, I will get many many more batches. According the the mighty internet, I estimate 7 batches at 1 cup per batch of washing soda, 18 batches from the borax and 9 from the soap flakes. So a ton of loads of laundry for 5 dollars more than the price of one large container of brand name detergent.
They do have other cleaners on the pdf I linked to, as well as a recipe for dry laundry detergent. My cousin in Saskatoon uses the dry kind and has for years and recommends it.
So there you have it. Laundry on the cheap. Recommended by friends and family. And me.