Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
I can’t even begin to guess at how many different laundry products and cleaning products I have experimented with over the years. I’m almost 70 years old, so it has to be a lot!
A few years back, my assistant at Keep Fremont Beautiful was telling me how she made her own laundry detergent. Cathi explained how easy it was to make and how good it was at cleaning. She went on to tell me that you only use a tablespoon per wash – so a big batch lasts a long, long time and saves money.
I liked the idea of saving money. Instead of buying gallon after gallon jug of laundry detergent, you make up a single batch and it lasts… The first batch I made lasted a long time – but I didn’t keep track. The second batch lasted about the same amount of time as the first… I tweaked the third batch and it lasted over two and 1/2 years. I just mixed up another batch (we’ll have to wait and see how long this one lasts) and it got me thinking that I should document the ingredients and directions as a blog entry! Save it for posterity and all that.
Mom made great cookies and her recipes are cherished by many. I evidently can make a long lasting and fairly decent laundry detergent… it won’t be cherished, but it should be saved in the off chance a future descendant might want to give it a try!
So anyway - another plus for making your own laundry detergent – less waste. My particular recipe includes paperboard packaging for three of the ingredients, a plastic container for one ingredient and simple paper wrap for each of the bars of soap. All may be recycled!
I want to make it clear that I didn’t come up with the list of ingredients. Cathi gave me the original recipe and then I kind of made it up from memory the second time – that may have been when the Oxy Clean got added or maybe it was the Baking Soda.
The amounts were measured in cups in the original recipe – the second time I mixed up a batch I decided that it wasn’t necessary for me to be so precise. (I probably should tell you that I have a problem making Jello... the whole measuring and direction thing is so constraining…) Just know that you don’t have to use all the ingredients – Oxy Clean or Borax may bother people with sensitive skin – those ingredients don’t bother me so I include both for extra cleaning power.
I gave myself permission to tweak the recipe and I give you permission to do the same. Don’t use Borax if you don’t want to! Use half the amount of Oxy Clean or leave it out – it’s up to you. Just know that making Laundry Detergent isn’t Jello – you can improvise a bit – it’s OK. Also – feel free to check out actual experts online and get their recipes based on actual science or something. For now, you can just look below and find the most current listing of ingredients used in the making of “Oma Sue’s Laundry Detergent”. (ALMOST as memorable as Grandma Alyce’s Chocolate Pixies or Aunt Kay’s Sherry Cake… ya Oma Sue’s Laundry Detergent recipe will go right up there with the other family greats!)
Big Thing of Oxy Clean
Big Box of Borax
Big Box of Washing Soda
Big Box of Baking Soda
2 Big Bars of Fels Naptha Soap
First – I take a bar of the Fels Naptha Soap (unwrap it) and put it on a paper plate. I put it in the microwave (on high) for a minute or two until it gets super big and
airy. Then I take the second bar of soap and do the same thing. Now I have two big airy glops of soap! Set the soap aside and let it cool. (I have used Ivory Soap and another kind of natural soap, but I like Fels Naptha the best).
Second Step - get a big container to hold and mix all the powders. I used a clean garbage can. Dump the Oxy Clean, Borax, Washing Soda and Baking Soda into the can. I stir up the powders as I dump so they get mixed up a bit. (I use a hand held garden hoe to stir – it works better than a spoon! But sometimes I have a hard time finding it – but today was no problem – found the hoe tucked in a shelf in the garage - hooray.) You might want to protect your lungs and wear a face mask when dumping powdery substances in a garbage can – just a thought.
Third Step – It’s been awhile, so the Fels Naptha should be cooled down enough to grate. I use an old grater that I bought at the Habitat for Humanity Store. The grater is now dedicated to grating soap and only soap – not carrots – not potatoes – just soap. You don’t have to work too hard to grate the soap – it’s mostly fluff and just crumbles. A few chunks will remain but you can take care of those in step five.
Fourth Step – Stir. Stir. Stir. At this point I didn’t know if I was getting my laundry detergent concoction mixed up enough and decided to transfer it to a lower and wider plastic storage container… (On reflection – this is a way better container for mixing… so in step two I would recommend replacing the garbage can with the plastic storage box – sorry for the bad advice in step two – my bad.)
Fifth Step – You can use the powdered laundry detergent like it is but I like it really – really – really mixed up. I like it blended. So… I take my old “Art” blender, that I used to make artwork back in the day, and I put a couple of pints of the powder in the blender and blend it! Then I take the blended powder and store it in this little metal storage container.
(The metal storage container was filled with dried flowers and was a gift from a garden club. I spoke to their group a million years ago about keeping Fremont beautiful and they graciously gave me this repurposed container as a token of their appreciation. All these years later, the little metal container gifted to me by the garden club, works perfect for storing a month’s worth of laundry detergent. FYI – I like reusing and repurposing as much as possible – that little can is adorable.
Now you are ready to do laundry – remember you use one tablespoon of the powder for each load. The little measuring spoon in the picture is ½ tbs – two of those and you are set to go! (If your laundry is super-duper dirty, add another ½ tbs.)
Note: I don’t like scents – I get a whiff of perfume and my sinuses swell up. Scented hand soaps and lotions have been known to give me a fierce headache. The only scent in the laundry detergent recipe comes from the Fels Naptha and it is slight. If scents are important to you, I’m sure there are things you can add to smell it up a bit – but that’s up to you to figure out. I like my laundry detergent not smelly!
On a related note: I don’t use fabric softeners. I stopped using fabric softeners because I didn’t want the scent lingering on my clean laundry. I know you can get unscented fabric softener but I quit because of the scent and ended up not missing it. I do however, fill the fabric softener dispenser with vinegar. I like the “idea” that the vinegar is killing germs and removing all the residual dirt and detergent from my clothing, bedding and towels.
Five years later, I’m glad that I gave the DIY Laundry Detergent a try. I like saving money and reducing waste. I know exactly what is in my detergent – no fillers or added ingredients that don’t really do anything. I’m glad I found my hand-held hoe – that little tool makes stirring so much easier. If you are going to use a garden hoe for stirring, make sure you clean it up good before getting started! So there – that’s my blog entry on DIY Laundry Detergent. Next up – cleaning with sage…