We do a lot of laundry. That is not an understatement. One of the life lessons you learn when you are a TPSI family with seven kids is that boys get dirty. (In case you were wondering, we have four boys and three girls) In fact, I am convinced that our three year year old (Number 5) is a hidden artistic genius, who views clean clothes as a blank canvas on which to create his latest abstract masterpiece with his chosen medium....dirt.
If our piles of laundry were mountains, poets would write sonnets about the sheer awesomeness their presence inspires. To be clear, our kids are not necessarily any more dirty than average. In fact per person, we generate about the same as any average individual. However when there are nine people in a household, one of them being a seven week old ( i.e. seven weeks at the time of writing this blog)....those of you with newborns know that a newborn produces about twice the normal amount of laundry...mostly from puking all over your fresh clean shirt....you get the picture.
Now before everyone sends me messages about being green, and needing to conserve water, and protecting the environment etc....let's get a few things straight. First, one of the things we invested in was a high efficiency front loading washer (yes, which we bought debt free...more on debt free living in a later post) Second, we also bought a GAS dryer (also debt free) which did cost a bit more up front, but has saved us loads in energy bills! Before I get into the numbers, I have to say that I was sold on the first load when our gas dryer completely dried out a SUPERSIZE load of towels in 40 minutes!
Just to give you an idea of how much a gas dryer saves on electricity, our last bi-monthly hydro bill was $175.62, that's $87.81 a month. Or monthly gas bill is averages about $90 in the winter and $65 - $75 in the summer. We also have a gas stove and a natural gas barbecue which we use all year too. In our area our water bill averages about $42 a month. Which is pretty good considering the amount of laundry our house of budding abstract artists, extreme dirt bikers, mud pie bakers, and backyard gymnast produces. Not to mention the lawn cutting, dandelion pulling, garden planting TiPSI dad and TiPSI mom.
Anyway, as you can imagine, we do a lot of laundry. Which requires a lot of laundry detergent. The interesting thing is that we got into making our own laundry detergent because we have a lot of sensitive skin issues. Making our own detergent allows us total control over the chemicals that get into our clothes and onto our skin. By the way these formulas are also septic safe and environmentally friendly!
So here is the math:
Or initial outlay involved buying a 5 (US) gallon bucket at the local Home Depot. The recipe requires Borax and Washing Soda (not to be confused with baking soda!!!) Which we picked up at the local Walmart. We also bought a lid for the bucket....which we also got at Home Depot.
5 (US) gallon (17L) bucket = $5.95
Lid = $3.95
Borax = $4.49
Washing soda = $5.99
Ivory soap (10 pack) = $4.29
Which brings us to a grand total of $24.67 initial cost.
I should point out that after two years of making our own laundry detergent we are still on our first box of Borax and Washing Soda and only our second (10) pack of Ivory!
Here is the recipe,
On the stove, heat 2 litres of water (not to boiling, just warm)
Grate 2 bars of Ivory soap into the warm water. Stir frequently to dissolve.
In the bucket dissolve 1 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup Borax in 10 litres of HOT tap water.
When soap water is dissolved, add to bucket. Mix really well. (These days I use a paint mixer bit that I have for my cordless drill, but that is unnecessary)
Let the mixture set over night, and stir well again in the morning, or any time.
To keep things manageable we still re-use the last laundry jug we ever bought and pour the detergent into it.
This makes about 5 months worth of laundry detergent for us!
A couple of things to note, if you want you can fragrance your detergent with a few drops of essential oils...I like to use tea tree. Also if you want to get your whites whiter you can use something called blueing agent...I have not been able to find any and I have been wanting to try it so if any of you out there know where to find it, let me know!
The original recipe calls for a bar of Fels Naptha soap, but we replaced it with Ivory because of the skin issues I mentioned earlier.
Just in case any of you were wondering.....yes we did get this recipe from the Duggars, and yes we are big fans, but we are perfectly content to let them keep the title...in other words, no we are not going to try to beat them.
Well, look at the time! Next week, all work and no play makes people tell me to have more fibre. Balancing life, work and everything in between.