Sunday, October 31, 2010

Laundry Soap

{Note:  I recently added the recipes for both the paste and powdered versions of this soap to the Recipes tab at the top of this blog. There is a print feature at the end of each recipe that makes it easy to print a copy without all the blog blather included :) }

I became interested in making my own laundry soap as a creative/cooking/money-saving plan and found I quite enjoyed the result.  I began by doing a little research, recipe reading, and experimentation and came up with something that works really well for me. 

I wanted something easy to make and easy to store. Most of the recipes I read called for a lot of water (for liquid soap) and, therefore, a lot of storage containers. The dry soap recipes all seemed too complex and cumbersome. {UPDATE:  See the Recipes tab above for my SIMPLE dry version!}

I keep my soap in quart-size canning jars with plastic lids and I have a long handled tablespoon I use to put the soap in the washer. I add the laundry soap as the washer is filling and rinse the soap into the washer from the spoon. (One quart of this soap will clean 64 loads of laundry!)

As with the soap I purchase (or formerly purchased) at the store I sometimes use bleach or oxyclean for extra whitening.  I don’t find I do this any more or less often than before.  If I have a tough stain I rub in a little of the concentrate and it seems to take out everything I’ve tried it on.

All of the ingredients are available in the laundry aisle at the grocery store.  If your store doesn’t carry one of the products, look online.  All of them are available at

It costs about 1.7 cents per load (Tablespoon) of this laundry soap.

The following is my highly concentrated recipe.  One tablespoon of soap does a whole load of wash! (I have a high capacity washer.)

White Silk Purse Laundry Soap
~ makes 4 quarts {one gallon} of concentrate ~
~  that's 256 loads of laundry! ~

2 bars Fels Naptha
2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
6 cups of hot water (+ more water as needed)

Put 6 cups of water on to heat. It will almost boil by the time you are done.  While the water is heating, grate the Fels Naptha.  I cut the bars in half the long way and run them through my food processor with the grater attachment, but it could be grated by hand. Add the soap to the water that is heating, and stir frequently.  This part takes 10 – 15 minutes.  Keep stirring until the soap is completely melted. Don’t let this boil or you’ll have soap all over the place. (Don’t ask!)

When the soap has melted turn off the heat and add the Borax and the Washing Soda. (Do not confuse Washing Soda with baking soda.  They are NOT the same.  Washing Soda is in the laundry aisle.) Stir and stir and stir. You will stir for about three minutes.  The powders will dissolve into the liquid.

Pour the liquid equally into 4 quart jars. Now, add just enough water to bring the contents up to the “shoulders” of the jar.  This will leave about 1 ½ inches of headspace.  Put lids on the jars and let them sit overnight (about 8 hours).

The soap in the jars will separate while it is standing. This is OK. There will be firm soap on top and kind of gel-like soap on the bottom. Sometimes "crystals" form at the bottom of the jar, don't worry.

This next part is really quite fun.  Take one of the jars and cut up the firm soap.  I just stick a knife down into the jar and cut it up like a pie. Next, pour all of this into your blender of mixing bowl I have a BOSCH. Now, because I am frugal I pour about 3 tablespoons of water into the quart jar and swish it around to get all the rest of the soap out.  If there are crystals, I use HOT water and stir a bit. I add this to the blender too.

 Start on the lowest speed of your blender or mixer and increase  the speed gradually.  Your result will be something that looks like really thick, pale yellow whipped cream. You may need to scrape the sides down with a spatula a few times to get it all the way blended/mixed. It's like creaming the butter, sugar and eggs when you make cookies. (I can blend/mix two jars at a time in my Bosch bowl.) 

Pour/spoon the now blended soap back into the quart jar(s).  Your jar(s) will be all the way full now and you may even have a little more for another jar. Pop a lid onto the jar(s) and your soap will keep indefinitely. It gets a little firmer in the jar when it sits, but it stays spoonable.

Just a few notes: The following makes 12 quart jars of laundry soap--

ª     •  6 bars of Fels Naptha (.99 each), 1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax ($4.15), and 1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda ($2.79) {then there was a little tax - .86 cents}

ª     • I made 12 quarts of concentrate for $13.74.  That means it costs 1.7cents per load J. That also nearly uses up the above ingredients. (Sometimes I find the products on sale for even less, then I buy more!)

ª     • I had a little Borax left over… It’s good for lots of stuff. Read the box.

ª      • 12 quarts of soap would do just over 14 loads of wash a week for a year!

ª     • I thought I’d need about 18 quarts for a year’s supply at my house.

ª      • The supplies for the soap are easy to store.  I don’t feel compelled to make it all at once.

ª      • I use a Bounce Bar in my dryer.  I think it is the best anti-static and smell good invention of all time.
 June, 2011 -- I've tried the recipe dry this summer and have been happy with the result; especially happy that it only takes about 5 minutes to make and then does the job just as well.  Here is the recipe: Grate two bars of Fels Naptha, then run the blade in your food processor that turns it into "powder."  It won't be quite as fine as real powdered soap, but very close.  Then add two cups of Borax and two cups of washing soda.  It only takes TWO TEASPOONS to do a large load.  I have a soup spoon that holds two teaspoons that I use to measure. -- The hardest part is thinking that two teaspoons will do the job, but it does! -- I do keep a jar of the paste kind on hand to rub into tough stains.  I live in a farming area and have a friend who says it even gets ground in cow plop out of her husbands jeans (apparently that is her toughest stain to conquer).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Welcome Summer

Today feels like the first REAL day of summer! Yesterday I cleaned house, and today has been one of those perfect weather days and a day of visiting with good friends! My dear friend, Suzanne, came visiting clear from Phoenix, AZ. Later, one of the dearest young ladies I know, Shalane, stopped in for an unexpected visit. Just a few minutes ago Zanette called and said she'd drop by this evening.  What a lovely day!

I kicked off the summer by participating in the Bijou Market last weekend , a handmade craft fair in Provo, UT.  I was flattered to be accepted as a vendor in this show and had more fun than words can tell! -- The creative portion of getting ready was great fun.  I made zipper flowers, unique handbags, and folded book sculpture. I also sold vintage earrings, and I must say they were a hit!  I would probably do this again, but I think I might love the vintage jewelry business!  The fair itself was held in a beautiful fruit orchard with the vendors stretched out among the trees. The weather was just right for shopping!

One of the founders of Bijou, Emily, is a lovely woman that I've known since she was 3 years old!  She is now a mama and her sweet baby, Hayes, was safely entrusted to us while his busy mom was supervising the fair. What a glorious day we enjoyed.

Check it out!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

FIT or FITS???

Well, I've done it...joined a gym.  I HATE to exercise, but I've decided to try to improve my health and overall fitness level. I am on day two and have found that it isn't terrible after I'm there, but getting there can be a challenge. I am quite spoiled by my commute to work which involves walking across the street. Getting to the gym involves getting into my car and driving into town, about 10 miles. Needless to say, if I'm going to drive that far I ought to do any town stuff while I'm there. That means I need to take clothing to change after the workout which means I REALLY ought to shower. Yesterday I thought I had it all figured out. I took everything I needed.....except a towel.  I'm very glad that I thought through to this oversight before I was dripping wet. -- Luckily, my daughter lives in town and a quick phone call enabled be to drop by and shower at her house with one of her towels. So far I feel like I'm packing for a week-long vacation just to go to the gym.  I hope I get adept at this and figure out a better way. (Suggestions are welcome!)

The gym itself is a lovely facility designed for the over 50 crowd. I like the idea of no "sweet young things" bee-bopping around in cute little leotards.  Also, thus far, it doesn't seem to be a pick-up joint. :)  The staff seems to be knowledgeable and all are very kind. Personal service seems to be their motto. The machines are all state-of-the-art. They were made for very SENIOR citizens so are quite easy to operate, not to mention the wonderful staff on hand to assist just a moment before you know you need assistance.

Today my arms and legs ache. I hope in a week or so the pains will be gone and the beginnings of the fit feelings will begin! Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


The "Wordfull Wednesday" challenge this week is writing about fatherhood. I am a day late, but with good reason. We were welcoming a new grandson to the family!

Watching my son be a father brings great joy. It is fun to remember the day he was born and see him enjoy the deep love and blessings that come with fatherhood. This sweet baby is #2 for him, both boys.

My son Jared  and his wonderful wife are, in my opinion, practically perfect parents. They adore their children and teach them well. I love being at their house at bedtime when scriptures are read and prayers are said.

Jared had a wonderful example in his own father. I am a great believer in the adage that actions speak louder than words. My husband always had time to do whatever the children wanted/needed and he still does. Nothing on his agenda is ever more important than what is happening in the lives of the children and our youngest is 20!  This week he has traveled 120 miles (each way) to see a new grandson, worked on a HUGE remodel for a daughter, babysat for our daughter who is a single mom, and gone house hunting with our youngest who is contemplating the purchase of a fixer-uper. All of this happened beyond his regular work schedule!

The over-riding emotion attached to fatherhood is love, a love so wonderful and deep that my husband's favorite quote of all time is: "Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that could be given him, God himself, he who is the highest of all, chose to be addressed simply as Father." (Boyd K. Packer, 1972)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nurturing Love and Friendship in Marriage-- A pat on the back for my spouse.

For Christmas this year my Chris gave me season tickets to a musical theater that is 3 hours from home. -- Six shows all far away. The tickets came with a coupon for overnight stays each time we see a show. What a wonderful treat. Six mini-vacations. At least 6 hours of visiting with the to and fro drive each time. -- AND, the tickets are for a theater in the town where one of my dearest friends resides! She sent him a thank you note for the gift too! -- I'd say this man KNOWS how to nurture love and friendship in marriage!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wordful Wednesday Challenge: Do you and your spouse have a song that is yours?

We do!  It will date us in a big way, but our song is “Two Less Lonely People” by  Air Supply.   I don’t know that there is any big reason this is our song, but we both liked it and were delighted to have found each other. – We still are. (It will be 30 years in June!) Whenever we hear this song we stop and dance.

This idea of songs for people, however, extends to our children. In this day and age of ringtone choices we tag our children with tunes that remind us of them for various and assorted reasons.  From time to time the tunes change, but here is the current list:

If they call Mom, this is the tune she hears:
Jared – “A Wink and A Smile” from the movie, “Sleepless in Seattle”  --- He picked it for his wedding.

Emily – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – She is a true blue, dyed-in-the-wool, “Wizard of Oz” fan.
Anna – “He’s a Pirate” from “Pirates of the Carribean” – Loves  Jack Sparrow!  ‘nuf said.
Clark – “Superman” Theme Song – This story is a little longer. When I was expecting Clark his brother and sisters REALLY wanted us to name him Superman. As it turns out, his Great-Great and Great-Great-Great Grandfathers were both named Clark.  We appeased our older children by telling them we’d give him Superman’s REAL name (but they all know who he REALLY is).

If they call Dad, this is the tune he hears:
Jared – “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” – He loved this song when he was a two-year old. He’d dance wildly whenever it came on the radio!
Emily – “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You” – She is also a true blue, dyed-in-the-wool NSYC fan. And that is putting it mildly!

Anna – “He’s a Pirate” from “Pirates of the Carribean.” (See above.)

Clark – “Superman” by Five for Fighting

And, of course, for each other: When Chris calls me I hear “Pop! Goes My Heart,” from “Music and Lyrics.”  And, when I call Chris, “Two Less Lonely People.”  Can you tell who the romantic in our family is?

What plays when your loved ones call you??

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Family -- At Home

My family at home has changed dramatically over the last few years. The children have grown. They've gone on missions, moved out, gone to college, married, divorced ( :(  ), moved home, moved out, married ( :) ) and now our once full house is seeming rather empty. Only one son remains at home with us (well, that is he sleeps here and eats here most of the time) and since he is old enough to make any of the above mentioned choices,we'll soon join the ranks of the empty nest club.

Chris and I are the happy parents of 4 wonderful children, all of them mentioned many times previously on this blog. We are delighted with them and the good choices they are making. We love the fact that grandchildren are entering our hearts and home. ~~

We'd been married 13 1/2 months when baby #1 joined us. I remember the drive to the hospital that HOT July day in Phoenix, Arizona! I recall saying to Chris, "It will never be the same again." And, it wasn't. It was far better than we ever expected!

We are fortunate that  all of the grown children live within 3 hours of home at present. We get together often and enjoy spending time together. Some of our favorite activites are:

* playing Scrabble
* the Isaac Asimov quiz on Sunday evening
* cooking together -- and of course, eating
* reading and writing (the kids are all great writers!)
* playing "beauty shop" - the girls don't believe the boys should sport unibrows!
* playing "Name That Tune" with HUGE music collections
* popcorn and movies -- we have a theater-size popcorn machine and we LOVE it
* in the spring and summer we love to fly kites, fancy ones that look like dragons and pirate ships

Chris and I are still busy making new resolutions to find ways to re-connect with the children growing and going their own ways.  For Christmas, he gave me season tickets to WONDERFUL theater productions about 3 hours from home. We look forward to the time in the car to visit on the drive back and forth. We'll make a weekend of it when we can. We love to travel and see new places. I'm sure we'll work in some plans for something exciting in the future.

We also love to have company.... We dream of owning a bed and breakfast someday... Maybe right here at home. We'll see. Maybe someday you'll visit our fair city and stay here, at "The White Silk Purse."