Make Your Own Liquid Laundry (and Dish) Detergent

Today I finally got around to making my own laundry detergent. This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, and I have many recipes I'd acquired, but I never went out and got the few basic ingredients I needed -- until now!

Making your own detergent saves a lot:
you save the earth (less packaging)
you save money (see my estimates at the bottom to find out just how much)
you save the environment (homemade soap is low-impact to the groundwater ecosystems)
you save your back (store bought detergent is heavy, and requires carrying from shelf to cart to cashier to car to home)

Plus, you get to control what scents you use, and just how pure your soap is.

As I said, I've been researching this for quite a while, and everyone claims that it works very well on everything from delicates to cloth diapers and tough stains. I tried it right away on my son's own cloth diapers, and I must agree. The diapers were totally fresh smelling, bright white and soft. Better than they have looked or smelled in months, frankly, no matter what detergents or additives I tried.

Here's What You'll Need:

A One-Gallon Glass or Plastic Container with lid (old vinegar or ale bottles work well)
1/4 Cup Washing Soda (In your laundry aisle at the grocery store)
1/4 Cup Borax (In your laundry aisle at the grocery store)
1/2 Bar of Soap, Grated (Many people use Ivory, or you can use something even more pure like Castile, Goat's Milk, or another Homemade Soap. For this first batch I mixed Ivory Soap and Lavender Dr. Bronner's)
Warm Water
A Cooking Pot
1/4 oz. essential oil of your choice (optional)

1. Heat the grated soap and 3 cups water in a pot on the stove, stirring until soap has melted. Add Borax and Washing Soda and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.

2. Put 2 cups warm water in your storage container. If adding essential oil, now is the time. Add Soap Mixture and stir. Then fill container with warm water, stir again.

3. Let sit 24 hours. It will thicken to a light gel consistency. If you use cold water instead of warm the final consistency will be similar to egg drop soup.

Use 1/2 cup of detergent per load of laundry.
Each gallon of homemade soap gives you 32 loads!

But At What Cost?

Initial Outlay: $6.35
1 bar Ivory Soap: $0.50
Borax, 76 oz. Cardboard Box, $3.25
Washing Soda, 55 oz Cardboard Box, $2.85

One Gallon Detergent: $0.43
Gallon Container (recycled, re-usable vinegar bottle) $0.00
1/2 bar Ivory Soap $0.25
1/4 Cup Borax (1 oz. weight= appx .14 cup volume) = $0.08
1/4 Cup Washing Soda (1 oz. weight=appx .14 cup volume) = $0.10

One Load of Laundry: $0.013

Why buy detergent ever again??

Personally, compared to the laundry detergents I generally use I am saving about 7-10 dollars a month.

This recipe can easily be doubled and quadrupled, just line up some storage containers before hand and make your own detergent in minutes a few times a year (yes, literally, it takes me less than 5 from start to finish.)

Please note: You can also adjust quantities depending on the type of laundry you do (mostly washing diapers and oily mechanics clothes? Add some extra borax and/or washing soda) And you can dilute it in half with water and use it to re-fill your liquid dishwashing containers, unless you use aluminum utensils or pots. Also, this is a low-sudsing soap, which means you won't see a lot of bubbles: don't worry, it IS doing its job!


Raw Food

As most of you know, I adore food in all its forms. Most recently I had the pleasure of eating a completely raw and vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Whipped Almond Cream (very much like fresh whipped cream, but even better) made by my mother's neighbors who are are vegan and eat only raw foods at home. This was the best dessert I have had in years. Years, I tell you! That is saying a lot, since we eat at some very fine restaurants and I am a baker myself. You would never know that this was not baked, and it could have been served in any 3-star Michelin restaurant.

So, I have hunted down the recipes and the cookbooks from whence they came, and am thinking that if the rest of the raw recipes are this great, I will have to begin incorporating them into my diet. I don't think I would ever go all raw but I would love to include the ideas with my whole food mentality...

The books the recipes came from, for those who are curious, are:

Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney

Pure and Simple, Delicious Whole Natural Foods Cookbook. Vegan, MSG Free and Gluten Free. by Tami A. Benton (Author)


DIY Boy's Haircut

I have been cutting my son's hair practically since he was born. Like everyone on my side of family, he was born wth a full head of hair, already over a centimeter long and nice and thick. And, also like me, it grows incredibly fast.

For the first two years, I used tiny baby scissors. At first, I cut his hair when he was sleeping, then we progressed to the highchair in front of a movie with a bowl of something special to eat (generally a yogurt, popsicle, or ice cream) From two to three, we used the same method, but with slightly larger round-tipped sewing scissors.

Two months ago I decided to give shaving a try. I bought a $22 kit from Wahl at Walmart, with 10 blade lengths, all color coded, ear trimming guides, scissors, and a comb, all in a nice plastic case. I figured even if it didn't work with my son, for the price it was worth a shot. At home, 15 minutes after setting up in a chair with a movie and a popsicle, we were done and my son had one of the best haircuts I'd ever given him. Wow!

Today I tried again and am definitely sold. We used 5 blade lengths (which gives that nice barbershop "fade" look) and the ear trimmer attachments. It took all of 5 minutes. I just set him up in a chair while he watched Tom & Jerry classic cartoons, with the promise that if he behaved he could have ice cream after. Amazing. He has a little cowlick in front that he's had since birth, and the width of the blade makes it a bit hard to trim as close to his ear as I would like, but all in all, I am a very satisified customer.

Now, if my husband would just trust me a little more... I used to cut his hair with scissors when we were young and his hair was longer, but he doesn't quite have confidence in the idea of me with a shaver.


Could Humans Infect Pets With H1N1? YUP.

by Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Nov. 6, 2009

Until this week, many veterinarians asserted that it was a myth that house cats could catch the deadly H1N1 flu from their owners.Those veterinarians, along with other health experts, are revising their views after an Iowa Department of Public Health announcement Wednesday that the virus has been confirmed in an indoor 13-year-old cat, which likely contracted the illness from two flu-sick humans in its home.
Although all of the victims have since recovered, this latest H1N1 animal case puts the focus on humans as the primary carriers of the illness, which experts don't even want to call "swine" flu anymore.
"We're seeing reverse zoonosis, with the virus jumping from people to animals," Alfonso Torres told Discovery News, explaining that several ferrets have also been infected, resulting in at least one pet ferret death in Nebraska.
"In theory, cats could infect humans, but there is no evidence for that yet," added Torres, former chief veterinary officer of the United States who is now associate dean for public policy at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine.Torres was "not entirely surprised" by the diagnosis in a cat. He said that until four years ago, no evidence supported that felines could catch viruses from other species.
That changed when several captive tigers and leopards died after consuming chickens infected with avian flu (H5N1). A later study concluded that house cats could also contract avian flu.While no dog has yet been diagnosed with H1N1, a deadly canine influenza strain has led to outbreaks among dogs since the first reported case in 2004. Canine influenza arose when a horse virus, H3N8, infected a dog.
It is not yet clear why ferrets and cats may be more susceptible to H1N1 flu, but Torres explained that "viruses need receptors" to enable infection of an individual. Sometimes these receptors are located in the throat and nose, while other times they are located more deeply in the lungs.
It could be that the anatomy of pigs and ferrets means that their receptors more closely match those of humans for H1N1. It's possible that cats have similar receptors, but further studies are needed to better understand the virus in felines and how to best treat it."The human H1N1 vaccine may or may not work in cats," Torres said. "There are some 60 million cats and only the one reported case, so the risk of other cats becoming infected appears to be low at this point."
Since both the avian and "swine" influenza strains emerged under crowded farming conditions, Torres suspects the growing worldwide demand for meat could be setting the stage for such outbreaks. It's predicted that meat production will increase by 50 to 60 percent by 2020 in response to human population growth and economic changes in developing countries.However, animals and humans living together in close proximity is only one probable factor that could lead to such outbreaks. Increased travel, more pets, climate change and better diagnostic techniques could also help to explain the rash of interspecies illness, he said.
Michael San Filippo, a spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association, told Discovery News that the cat H1N1 case "provides a good reminder that viruses can pass from humans to animals."While both he and Torres wonder if the Iowa cat suffered from an underlying health condition that might have compromised its immune system they still advise all pet owners to take precautions if they come down with influenza.
"Avoid direct contact with pets if you have the flu," San Filippo said. "Keep them off of your bed and be sure to cover up coughs and sneezes. Wash your hands regularly."
He concluded: "Pets are members of our families, so exercise the same precautions that you would for other friends and family."

It's a girl!

Just a quick update before I run out the door!

Looks like the pinafores I made will be put to good use -- the ultrasound we just had shows that our little january angel will be a girl :)


Quick & Easy No Knead Bread in Less than an Hour!

I've been a little under the weather lately with a head cold, so not much to report here. My husband has even been cooking about half the meals this last week or two... And you have him to thank for this fabulous recipe:

* Quick, No Knead Bread *

3.5 cups whole wheat flour (you can also use half oat/half white flour, which is very good. Or anything else you want to try!)
1 tbs baking powder
1.25 cups beer (different beers will make different flavor breads. yum!)
1 tsp honey

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease rectangular bread pan. Mix the flour and baking powder together. Add beer and honey, and mix thoroughly. Pour into pan and smooth top. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Ready to eat! This is great for a last-minute bread to go with a nice hearty soup. Don't forget the butter ;)