Ahhhhh, the subject of laundry. It is one of those tasks that never goes away. When we get through 3 loads, the next day there is 2 more. It is thankless and endless. Now I say this, but I actually don't mind doing laundry. Never have. Even when we lived in apartments for 5 years and I had to lug it all the way down into a dank, dark basement and pop change into a machine, I didn't seem to mind.
Ever since having kids I've used detergents that were 'free' of all scents. This was for their benefit and I figured the less junk in it, the better for the environment. Then a few months back I got the idea from walk slowly, live wildly's blog to make my own detergent. She had a link to a website http://www.naturalfamilyonline.com/. After reading through several websites they all seemed to have the same 'recipe' for a homemade laundry detergent. It is as follows:
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1 cup grated soap of your choice (as you can see from the pic, I use Ivory...that may change)
Mix all together. Use 1 tbl for a regular load and 2 tbl for a large load
I grated the soap with a cheese grater (that I obviously never use for cheese) and mixed it all up and put it into an old blueberry container. When doing a load of laundry, I put 2 tbl of the mixture into the smaller container shown and add some hot water to dissolve it before adding it to the machine. Apparently washing soda doesn't dissolve too well in cold water washes. And I wash everything except towels in cold water around here.
What I have learned from this experience: make a couple of batches worth. Despite the fact that you only use 2 tbl per load, it seems to go quick. It doesn't take too long to put it all together - but still - more work means less enthusiasm. I've questioned how 'natural' and 'green' this concoction is. It is obviously better all around then Tide or Sunlight for example, but I've recently read that even Borax is quite toxic. As well, I'd like to find a more natural soap to grate too. The biggest advantage of this task (other than personal satisfaction for one's green effort) is the $$$$ savings. The ingredients above cost me $10 and that was 3 months ago. And laundrying a family of four costs far more than that for 3 months. I wish I had tracked the number of loads I've been doing - that would give me a more accurate amount. I'm not even half way through those two boxes either! So it's definately a money saver.
Now for drying our clothes. I don't use dryer sheets - never have. We don't seem to get static cling or any of that hassle so i've never had to deal with that. From May thru September I hung all our loads (except towels) on a homemade clothes line outside. Some may find this task labourious, but I l.o.v.e.d hanging my clothes on the line. It seemed meditative for me. Sorry I do not have a picture of it. It is November and in Northern Ontario hanging laundry outside from October thru April is not possible. Soooooo, I hange a few things on an inside contraption shown here:
The only problem hanging things indoors offers is the stiffness and the extended drying time. But hey, it's all worth it!!