Monday, July 20, 2009

The joys of farmer laundry.......

I have consistently recurring eczema. Have had since I was a teenager. It runs in my family. Last year I got a pretty bad outbreak on the palms of my hands. Then I got a yeast-type fungal infection in the same location. Yeah, imagine that. If you know anything about skin problems you'll know that you typically treat eczema with steroids (which exacerbate fungal infections) and treat fungal infections with other stuff (that inflames eczema). So I found myself in a serious lose-lose scenario. Insert rolling eyes here.....

Anyway, after a while I started doing some research on homeopathic eczema remedies and found myself reading more and more about eczema being caused by hidden skin and/or food allergies. Seemed to me that the easiest first step would be to try a different laundry soap. But which one? I did a little more reading and found some recipes to do it at home. Turns out it's sooo much easier than I thought AND it's really inexpensive.

By popular demand I am posting my recipe for homemade laundry soap. I will explain the use of vinegar afterwards. If you have any questions you can e-mail me or post a comment! :0)

Laundry soap recipe:
1 quart (4 C.) water
2 C. grated bar soap
2 C. Borax
2 C. Washing Soda

*You will need a pretty big pan.
*Bring water to a boil.
*Add finely grated bar soap. Stir until bar soap is melted. You can leave the stove burner on low if you want while the soap is melting. Shut heat off completely.
*Add Borax and Washing Soda. Stir until all is dissolved. Or at least pretty close.
*Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed. In my experience it works better to add hot water rather than cold. Hot water from the tap works well for me.
*Put into final, covered, container.
*Use between 1/4 C. (city-folk dose) and !/2 C. (farmer dose) per load.

Notes to help you: I usually double this recipe. Doubled, it makes enough laundry soap to last my family of 4-5 approximately 5.5 months. I recruited family members to give me their old liquid laundry detergent containers (with the pour spout) to store my laundry soap in. Rinse them really well if you're trying this because of skin allergies.... Gallon sized vinegar bottles work well too! You can use whatever type of bar soap you want. The options that were given to me were: Fels-Naptha, Ivory soap, Sunlight bar soap, Kirk's Hardwater Castile and Zote. I, personally, have not had good luck with Ivory and have had the BEST luck with Fels-Naptha. Here is the Boise area I have had a hard time locating Fels-Naptha and Washing Soda. I did finally find a consistent supply at Fred Meyer, in the laundry aisle. Also, my friend tried to use beauty bars, like 'Dove' once with disastrous results.....

Oh, and if the load of laundry is particularly nasty, I add 2 T. or so of Baking Soda.

I also quit using all fabric softeners. No 'Downy' in the washer or sheets in the dryer. Instead I use 1/2 C. or so of plain ol' white vinegar in my washer. I'm lucky enough to have a front loading washer with a 'fabric softener' dispenser and so I just put my vinegar in there. My friend uses it in a downy ball, though, and it works great for her too. It really does a great job! I have very thick, very coarse, VERY prone-to-static hair and vinegar keeps the static to a bare minimum. It does as good a job as 'Downy' or 'Bounce' ever did. Remember, too, that vinegar is naturally anti-microbial. I don't use bleach anymore, except in dire occasions, and my whites are bright as ever. Vinegar is my new hero, it's super cheap and super natural!

Also, depending on my mood, I sometimes scent my laundry soap and/or vinegar with essential oils. And it varies with the season..... This time of year, during the summer, mint is my scent of choice. I like earthy or 'baking' type scents in the fall and winter, cinnamon or cloves or whatever. And in the spring I LOVE citrus scents, lemon or grapefruit. I use 10-15 drops of oil per gallon of laundry soap or vinegar. If you want to get fancy: I keep a gallon of vinegar scented with lavender for sheets and stuff....

As a final note: Vinegar, with or without essential oil, in a spray bottle makes a great non-chemical option to 'Febreeze'. I have three huge water dogs (that spend a lot of time indoors), two teenagers and the hubby and I both work outdoors. Vinegar spray does a great job of getting rid of yukky smells...... I just spray it on soft surfaces and as it dries the vinegar smell disappears with the yukky wet-dog-smell (or whatever) and I am left with the softest scent of whatever I scented the vinegar with.....

The secret benefit to making your own laundry supplies is the knowledge that there is one less thing in the world that you are reliant upon the corporate machine for. That alone, makes me smile every time I load my washing machine! ;0)