Thursday, March 24, 2011

Baby Prep #3

After my whining and ranting last week, this week I'm determined to get a few more things off of my to-do list. The snow and ice, as much as I hate it, gives me no choice other than to get more accomplished around the house.

First, we made and froze banana muffin batter. We all really like banana muffins, and each of these bags should make about 18 regular sized muffins. We usually make 12 regular muffins and a pan for baby muffins.

Next, I made ten pounds of mashed potatoes and froze them into cute little quart-sized freezer bags. Are my mashed potatoes orange? Yes they are. My genius of a cook mother-in-law adds a sweet potato to her mashed potatoes. For ten pounds of potatoes, I added two sweet potatoes. We don't like sweet potatoes, but the mild taste of them in mashed potatoes is wonderful. Plus, it makes them more nutritious.

Finally, the boys and I made some homemade detergent. It can be a mess to make, but I've done it so many times now that it doesn't phase me. Today I made over 5 gallons of detergent, hoping it will last four or more months. I added some lavender essential oil to it just because I had it on hand.
 Here are the boys helping me to grate two bars of Fels Naptha. The Wal-Mart here carries it for $1. Our previous town did not carry it and so I had to buy it at a hardware store. Incidentally, the Wal-Mart doesn't carry Borax, so I still go the hardware store for that. If you can't find Washing Soda at Wal-Mart, try another grocery store, or else hardware stores always carry it.
Here's the detergent all ready to go. To make it easier to use, I scoop it from the bucket and through a funnel into an empty liquid laundry jug. My $0.02 on homemade laundry detergent is that it works pretty well. My husband has to wear a dress shirt and tie everyday, and the boys' clothes are always filthy, so I can be pretty fussy about the laundry. The first time you make it it can seem like a lot of extra effort, but it's really not bad. The only thing I miss is that the clothes don't come out smelling like anything. They are clean, but I actually like the smell of Tide and the faint fragrance of fresh clothes. If I can't hang the clothes on the line to dry to get the smell I love, then I improvise and throw in a dryer sheet.


Theresa said...

Have you ever done the dry detergent? I've always done the dry and never tried the liquid. Truth is I'm kinda scared to. Silly, I know. It just seems easier to dry but the reviews I've read lean toward the liquid being favored. What do you think?
Also, I've got a killer recipe for homemade fabric softener. Have you tried that? It works pretty well and you can make it smelly good too. Let me know if you want it.

Sarah said...

Mallory - This is absolutely impressive! I mean, I'm loving that you froze banana muffin batter and the detergent is genius. Plus, I'm going to have to try that sweet potato thing. I learn so much from you. :)

I'm wondering if I can freeze pancake batter? We love pancakes!

Mallory said...

Sarah, I definitely think you could freeze pancake batter. I know people who do it using buttermilk, so it would depend on how you make dairy-free pancakes, but I bet there's a way to make it work. I have some frozen blueberries to make blueberry muffin batter...again, could do pancakes, too.

Theresa, I like the liquid but have never tried the powder. I haven't been pleased with store-bought powder detergent (it leaves white streaks on the clothes), so I haven't thought about the homemade powder. I'm thinking you'd definitely need really soft water. And yes, tell me about the fabric softener. I know a bit about using vinegar, etc., but have so far justified cheap dryer sheets :-). Please share.

Detta said...

Mallory, I am so impressed! Wowzers!

One question: Why do you make your own laundry detergent? I am just completely curious about this.

Mallory said...

Detta, the reason is two-fold. Both boys (the older more so) have dealt with SEVERE skin issues that I tried to help any way possible, including making my own detergent. Their skin is much better now, but detergent wasn't to blame nor the solution (they are seen by a specialist now).

Anyway, the second reason is cost. I can make 5 gallons of detergent for VERY little money. The bar of soap is $1, a box of washing soda and a box of borax is about $4 each, although you only use 2 cups of each per two gallons of detergent, so it goes a long way. Once you have a box of Borax and Washing Soda on hand you can make your own dishwasher detergent (which I'll write about later). I've done the math more precisely before, but 5 Gallons of detergent costs me less than $5.

Detta said...


thank you so much for the info. This has inspired me more than you know! I have thought of, and made, many things for my family (including cleaning products) but for some reason, it had never occurred to me to make laundry detergent...or dishwasher detergent for that matter!

I am usually pretty picky about laundry soap (for reasons having to do with my #2's skin sensitivities...and I also try to avoid chemicals) However, if it works for your little guy, than it may be just the thing! And the savings sound tremendous! I did the math...and I think it came out to a savings of approx. $25/month at our house! That is incredible!

So thanks for the fabulous idea!

A couple of questions:
Have you used essential oils in your detergent? If so, how much does it affect the smell of the laundry when it comes out of the dryer? How much oil do you add?

Have you noticed a difference in how quickly your clothes wear out? (I know borax is awesome for getting dirt out...but fuzzy bunz diapers considers their guarantee void if you use borax on their diapers because apparently it wears them out...just wondering how it affects clothing...have you tried using different amounts of borax?

Thanks again!

Mallory said...

I used 40 drops of lavender E.O. in my 5G batch and haven't noticed a difference. I tend to err cautiously with scents, but you'd definitely need more than 40 drops for 5G!

I think our clothes look great. Hard water has done much more damage to our clothing than anything else (stains, fading, greying, etc.), so my only deterrent for not using homemade detergent would be if you needed to use something to counteract hard water. We have a water softener now, and I have been very pleased with the longevity of our clothes.

We cloth using Bum Genius and there is a similar warranty. I've used Purex Free and Clear, which is a very inexpensive detergent anyway, and since I only use it for cloth it lasts a long time. Our diapers are now two years old, so I may start using my detergent just for the heck of it.

My understanding of homemade detergent is that the borax is used as a softening agent, washing soda is for deodorizing and cleaning, and the soap is to clean stains. If anything would be "hard" on the clothes or diapers, it would be the soap you use. We use Fels, but there are other laundry bars that you can use (Ivory, Zote). We use Fels as a stain stick as well, and it IS an intense bar of soap.

It would have to be your call as far as how to proceed with the diapers. Maybe you could make a hybrid batch of detergent just for diapers using a milder soap like Ivory, or combining your homemade detergent with the detergent you buy for diapers to stretch it out longer?

Good luck!