Archive | April 2013

Going Natural – DIY Laundry Detergent

For those of you who follow my regular blog, please don’t go away!  I am diverting from my normal posts for a series on DIY natural cleaning products.  I want to break it into a series of posts so that people can easily find information on specific products later.   If you aren’t interested in this topic, please don’t unfollow this blog.  I will return to my regular programming after this cleaning intermission. J  Email followers, you will probably get a series of about 10 emails in pretty rapid succession as I plan to post these all at once.  Once the initial flurry is finished, my blog life will return to normal.

Laundry Detergent

This is the first DIY cleaning product that I saw.  Before that, it really hadn’t occurred to me to make my own.  My cousin posted this on her blog as a money saving alternative to store bought detergent.   When I started researching natural products in earnest, I was surprised to find that this fell into that category.  I have chosen to use Fels Naptha soap in this detergent because I felt that a laundry soap would be more effective.  However, I have seen variations that call for the milder Ivory soap or an store bought all natural soap (like Bronner’s soaps).   It is simple and very inexpensive to make, regardless of what soap you choose.

1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Super Washing Soda
1 Bar Fels Naptha soap

Laundry Soap

There are many different recommendations on how to mix this soap.  I tried several different ways, and after some trial and error came up with the following:

Mix the first two ingredients together.  Using a hand grater, grate the Fels Naptha soap.  It is yellow so will actually look like grated cheese.  Then put the grated soap in a food processor and pulse until it is broken down into a very fine “powder”.  Mix with the dry ingredients, close container and shake.

Many of the sites I found said to mix this in the blender, including the dry ingredients.  This did NOT work for me, and nearly burned out the motor in my blender.  I do not recommend this method. J

I found all 3 ingredients in the laundry soap aisle of Walmart.  The boxes of Borax and Super Washing Soda will easily make 6 batches.  The total cost for 6 batches (including 6 bars of soap) is about $12.50.  High Efficiency washers need about 1 Tablespoon of this.  I do NOT have a high efficiency washer so I use about a Tablespoon and a half (use more for heavily soiled clothes).  Each batch makes 3+ cups.  At 1 ½ Tablespoons per load, this translates to 32 loads.  Six batches should wash 192 loads.  Total cost per load is $.065 per load.

Additional note: I made some of this for a friend and she asked if it was good for sensitive skin.  That prompted me to Google “DIY natural laundry soap for sensitive skin”.  This exact recipe popped up in several blogs.  Comments on those DIY blogs indicate that it is indeed good for sensitive skin.  Some people commented that they have family members with extremely sensitive skin or eczema and that this worked great for them.  If you don’t want to take your chances, replacing the Fels Naptha with an different bar soap should eliminate any worry.

Going Natural – DIY Cleaning Introduction

For those of you who follow my regular blog, please don’t go away!  I am diverting from my normal posts for a series on DIY natural cleaning products.  I want to break it into a series of posts so that people can easily find information on specific products later.   If you aren’t interested in this topic, please don’t unfollow this blog.  I will return to my regular programming after this cleaning intermission.  Email followers, you will probably get a series of about 10 emails in pretty rapid succession as I plan to post these all at once.  Once the initial flurry is finished, my blog life will return to normal.  As soon as I get all the posts uploaded, the product list below will link to the related post.

Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Take care of your environment and take care of you.

A few weeks ago, I started researching natural cleaning products of the DIY variety.  I don’t know exactly what prompted it.  For a long time, I have made the effort to buy cleaning products that are labeled as environmentally friendly or “green” but they are expensive and I wasn’t convinced they were as good as they were purported to be (with the exception of the REALLY expensive stuff that I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on).  I was inconsistent to say the least.  Then a few months ago, my cousin, who has a great blog, wrote a post about DIY laundry detergent.  At the time, that seemed just a little over the top.  But I didn’t forget it.  I think she gets the credit for getting my wheels turning.

Pinterest is a great source of information, so I started pinning and researching and pinning some more.  I created a board for all the stuff I was finding.  I noticed that there were lots of common elements to the products.  Some had more focus on natural, others had more focus on DIY and saving money.  I decided to focus my research on DIY AND natural.

First, I’ll mention my key learning and then I will get into the actual products I have made and how I adjusted them to make them work after my first try.  First, I learned that vinegar is the bomb!  It does just about everything.  It disinfects, it sanitizes, it softens, it cleans and it is cheap!  I learned that baking soda is both a softener and can be an abrasive (like for sink cleaning).  I learned that Borax is a natural element that has been used for cleaning for a long long time.  I learned that washing soda is just baking soda that has been baked (or something like that).  This process increases its cleaning properties but maintains the natural characteristics.  I learned that essential oils have all kinds of aromatic, disinfecting and cleaning properties as well.  There are TONS out there.  I’ll tell you more about the ones I settled on later.  Essential oils are the only pricey ingredient that I have used.  Everything else that goes into these are either things I already have in my pantry or were very inexpensive.  All of the products could be made without them for the truly budget conscious, but I think they make a big difference in how my house smells.  In other words, the aromatics were important to me, especially since I learned that my kids hate the smell of vinegar.


The Supplies

Pinterest was great for finding lots of information, but when I got ready to actually make my first batch of products, I found it to be a bit disorganized.  Lots of sites list multiple products in a single post (or pin) and I started to have trouble finding the things I wanted to make in the midst of all the noise.  Because I had pinned everything I thought had promise or good information, I couldn’t find the things I wanted to make easily. For that reason, I will be breaking this into a series of posts.  This is the introduction.  After this, I will make one post per product so things don’t get lost in the shuffle.  It will also be the way I re-organize my own boards on Pinterest so my adjustments are easy for me to find later.

The products that I will be detailing are:

1)      Laundry detergent

2)      Liquid fabric softener

3)      Dishwasher cubes

4)      All Purpose Cleaner

5)      Soft Scrub

6)      Glass Cleaner

7)      Furniture Polish

8)      Cleaning Wipes


The Products

These are the products I have made so far and I love them all. I will be sure to tell you what makes my favorites so fabulous, but I really do like them all.  Click here to see or follow my “All Natural” Pinterest board.

04/09/13 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters: Live Another Day

Today’s advice is a re-blog from Ellie in Ireland.  She shared the story of a young man of 16 who is in his last months of life.  He is spending some of that time with an important message about the gift of life, specifically to those who give in to despair and take their own life.

Live another day.  What a great message.  Thanks Ellie!

But if you were 16 years old and knew you only had months to live, what would you do with your time?  Would you rush out and live it up as much as possible? Would you travel, go bungee jumping, go to concerts, parties and gigs with your friends?  What would you do? (click the link to read more and to see this young man’s interview)

Live Another Day.

4/2/13: Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters: Facebook is NOT real life

I gave up Facebook for Lent. I felt that I needed to do this because in the months leading up to Lent, Facebook had taken on a new dimension for me. I found that I was spending hours reading every article, watching every video and reacting to every divisive thing that I saw. Facebook debates were quickly becoming vicious, and even the “safe” ones, the ones among friends and like-minded people seemed to result in misunderstanding and hurt feelings. They certainly resulted in frustration for me. I was checking constantly…from my computer to my phone, regardless of where I was. I needed to know the latest thing that someone had posted on the last topic that had upset me. It just wasn’t healthy.

On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, my daughter sang in church. She read Scripture aloud and I was moved to tears. I took a few pictures and videos and decided to end on a high note, a few days before Lent actually started. I posted those pictures and a video and signed off. In order to avoid temptation or the possibility of clicking on it by habit, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. I soon realized how much of a reflex it had become for me to type Facebook in my computer browser or go to that app.

It turns out that I really didn’t miss it. The stress of dealing with all the drama was gone. I was still aware of it because even though I wasn’t on, occasionally, I would hear about a Facebook “battle” and I could feel the wobbly feeling in my stomach that I had become so familiar with as the “someone is wrong on the internet” button was pushed. What a relief that I didn’t have to go fight that battle, that I COULDN’T go fight that battle.

What did I learn from all this? During my Facebook fast, I learned that not only has Facebook become a stressor for me, but it had also become a crutch. I realized that there were people that I interact with on Facebook and although I may run into them at a school function or something, I had absolutely no other way to get in touch with them. I didn’t have their email or a phone number. HOW ARE THEY GOING TO FIND ME TO GET ME MY GIRL SCOUT COOKIES??? (Facebook fast crisis #1: true story). There isn’t necessarily anything bad with using Facebook as the primary mode of getting in touch with someone, but the result was an unwanted DEPENDENCY on it. (Dependency on technology could be a whole post by itself).

What I really learned didn’t become apparent until Easter afternoon when I logged in again for the first time. It took me 30 minutes just to get through the news feed updates for about 1 day. I clicked on an article that someone had posted on some political or religious topic (can’t even remember what it was) and after reading a couple of sentences, I realized that if I let it, Facebook could suck my life away. Before I was done with that first login, an hour had passed…an hour I had intended to use for something else, an hour that was gone forever. What had I gained in that hour? I got to see some cute Easter pictures, which was nice. I got to get caught up on all the nice birthday wishes that people had left me. But other than that…I gained nothing. I didn’t get smarter. I didn’t become a better person, wife or mother. I didn’t learn anything new about the hot topics of the day that I hadn’t already heard by spending a few minutes listening to the news. The cute cartoons and shared pictures didn’t give me new insight into people or myself. All that happened is that I donated another hour of my life to Facebook. Dependency is the Facebook game. And Facebook is winning.

I realized then that the personal interactions I had over Lent with people far superseded anything I could get from Facebook. I learned that in order for people to feel “safe” discussing a highly charged topic on Facebook, a closed group was important. And closed groups tend to attract people who think similarly, and although valuable and interesting in some ways, also tend to create a group think atmosphere that ends up being more about my ego than a personal interaction would be.

I learned that you cannot possibly get to know someone by what they post on Facebook. We present a different persona to the “public” world than we present in our daily interactions with people. Life is glossed over and reduced to the latest accomplishment of our children, the latest vacation picture or what I had for lunch. The things that are really important to me, that really matter…my STORY can only be known from spending time with me. That time can be virtual, but it isn’t Facebook. Before you get upset, I’m not saying that the things we put on Facebook don’t matter, because when I see a picture of someone’s child and it makes me smile, that is good. It just isn’t real life. It isn’t the same as being in the same room as that child and hearing the giggle first hand and being a person that they KNOW.

At one point during the 40 day hiatus, Mark and I were talking about this and he said that Facebook is evil, and he wasn’t jesting. At first I thought that seemed over the top…but it made me think. Is it really good? Is it good that I have too easily replaced personal interaction with a computer screen? Have I judged someone or jumped to a conclusion or reduced someone to being not much more than the latest political/social stance they have taken? Have I let Facebook replace personhood with snippets of a life that may not even be real? Unfortunately, the answer to all of those questions is yes. I have done all of those things. I have done them because I confused Facebook with real life and it just isn’t so.

I am not giving up Facebook altogether, because at the end of the day, I enjoy those pictures of people’s kids, and seeing what my distant cousins are up to, and seeing what kinds of quirky posts my beautiful goofy daughters put out there. I like sharing ideas about my latest project (natural cleaning products) and Facebook is a convenient forum to do that. I like being informed about school activities and parent groups and other organizations that use Facebook pages as another avenue of communication. I like having another place for my blog to live (after all, MAYBE I’m going to start using it again). But I am limiting what shows up on my news feed. I am not going to be watching videos and reading controversial articles and digging into whatever stance my friends may be FOR or AGAINST. I’ll leave those things for real conversation. At this point, I’m not re-installing the app on my phone. I can still access Facebook through the browser on my phone when I want to, but it is just inconvenient enough, less easy to navigate that I will be more deliberate about it. I am not going to turn my email notifications back on. I just don’t need THAT much notifying and I certainly don’t need any more reason to spend more time.

Please remember that what gets posted on social media is not the whole of you, and it also isn’t the whole of anyone else. It is just a snippet, a glimpse, a piece. Real life is more than that.