Friday, August 23, 2013

Soap Recipes Reviewed

So this week was the week for soap. I ran out of both laundry soap and dish soap at almost the same time. I'm always interested in trying new, cheaper options for such things, and I thought it high time I actually attempt the laundry and dish soap deal, since everybody seems to rave about it so much!

Sadly, I have no pictures of either soap being made. You'll just have to use your little imaginations this time!

Dish Soap
Pros and Cons?

Yes, the soap gets sudsy.

Yes, it smells fabulous (lemon & eucalyptus, people!).

No, it doesn't leave any streaky, sticky, or smelly residue like I've read so many people complain about with homemade dish soap.

No, it doesn't dry out my hands, which is important when you hand wash all of your dishes!

Sounds great, right? Well, so far so good but I do have a few issues with it.

First off I used most of a bar of castile soap, and the whole batch didn't even fill my little built in soap dispenser bottle. In fact, I think it was just below the halfway mark. So that was a little lame, considering I can get 25oz of natural dish soap by EarthFriendly for about $3. And I'm pretty sure I fill that little bottle twice with the 25oz? The worst part was how firmly it set up though. I knew it would gel, but this was ridiculous. It clogged my dispenser so badly I thought it was broken. Incidentally, the same amount of castile soap can be used to make 5 full gallons of laundry soap. So... wasteful? Big yes. I don't think dish soap needs to be that concentrated.

However, if you're in a pinch like I was and are out of dish soap, and would have to wait for days to have the kind you like shipped to you (because you live in a small town and nobody carries a good, natural dish soap), this is a life-saver. So here is the recipe I used, in case you need your life saved like I did. Maybe try adding more water than the original recipe called for and you'll partially ameliorate the problems I had with it (too thick, and didn't make enough for the quantity of soap used).

Homemade Dish Soap

1/2 cup lightly packed grated castile soap
1 1/4 cups water (I would try adding another 1/2-1 cup)
1 tbsp glycerine
1 tbsp washing soda
10-30 drops essential oils of choice, optional

Grate castile soap while you bring the water to a boil on the stove. Add soap to water and continue to lightly boil, stirring, until soap disolves. Remove from stove. Add washing soda, stir well. Add desired essential oils. Pour into repurposed containers and allow it to cool completely. Check consistency; if too thick add hot water and shake vigorously. If too thin, try reheating and adding some more washing soda.

Laundry Soap
My intent with the laundry soap was to make the 5 gallons of liquid soap I kept reading about. A friend from church even gave me the borax and washing soda I would need, so I wouldn't have to buy two full boxes for a measly little cupful! Sweetness! But when I went to make said soap, I discovered that I did not, in fact, have a 5 gallon bucket with a lid to store it in. PROBLEMATIC! Where else could I store 5 gallons of soap? Um...? Nowhere, really. So I decided to try powdered laundry soap this time round! It requires most of the same ingredients, and instead of using a cup per load like with the liquid, you use a tablespoon per load. So far I have to say I'm very pleased with the results. Our clothes are coming out fresh and clean and soft. I used Dr. Bronner's Lavender Castile soap bar, and I love the very mild scent it leaves on our clothes. It's so mild in fact, you really have to stick your face in the warm laundry to smell it.

As the laundry cools down, the scent fades -- this is a good thing as I doubt David would be excited to go around smelling very strongly of lavender all the time! So yes, mildly scented. So much better than a lot of store brands that smell so strong you're sure your brain is being deprived of oxygen just wearing the clothes washed in the junk! The recipe I used makes enough for 32-64 loads depending on how much you use each load, which for us will last us anywhere from 3-6 months. The liquid version would yield around 80 loads, so it is more cost effective and I will be trying it next time. But since I don't have the container/space to store 5 gallons of detergent right now, this seemed like a good alternative! I only wonder, if it contains the same quantity of all the same ingredients except for water, couldn't I probably use less than a tablespoon of the powder, and get the same results I would see with the liquid, without having to store 5 gallons? What do you think? 

The recipe I used follows:

Powdered Laundry Soap

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar fels-naptha or castile soap, grated

Grate soap. Combine borax and washing soda. Mix all three ingredients together and store in a quart jar or other container.