Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Saving Green

A while ago, my cousin and I decided to start a little group on Facebook called "Saving Green."  I was very interested in trying to save money and the planet by making my own detergents and using household items such as vinegar and baking soda to do so.

I became ill and was not really able to either experiment or participate in the group that much.  I did try to make my own laundry detergent... and failed miserably.  I was using a recipe that included Fels-Naptha.  I had been using Tide With Bleach.  First of all, Fels-Naptha stinks.  The first batch looked okay.  I used it the next morning.  My oldest son had to come home and change his clothing because his skin was so irritated.  Damn.  Another cousin suggested I cut the Fel-Naptha portion down a bit.  What was I going to do with all of that detergent I had just made?!  Pour it out?  I mean, I couldn't use it.  I poured it out.

I made a smaller batch with the Fels-Naptha amount cut in half.  Thinking I would do a true experiment, I did a load of my kid's clothing in the Tide.  The next week I did a load with my new mixture.  Almost immediately my son had to again strip down because his skin was inflamed. I felt terrible for him.  So, I ditched all homemade detergents and went back to Tide.

About three months ago, I dug up our old group on Facebook.  I really did want to see if I could possibly make detergents on my own.  I am now unable to work and saving money is key.  I did some researching and in speaking to my co-founding cousin, I was happy to learn that I did not have to use Fels-Naptha... I could use ANY soap, really.

So I made a new batch, following her recipe.  Not only was it quicker, but I had so much fun making it.  I felt like a mad scientist!    Now, the real test:  would my son react to it?

Not at all.  In fact, he commented that he liked the aroma.  I liked that.  I loved how CLEAN the laundry smelled.  Not like mangos, or "clean cotton"... just  clean.  And clean they were!

My husband was very skeptical.   He would laugh at my enthusiasm. He wasn't sure that it truly could work.  I never say I Told You So to him, but I know he's impressed.  I get a lot of joy in that (okay, so I don't say I Told You So to him out loud... sue me).  All I know is I'll never buy another bottle of detergent again as long as I live, and he likes that.  I will, however, choose a different bar of soap.  I think using a deodorant soap (I chose a white bar of Dial because I love the scent... even thought you can't smell it in the clothing) is not a great idea.  Next time, I'll try something a bit milder.  Ivory?  Not sure.

Then, I thought about making dishwasher detergent.  My co-founding cousin excitedly shared her recipe.  I tried it and with some tweaking and experimenting, I have the PERFECT mix:

  • 1 cup washing soda (NOT BAKING SODA!)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup (Depending on the softness of your water) Kosher salt
  • 2 packages of UNSWEETENED LEMON Kool-Aid (Do NOT use any other flavor.  They will stain your dishwasher and your dishes.  It's the Citric Acid you want).
That's it!  You can double or triple the recipe and keep in a tightly-closed container.  

Now, a few observations:

1.  When I first used this, I had not added the Kosher salt.  My dishes came out very spotty.  After adding the salt, I still had some areas of spottiness.  The magic trick? Put straight white vinegar into your rinse cup!   My glasses... dishes... everything:  So clean!  I mean CRYSTAL clear clean.  My husband, the skeptic, even noted how truly clean they were!

2.  Sounds silly, but clean your dishwasher out at least one a month.  Take out all dishes.  Look inside.  See any debris near the drain?  Take it out.  I take a trussing needle and clean out the holes in the water dispensers.  You'd be surprised at what you get out!  Put some straight baking soda into the dispenser with one packet of lemon unsweetened Kool-Aid (Look for sales!  I recently saw a "10 for a dollar" sale and bought the supply out!) and some vinegar into the rinse dispenser.  Run.  Amazing how well it cleans it out... and even more amazing how much better your washer will clean when it is clean!  The dishwasher SMELLS so CLEAN, because it is clean!

Again, I'll never buy commercial dishwasher detergent ever again.

Now, if I can just find a good liquid dish-washing liquid recipe... 

I have created a 'sister' site for Saving Green:   The Saving Green Message Board  Feel free to join us!


  1. Please explain what washing soda is....i saw somewhere (the SG FB page?) that it's any type of bicarb of soda. No packaging I've found says "washing soda" on it, though.

    Oh - and I remember when Kool-Aid was 10 for $1 when it *wasn't* on sale....i'm old! :)

  2. I like the smell of Fels-Naptha, but we don't the serious allergies that you guys have. It works like a little miracle. I got chocolate syrup from the Outback's Chocolate Thunder Down-Under dessert on an ivory(!) fleece jacket and my MIL gave me Fels to use on it. Gone! So easily, and in only a very few minutes of scrubbing.


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