Wednesday, April 21, 2010

cooking up some cleanliness

[I wrote this post yesterday, but then I hadn't uploaded my (wonderfully crappy) pictures, so I waited to post. I have done my second load of laundry. Clothes look clean and are soft.]

Okay, so there wasn't actually any cooking involved in this recipe.

I've finally made it through the end of my bulk laundry detergent. We have been using Kirkland eco-friendly (or "eco-friendly"...I never know how much to believe that products like cleaners are eco-friendly) laundry soap and it has taken us forever to get through it. I can't even remember how many months ago I found the detergent recipe I wanted to try out (five? six?), but I've finally gotten around to it. First off, shredding a block of soap is somewhat akin to shredding a block of frozen cheddar cheese.

The detergent didn't come out exactly as I thought it would. The shredded soap didn't mix with the powdered ingredients the way I thought it would (based on the pictures from the recipe I was using). I stirred the soap for about fifteen minutes. Then, after I put the soap in an old, glass, pickle jar, I shook it up some. I can't tell if mine just looks different because the soap I used is something of a bright yellow color. I used the Fels-Naphta*, one of the suggested soaps. Next time I'll probably just use the soap we have on hand, but I get very nervous about playing around with a recipe on my first attempt. I'll just shake my jar before measuring out each load's worth of soap.

Anyhow, I've done exactly one load of laundry with this soap (and I'm about to do another). I can't tell if our clothes are cleaner or not. I've never taken my clothes from the washing machine and thought, "Wow, my clothes are dirty." My clothes have always at least looked clean. Without access to some kind of a laboratory, I'm not sure how I'd be sure how clean different soaps are making our clothes. I do know, though, that our clothes are so much softer than they were before. The only change I made was the soap.

And, because the world seems to revolve around me (I jest), I found an article, "Do-It-Yourself Laundry Detergent", on Yahoo! just this morning. This article linked to another article, "The Great American Soap Overdose", in the Wall Street Journal. I love that the WSJ article ends on that throw-away line from the Seventh Generation co-founder, Jeffrey Hollender, about not even needing soap most of the time. Could he be a bit more specific? (Neither of the authors were specific enough for me regarding this issue.) And, I wonder how others in his business, including in his own company, respond to statements like that. Are they all kicking him, or wanting to, in hopes that he'll keep quiet about stuff like that?

I also once read that to test if you are using too much detergent, you can run some loads of towels through the washing machine. Throw your towels in, add no detergent, and check at some point (sorry, I can't remember exactly when...when the basin is full of water?) to see if there are suds. If you see suds, you know that you use too much detergent in your wash. The person who suggested this experiment claimed that most people who do this have to do this rinsing seven or eight times to get the soap out. I am carefully measuring my new detergent.


* I was somewhat nervous about using the Fels-Naphtha because of others' concerns (this is just one bit of reading I did). (Also, it's got "naphta" in it's name. I wonder where that originated?) I think next time, I'll use an olive oil soap, as suggested in the comments on that linked post. I just saw some at a nearby grocery store. We'll see how this goes for now.

Also, I cut off part of the soap bar, considering the recipe calls for 4.5 ounces of soap and the bar was 5.5 ounces. We have a kitchen scale and I used that to weigh the soap.

I held the soap by the wrapper while I was shredding it. Also, a while back, I bought a shredder at Goodwill to use only for shredding soap. I use an old coffee scoop for measuring out my soap. I made sure that the scoop measured one tablespoon.


Happy Earth Day tomorrow!