DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent

I’ll be posting pictures after I make my next batch.


read, please, before you start!

A bar of soap: The Original DIY Recipe calls for Fels Naptha, or Zote, and can be found in the laundry detergent isle, often overlooked.  It is also on Amazon. This laundry soap has been around for nearly a century, and your grandmother or great grandmother probably used it long before she bought her first automatic washing machine. It works great on greasy grime, from sweat stains to motor oil. There isn’t much this bar of soap can’t get out. But one great thing about this recipe is that you can use almost any kind of bar soap you like, from Ivory to Zest…although I won’t recommend using Dove. Something about it being a moisturizing bar seems to limit its laundry washing options. Otherwise, choose away! Even soaps for sensitive skin or allergic reactions can work well (particularly Dr. Bronner’s baby castile bar soap).

20-MuleTeam Borax(SODIUM TETRABORATE DECAHYDRATE): No it’s not the same as Boric Acid, nor is it Boron, both of which people often confuse with Borax, asking “isn’t that stuff toxic?” There are plenty of sites that will provide you with the scientific breakdown of each, as well as some conflicting stuff by people who really don’t know their a@@ from their elbow (it’s obvious.  when you read their info, and follow their links, not one leads to any trustworthy source). I did a lot of research on it a few years back, and ended up choosing to try it as a particular remedy that involved ingesting small quantities on a daily basis. Basically, it’s far less toxic that table salt, and it is used in all kinds of products you already use, like make up, skin care, even in some agriculture processes, and definitely in other cleaning products. Here is the MSDS sheet on it  You can also look up Sodium Tetraborate on the NIH ToxNet website. Anyway, it, too, can be found in your laundry detergent isle. If not, you can request that your store carry it, or order it on Amazon

Washing Soda: not baking soda, washing soda. Again, found in your Laundry detergent isle or on Amazon. It’s a box that’s about the same size as the Borax, usually found in the same vicinity. It’s the Borax and Washing Soda team that seems to really do the trick in this recipe. Some people even use just the bar soap and the washing soda! (although I think the Borax is the key dirt kicker…)

You can buy all three together on Amazon, too.

Finally, if you like scented laundry detergents, then drop by a health food store or coop and buy a few Essential Oils. It can get kind of pricey if you go overboard, which I think happens when you sniff too many different EOs in too short a time period. (Surely, that can be the only explanation…). My own experience in buying EOs eventually led me to searching for other ways to make my DIY products smell nice, and led to learning how to make DIY EO, which I’ll be sharing with you soon. For now, bring along a scent sensitive friend who can slow down your frenzied EO sniffing and purchasing, and try only one or two for your first batch. You can always go back for others, later.

OPTIONAL Ingredients: I think I’ve read somewhere to avoid adding oxy-clean… I’ll look for it and report back here. Otherwise, almost anything you feel you need, including adding a small amount of your old detergent, simply because you think nothing can clean as well (tho’ I hope you’ll try this without, first) or because you prefer it’s fragrance (which are quite toxic, and harmful to those with multiple chemical sensitivities).

Most of the DIY recipes you find are for making 4-5 gallons of detergent, requiring you to find a large restaurant sized pickle bucket. While I firmly doubt you’ll ever look at another detergent after trying this, I am going to start you off with a smaller quantity, so you can get a feel for the stuff without having to make a lifetime commitment (no comments on my love life from the peanut gallery, please). You’ll still end up with a considerable amount (about 2 gallons). If you find you like it, then move on to the next phase: find that 5-gal bucket, with a lid, and double the recipe*!!

*Bonus: No wedding ring required, either.

Before starting, gather all your ingredients, and these items as well:

  • 2 gallons of water
  • a pyrex/glass liquid measuring cup (4 cup if you have it, 1cup will do) and a few non-liquid measuring cups, (the 1/3 is all you’ll need)
  • a hand-held grater or cuisinart/food processor
  • a good spatula
  • a good wooden spoon (the spatula can do double duty instead, if it can handle hot temps)
  • a good hand whisk, or hand-held beater, or a blender, or an electric drill with the paint mixing spatula on (all, but the hand whisk, are optional, although any one of them will create a preferred end product).
  • and several wide-mouthed containers, enough to hold up to 2 gallons of laundry detergent.

1) To start, grate 1/3 of your bar of Fels Naptha  (or about 1/2 of your regular soap. If you do not have a hand grater or zester, you can cut the portion of soap into small bits and toss it in your food processor and pulse it until you have a finely granulated portion that equals 1/3 cup of Fels (1/2 other soap). I usually grate the whole bar, putting what I don’t use in a ziploc baggie, ready for the next time I need to make a batch).

2) Next, bring 8 cups of water to boil in your largest spaghetti pot (it should hold up to 16 cups, or 2 gallons, of water total). Once it has started to boil, turn the heat to medium. Sprinkle in the soap. You will need to stay close and pay attention! The goal is to melt the soap, which takes a bit of patience. Turning up the heat to make it go faster is not a good idea, as it will likely bubble up and over before you know it. It will only take about 10 minutes. You want it to have very small bubbles around the edges of the pot, as in simmering a soup.

3) While you’re keeping tabs on the pot, pre-measure and set aside 1/3 cup of Borax and 1/3 cup Washing Soda. Then, stir the pot from time to time, scraping down any that starts to creep up the sides.

4) Once the soap melts, the liquid will be slightly thicker, and that’s your cue to turn off the heat and add the Borax, stirring well, and often for the next few minutes. When it appears the Borax has dissolved completely…

5) add the Washing Soda, and do the same. The liquid is getting thicker by now, so it’s time to

6) add the rest of your water, between 6-8 cups, depending on how thick you want the final product, and to finalize the stirring, being sure all your ingredients are melted and dissolved.

7) Take your mixture off the heat, but leave it on the stove for now. Come back in about an hour, or use the time to put everything you’ve used away, or read something else on my blog (you are forewarned: we may not agree on things. We can enjoy each other’s company without agreeing on all things, can’t we?).

8) Now comes the fun part!! When you come back you’ll notice a layer of jello-like stuff in your pot. Poke through and there will probably be a bunch of liquid below. If you were away a lot longer, it may be almost completely gelatinous at this point! No worries! At this point you already have a perfect laundry soap; all that matters is its texture or consistency. It will work great no matter what happens.

Regardless of it’s condition, you can choose to give it a final whipping with a hand whisk and be done, or take the time to whip it in the blender (or with your paint whip on a drill, or hand held mixer). As for me, I prefer the blender option, and I like to do this when there is a minimal “jello crust”, while there is plenty of warm –not too hot to touch–liquid underneath. First, I give the mixture a good hand whisking. The end result of that is that it looks like the kind of pile of gloppy goo that boys would love having a discussion over, but not good for discussion here. Just consider it gross looking, and be glad if you don’t have a cold.

9) That’s when I start pouring batches into my blender and really whipping it, on the highest setting, till it lightens and starts take on a frosting-like texture. I prefer mine this way. It’s easy to scoop with a tablespoon (which is the amount to use for an average load!), and to spot treat, using a child’s wetted soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub into stains before laundering. However, if you want a real liquid laundry soap, add more water to the blender, whip again. Continue to do this (remove some if it becomes too full, add what you take out back into the pot) until you reach the right liquid consistency for you. A real liquid-y laundry soap may need about a 1/4 to a 1/3 cup per load of laundry in the end. As each batch reaches it’s final whipping

10) add your EO fragrance, then pour into the appropriate storage containers. Keep one near the washer and store the others.

One last note: as a liquid it will still tend to separate, forming a layer of gel on top. Just give your laundry soap a good shaking prior to using. The heavier paste style I’ve made never separated.

So, remember: no matter what it looks like in the end, it will work. Add fragrances last, so that the heat doesn’t cause it to dissipate before you ever get to use it!

Total time: about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs max.

To use: a thick laundry soap will use about 1 TBSP per load.

A very liquid-y laundry soap will use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 cup.

This stuff is an excellent pre-treatment, too!

It works in ALL TEMPERATURES, and in ALL MACHINES, including HE machines*!

*A special note to HE machine users: I don’t own one, but on every site that I’ve found with DIY laundry soap recipes, the question arose in the comment section, by at least one HE owner, of manufacturer’s rules and requirement to use only special and expensive HE detergents. The responses were 100% in agreement: the DIY laundry soap never caused any problems. And a few HE owners even mentioned the thievery of plumbers who are making a fortune coming out to fix their machines that no longer drain well, and learning that the real problem was a clogged filter–clogged with debris from laundry, regardless of detergents used. So, check your filters. Apparently this, too, can be a challenge, as the directions, let alone the actual filter, are not easily found. Good luck. Use the recipe at your own discretion.

If you have a great project or DIY recipe, I would love to learn about it, and any other money-saving and earth-friendly DIY projects or recipes that you have, or improvements to any that I post. Please let me know if I can share them, once I’ve tried them out myself!

****please note: questions asked, that are discussed within the article or recipe, may only receive a short, to-the-point response informing you that what you seek has already been answered, for example, “question answered in the article/recipe. Please read it again.”  Thank you for understanding that taking time to repeat the same information many times, to many individuals, can take up precious time spent doing other things I love to do.

Your considerate comments are welcomed!


The Arrests on Inauguration Day and the pride of Vermont, Ms Shela Linton

I read a wonderful article on a blog today, the Vermont Political Observer, entitled, A passel o’ peevishness on Inauguration Day (Part One) written by John Walters, in response to yesterday’s protest at the Vermont Statehouse.  The action, organized by the Vermont Workers’ Center, was a direct result to Gov Shumlin’s recent announcement that he would no longer be working to formulate a budget plan to support Act 48 –the law passed in 2011. This law made VT the first State to declare that Health Care is a Human Right, and as such will be publicly financed, and made available to all VT residents beginning in 2017. (In fact, it was the cornerstone of Mr. Shumlin’s promise to us that garnered our support, and got him elected.) The only point in this article, however, with which I disagree, is in his assessment of Ms. Shela Linton, the Field Organizer for VWC for Windham County, saying she should receive his “whiny award”.

What he did not realize –because the cameras did not capture softer spoken words of police to her, and details hidden, but seen by others to each side of her– is that the police began to apply their “motivate-with-pain” techniques within moments of their request for her to leave. Other passive-resistant arrestees (those who went limp) did not have their arms jacked up behind their backs, while their wrists were also being twisted in an opposite direction, to a pain-inducing degree. While Ms. Linton was still seated, an officer was beginning to apply this “motivation”, yanking her arm, bent at the elbow, upwards, and slightly into her body (which causes the arrestee to lean forward slightly, to force compliance) she stated, three times, and calmly, “you’re hurting me”. The officer then said something to the affect of “I’ll stop when you behave”. They proceeded then to haul her upright, and continued to apply even more pain inducement, which, as seen in the video, caused her to crumple to the ground. All the way to the processing room, they continued using the arm and wrist pain-technique; this was unwarranted and abusive. And it led to her need of emergency medical care.

The other woman of color in the sit-in circle, on whom less than professional and painful tactics were used, was also the only person to be placed in handcuffs, despite the fact that she had remained passive.  And, another person of color, there to support the sit-in protesters, was also handled, without cause, by a Statehouse officer, who then tried to deny his actions when the man protested having hands placed on him; except there was a witness, who spoke up and described to the officer exactly how he had placed his hands on the gentleman in an attempt to control the man’s movement while questioning him.

As for the arrestees, however, not a single other passive-resistant protester was “encouraged to comply” with the use of cuffs or with applied pain. The white arrestees were allowed or assisted to stand, or carried like a swing by the arms and feet, or simply dragged part way until another officer caught up to pick up the arrestee’s legs. Simply denying such discriminatory behavior–intended or not– does not erase the fact that it happened. And it won’t end until it is first acknowledged.

Remember, too, that this was an action of non-violent Civil Disobedience; all members who risked arrest had to agree to be peaceful, and non-combative during any potential arrest before being allowed to participate. In fact, this request was brought up to the group of protesters again, just prior to the start of the arrests, and all the members of the group reaffirmed their commitment to non-violent conduct if arrested. Even later, during the processing of arrestees, as one gentleman was expressing himself with more aggressive language, he managed to calm his expressive demeanor, when reminded by another arrestee in the room that his conduct represented everyone involved.

The proper way to remove a non-combative, but passive-resistant protester, in such a way as to minimize harm to both protester and officer, is thus: two officers stand side by side and in front of the arrestee; in concert they bend at the knee -in order to use leg muscles rather than strain back muscles- the officers loop his/her arm that is closest to the arrestee, under the arrestee’s armpit. Each officer uses bicep, shoulder and leg strength to lift the protester. The protester is then easily and safely be dragged backwards, without causing pain and minimizing potential injury. I saw this used many times during my time with the Occupy protest encampment on Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC (a good example here. Start at the 5:10 mark).

It is unfathomable to think that our own Vermont police ranks have not been taught this method. It seems they were aware of it, and were capable of implementing it with other, even larger sized, but white, protesters, as seen in contrast with the two videos here.

I know that, years ago, VT police were made aware of no-pain methods of removing protesters. I know this because, in the beginning of my own NVCD activism in which I risked arrest (and subsequently was), the resultant outcry over the abusive use of pain-inducing methods led to then-Governor, Madeleine Kunin publicly demanding that all non-combative protestors be arrested without the use of force. Further, she demanded that all police troops immediately be trained in non-pain inducing techniques to remove non-combative, non-violent civil disobedience protesters.

So I have to wonder: Why, in the face of such historical knowledge, did the police opt to use pain –and actual harm–in this instance? And why, specifically, were these methods used on the only protester whose skin coloring is darker than the greater numbers of obvious Caucasian NVCD protesters? The behaviors of the officers involved just stinks of outright racism, and must be addressed immediately. We are Vermonters, after all. We are better than that, and our police forces should reflect the highest kind and quality of non-discriminatory character that we strive for in this state. (Yes, I am sticking my Vermonter nose upwards, with obvious pride for my home state.)

Another unknown thing is how the police behaved after Ms Linton was loaded into the ambulance, crying, and cradling her arm.  When I asked to go with her, or to have another person close to her go with her in the ambulance (her own daughter, perhaps?), the police responded rudely, with a forceful, “No!” A crowd of released arrestees began to gather behind the parked ambulance, demanding that a person with close, personal ties to Ms. Linton, be allowed to ride in the ambulance with her. Suddenly, about a dozen other officers rushed out of the building, obviously prepared to engage with us in a perhaps not-so kindly manner.

Thanks to the quick thinking of Kate Kanelstein, another VWC organizer, who announced that she was being allowed to ride in the ambulance with Ms. Linton –after getting easy permission from the ambulance driver instead of the police– the crowd drew back. However, in some final angry verbal exchanges between police and protesters, one officer loudly proclaimed that “None of this would have happened if you’d just behaved yourselves and never showed up here in the first place.”

Uh, excuuuuuussse me?? Please tell me our police have, at the very least, a basic understanding of the US Constitution, and are aware of the fact that NVCD is one of the very highest forms of civic duty a citizen can, and should commit, to address, and change, the wrongs we see committed by our Government. And, ultimately, it is their duty to protect the citizens so that they may do so. (If they are not there to protect us, then what, really, are they for?)

For now, Ms. Linton, who was recently recognized as a “Women of the Year” in Glamour magazine, for being one of “50 Phenomenal Women of the Year Who Are Making a Difference”, is recovering, with her arm in a sling as a result of the injury inflicted on her.  I have no doubt that she will continue her work, fighting for Justice and the Rights for all people, but especially for the people of Vermont, regardless of race, religion, orientation, ability or social status. She is just that kind of woman. She is just that kind of Human Being.

The media is most certainly likely to “spin” the story in various ways –undoubtedly, mostly negative–but I hope and pray that her efforts, as well as the efforts of the members and activists of the VT Workers’ Center, will meet with the successful end for which this action was intended: getting our legislature to have a public discussions on the different financial formulas that can, and will, support the implementation of Act 48, Health Care For All, starting in 2017.

And as for Ms. Linton herself, Vermonters should just be damn proud to claim a woman of her caliber –strong, outspoken, passionate, open-minded, intelligent, kind, and, oh ya, black— as one of our own. She is an amazing representative of Vermont’s tenacity, courage, and leadership in choosing to do what is best for all people, no matter how difficult the presented challenges may be. Personally, I am honored to call her “friend”.

John Walters’ article, by the way, concluded with what I felt was a sign of hope for the Act 48 activists of the Vermont Workers’ Center, and Shela Linton. It was with a quote from the Speaker of the House, Shep Smith, and with who’s words I, too, shall conclude:

“I think this was an incredible example of the openness of our democracy,” he said. “In the people’s house, people are allowed to petition, and I would expect that over the coming weeks, we’ll talk with people about setting up hearings.” [emphasis added, mine]

Now I think I’ll go back to that blog, to read Part 2.

Special thanks to:

The Commons Independent, Non-Profit Source of News and Views from Windham County, Vermont Image by Shanta L.E. Crowley/Courtesy photo, featured on The Comons Online

other referenced links:

Seven Days Vermont’s Independent Voice:

For more information about the work being done by The Vermont Workers’ Center, and to learn how you can help, please go to:  Your tax-deductible contributions are appreciated, too!

Your considerate responses are most welcome, and appreciated.

How A Welfare Queen Saves Money: DIY Recipes

How A Welfare Queen Saves Money: DIY Recipes

DIY Recipes Listed After my Rant...

If you have been reading my blog, then you know I am one of “those” people. You know, the one that the GOP and Faux News (aka, Fox News) like to lay the blame on for everything that is wrong in this country, who is described as a lazy, good-for-nothing-user, living a decadent life of luxury off the lap of government hand-outs– that are funded with your hard earned tax dollars. This us the kind of person who likely smokes pot all day, uses, or sells drugs (probably both). To make it worse, the drugs are bought with foodstamps! …All so that her kids can wear made-by-child-labor, X brand name sneakers; she is a lowly, reprehensible person who can’t even be bothered to try working for a living. Yes, it is the dreaded welfare queen. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am the kind of person that is often judged in this way, but that it is simply not the Truth!

When I decided to start a blog, I knew that I would be writing about my Activist work as well as offering insight to life as a single parent, and life as a person with disabilities. I also knew that if I wanted my insight to have any credibility, I would have admit that I’ve gained these perspectives because I receive a number of public supports that are funded by taxes, such as foodstamps and section 8 rental assistance. I hate admitting it because it is cannon fodder–I am immediately judged to be one of the aforementioned “welfare queens”, or subjected to the debasing, simpering look of pity–I have to fight the urge to give a disgusted roll my eyes and sneer at the latter, and grit my teeth against the urge to kick the prior. Life happens. Plain and simple. I would much rather the judgemental attitudes and looks of pity were saved for someone who deserves such a lack of respect, and be dealt with in the present, on equal footing, as a human being. I will point out the challenges faced from my part of the world, not for pity or loathing, but for understanding, by clarifying things with the Truth. If you can’t respect that, please don’t bother reading any further. Continue reading