Posts Tagged ‘cost savers’
Posted on July 28, 2010 - by Ella
Have you ever thought about making your own laundry detergent?
Chances are, this is something your grandmother or great-grandmother did almost as a matter of course, but today, we rely quite heavily on commercial detergents to clean our clothes.
The problem is, those detergents can be expensive, and they can be hard on your clothes and your machine. And while many of these laundry detergents certainly do a good job, they also have a lot of additives and visual brighteners that can be a polluting to the environment and can leave residue on our clothes, too. This can lead to allergic reactions that are very uncomfortable.
Fortunately, there’s a way around that. I’m going to show you how to make your own laundry detergent, and best of all, you can make it for literally pennies a load. No more dashing out to the store at the last minute because you forgot to buy detergent. Simply stock up on a few ingredients that you can keep on hand all the time (and feel free to buy them in bulk, too, since they don’t go bad), and make your own detergent as you go.
The following recipe will get your clothes clean and soft; this recipe makes about 5 gallons of detergent, and you will want to use a half a cup per load on average.
1 cup borax (found at most grocery stores in the laundry detergent aisle)
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup washing soda (again, found at most grocery stores in the laundry detergent aisle)
1 4.5 to 5-ounce bar of bath soap, grated (can use anything that doesn’t have lotion in it, so avoid soaps like Dove; I personally like to use Ivory)
1/2 bar of Fels Naptha soap, grated (again, found in most grocery stores in the laundry detergent aisle)
Tools You’ll Need
Besides the above ingredients (and a grater), you’ll also need the following tools:
- A large saucepan (enough to hold 2 quarts of water and the dry ingredients above)
- Wooden spoon for stirring
- Large bucket, enough to hold 5 gallons of water plus dry ingredients
- 5 gallons of water and containers to store liquid detergent once made. (I use clean empty gallon sized vinegar bottles, because they’re made of sturdy plastic and can be used over and over again.)
In a large saucepan on top of the stove, combine all of the dry ingredients listed above (borax, baking soda, washing soda, and grated bath and Fels Naptha soaps) and add 2 quarts of water. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon over low heat until soaps, sodas and borax are completely dissolved.
Pour the contents of the saucepan into a large bucket and add enough water to make 5 gallons, stirring continuously as you do so. (Using warm water as you add it will make sure nothing separates as you dilute the detergent.)
Once everything is stirred together, you have 5 gallons of gentle, non-sudsing detergent. Portion it into your clean gallon containers, using a funnel if necessary. For a load of detergent, briefly shake the bottle and add half a cup to a load, pre-spotting with the detergent if necessary.
One interesting thing about this detergent is that it does NOT produce suds, so don’t expect to look in your washing machine and see a lot of soapy foam as you might otherwise expect to. Don’t worry about that; your clothes will still get clean and soft, and you probably won’t even need to use fabric softener.
The cost of this detergent is significantly less than commercial detergents, but you’ll notice that your clothes are clean and soft. In fact, you can expect to be spending about two cents a load on these ingredients, as compared to $.10 to $.15 per load for commercial detergents. That’s a significant savings versus commercial detergents, isn’t it?
In addition, the above ingredients are all natural and relatively nonpolluting, which means that you’re helping the environment by making your own detergent, too. And because you can stock up these ingredients in relatively little space, you can buy your detergent in bulk without having to have a lot of space to store it. Simply make a new batch of detergent whenever you need it!
Finally, you may notice that your machine gets a little bit of a soap residue coating on its interior after several months of using this detergent. That’s not something to worry about, and it happens just because this detergent doesn’t have the additives other detergents do. If you do notice that this is happening, simply add a half a cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle; this will take care of any soapy residue you might see and will keep it from building up; it’s also good for your clothes, for further cleaning and color retention.
Posted on July 8, 2010 - by admin
Almost anyone who owns a variety of clothes has seen that pesky little “Dry Clean Only” tag on at least a few of them. Not only is dry cleaning confusing but it can also be expensive. A great question is what, exactly, makes these items of clothing so special? Having to dry clean a cashmere coat or a pea coat makes sense but what about those random shirts that say “Dry Clean Only?” Handing those over to professionals may seem a little ridiculous.
Anyone who dry cleans can tell you that they’ve forgotten to pick their clothes up at least once or, sometimes worse, they’ve forgotten to drop their dry cleaning off at all, though they were absolutely sure that they had. This is why, if clothing requires dry cleaning before a big date, it’s always a good idea to do so a week in advance and set reminders so the dry cleaning isn’t forgotten either at the store or at home.
While separating clothes and making a special trip just for them to be cleaned may seem unnecessary and annoying, the truth is that some clothes just cannot be washed at home. Some people just go, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and pop their clothes right in the washer or, worse, the dryer. The washer isn’t so bad, especially if the load of clothing is washed with cold water, but by putting the load of laundry into the dryer, dry-clean-only clothes are pretty much guaranteed to never fit again. However, if there are children in the household, their stuffed animals will surely enjoy the new coats and shirts that have shrunk so far below their original size to actually be able to fit onto teddy bears.
Despite this cautionary tale, some things that say “Dry Clean Only” just don’t need to be dry cleaned. A great tip to follow, if unsure, is the one year rule. This rule states that one should follow the instructions on the tag for a year and, after that year, to try select items of clothing, preferably those that are neither silk, cashmere, or wool, with a normal household treatment of washing and drying like any other clothing item.
Identifying What NEEDS to be Dry Cleaned
Figuring out which clothes need dry cleaning is extremely simple. After all, they do put tags on clothing for a reason and clothing that requires dry cleaning is generally marked with a nice, big, bold “DRY CLEAN ONLY.” However, a lot of people don’t like tags and in a fit of frustration rip or cut the tag off. While this would not normally be a problem, having something that requires dry cleaning would definitely make the situation far more problematic than it would have been on a normal light sweater. If the tag is removed, make sure to save it until the instructions can be written down on an index card. This way all of the important information on the tag is saved even though it’s off of the clothes. Make sure to store the index cards that no doubt slowly pile up somewhere easy to remember.
Some things, like suits and clothing items made out of silk, will almost always require dry cleaning. However, with suits, it is not always necessary to wash them after each use. Simply hang up the suits to air out and, after a few hours in a well ventilated room, check to see if the suit jackets have any odors or stains and put aside the items that need to go to get dry cleaning immediately.
It’s no secret that dry cleaning can definitely take up a good deal of money if it’s required fairly regularly. However, there are a few items that are fairly cheap that can help save the trip that it would take to the dry cleaners. A lint roller is a suit or pea coat owner’s best friend as running the roller over the clothing will help to remove lint and other bits that get stuck on throughout the day. A refresher spray can help with any odor that may exist and the clothes should be hung in an open room for several hours after being applied. If the articles of clothing don’t pass muster after that, they probably need to go in for dry cleaning.
Even though some people may view dry cleaning as a hassle in the end, it’s really not. After all, most dry cleaners allow pick up and drop off at their door and some even have a delivery service. Finding a dry cleaner on the way to work or school really isn’t that difficult as there are a good number of dry cleaning services that locate themselves in busy areas intentionally which makes them easy to get to.
What ARE They Doing At The Dry Cleaners?
The process of dry cleaning is actually fairly interesting to learn about. The machine that is used for dry cleaning is kind of like a combination of the washer and dryer that is easily found in any house.
First the garments are checked for anything loose like pens and paper as both will dissolve upon meeting the solvent. Next, they are checked for specific things like the color, stains, and anything like fasteners which require additional protection from the process.
The load of clothing is placed within a basket, or drum, at the core of the machine and solvent is placed in the outer shell which rotates around the core. After a normal cycle, the machine then begins the extraction process which is designed to remove the solvent from the clothing by the machine spinning the load of clothing at 350 to 450 rpm, or rotations per minute. After all of the solvent is out, the machine starts a drying cycle.
During this cycle the clothing is tumbled within a stream of air around 145 degrees Fahrenheit which removes any traces of the solvent that are still left over.
Finally, after the drying cycle is finished, a deodorizing, or aeration, cycle begins which takes out the last bit of solvent and after this cycle the garments are ready for finishing.
While this may seem easy to do and may make dry cleaning seem like a waste, the fact remains that dry cleaners have access to cleaning supplies and machines that other people just don’t have. There are items of clothing that need dry cleaning and this cannot be changed and there is not a way around it.