Dirty Laundry. Tips, Tricks, and My Recipes for Home made Laundry Soap

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I've been getting my guest room ready for company this weekend which reminded me to tell you a couple of things that I've learned about laundry.

First, I make my own laundry soap and use it on everything except my sheets and table linens (more on this topic below). There are several ways to make it. I've tried a few and found that the recipes are all basically the same. Here are my recipes
1) Laundry Powder:
Pluses:  Easier to store, takes up less room.
Minuses: I have to mix it with hot water prior to pouring it into the machine.
Directions: I have a front-loading, HE machine and I use about two tablespoons per load (1/4 cup if the clothes are really filthy). I add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle for whites to keep them bright. 
12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda (no, they are NOT "the same")
4 cups grated Zote Soap (or Ivory if you have sensitive skin. I happen to like pink and don't have particularly sensitive skin. You should use what you feel comfortable with.)
4 cups grated Fels Naptha Soap (There are mixed reviews on this product. I've read their website and am comfortable using the reformulated version that they now produce. Again, do what you feel comfortable doing and I'd omit this if you have really sensitive skin).
* You can also add 10 drops of essential oil to this if you like. I don't because I live in a house full of men and I feel that the fragrance from the Zote and Fels is enough. If you do use oil, mix it in and allow 24 hours for the oil to be absorbed before using it and omit it if you have sensitive skin.

For gym clothes, sports clothes and the clothes that I wear in the garden, I use the below. I keep a small container on hand. It can also be made into a paste for treating stains on whites.
Recipe: ( I wouldn't use this if you have really sensitive skin)
2 cups Fels Naptha, grated
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Oxy Clean

In both cases, mix with about a cup of really hot water, stir until dissolved, and pour into the machine. In order for the grated soap to dissolve, the water has to be really hot.  If you have several loads to do, boil a couple of cups of water, put it into a big measuring cup and add soap powder per the above. Then, you can just pour in as needed.

2) Liquid Laundry Soap:
Actually more like a gel. In order to do this, you need to "cook" the ingredients. Here's how it's done.
Boil 1 quart of water for every 2 cups of grated soap, (In my case, that's 1 gallon of water.) add  grated soap, and stir until melted. I do this in my Grandma's enamel kettle. Once the grated soap has melted, add the powdered ingredients and stir well. Cover and let stand for 24 hours. Pour into a container with a spout. Shake or stir prior to every use. I use about 1/4 cup per load.

Sheets and Table Linens:
For them, I use only this:
It's glorious! It works in my HE machine using cold water and about a tablespoon and a half of the liquid per load. It rinses clean, leaves everything smelling wonderful for almost a week and in the nearly ten years that I've been using it, I've never had a stain or spot on any of my linens (including Thanksgiving tablecloths and napkins) that it didn't remove!  

Last on my list of "laundry obsessions" is ironed sheets. Yes, I know, I'm nuts. I grew up with a grandmother who taught us to iron by "allowing" us to press cotton hankies, my grandfather's t-shirts, boxers and, when we got "good at it", embroidered cotton pillow cases.  To this day, there's nothing quite like the feel of freshly ironed, 100% cotton, sheets.  Pressed sheets is something that I've always done for myself. It was a chore, but I still did it.  Until a year ago when I "met" The Pioneer Woman, Rhee.  She lives on a ranch. She writes a blog. She often changes up to TEN beds a week. She taught me something that changed my life. I now refer to it as "PW-ing" my sheets. 

First, you need a good mattress pad so that none of the moisture from the sheets reaches your mattress. Wash the sheets, rinse them and spin until they are almost dry (You can also do this by putting them in the dryer for just a few minutes). The key is that you put them on the bed DAMP.  First  the fitted sheet. Pull and smooth it with your hands. Then, lay the flat sheet on top but don't tuck it in. Pull and smooth it with your hands. Put the pillowcases on top of that.  Turn on the ceiling fan and walk away for 4 to 6 hours (if you don't have a fan, it may take longer).  PW does hers overnight but she has a bunk house.  After a couple of hours, the sheets are dry and nearly as smooth as if they had been ironed.  No kidding! Try it!I was skeptical too!

Have a wonderful weekend!