I've been on a frugality kick lately. As has much of the world it seems. I read several frugality blogs and have read some books about thriftiness. I really recommend the Complete Tightwad Gazette - I found it in the library and then I loved it so much I actually bought my own copy!
I've tried various things and today I'm going to tell you about laundry. The Compadre hasn't totally come on board on this one. We've been hanging our laundry up to dry since early last summer and during the summer it was kind of fun even. The Campadre rigged up a pulley system laundry line so that I wouldn't have to do as many stairs to hang up laundry and it worked well. It's frosted with ice right now and so I really don't want to go out and take its picture - you'll have to imagine it. But now that it's winter we have been using two wooden racks to hang our laundry. There are only two of us and we do about 3 loads of laundry per week. This probably wouldn't work for a large family. And the Compadre isn't sure it works for us! But I can manage to dry a loads worth of laundry on my two contraptions and sometimes it only takes one rack to dry a load. And it really only takes minutes to hang it up. I'm not sure how much the savings are. If you have an electric dryer it's much more than my gas dryer, but any savings is good and besides I'm saving the planet too!
A couple of weeks ago I really got crazy about the laundry thing. I read a couple of blog posts about making your own laundry soap and thought "I can do that". So I googled recipes and read about it and even asked at open knitting. I learned to my surprise that Kelly has been making her own laundry soap for years! Who knew? So I tried it and I'm here to tell you it isn't hard and it does work. And there is a bonus! Those clothes that I hang up to dry used to dry hard and crunchy but now they are much softer. I must say that I like my towels to be crunchy - not all of you do. Some people put the clothes that they want softer into the dryer for a couple of minutes to soften them up if they air dry them.
So here is how I made my laundry soap. I decided to make dry powdered soap - there are recipes for the liquid stuff but I didn't want a 5 gallon pail of slimy stuff sitting around my laundry room - call me squeamish I guess. Maybe I'll try it someday if the powdered stuff starts to cake up on me in the summer. Anyway, the recipe is 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda and 1 cup grated (or ground in the food processor) soap. One of the sites I looked at suggested that this was a good use for all those little soaps that you might have collected from hotels. I have lots of them - pack rat that I am. I also have some soap that I've made myself but that's a story for another time. When you use this laundry soap you only need to use one tablespoon for a normal load and 2 or 3 tablespoons if you have a very dirty load. It also doesn't suds like the tide that I used to use and so that would be good if you have one of those front loading washers. If you try the recipe and decide it's for you, you can double or triple the recipe easily. By the way, I already had the washing soda but the borax was $3.98 at my grocery store and it will last a long long time. Interestingly the person right before me took a box off of the shelf and there were so few that I had to ask a stock boy to reach one of the few left way in the back of the top shelf. Making your own laundry soap must be trendy, right?