Homemade Laundry Detergent

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A few years ago I was teaching at a Child Development Center. There was a little boy in the class next door who had red dots all over his body that he constantly itched. His whole family had them on their bodies, and they tried for a long time to figure out what was causing them. They finally switched laundry detergent brands and the spots and itching went away. After I found this out I started wondering, “What is in laundry detergent that would make someone’s whole body be filled with a constantly itchy rash?” I started reading up on ingredients in laundry detergent and I was amazed that pretty much every ingredient in Tide, Gain, All, etc. are toxic and carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Standard laundry detergent ingredients have been linked to damage on the central nervous system, lungs, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels, as well as allergies and skin and eye irritation. And they biodegrade slowly causing environmental damage.

I can see some of you rolling your eyes reading this, thinking, “I’m fine and most of the people I know are fine and we all use typical laundry detergent.” But if I gave you a recipe for a natural detergent that you can make really quickly and easily¬†and it would save you lots of money, does it sound worth it to avoid the risks? Go into your laundry room, or next time you are at the store look at the back of the laundry detergent bottle, and you will see that there isn’t really an ingredients list. There may be a sentence or two telling you a few of the things it contains, but most if not all won’t even tell you everything that’s in it. If they have to hide from you what you are washing your clothes with and wearing next to your body every day, does that concern you at all? Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, here’s a recipe for a more natural laundry detergent that I made a few months ago and I love. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my clothes come out smelling really good and they get really clean, so no worries. You’ll need:

  • 1 bar of all-natural soap
  • 1/2 cup of borax
  • 1/2 cup of washing soda
  • Optional: 1 capful of Purex Crystals Laundry Enhancer. This is 87% natural. I bought it for my first time making this recipe because I was nervous that my clothes were not going to smell clean, but with the soap that I chose, I’m not worried about that anymore. I think that once I run out of this, I probably won’t buy it again.

Steps:

  1. Cut your bar of soap into a few sections, and then grate it in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a cheese grater. (It does make it way easier if you have a food processor.)
  2. Next, mix your finely grated soap with 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda, and if using, 1 capful of Purex Crystals in a container. Just dump it all into a mason jar or plastic container with a lid and shake it up.
  3. Use 3 Tablespoons for a regular load or 4 for a super large load. The more you use it, the better feel you’ll get for how much you’ll need for each load size.

This amount really doesn’t make much, but it lasted me a few months with just two of us. If you have a larger family or just want to mix more so it will last longer, feel free to double or triple the recipe. And if you decide for whatever reason that making your own detergent isn’t for you, check out Seventh Generation or Ecos Detergents. I’ve used both and have been happy with these brands as well. Happy homemade detergent making! ūüôā

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I found this recipe at condoblues.com.

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The OCM

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Have you ever heard of the oil cleansing method? I hadn’t until recently, but when I did, it intrigued me. I researched it for a few ¬†weeks, and then I thought I’d give it try. (Side note: In my research, I came across an interview with Zooey Deschanel talking about how she uses the OCM, and loves it. Just thought I’d throw that out there.) There are all kinds of oils you can use depending on your skin type, but I had sunflower seed oil at home so I thought I’d try it first. I went to our local natural/organic foods store to pick up castor oil. Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me give you a list of oils and a step-by-step method for cleansing your face with them.

PLEASE NOTE: I did not come up with this list. I found it on Alex Raye’s blog, almostexactlyblog.wordpress.com, which I encourage you all to check out! She lists more on her blog, I’m only listing oils that I’m more familiar with. ūüôā

  • Balanced¬†skin: sunflower, canola, sweet almond, olive, safflower, avocado, extra virgin olive oil
  • Sensitive¬†skin: grapeseed, apricot kernal, jojoba, safflower, sunflower, sweet almond, watermelon
  • Oily skin: grapeseed, jojoba, watermelon, hazelnut, safflower, peach kernel
  • Dry¬†skin: extra virgin olive oil, macadamia, avocado, sesame, sunflower, sweet almond
  • Acne-prone skin: grapeseed, jojoba, watermelon, apricot seed, hazelnut, peach kernel, sweet almond, sunflower, safflower, walnut
  • Mature skin: rosehip seed, carrot, sweet almond, olive, avocado, extra virgin olive oil

Whichever oil you choose is mixed with castor oil, depending on your skin type.

  • Oily:¬†30% castor to 70% other oil
  • Balanced: 20% castor to 80% other oil
  • Dry: 10% castor to 90% other oil

Method (same for if you are wearing make-up or not):

  1. Wipe your face with warm water and a wash cloth.
  2. Mix a dime sized amount of oil in your hand and rub onto your face for two minutes.
  3. Put the same wash cloth under HOT water, wring it out, and place it over your face until it cools. I stand there with my face up toward the ceiling (so it doesn’t fall off) and my eyes closed for usually about 45 seconds to a minute.
  4. Massage your face gently with the wash cloth to wipe off the oil.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4.
  6. Let your face air dry.

That’s it! I’ve been doing this for about two weeks now and I’ve seen AMAZING results already! My skin is softer and clearer than it’s ever been! I use the OCM (oil cleansing method) at night before bed and after a run, but I don’t wash my face in the morning (on days that I don’t work out). If you think about it, why would we wash our faces in the morning after washing them at night? If you are changing your sheets and pillow cases out like you should be, all you are doing is sleeping. Even before I started the OCM, I never washed my face first thing in the morning.

Another perk to the OCM is that it moisturizes my face. In the past two weeks, I’ve only used moisturizer once. I used it last night because the weather was cooler. I think in the winter I may need a tiny bit of moisturizer, but in the warmer seasons, the OCM should do the trick on its own.

Something that may have crossed your mind is the expense of the oils. I thought about it too before starting. But now that I have started, I’m seeing that using a dime-sized amount once a day (sometimes twice), my oils are going to last forever! (Way longer than my face wash ever did!) I bought my castor oil for about $8, but I haven’t even put a dent in it. I’m certain it will last at¬†least 6 months, probably way longer than that even. And my sunflower oil was pretty inexpensive being from Trader Joe’s. (I don’t remember exactly how much I paid for it.) I just bought organic EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on my last grocery run, a big bottle for $4.99. So, really, I think if you started recording how fast you go through your face wash and how much you spend on it, you’d see that this is a better choice for your wallet as well as the health of your skin. (And you are saving money from not having to use as much of the moisturizer you used to use daily, too.)

Using the OCM, if I see a little acne spot on my face while washing it at night, the next morning it is¬†gone! Seriously! It used to take days for acne spots to disappear. The OCM is magical! ūüôā Also, I used to never dare¬†to leave the house without make-up on, but over the last few weeks I’ve done that several times. I’m truly confident in my own skin now, and don’t think I will ever go back to using traditional face wash.

Here’s my face right after rolling out of bed yesterday morning. No make-up and no filter. My skin is loving the oil cleansing method! ūüôā A few weeks ago you could not have paid me to post a picture of myself without make-up. (You can click on the picture to enlarge the image…I’m telling you, it totally works!)

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Organic on a Budget

When talking to people about an organic lifestyle, one of the main reasons why people say they do not buy organic is because it is too expensive. I will admit that it is more costly to buy organic, however, I am one of the tightest people when it comes to spending money, and I have found that it is totally doable on a budget. And think about it: conventional food is cheap, but it’s filled with artificial and chemical ingredients…wouldn’t you want to pay a little more for real food? And while it may be a little more, you could be saving yourself a lot in the future from potentially serious (and costly) health issues down the road.

The following are a few suggestions on how to cut down on costs when buying organic.

  • One of the first things I did when beginning this journey was start a price comparison book.¬†I grabbed a notebook and my receipt from my first organic food shopping trip, and going down the receipt, designated one page in my notebook to each item on my receipt. I listed the price, the size, the store, and the date. I made this my routine for several months. As soon as I put my groceries away after a shopping trip, I would pull out my notebook and my receipt and go to work listing everything new. I did this until I saw where the cheapest prices were for certain items. I eventually got to the point where I could look over my list and know where I should go to get the best prices for what I needed that week. This may sound a little confusing, so the following is an example page from my notebook. (I’m sure you more techie people could do it a lot more easily in an excel spreadsheet or something similar.)

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  • Look for deals on health store websites. I made a list of websites to check out: Earth Fare, Trader Joe’s, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods. I even included Walmart and Target, and a few local grocery stores, and typed in organic in the search bar to see what would come up. Earth Fare is a great example of a store that if you take advantage of their deals, you can save¬†a lot on good all-natural and organic food. Here are two coupons I printed from Earth Fare’s website. I was notified via e-mail because I signed up for their e-mail coupons. Seriously…I’ve gotten¬†so many freebies this way! Some examples include: FREE pound of shrimp, FREE pound of salmon, 5 staple pantry items for $5, the list could go on.

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  • Earth Fare also has text coupons that I take advantage of frequently. Here are a few examples:¬†FREE¬†all-natural milk chocolate eggs with $10 purchase (before Easter), FREE all-natural cookie tub with $10 purchase, FREE ice cream with $5 purchase,¬†$5 off honey-crusted ham, $3 off organic bacon, 20% off bulk coffee (to name a few).
  • Use¬†in-store coupons from health stores.¬†Many times you can find coupons right when you walk into the store. If you don’t see any up front, it never hurts to ask someone if there are any available. Also, pay attention to signs posted around the store that let you know of ways you can save. For¬†example,¬†Earth Fare has local organic milk and all-natural lemonade that comes in glass bottles, and if you return your bottles you get a deposit back. This lemonade was $1.99 and I got a $2 deposit back per bottle, so that made my lemonade completely free!
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it!¬†Only buy what you need! I make a list on the weekend of what we need for the following week and make most of my shopping trips on Saturdays. I base my list on what is on sale and try to shop where I can get the best deals for what I need for that week. For example, if I know our week is going to be really busy and we may not have a lot of meals together, Trader Joe’s freezer section is my go-to.

I hope these tips are helpful if you are wanting to buy organic but are feeling overwhelmed with the prices. Trust me, I remember! And don’t get discouraged if you¬†can’t always buy everything¬†organic. Do the best you can with the budget you have, and the more you practice looking for deals and coupons and such, the easier it will get. ¬†¬†