Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to My Little House on the Prairie

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. I devoured the books and read them several times each, well except for Farmer Boy. (Not only was it boring to me, it was about a boy.) I wanted to live 100 years in the past. I wanted to be Mary Ingalls. Forget Laura; I wanted to be a girly girl.

To the amazement of my children, we only had 4 tv stations when I was a girl. Oh the horror!!! No Disney channel, no Nickelodeon. What was kid to do? We played outside and used our imaginations. Our neighborhood was the land of make believe-- Lost in Space, Huckleberry Fin (which we had completely wrong), and Little House on the Prairie. All the others were prop-less but with Little House on the Prairie, I would wear one of my mom's old dresses and a baby dress on my head, the bodice cinched to make a sun bonnet. What can I say? I had a rich childhood.

When I decided to make my own laundry, memories of Little House came rushing back. Doesn't making soap seem like something Ma would do? So before I started my soap making endeavor, I had to have my props.

I was ready to make some soap but my girls were horrified. Maybe some things are better left in the past.

I assembled all my ingredients and prepared to start mixing. For those who might have missed my Money Saving Madness post about making your own detergents the recipe is:

1 box of Borax
1 box of Washing Soda
6 cups of Baking Soda
6 bars of Fels Naptha, shredded

Gathering the ingredients was actually a scavenger hunt. I had never bought Borax, but apparently it's everywhere. I bought my box at Target in the laundry detergent aisle, but I also saw it everywhere else I went. Borax is easy.

Washing Soda was found at my grocery store, HyVee. It was also in the laundry aid aisle. Interestingly enough, it wasn't at my Super WalMart. But the Fels Naptha was. Baking Soda, no explanation necessary.

I realized the toughest part was shredding SIX bars of Fels Naptha. Let's get this party started!

With a quick break to update my Facebook status.

Still shredding, and by the looks of things, I've got 4 more bars to go.

Trying to stay motivated.

By this point, Jenna was taking pictures and I was making all kinds of poses.

I freely admit that we watch too much America's Next Top Model in this house.

Julia thought that shredding soap looked fun and wanted to give it a go.

Her ANTP pose. She couldn't be out done by her mother.

Okay! The shredding is done, as you can tell by the smile on my face, and the mixing has begun.

Unlike Cynthia, I don't live close to a ginormous cheese factory where I can buy big tubs for $0.50. So I found this file box clearance priced at WalMart for $3.50. I poured the ingredients in layers and stirred it with a wooden spoon.

I wrote the recipe on the top of the box so I wouldn't have to look it up again. I completely stole this idea from my friend Heather at Five Bucks, who called me multiple times yesterday with questions about finding the ingredients. (That's okay, she tells everyone that she's my stalker.)

I used my old laundry detergent cup and marked the 1/8 cup line all the way around the cup.

And here it is in my washing machine dispenser tray. I've washed a load of towels and my kids tell me that they smell fabulous. I'm onto some bigger test cases later this morning (my kids clothes.)

Was this hard work worth it? I buy my laundry detergent at Costco for $13.59 and it washes 110 loads which equals $0.12 per load. The price for my homemade detergent:

Borax: $2.56 (Target)
Washing Soda: $2.69 (HyVee)
Fels Naptha: $5.82 (6 bars at $0.97 each, Super WalMart)
Baking Soda: $1.59 (used 6 cups of an 8 cup box, Super WalMart)
Total: $12.66 divided by 300 (approx loads per batch)
$0.04 per load vs $0.12 per load.

And who said I'd never use those math story problems???

Yes, this endeavor was totally worth the effort. But that's not where my Little House adventures end. In the near future I'll post about my bread making experiences. Next thing you know, I'll be getting my own butter churn. But I'm stopping short of getting my kids a pigs bladder. A girl's gotta have her standards.

Edited Wednesday, Sept 16 afternoon: I have ran 6 loads through my washing machine using the homemade detergent and there isn't a single trace of detergent when I open the tray.

Also, I made a small batch of the homemade Dishwasher detergent (equal parts Baking Soda and Borax.) Cynthia suggested to get the dishes pretty clean before putting them in the machine but I wanted to really test out this recipe. So put dishes in with chocolate and peanut butter still on them. Not covered, but still present. Then I ran the load and when I opened it up and began to put the dishes away I was astounded. Not only were the dishes clean but they were more sparkley then I've ever seen them.


Heather said...

The clothes DO smell great. After I was told that homemade laundry soap stunk I was completely relieved. I am all about sniffing warm, clean laundry.

Thank you Cynthia and Denise!

Also thanks for the math cause I pretty much stink in that area so to see it laid out like that makes it even more worth it!

ElleBee said...

I absolutely LOVED the LH books as a kid. My mom finally kicked my antique (circa 1977) boxed set out of her closet this summer, so I've re-read them all fairly recently. I'd totally forgotten about the pig's bladder. I guess they had to keep the kids occupied during hog butchering somehow! :)

Anita said...

Do you think you could use the cheese shredder attachment on the food processor?
I use Fels Naptha directly on clay softball stains........tell me again what fool at the HS insists on a white uniform?
I am honestly curious, a bargain is a bargain,so keep us updated. I have a front load washer too, so that powder question still hangs in the air.
I admit, I've never read a LH book............and surely never dressed up, but you do it so well!

Joan said...

In my neighborhood we pretended we were girlfriends to the band members in The Monkees...I always picked Davy Jones but sometimes had to settle for Peter Tork. Does this give my age away? ;-)

I loved LHOTHP - especially when Laura found the love of her life... Manny. :-)

Kat said...

I adore Little House. The books. The TV show. But my girls refuse to have anything to do with either. I don't know what is wrong with them!

I am still contemplating that soap. Oh...the borax is a good thing. We used to have outside cats and fleas were an issue. Sprinkle it on your carpet. Let it sit for 12-24 hours, and then vacuum. No fleas.

Kristin said...

Okay, you actually made that look like fun.....I just might have to change my mind and try it. Your pictures were cracking me looked adorable in your bonnet. Ha!

Brandy said...

We used to play "Land of the Lost" outside. Gah I loved that show!

I still have several bottles of free detergent but I might consider this when it's gone. Of course talking Stevie into it might be an issue...

Scott said...

Did you have to shred by hand? Couldn't you use a food processor?

C.L. Moyer said...

This is Cynthia, and I am serious -- we have a front-loading machine and we have been using this very recipe for months with no problems at all. There is no sign of the powder after each load. And don't worry if you don't see a lot of suds, because the Fels-naptha is a low-sudsing soap anyway, which makes it great for front-loaders.

And -- in your calculations (or at least in MINE! ha ha...) I don't have to buy dryer sheets or Downy anymore, either! I love my soap.

C.L. Moyer said...

Oops!! Forgot something -- yes, you can use the grater attachment on anything you would normally grate cheese on!! It would be much faster! :-)

And Denise -- LOVE your photos!!
You are so hilarious!!!

Denise said...

Scott, reason #64 why I need to purchase a food processor!

Chuck said...

I'm feeling inspired...I think. That grating of the soap is making me nervous. I hate grating of any kind. LOL But, it would be cool to make my own detergent!

Glen and Andrea said...

You're awesome! I totally want to try this but the only ingredient I know is Baking Soda. I live in New Zealand so I was hoping you might be able to explain the other ingredients so I could find them here or replace them with something similar.

Kristin said...

You go, girl! Love the books, love the idea, not yet sure I can handle the aggravation of making it all. But I'll think about it!

CaraBee said...

Here's a question for ya: we have one of those HE washers that they make such a fuss about using the HE detergent. Can you use this in those machines?

Lindsey's mom said...

That is my ? as well. We just got a front loading HE washer..can you use this in those machines?

grasshopper said...

Okay, another question for you - what does it smell like? I'm sensitive to smells so I always buy unscented EVERYTHING. Is it the Fels Naptha that makes it scented and if I found that in the store and sniffed it I'd get the idea? Thanks!

Jill said...

Denise..I am intrigued by this whether to try girls would like to help me make it...I sure go through a TON of detergent...hmmmmm.

The thing I noticed though is HOW CUTE your blouse/shirt is...and that is definitely NOT Little House on the Prairie-ish!!!

You are so cute!

Brenda Jean said...

Ummm...that comment from "Chuck" up there, that was actually me, logged in on his account. He doesn't care about laundry soap. BAHAHAHAHAHA

Kristy said...

You ROCK!!!! I am gonna make these recipes and use them , so thank you !!!! But how much of the dishwasher recipe do you use for each load???

Love, Kristy

Geeta said...

Haha there are so many great things about this post! Little House on the Prairie, saving money... imagination!!

I love it. It sounds like the same things I did growing up (and still encourage my young cousins to do)

Whether or not I'll get cable in my home or not when I have a family of my own is already a question of debate in my mind haha.

Imagination is key.

:) Happy Saturday

Tami said...

I'm glad it worked so well. I've been wanting to try this recipe but have yet to find any Fels Naptha soap. I'm getting really annoyed.

But I am going to try the dishwasher detergent so thanks for that!

Janne said...

LOVE the bonnet, and I'm totally trying this when my detergent runs out. Mark me down as a new "make-your-own-detergent junkie!"

SweetWICK said...

The layout of your blog is awesome!

Party of Seven said...

Trying to catch back up with blogs after such a long break. But I did not feel like I was missing too much having you on FB! ha

Hope you daughter gets well real soon!!