Conquering Mt. Laundry

Absolutely everyone has to do laundry, and those of us with children know that either you’re doing it every day, or like me, you are faced with a mountain of it each and every weekend. With the price of laundry detergent being insane, and my having SOO much of it, I switched to homemade about a year ago, and I am never looking back. I love it! It’s gentle for tender little skin, and it works great! I found my inspiration at DIY Natural, where they break down the cost and savings in making your own, and have very minimally tweaked the recipe for my family. I do also use vinegar as my fabric softener, and it works fabulously – I had to quit using the commercial softeners when I started doing DH’s laundry as it has something in it that made his man flesh very very angry at me, so I was thrilled to find how well vinegar works without agitating him.

You will need: img_0845

1 bar of soap – I prefer Fels Naptha (0.97/bar), but have used Ivory and Dove before – any bar of soap will do.

2 gallon containers

1 1/2 c. Borax

1 1/2 c. Washing Soda

Large Pot that will hold 2 gallons OR 2 large pots that will hold a gallon each

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Start off by grating your soap into your pot (grate the whole

Soapy Water Stage

Soapy Water Stage

bar into one pot; even if you’re using two separate ones you’ll be cooking everything up in one). Add a gallon of water and heat over medium high heat stirring occasionally until all of the soap has dissolved. The finer you grate your soap, the faster you’ll get through this. You’ll have what resembles and is soapy water at this point. Stir in your Borax and Washing soda. I heat mine to a boil stirring almost constantly, I don’t think boiling is necessary, but you need to heat it long enough to make sure the Borax and Soda dissolve, otherwise you will have gritty detergent – I’ve had this experience and it works fine, but it does have a tendency to not rinse out as well if it’s gritty.

 

Once you have everything cooked down, (you’ll want to divide your detergent equally between your two pots if you need to use that method) add in your second gallon of water and stir it all together well. (Divide the water equally between your pots).  Once it’s all mixed, remove from the heat and let stand over night or at least for a couple of hours. The reason behind this being, that as you can see, the mix is going to solidify, and if you bottle it right away, you’re going to have a heck of a time shaking a gallon of solid gel and squeezing it out. img_0849Once set, I just run my hand mixer through it for a minute or two on medium speed and then bottle it.

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I use the recommended 1/2 c. per load in my high capacity for an extra large load.

* A note on bottles – I used to use milk jugs, but they are thinner, and since you will eventually have to give these guys a shake, I have switched over to the thicker vinegar jugs whose handles won’t crack when you shake them 🙂

Waste Not Want Not

Super old saying right? So why does everyone think that the “green movement” is this awesome new idea? It baffles me when I go shopping and I see all kinds of “green” items that are disposable. You name it, they’ve greened it – paper towels, garbage bags, all purpose cleaners (hydrogen peroxide is new!), detergents – pretty much everything. While I think it’s great that companies are responding to the demand and trying to clean up their act a little bit, I still don’t see why certain environmental wastes are necessary. I’m glad that our paper goods are coming from sustainable sources, and for every tree they cut down a new one is planted blah blah blah.. but how many toxins are being pumped out by plants and factories to process all of this? I don’t think we’re fixing a problem or moving toward a better tomorrow environmentally, I think we’re just putting a band aid on the problem and affixing our blinders firmly to our faces so we don’t have to give anything up.

Now that I’ve gotten my little rant out of the way, I will happily announce that I do not know much about the environmental movement, and this blog is not for asserting any stance on anything environmental or political. This blog is simply what it states itself to be – the way that I have found to subsist in suburbia.  My finding the joy in all of this was of course out of necessity  – I think a vast number of us have found ourselves falling on hard times lately, and I think it’s time to remember to “waste not want not.” I think we as a society have really skewed the idea of “need” around convenience items that we all grew up having in our homes, and just don’t think about life without them. While these things are great, they are primarily disposable things that are a waste of our money and resources – we simply don’t need them.  The big ones that really baffle me are the things that we literally purchase just to throw away. Let’s make a list!!

Garbage bags – DOH! Just go put your money in a dumpster now. Keep a smaller garbage can that will accommodate having a plastic shopping bag in it. You’re saving money, doing nature a favor, and you have to take your garbage out more – you will never have to deodorize that again because you’re taking it out too often for it to get stinky! And you just saved money on not buying chemical spray or extra baking soda too!

Paper Towels – I think a lot of people are baffled when they hear that it has been a year since I purchased paper towels, and I think some are even grossed out, but no one in my home is ever sick, and we run a very tidy ship over here. I use wash cloths – I have a huge stash of them, and I just go ahead and keep one out on my spray bottle everyday for messes – it gets rinsed and used with cleaning stuff all throughout the day, and I use a separate one just for things like raw meat and poultry ooze – those I only use once. I do laundry everyday, so I just toss them in with everything else and they come out white as snow and clean as a whistle.

Napkins – Again, why?! Upscale restaurants have fancy cloth napkins (that suck and are totally non-absorbent when you spill your drink) so why on earth do we insist on buying disposables in our homes where we most certainly have better food? At every meal I pull out one clean wash cloth, dampen it, and set it in the middle of the table for when my kids have finished eating. We wipe them down nice and clean – no little paper sticking to jam spots mind you, and they’re on their merry way with much less fuss and practically no waste when compared to napkins. My husband and I do the sensible thing, and go over to the sink and wash our damn hands like you’re supposed to anyway! Napkins don’t get anything clean! They just dab stuff off the surface and smear it into your pores!

So, on this mission, we’ve saved money, helped out mother nature, and the only extra work we have to do is put 5 (our max is 8 in a day) little old wash cloths in with everything else you probably have to wash anyway. I will have more oh so fun save you money and quit buying crap posts for you in the future, but these three just were too self explanatory in my mind to get their own displays. Happy Saving!

I Gave Birth to Matisse… and Pollack

Yes, it’s true, my children are both fantastic artists, and that being said, their masterpieces cannot be contained by mere pages or coloring books. Oh no, they need a much larger canvas for their multimedia work. I present to you their gallery..er ahem, my hall.

Lovely don't you think?

Lovely don’t you think?

As previously stated this is a multimedia work, using crayon, pencil and pen. Unfortunately they skipped out on the markers on this particular work.  Having such gifted children I’m sure you can imagine just how many different techniques I have tried to remove these little works from my walls.  We have allowed Thing 1 to keep one of his masterpieces from a little over a year ago to reward him for properly using the term ‘mural’, but this one.. well, I think they just grabbed some art supplies reached their arms out and skipped back and forth down the hall.  Anyway, this is the method I have found that will absolutely get out crayon, pencil, most markers and scuff marks, and as a perk, you lose the little finger prints too!

*Just a note about magic eraser- it does work great at getting stuff out, however on my painted walls it was a little too great, and now, I have a two tone ombre effect in my dining room starting at my children’s height. This will not dull or take off any paint unless you go at it like it’s a strong man competition.

Here’s what you need for this little project:

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Oil – any kind you have on hand. I got this olive oil cheap and obviously in bulk otherwise I would probably use straight vegetable oil.

Baking Soda

Dishsoap – I only use Dawn – I really don’t know if that’s the only one that works, so if you try something cheaper and it works great please let me know.

Small bowl

3 clean dishrags

Mix up equal parts oil and baking soda in your bowl – I had the whole hallway to tackle (not just the little bit I’m sharing) so I used 1/3 c. of each.  Stir it up with a fork until it’s a uniform consistency – If you’re just eyeballing amounts just keep this in mind -you don’t want soup, but you don’t want paste either as you will be spreading this onto your wall and if it’s too thin it will just run, too thick it will just plop off onto the floor.

Here’s what I generally look for when I don’t measure.

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Once you have your concoction all set to  go, grab your bowl and one of your rags and trudge on over to your gallery. Dip your rag into the mix and smear it onto the offending masterpiece liberally like so:

img_0723Once you have a good glob on your wall start working it over the marks in a circular motion; this should totally remove the crayon and dull the pencil marks. If the circular motion isn’t getting you anywhere, just scrub along the line as it was drawn (up and down for vertical/left to right for horizontal) Don’t ask me why, but certain crayons just don’t want to come off unless you rub them right.  Do this all over any marks, including normal kid dirt and finger prints. Do not be discouraged about the remaining pencil, pen and marker that will probably still be there. This is what the parts of my wall with scuffs, pen and pencil looked like after the initial baking soda/oil scrub – unfortunately my kids skimped on the marker on this wall.

Pen

Pen

Pencil

Pencil

Scuff Mark After Oil/Baking Soda

Scuff Mark

Once you get to this point, put away your oil/baking soda mix and grab a clean rag. Throw some dish soap on it and dampen it really well. Go back over your wall again, flipping and refolding as it becomes covered with your baking soda mix. Here’s those same spots after this step – I left some of the initial marks so you can see that I’m not just faking you out with a totally different part of my wall.

Pen

Pen

Pencil

Pencil

Scuff Mark

Scuff Mark

On the scuff mark, a portion of that bit left turned out to actually be a ding in the wall that got pigment from whatever smashed into it. That will not come out, but as you can see it is infinitely better.  Once you’re done going over the trouble spots, give the whole area you already scrubbed a quick wipe down. Follow this by grabbing your last rag, wetting it and doing a quick “rinse” wipe over the whole area. Done! I know this seems like a process when it’s laid out, but in reality, doing that whole wall took a total of  just under 10 minutes.  And here is the before and after!

After

After

Lovely don't you think?

Lovely don’t you think?

Washin the Washer

I often find it really hard to believe that I have city water because our water is sooo full of mineral deposits and gunk. A perfect example of this is our dishwasher. It has always left a really nice sandy sediment in anything that upturns itself during the wash cycle. We sort of corrected this problem by of course investing in a water softener, and using a rinse aid and citric acid for every wash, but still the ickies have persisted. Case in point, my dishwasher that I have put off cleaning for far too long and now looks like so (you may want to grab your barf bags):

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Pretty yucky eh? I once again, have a solution directly from pinterest that I have used in the past when the diswasher wasn’t nearly this filthy that had great results, so I thought I would try it again and share it with you.

Firstly, you’re going to need to take out the bottom rack of your dishwasher, brace yourself and fish around for chunky stuff.

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Rack out!!

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Fish here….

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and here….

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Now close your eyes and blindly fish around under here.

Next, crack out some white distilled vinegar and pour yourself a nice ol’ cupful.

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I used two because this thing is just soo nasty.

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Set your cupful into the top rack of your washer – Say cupful five times fast and giggle like an idiot.

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Run your washer for a full cycle with the hottest water possible

I used the normal wash cycle this round.

Put your kids down for a nap, grab a magazine and a drink and wait…….

Open washer and (drum roll)…..

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Well s**t. That almost looks worse…But! We shall carry on.

Sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of the washer

Sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of the washer

Run washer again…

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Look like an oxymoron to anyone else?

Kids are up from nap, no drink, fill time by losing mind and tugging on own hair while repeatedly counting to three aggressively… And the big reveal!

img_0698 NOTHIN!!!!

So, since that totally sucked and did absolutely nothing, I decided to move on to my cure all method for absolutely everything – let’s make some carbon dioxide!! First, re-sprinkle (I coated- there was no true sprinkling involved at this point) all over with baking soda. I even coated the door. Then for the fun part! Spray or splash vinegar all over your baking soda.

img_0700 BUBBLES!!! (My kids always ask me if I’m a scientist when I do this – I tell them yes.)

Close the door and walk away from the stupid thing for a good half hour, or however long you need to cool off after the disappointment of farting around all day with the dang thing for nothing…..

When you’re calm and ready (I took about 30 minutes), open it up and just wipe it down.

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Since the thing was so grimy I wanted to give the whole interior a wipe down so I took the top rack out as well – here’s how:

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Find this nifty end cap..

squeeze and pull it out.

squeeze and pull it out.

There are identical caps on the back of these that you will need to remove to wipe down everything.

And now, for our grand finale!!

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As previously stated, the original method used was from another site, and it did work really well with a much less filthy machine.Here is the link to the original site, http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/02/how-to-clean-your-dishwasher.html if you’ve never been to the site before I definately would recommend hanging out and checking out more of her stuff, she has an absolute wealth of tricks and tips that are absolutely awesome. Now to throw the disgusting dishes that have been waiting all day into my nice clean machine!