Thursday, August 30, 2012

Budget Friendly, Household Solutions

There are so many Make Your Own this and that recipes all over the internet these days.  Like many people, I am trying to cut my grocery bill by making my own household supplies when I can.  I want to share with you, not ideas for make your own, but "recipes" that I have actually tested and found to work.   I will tell you in advance, these are not my own ideas, just things that I learned by word of mouth and researching online.  I have, however, tried these and found them to work!

Laundry Detergent

The biggest money saver for me is my laundry detergent.  I do not have an HE washer, so I use powdered detergent.  I found several instructions for making your own, and I was SO not interested in counting out 40 plus cups of various ingredients!  After some math and some "close enoughs" here is what I came up with.
You can find all of the ingredients in the laundry aisle of your local Wal-Mart.  Borax, Washing Soda, Fels Naptha and baking soda.  I use baking soda because of my hard water, if you have soft water just leave it out.  You will also want to get a large bucket with a lid, approximately 3 to 5 gallons should do.  I used an old store-bought detergent bucket.  Not counting the bucket, the supplies cost me around $20.

I strongly suggest that you add ingredients to the bucket gradually and mix as you go, otherwise it because difficult to mix. 

  • Grate the bars of Fels Naptha.  You can do this by hand, your arm may fall off making it difficult to do laundry OR you can use a food shredder or processor.
  • I use 2 - 4lb boxes of Borax, 2 - 3lb boxes of washing soda, and 1 3/4 - 4lb boxes of baking soda to 4 bars of Fels Naptha.
  • The original recipe called for 12 c Borax, 8 c baking soda, 8 c washing soda and 8 c Fels Naptha.  If you REALLY want to measure all of that out ... go for it :)  I did do some math to come up with the directions that I use.
  • I really like the fragrance of the Fels Naptha, but if you want a different scent you can add about 10 drops or so of essential oil
  • Make sure to store tightly covered!
  • For a normal size load, I use approximately 1 tablespoon of detergent.  This recipe, that cost me $20, lasted about 9 to 10 months in my house doing about 5 to 7 loads per week.

Liquid Hand Soap

This is such an awesome "recipe"!  Hand soap is ridiculously expensive, but bar soap is pretty cheap comparatively.  You can make liquid hand soap from a bar of soap very easily.  You will not believe how fast and easy this is to do!

The only thing you need to purchase, other than the bar soap, is glycerin.  I found it in my local Wal-mart next to the first aid items.  It was just under $4 for a 6 oz bottle which is enough to make 12 batches of this recipe.  That works out to over 120 cups of liquid soap.

  • Grate your bar of soap.  It can be any brand that you prefer, I like Ivory.
  • In a large pan, combine 1 cup of soap shavings, 1 tablespoon of glycerin and 10 cups of water.
  • Melt over low heat until all of the shavings are melted and the mixture is smooth.  Stir often and do not walk away ... it melts very quickly.
  • Once it is all melted, remove from heat and allow it to cool completely.
  • After it is cooled, whisk until smooth and transfer to your storage container.

Disinfecting Wipes

Disinfecting wipes are great to have on hand in a household with children.  You will need a large, air tight container to store them.  I actually have a photo for this one!
I strongly recommend that you do not buy the cheapest paper towels for this.  My paper towels are the POM brand from Sam's Club. 
  • Cut the roll of paper towels in half with a serrated or electric carving knife.  After doing it this way, I decided that my wipes were too small for my purposes and will use a full roll next time.
  • Next, decide on your solution.  Which disinfectant do you want to use?  Options:  Rubbing Alcohol (1/4c Alcohol to 1 3/4c Water), Citrus Cleaner (1/4c Citrus Cleaner to 1 3/4c Water), Bleach (1 1/2T bleach to 2c water), Vinegar (1/4c vinegar to 1 3/4c Water), Ammonia (1T ammonia to 2c water) or your other favorite ie. Mr. Clean etc. (1/4c disinfecting cleanser to 1 3/4c Water). 
  • Pour your solution into the container, set the paper towels down into the container and then cover.  Let it sit for approximately 30 minutes, until all of the solution has been absorbed.
  • After the solution has been absorbed, the cardboard tube will slide right out.  Find the center most towel and pull it loose (as seen in photo).
  • Make sure that which ever solution you choose, you only use a total of 2 cups for the 1/2 roll of towels!

Stain Remover (for laundry)

This is a simple and effective laundry stain remover.  It works very well on most stains, some may need to be treated a second time, and like most stain removers it is not 100% fool proof.  Some stains are just too stubborn!  This has been very effective for my normal, daily stains.
  • In an air tight container or spray bottle: combine 2/3 cup dish soap, 2/3 cups ammonia, 6 tablespoons baking soda and 2 cups warm water.
  • Combine well and you are good to go!
  • The ingredients may separate as it sits, just stir or shake and it's as good as new!

All-Purpose Cleaner

My daily use, all purpose cleaner is probably one of those ideas that is so simple that you don't even think about it.  After working in a day care, parent helping at preschool and teaching Sunday school, I learned the 3 step cleaning method.  First you wash with soap water, then you rinse with straight water and you finish with bleach water.  It is simple and effective, but you have to keep getting out 3 spray bottles and spend a lot of time going through the steps.  I made modifications to this method for my own personal home use, and I am pleased with the results.
  • You will need 2 of those spray bottles that you get from the household cleaners aisle at the grocery store.
  • In one bottle pour 1 tablespoon of bleach and then fill to the top with tap water.  Make sure to clearly label the bottle!
  • The second bottle will be a 50 / 50 mixture of white vinegar and water.  You can also add a little squirt of dish soap for an extra boost.  
  • I use the vinegar/water/soap for most cleaning and when it's an area known for germiness, I use the bleach water afterward.

There are a couple of other ideas that I am working on but have not fully tested.  After I have had a chance to try them for a while, I will share those too.  Also, if you have a tried and true method ... tell me about it!!

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