So about that laundry soap….

Back in July, I blogged about making your own laundry soap and how pretty effective it was at getting even barn clothes clean.

Well, I can now inform you that it took me almost seven months to go through a five gallon bucket of concentrate (10 gallons total of laundry soap). I just finished the bucket last night.

Want to make your own? Here’s my post: The redhead’s little laundry secrets – Homemade laundry detergent

DIY clothespin bag

How to Make a Clothespin Bag | eHow.com.

Clothespin bag

You could purchase a clothespin bag or just leave pins hanging out on the line to rust and decay, but if you can sew a few basic stitches and have remnant fabric on hand you can make your own bag!

I used the instructions at the above eHow article for my bag (at left). Instead of using interfacing around the opening for strength, I sewed together some scrap fleece and a pretty fabric together. I also found a children’s pants hanger for the hook itself and didn’t have to do any cutting, but did have to remove the clips.

Like my DIY Tablet cozy project, you’ll need to make your own pattern for this. I used newspaper, but the article uses cardboard. Either will work fine.

If I had to make this bag again, I would make the bag deeper. I did shorten the opening, but this bag just barely holds 100 pins without them spilling out. That sounds like a lot, but I need almost all of them to hang out two loads of laundry.

Happy sewing!

~ Julie

Pst – Looking for ways to save money on your laundry? Check out my little laundry secrets Part 1 (homemade laundry detergent) and Part Deux (the clothesline).

The redhead’s little laundry secrets – The clothesline

If you read “The redhead’s little laundry secrets: Part 1″ that I posted on July 24 about homemade laundry detergent, I’m sure you’re anxiously awaiting to read the second part of my tips on how to save money on the world’s most exciting chore – laundry.

Why yes, I air my laundry in public!

Here’s my second tip – get yourself a clothesline.

“Um, a what?” is probably what most millennials are thinking aloud. I personally think clotheslines fell out of favor with the Baby Boomers and the Gen X’ers, but the Depression and World War II generation knows what I’m talking about.

My mom didn’t have one, but my grandmothers did. I remember running around between the lines when my grandmother hung bed sheets as a kid. To me, it felt like a secret, fortress-type hiding place.

Our house had old, rotted wooden clothesline posts when we moved in two years ago that were too far gone to use. In May, I had my husband construct these new poles out of metal and we painted them white. Wooden posts would have been cheaper, but I wanted something that would last a long time. I bought line and clothespins at a dollar store (seriously!) and started using my line in June.

Does it actually save money? Yes. A dryer is one of the appliances that use the most energy in your home. I saved about $5 last month on my electric bill and about the same on this month’s, so roughly $10 total. Yes, that’s not a lot, but that’s cash that I didn’t have before for just letting the sun and wind do the drying work for me. And, for the record, I have an energy efficient dryer.

The other perk of having a clothesline is that your clothes will smell amazing. Sun has a scent that no commercial fabric softeners can match.

Here are my tips and personal rules I use when hanging clothes on the line:

1. I don’t hang out the skivvies (underwear) for everyone and their brother to see. I have a wood drying rack that I leave in the laundry room or put out on my screened in back porch for the unmentionables. I could hang them out if I put them on the middle line where they’d be hidden by other clothes, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

2. I also do not hang out my dress clothes so they don’t fade. This load is the only time I use my dryer during a week.

3. Hang clothes between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Anything placed on the line before or after those times never dries completely for me. This may change if your clothesline is in a different location, but the sun is blocked during the after hours for my line.

4. Turn everything inside out to prevent fading.

5. Wash clothes in this order: Towels, jeans, sweatshirts/other heavy fabrics, knits, sheets. The towels take the longest to dry, so I want them out first, and the sheets take the least. I’ve had my sheets dry in 15 minutes before if the weather conditions are right.

6. The best drying days are those that are sunny, freaking hot and with a slight breeze.

7. Slight breeze and windy are too different things. You will be chasing clothes across the yard if the day is too windy. I speak from experience. One of Say Guy’s shirts made a break for freedom once.

8. Hang socks by the toes, shirts by the hemline, and pants/jeans by the waistband. These are the places where the pin marks are least noticeable. Clothes will dry exactly how you hang them.

9. Towels and jeans will dry as stiff as a board, but you can fix that. If the stiffness bothers you, just toss them in the dryer on air only and they’ll fluff right up. You’ll never notice a difference.

10. Don’t hang out clothes when the neighbors are mowing. For one thing, your clothes will smell like grass (unless you actually like the smell of cut grass) and two, you might get clippings on your clothes.

I’ve had friends ask me if hanging out my clothes bothers my allergies. No, it doesn’t. I can’t believe it either because I’m allergic to practically everything outside but poison ivy.

If you’re thinking about a clothesline and you live within incorporated city/village limits, you might want to check to see if there are ordinances against the use of a clothesline. Some towns do prohibit them, which I think is silly.

If you’re a crafty type person, you can make your own clothespin bag! Here are the instructions.

~ Julie

The redhead’s little laundry secrets – Homemade laundry detergent

Girl wearing eyeglasses

From Wikimedia Commons. Hover mouse over photo for more information.

I know that is is not the most exciting or hilarious post that you’ve ever read on my blog. However, this post can save you a lot of money.

Ladies (and maybe gentlemen), I will testify to you today that you are paying way too much for laundry detergent. You can make your own for loads less.

Did you catch that? Loads less? As in a load of laundry or a load of money? Oh, you did. I’ll stop being a nerd now.

Up until May of this year, I was buying All Free & Clear (the 110 load, 172 oz. size) for $10.78. I buy the unscented stuff because my skin isn’t a fan of scented detergents and I hate walking around reeking like a potpourri basket.

The laundry fairy paid me a visit and showed me the light via a blog I follow, who used the same recipe in this WikiHow article with instructions for liquid laundry soap concentrate using water, washing soda, a bar of soap of your choice and Borax (use Method 1, but I use 1/2 cup of the homemade stuff instead of 5/8 when washing). I was bored and wanted to get in touch with my inner chemist, so I bought the supplies and tried it.

The verdict? This is the best laundry detergent I’ve ever used. It’s great on stains, my clothes smell fresh, and to borrow an old commercial saying, “my whites are whiter and my brights are brighter!” It works very well on harder stains if you apply the concentrate full strength on the tough spots.

So what’s the cost breakdown on this?

Washing soda (NOT baking soda): $2.77 for 55 oz. box (you’ll only need 1 cup per batch)

Borax: $3.36 for 76 oz. box (1/2 cup per batch)

Bar of soap: $1.19. I used Kirk’s Castile Soap because it’s a vegetable-based soap and suds well in hard water. You can use whatever you like.

Five-gallon bucket with lid: $3.99 from local farm supply store.

Total: $11.31 (pre tax, and costs may vary where you live)

One batch makes five gallons worth of concentrate, which equals 10 gallons of detergent. Using 1/2 cup of detergent per load means that I can wash 320 loads of laundry per batch.

If you made the concentrate correctly, it almost resembles egg drop soup after sitting overnight. You can reuse an old detergent container and fill it up with half water, half concentrate for easy dispensing.

You will notice a difference between store and homemade detergents. For one thing, your clothes will not feel slimy. That was something I never noticed from commercial detergents until switching. The other thing is that homemade detergent does not suds up very much, and that’s ok. The suds are not what clean your clothes anyway.

As for fabric softener, toss in a 1/4 cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle. Sounds crazy, but it’ll make your clothes incredibly soft and your towels will become more absorbent. I didn’t believe it myself until trying it. I’ve also used vinegar as a softener but like baking soda best. You can buy a 13 1/2 pound bag of Arm & Hammer baking soda at Sam’s Club for around $6.

Part Two of my little laundry secrets will involve drying your clothes on the cheap! (Hint, your grandmother’s been doing it all these years).

~Julie