So, about six weeks ago, I finally made the transition to using homemade laundry detergent instead of the store-bought stuff. At roughly $7 a month, the cost was bugging the crap out of me! Why? Because I can make homemade laundry detergent for closer to $7 a year. So, what was the hold-up in me actually making it and using it?
I am generally a very driven person, but sometimes the most menial of tasks seem daunting to me, so I continue on the path of “least resistance” until it hurts too much to go on. That was kind of what prompted our journey to get out of debt too, I suppose.
So anyway, the thought of going to the home improvement store, buying the bucket, lid and the ingredients, reading the recipe, making it, etc., sounded terribly overwhelming to me. And then something happened. I’m not even sure what it was, honestly, but one day I just got angry about spending so much more on laundry detergent than we needed to, even though the yearly amount we’d be saving (roughly $75) wasn’t all that dramatic. Suddenly, I felt as if I were being ripped off, and the work involved in making it seemed like more of a way to stick it to consumerism instead of that daunting task it had felt like for so many months.
And at the beginning of November, I did it. I spent the roughly 45 minutes in the kitchen I needed to spend in order to complete the project, and I’ve been using my homemade detergent ever since. Here’s how it’s worked so far:
Ease in making. It really wasn’t terribly difficult to make, though it was tedious. You have to melt the Fels Naptha bar in water on the stove top, stirring it regularly. This is the most tedious part of the project. All said and done, though, definitely no more than an hour to make from start to finish.
Consistency. It was weird to get used to at first. I’m not sure why, but I kind of assumed my finished product would look like normal, chemicalized detergent, but it didn’t. It looks cloudy and debris-ish, like this:
It’s also more watery than store-bought detergents, but that doesn’t seem to affect the cleaning capabilities at all.
Scent: The scent is quite refreshing, actually. It smells clean and good, but not “perfumy”. Usually anything with perfumes in it gives me an instant headache, but not so with this stuff.
Cleaning capability: It cleans our clothes surprisingly well. I was worried about residue, due to the fact that our washer isn’t the greatest and doesn’t agitate well, but I have had no problems whatsoever with residue or stain removal. I haven’t yet tried it on a concentrated stain, but suspect it would work well.
Environmental impact: We try to be largely chemical free in our house, so I’m always paying attention to what is in the things we use and consume in our house. Being aware of the chemicals around you – and minimizing them – will lead to better health, and therefore money savings.
In order to check out the environmental and health impact of the homemade laundry detergent, I turned to a site called Environmental Working Group. EWG rates all kinds of cleaning products, health, and beauty products based on their toxicity levels coming from the ingredients within them. Here’s what I found regarding our homemade laundry detergent:
Fels Naptha Bar: This was rated a C+ by EWG, due to some concerns (they rate the ingredients ”some”, “low”, “no”, “moderate” or “high” concerns) about mostly cancer risks and respiratory/asthma risks.
Arm and Hammer Washing Soda: This was rated an A+ by EWG, with virtually no toxicity or environmental concerns – yea!!!
20 Mule Team Borax: This third ingredient was rated an F+ by EWG, with high concerns for developmental and reproductive toxicity. This is a concern to me, and I’ll be pondering this more. The ratio of Borax vs. water is low (1/2 c. of Borax added to 10 gallons of water) but this is still a concern for me. I guess this explains why Borax is so effective at getting homes rid of rodents, huh? Scary stuff.
So, based on EWG’s rating system, we could give the homemade laundry detergent a “C” in terms of an environmental grade.
How does this compare to my old laundry detergent? The Arm and Hammer Liquid Detergent Dye and Perfume Free rated a “D+” with moderate cancer concerns and some respiratory concerns.
I’m toying around with trying the detergent without the Borax next go-around, which would bring the environment rating up to a B. I’ll have to research more thoroughly why the Borax is used and if it would clean as well without it.
So, what do you think: would you ever try a homemade laundry detergent? Are chemicals in our environment a concern to you?
Winter often brings an extra bit of stress on pocketbooks during the cold winter months, due to the fact that our electricity costs can rise substantially during this time of the year. Between heat usage, and generally being indoors more, electricity costs can jump quite a bit if you’re not careful, especially if you live in a colder climate. Here are some timely tips for keeping those electricity costs down and saving some money in the process:
1. Analyze your electricity usage. Are you leaving lights on all over the place that don’t need to be on? Are you forgetting to unplug appliances that aren’t currently in use? Those little things really do add up. I remember being a kid and thinking my dad was a secret member of The Light Police, as he was always hollering at us to stop leaving the lights on. Now, as a parent myself, I don’t even have to holler because I’ve got the kids so well trained from my own years of being the Light Police Officer.
With careful scrutiny, you’re sure to find ways that you are wasting electricity, and therefore wasting money. Be a Negative Nellie as you go through your home, objectively searching for electricity waste.
2. Make a plan of action. Now that you’ve found the places in your home where you might be wasting electricity, it’s time to trim the fat off of your electricity bill by changing those areas that you found during your analysis that are wasteful. Unplug those appliances that aren’t in use. Stop washing your clothes in warm or hot water when cold will do just fine. Search your area power companies for the best electricity deal. Switch out regular light bulbs for the highly efficient LED bulbs. Use nightlights in areas where you usually leave a regular light on at night. If you have electric heat, turn your thermostat down at night and when you’re away. Hand mix your baked goods and other recipes instead of using the electric mixer – not only will you save money, you’ll build up some arm muscles as well.
3. Rethink what you’re powering. Is there an area in your home where you can use window light instead of traditional lighting? Can you swap out items that are electricity hogs for more efficient ones? Can you read some at night instead of watching so much television? Is cooking in your crockpot more efficient than using your oven? Take a look at the electricity-run items in your home and look for ways they can be used more efficiently, or not used at all. All sorts of options are available for those willing to put in the time to search them out.
Even in the winter months, you can cut down on electricity usages and costs if you work at it. With careful analysis of your current electricity usage, and the willingness to be creative and find more cost effective solutions, the money savings will come!
Are you working on a journey to get out of debt? Or, have you “been there, done that” before and failed miserably? I know we have. We’d been in, and out, of debt more times than Dave Ramsey has uttered the words ”gazelle intense”, but it never stuck, and we could never figure out why.
Why was it that we seemed destined for financial failure? Why did debt, with all of it’s downfalls, seem to be so much more comfortable than financial freedom? It took us many, many years to find out, but finally, this year, we’ve come across a hidden tip that’s helped us to finally have it set in our hearts that we are dumping debt forever. What is that tip? read more…
Christmas is fun as you get to meet with all of your family members, friends and other loved ones. You get to party and enjoy your time as you’d like. However, the downside of Christmas is that you may end up in debt. Planning your Christmas is important as it can save you from the Christmas money hangover. Going frugal is the trick, but you need to do that subtly enough so that you do not miss the fun. It wouldn’t be any fun at all to follow up Christmas celebrations by getting collection calls a few weeks into the New Year? And opening that January credit card bill is no fun for most. Although, the answer to this would depend on the person you are and on your perspective, it cannot be denied that nobody likes being in debt.
Planning your frugal Christmas
It is high time that you plan as to how you are going to enjoy Christmas. This year, you need to plan a frugal Christmas so that you can avoid debt as much as possible. Some of the most important strategies you need to follow are: read more…
We’re nearly a year into our “getting out of debt” journey here at The Frugal Farmer Family. I finally feel like we’ve got some experience under our belts, so to speak, and can share a bit about what it takes to get out of debt. For most in serious debt, there is no easy road. Most people with debt aren’t going to be able to buckle down for six months and be debt free. For the majority of those who want to get out of debt, it’s going to be a road that takes a few years to finish.
But those years are likely going to pass anyway, whether or not you choose to use them to get out of debt. So the question remains: What do you want your financial life to be like 5 years from now? read more…
Here we are again! It’s Saturday, and December, and that means another round of 2013 good reads. Sometimes, I wish I could just have a whole entire day to myself for reading PF blog posts, you know? A tip: Want financial freedom? Learn about how to get there from those who’ve been there, done that, or are on their way. Here’s another little slice of great PF articles from this year: read more…
December is always a very reflective month for me: I look back on the year, what I did well, and what I could’ve done better on, financial and otherwise. Then I start that mental list of what things I want to change for the coming year.
As I’ve said before, I’m one of those people that has an insatiable need to know “why” about everything. This trait leads to a lot of self-analysis, and LOTS of learning from others. As we have worked over the last year to analyze how we got ourselves into such a huge financial mess, despite being “good” people and hard workers, I’ve learned a few things. One of the things that’s become very evident to me is that part of the reason we’ve gotten ourselves into such a financial mess is that we’ve followed some very evident family traits, and not the good ones, either. read more…
Hey, friends! It’s the beginning of December, which means it’s time for the November recap!! I can hardly believe that we’ve made it through 11 months of serious budgeting and cutting back on expenses. What’s more: we’re even eager to continue our journey for 2014! We’ve cut expenses SO much this year compared to last year, and although I’d like to see debt numbers moving downward faster, they are dropping at a quicker pace than they were in the beginning of the year, so we’re going to be happy with that. read more…
Yes, I know it’s only November 30th, but I thought today might be a great day to go back through some of our good reads and see which ones still really jumped out at me. Those of you who are, or have been, on a debt-paying off journey know that there are different phases, so to speak, of the journey, and different articles appeal to you at different times during that journey. Thus, I thought it might be fun to re-visit all of our “Good Reads” posts out there for first quarter and see which ones still really spoke to my heart, so, here they are! read more…
Hey, my friends! Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving (I refuse to call it Black Friday, although the whole topic was a good economics/advertising lesson for the kids the other day. ). Today we welcome a new guest poster on the scene! Give a warm welcome to Anita. Anita is the cousin of Charlie, one of our partners here at The Frugal Farmer, and the co-owner of the Three Thrifty Guys site, which we all know and love (and if you don’t, you should!). Anita, as you’ll be able to tell by her post below, epitomizes what we do here at the Frugal Farm, which is work toward a life of simplicity, frugality and self-sufficiency. Welcome, Anita, and thanks for contributing to The Frugal Farmer!
It’s that time of year again. Christmas is fast approaching and I’m once again thinking about what gifts I’m going to give my friends and family this year. Every year I try to make something for everyone. It may be a Christmas ornament, something baked or something canned from my garden, but whatever it is, it’s handmade. For me handmade items not only add a personal touch to Christmas but they also can be thrifty. read more…