Doing your laundry with a Japanese Hillbilly twist #Cleaning#Do It Yourself#cleaning products#clothes#housekeeping#laundry July 18 | Guest post by Breanna Like many young adults (of my generation, at least), there are three options for doing laundry: 1. Beg parents. This normally comes with a benefit of food. 2. Haul everything to a laundromat and pay $5 per load. And wonder who is watching your underwear spinning around at light-speed in the dryer. 3. Don't. Re-wear until death, spot clean as needed and buy new undies every paycheck. Vicious cycle, huh? Well, our grand-parents and great grandparents didn't necessarily have high efficiency washers and dryers. They had time, the sun, the wind, and Borax. And taking a few pages from their books, I came up with my brilliant plan that, believe it or not, will only end up costing me $30 a year. You'll need: A bucket (two actually, both with lids if you can get them) An old school, unused plunger Scissors. 1 4lb box of Borax 1 3lb box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda 1 3lb container of OxiClean 2 14.1 bars of Zote Soap OR 3 bars of Fels Naptha 2 2lb boxes Arm and Hammer Baking Soda 1-2 55oz bottle of Purex Crystals (COMPLETELY OPTIONAL! Use 1 for a light scent and 2 for a heavier scent) Fine Cheese Grater AND you'll also want a line of some sort. Army Stores have 550 Paracord which you can get other places. But a regular line in the camping section of a super store would work too. Making the laundry soap: Use lingerie bags for washing delicates AND sweaters I hate washing things by hand. In addition to sweaters, I think that other delicate clothing/unmentionables last longer if you wash them by hand. My... [more] Grab a bucket and start cheese grating the Zote or Fels Naptha. This is literally the longest part of the entire process. After you have grated all of the soap, gradually mix in all of the other ingredients and seal away. Believe it or not, this laundry soap only takes 1-2 tablespoons a load, AND costs you maybe $30 a year. Hallelujah, right? Using a washing method: If you're using this soap with a high efficiency washer, it will only take one tablespoon. And, as a warning, it doesn't suds up, so don't ever add more than that. It's actually better for the washer and for those with sensitive skin for that reason. If you don't have a washing machine, you can make your own "hillbilly washer." To make instructions short as possible, cut 3-6 quarter sized holes in the plunger's rubber with scissors and place in a bucket. If using the hillbilly washer, do small loads at a time, wring them out and hang them. It's best to come home from a bad day at work, or turn on some really angry music and just plunge and stir away with the plunger. I've also heard this works great on cloth diapers, so that's a plus. Drying laundry: When it comes time for the lining of the clothes, its preferable to pick a hot, windy day, but sometimes you just have to make do. However in the States, we don't have a "laundry index" like Japan does. (Seriously, it's awesome to look at, and it makes me really jealous of the Japanese). So use your best judgement. If it looks like rain, don't put out your clothes. If you feel like dying when you step out into the heat, probably a quick clothes drying day. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Breanna 20 something young girl, overworked, underpaid, lives with 2 cats and her soldier. PREVIOUS Throw this party: LumberJack and Jill anniversary party! NEXT Want to spice up your retro 1960s house? Put a bowling alley in the basement and fun will come to you Toggle comments [ 64 ] YES! I'm totally making this mixture. I wash my clothes in the bathtub all the time. I wish I had more space in my apartment to hang things to dry, but I make do with one of these http://tinyurl.com/7sub6vg and my shower rack. 2 agree Reply You have more than I do, for sure! But we only have 670 sq. feet to work with, so every inch counts. 0 agree Reply protip on the zote/fels napatha bar: 1-slice it up like cheese for a party on a plate, paper or otherwise. 2- pop it in the microwave for like 30 sec, depending on size of the slice 3- watch in wonder at it expands like a crazy, sciencey alien 4- grab a piece for grating with a doubled papertowel, they'll be BLAZING hot Result- 2xs faster grating! 0 agree Reply When we make ours, I use the grater blade on my food processor. Super fast! We also unwrap our soap and let it sort of dry out first for a couple of days (we use Ivory rather than Zote/Fels Naptha, though I might switch it up next batch). I find it grates better when it's drier. 0 agree Reply I think I might finally make some of the laundry mix. We'll probably still use the coin operated machines in our building, but detergent is so expensive! I like the bad day plungey cleaning idea though, we used to wash some of our clothes by hand (literally with our hands and a wooden spoon) in our bath tub using a textured bath mat to scrub. Great workout. 0 agree Reply Its best after a really bad day at work! Thats when the clothes get cleanest! 1 agrees Reply My former house (for 18 years) had traditionally been a widows house. Literally, my husband and I were the only family we could find out about in the 100year + history of the house, every other occupant had been an aged widow! My DH's grandfather (97) could remember walking to school and passing the house while the "Old Lady" Ott sat in her rocker on the back porch and washed her clothes in a washtub by swishing and stomping them around with her feet! 0 agree Reply You go girl! This is what I used to do until I was gifted a laundry pod for christmas. The only things I machine was are bedspreads. I live in a tiny apartment and use a drying rack on my balcony in the summer or put it in the tub during winter. Anothe thing you can do is you can buy a another shower curtain rod for like $10 and hang it over the center of the bathtub. That way you have two shower curtain bars to hang things on. I use the middle one for things that are drippy after ringing them out, and the out shower rod for things that are almost dry and not drippy. Also I use sock hangers that have multiple clips on each hanger, use them for underwear, socks, and bras. 3 agree Reply Oh how I love my homemade laundry detergent! I only use Borax, Oxyclean, and washing soda though. I think when it runs out I might try adding the Purex crystals. What is the point of the baking soda though? Deodorant purposes? I also need to find a better container for mine, with a good seal. I suspect the slight dampness of my basement is why it is one gigantic rock….. 3 agree Reply It's not baking soda, (sodium bicarbonate) it's washing soda (sodium carbonate). It's a water softener and is often marketed as a "laundry booster". It binds with calcium and magnesium in the water so that it doesn't bind with your detergent. So in other words, it makes your detergent more effective. It's also amazing at getting the blood out of reusable pads. Just put the pads in hot water with the washing soda, and it comes right out. Way more effective than a cold water soak. 1 agrees Reply Pretty sure the recipe says baking soda too. 3 agree Reply The baking soda, if I am correct, helps with blood, chocolate and brightening the whites even more. 0 agree Reply Add 1/4 cup of plain old vinegar (I use distilled) to the rinse as a deodorizer/softener. It will make your clothes soft, and the vinegar smell disappears when they dry. I add it in my front loader, and it has the added bonus of cleaning out the soap residue from the clothes and washer! It took the cat pee smell out of a shirt one of my sister's kitties had blessed. 3 agree Reply I have made my own laundry soap for a little more than a year and it works great. I only mix together Borax, washing soda and Fels Naptha, though, but I do add varying levels of Oxyclean on top, depending on the load. I do, however, put white vinegar in the Downy fabric softener ball to make sure everything rinses out cleanly — sometimes a residue remains on my pants (but never my husband's pants, for some reason) if I don't. Also, I hear this is really good for high-efficiency machines since it doesn't sud up. We don't have one, but it's what I hear. 2 agree Reply When I was a kid we lived on a research station in the Serengeti National Park. No washing machines in sight! Mom learned from the old bush hands that the simplest way to wash all our clothing and sheets while keeping her hands from getting raw was to run a bit of water in the bathtub with detergent, put the stuff in, and stomp around on it. Maybe a bit of hand-scrubbing on particularly recalcitrant stains, but the tub-stomping method saved her hands. With the bonus that four-year-old me could help. We had a huge rainwater tank to use for water when elephants dug up the water pipes coming in to the station during the dry season, which is a sentence not many people get the chance to use, but I think at those times we just didn't bother to wash clothes except at direst need! Mom also tells me that everyone learned to tie-dye as it kept your white sheets from looking dingy. 14 agree Reply Please turn this comment into a full article! "We had a huge rainwater tank to use for water when elephants dug up the water pipes coming in to the station during the dry season," This sentence makes me want to read your memoir! 31 agree Reply HA! Seriously, who doesn't love laundry stories that involve elephants!? 16 agree Reply I love this so much!! We have a washer and dryer (and use homemade soap with it), but this is an awesome way to save money and get some stress out! Just one question though, before hanging them out to dry should you rinse them in clean water? I don't even know if our washer does that, I'm just guessing here! 1 agrees Reply YES! Definitely rinse! Otherwise you will get rashes in not so pretty places with any soap you use! 0 agree Reply Where do you FIND washing soda? I've wanted it for other homemade cleaner recipes and just can't find it. Of course, I've only really checked grocery stores. Where should I be looking? 0 agree Reply I always get it on Amazon. I think I saw it once at an Ace Hardware, but I didn't need any at the time and haven't seen it in a brick-and-mortar store since. 0 agree Reply I just saw this whilst out grocery shopping the other day… Unfortunately I'm about to have a baby and have been doing a TON of shopping at a dozen different stores in the past week! It was either at Weis or Wegman's, though, in Maryland. Look in the laundry supplies aisle, and you might have better luck at either a larger store or one that has a good supply of natural/organic/green products. 0 agree Reply Anie, I totally included the Amazon link to the Arm and Hammer Washing Soda in the "you'll need" section, along with all the other ingredients. 0 agree Reply I get it at Walmart 1 agrees Reply I purchased my box at Hyvee (Kansas City) and I've also seen it at Walmart. It never hurts to make a request at your local grocer to start stocking it. 0 agree Reply Which Hyvee? I'm in the Northland and have been searching for all the stuff to make this! 0 agree Reply I'm in Topeka and all our local Dillon's carry it in the laundry aisle. 0 agree Reply Also, Kansas (and parts of Missouri) has REALLY hard water. You pretty much have to use the vinegar in a downy ball method to ensure no white residue on clothing. 0 agree Reply My Dad was a grocer, and it was something we always carried. I like to use as a soak for removing stains, and once I mummified a chicken in it, but lately I've been having trouble finding it. I went all over the place looking for it either as Arm and Hammer Washing Soda or Amaze by Sunlight, and couldn't find it at any grocery store. Finally someone suggested that I try Walmart and that's where I finally found some Amaze. So to summarize. It's not just you, and try Walmart. Oh, and apparently you can convert Baking Soda into Washing Soda. http://naturesnurtureblog.com/2012/05/08/ttt-turn-baking-soda-into-washing-soda/ 1 agrees Reply The phrase "once I mummified a chicken in it" needs some explanation and a tutorial. 14 agree Reply It was for my entry in the Mad Science competition at the Canadian National Steampunk exhibition. I did take pictures to do an Instructable, but then never got around to it. 0 agree Reply Um, agreed. And then to submitted as a guest post to Offbeat Home! 2 agree Reply Thought for a moment you were having trouble finding chickens. 0 agree Reply I found it in the ethnic (Mexican) grocery in a neighboring town. 0 agree Reply Walmart, in their laundry detergent aisle, around the borax. Doesn't take much looking. If you happen to run across a walmart associate, ask them if their department 13 has washing soda. Dep. 13 stands for chemical goods, like tide, works, and all the other chemicals I used to unload off the trucks. 1 agrees Reply You can make it yourself by butting baking soda in the oven (am I the only one finding this funny? baking, oven. Ok I know I'm a misunderstood comic) check the web for the exact process, but it is real simple. 0 agree Reply I know this is like forever and a day later, but I learned I can MAKE washing soda! Check out this link: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/01/make-your-own-washing-soda-for-homemade-laundry-detergent.html You just put a thick layer of baking soda on a cookie sheet (a lip on the sheet helps a bit) and bake it at 400 degrees for an hour. Done! 0 agree Reply In Canada, I've even seen it at larger grocery stores. It's made by Arm & Hammer, and it's in a blue box. 0 agree Reply For those of you listing alternative recipes, could you give your volumes? (I was going to say proportions but that sounded a little dirty) XD 0 agree Reply I use Fels Naptha soap, Borax, and Washing Soda: 1 bar FN 1 cup B 1 cup WS Use at 1 Tbs/load, makes about 60 loads. I've never had any staining or residue problems with this recipe! I've also used Dial soap, which is recommended for those that prefer a lighter fragrance. FN smells like lemons, which I prefer :o) 0 agree Reply I seem to remember another article about homemade laundry soap on offbeathome a while back in which someone commented that Naptha soap isn't great for you. I don't mean to put this post down at all, especially since I don't actually have any hard information to contribute other than "I think I remember a post way back sometime . . .". But does anyone have any information about that? 0 agree Reply I've never heard of Fels Naptha soap, but FYI the recipe I've used for homemade laundry soap just used a bar of natural olive oil soap, and it worked fine! http://littlecityfarm.blogspot.ca/2011/05/do-it-yourself-bulk-homemade-natural.html 0 agree Reply There was a lot of Naptha talk in this post: http://offbeathome.com/2011/03/make-laundry-soap 0 agree Reply Yes! That's the one I meant, thanks! 0 agree Reply im not sure on how bad felz is for you but if you get into poison ivy wash all exposed parts with felz soap within an hour and no itch.. my neighbors have an infestation and anytime i need to trim that side of the fence i get a bad case until i started coming in and washing immediately with felz. 0 agree Reply Ooh, that might make for a good "great idea" post! Thanks for the tip Cass. 1 agrees Reply Any soap will work. I used a bar of Dr. Bronners. 0 agree Reply I recently converted to making my own laundry soap and I love it! My washing machine is small and can't wash comforters, so I might have to give the bathtub-stomping method a shot. Love these kinds of tips! 0 agree Reply My boss at work also lives in the same apartments and on her days off will soak all her laundry all day in the tub. She lives upstairs so she gets the benefit of a patio. So unfair. 0 agree Reply It's not quite the same thing, but The Weather Network has a Lawn and Garden forecast, and I imagine that days when plant watering needs are high would also translate into days that are good for hanging your wash outside. http://www.theweathernetwork.com/gardening/caon0258 1 agrees Reply I've been using the bucket-and-plunger method for a few months now. I live in a remote Brazilian town and most families have simple agitating machines but even those are expensive, and since my little place came with a sweet double sink – one half is molded into a washboard at a convenient angle, and the other is deep and round. The bucket and plunger work pretty well and are definitely easier than washing each item by hand, although I find it's still a good idea to check each item and wash dirtier parts on the washboard – deodorant stains, underwear and socks, pant hems, and mud stains need special attention. Soaking clothes for a while and plunging periodically also helps and saves your arms. I use a big bucket – maybe 5 gallons – which handles a set of double sheets or two towels well, and the plunger has been a lifesaver for these and heavy clothes like jeans and sweatshirts. I highly recommend drilling the holes in the plunger rather than cutting them if possible. I didn't, and one of my cuts came out teardrop shaped, and then the pointy part ripped a bit and now the clothes sometimes catch in the rip. I'm not going to do my laundry like this forever – it really does take a lot more time – but it's kind of meditative and nice to break my mental dependence on washing machines. another tip for those with the sun, wind, and space… Don't bother wringing out sturdier items like t-shirts and sheets. The weight of the water will stretch them as they dry and leave them less wrinkled. 1 agrees Reply I make liquid laundry soap using Fels Naptha, Borax, and washing soda. I've been doing it for the last 3 years and so far I've spent a grand total of $15. After the next batch I make (soon!) that total will go to $17. I've used Ivory soap, too, when I couldn't find Fels Naptha. This stuff even works on cloth diapers almost as well as the Cotton Babies detergent – if I line dry them I can't tell a difference! 0 agree Reply If using on cloth diapers I would make sure to leave out the fabric softener. 1 agrees Reply I'm allergic to borax (seriously, when I was a kid, my dad started putting some in the wash, and I got a full-body rash that looked like I had gotten bitten all over by giant alien space ants). Will this still work without it? 0 agree Reply I would assume so. The real power is really in the oxyclean, the soap and the sodas. Why not try it and see how it works for you? There are also always other recipes for it. 0 agree Reply I do this! It doesn't just save money by using cheap ingredients and no electricity, handwashing also makes your clothes last a lot longer which is an additional saving! 1 agrees Reply Borax is not available within the EU (it's actually banned). You can get substitutes, but I just use Dr Bronners – 4-5 tbsp per load, depending on how big your load/machine is. You can get gallon bottles really cheaply on Amazon (I would also buy a pump dispenser if getting a large bottle of soap). It's a little more expensive than DIYing it but still eco-friendly and much easier :p FYI, I get the unscented soap and then if I want some fragrance, add a couple of drops of essential oil to a clean rag/cloth and add that to my laundry. 0 agree Reply This is pretty similar to how I used to wash clothes when I was in the Peace Corps. I used two buckets, one for washing and one for rinsing, with store-bought powdered detergent. After two years of that, I was happy to move into an apartment with washing machines in the basement — though as you say, they're expensive. Now you've got me almost nostalgic enough to try the bucket method again. 1 agrees Reply I make my own version of the above detergent, and I always find borax and washing soda at hardware stores (read tools and gardening equipment) in the cleaning section. However, I use a little apartment sized portable washing machine (Haier, http://www.walmart.com/ip/Haier-1-cu.-ft.-Portable-Washing-Machine-HLP21N/13346456) and I fucking LOVE IT. We have a newborn and the washing machine full does one days worth of baby clothes, diapers and washcloths. And it spin drys so well, the diapers are always dry within 8 hrs. We use our canopy bed and a set of plastic hangers like a drying closet, best drying rack ever (if your clothes are spin dried first). I would highly recommend this particular model of portable washer if the plunger thing doesn't appeal to you! 0 agree Reply Do you empty the soapy water from your hillbilly washer and refill with clean water to rinse the clothes, or just wring with the detergent still on them? 1 agrees Reply Empty. The apartments we live in pay for our water as long as we pay the gas and electric. But you do always need to rinse out any clothes with detergent on them, no matter how its made. The soap in contact with your skin has the potential to give you a horrible rash (Trust me, I learned the hard way with my undies) 0 agree Reply Thanks! I figured that was the case, but didn't want to assume. I've never made homemade detergent so didn't know if there was something different about it. 0 agree Reply Made this in January via Pinterest: Still going strong and it's almost August!!! I do laundry for five people. Best. Thing. Ever. Also look up the recipe for dishwasher soap. It's almost the same thing. 2 agree Reply I have a recipe that I have been using for a while now and it is even simpler than this: 1 bar Fels-naptha (grated) 4 cups Washing Soda 3 cups Baking Soda I removed the Borax because I found out it wasn't good for the environment and we're on septic so our waste hits the environment faster. The other ingredients listed aren't really needed. This washes better than the liquid version of detergent that I used to use. So far as I can tell this makes enough for about 60 loads (I am going to track that a little better next batch) I also use white vinegar in place of fabric softener – cheaper and better for you. 0 agree Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. 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