Two Letters Re: Savings and Self-Sufficiency with Homemade Laundry Detergent

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I love the Blog! Here is a tip for those readers who would like to save money and their backs by following Carla’s soap recipe. Since I have a cat, I have been using the bargain basement cat litter that come in rectangular HDPE buckets. Rather than throw them out, why not save money by not buying 5 gallon buckets? Of course, one needs a cat owner who uses this product, but with the mess this economy is in, frugal relatives, friends and neighbors may have some. One could make up a smaller batch of her detergent, it would be easier to move around the laundry room, ( thus saving wear-and-tear on the back), they have re-sealable lids and carrying handles, and they are square! These are not safe for food storage, but I have used them for tool carrying, ammo storage (since the Federal government seems to be destroying surplus ammo cans), and other uses. And since square containers pack into trunks and the rear of Bug-Out Vehicles (BOVs) better than round containers, thus freeing up space, they may allow you to carry that little bit of extra gear when you need to Get Out of Dodge G.O.O.D. They also stack Vertically! This may sound like a trivial thing, but as a former U.S. Navy Submariner who served aboard two different Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) subs, I know the importance of using every square inch of space. And a penny saved is a silver dime bought! Hope this sparks other ideas for these containers among the readers. God’s blessings on you and your House. – Bubblehead Les


Dear JWR:
I am a new reader to survival blog and glean new info daily. We are making preparations slowly to Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.), ASAP! Fortunately we do not have jobs to hold us down (husband is self employed and trying to start a web business) and I homeschool and raise our six kids. Unfortunately, the income is not steady and with 6 kids, we do not have as much money as we would like. But with God leading, anything is possible.

The reason for this letter is to add something to the very interesting article about the homemade laundry soap. I have been making our own soap for months now. But there is a way to make it in powder form if you prefer powder detergent:

1 bar Fels Naptha (or 2 bars of Ivory)
1 C Washing soda
1 C Borax

Grate the soap finely. You don’t want big chunks. I use a hand grater, but I suppose you could use a food processor [that is designated for only non-food purposes]. This part takes a long time and is labor intensive.
Then add a cup each of the washing soda and borax. Mix well. I put it into a large plastic freezer bag for compact storage. Add 1 Tablespoon to each load, and get nice clean laundry.

A few things to be aware of: your soap won’t suds up at all. That does not mean you have to add more soap. And clean clothes smell like nothing. You don’t need added scent for clean clothes like most commercial laundry soaps. Also, if you want a softener, then add about a quarter cup of vinegar to the rinse. Your clothes won’t smell like vinegar, but they will be nice and soft. You won’t need a dryer sheet, either.

One last thing: Fels Naptha is a laundry bar. Meaning you can just rub the soap on a stain and watch it come out in the wash. I have tried it, and it does work. So buy an extra bar for stains instead of expensive pre-treaters like Oxy Clean. One bar will last a long time! – Anita