Laundry Detergent

Dear Boys,

Had I lived back in the pioneer days and needed a job, I doubt anyone would have suggested, “Perhaps you could be a laundress.”

I apologize for any bad genes/poor habits I may have passed along to you.  I have been working to improve up on them since I first lived away from home.

My freshman year in college, I stayed in Pearsons dorm at Berea College.  It is an old building, erected in 1910, built by the donation of a Dr. Pearson.  His grant stated that the construction of the dorm must be done by student labor.  It is not the only building on campus with such a rich heritage.  Even the bricks were handcrafted by the students.  To this day, every student at Berea has a job on campus.  It is a wonderful example of community and the honor found in labor.

(Just a small history lesson there while you wait for your laundry to wash or dry.)

I loved our little loft room at Pearson Hall.  Our desks were on the main floor, and we slept in the loft.

I developed the foolhardy habit of avoiding laundry until I had absolutely nothing left to wear.

I have an image in my head of seeing the main floor of our room covered in dirty clothes.

My poor roommate.

Fast forward to my senior year.  I had tried to mend my dirty ways and improve upon my laundry routine.  You see, there was this guy I really liked.  He inspired me to do about a million things better than I had before.

You know him.  He goes by the name Dad.

He came to visit me one weekend at Berea and found me doing my laundry.  He offered to help.  After noting all the precise folding and organizing I was doing, he said that he never knew there was a Dewey Decimal System for laundry.

I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not, but I knew then my ways had been corrected.

Perhaps over-corrected.

Skip to today.  Twenty-three years and four children later,  I’m probably somewhere in the middle of that laundry continuum.  I have a  hamper now.  I’ll let anyone fold who will help me and not critique their methods.  I still don’t iron.  Wrinkle-free fabric is a revolution of the 20th century.  I must confess:  if a shirt stays in the dryer so long that the wrinkles can’t be fluffed out, I’ll rewash it to avoid ironing.

Maybe I’m not as far along on this whole laundry thing as I thought . . .

can share one excellent laundry tip:  If you make your own detergent, you’ll save a small fortune and still have clean clothes.  One batch lasted our family of six for about five months the last time I counted.  Single guys like yourselves won’t need more detergent for years.

There are lots and lots of recipes out there, but this one has handled the best you three could give me.

I make ours in a five-gallon bucket with a tight-sealing lid.

I have found all the ingredients at Walmart in the detergent aisle.

You pour into the bucket the following ingredients:

DSC_03234 lbs. baking soda,


a 4 lb. 12 oz. box of Borax,


a 3 lb. 7 oz. box of Super Washing Soda,


a 3 lb. tub of Oxi Clean, and


a 55 oz. bottle of Purex Fabric Softener Crystals.  The original recipe stated the fabric softener is optional, but I always use it.  You really want soft clothes, and you want them to smell fresh and clean.

DSC_0328You also need two bars of Fels Naptha or Zote soap.  They didn’t have the Zote at our store, so we went with this.

DSC_0343Both bars of soap have to be grated.  You can either use a food processor or elbow grease.  It doesn’t take that long, and my food processor didn’t shred it as finely as I would have liked when I tried it one time.

DSC_0355Add the soap to the rest of the ingredients in the bucket.


Then hand it to a strong, handsome young man to shake it for you.

Oh, wait, y’all are strong, handsome young men, so you’ll be able to handle this next step on your own.

DSC_1089The original recipe recommended saving the fabric softener bottle, removing the label, and using that as the dispenser.  It is an excellent idea.

I use 2 Tbsp. per load.  If you save the fabric softener bottle as your dispenser, you can fill the blue, dome-shaped cap to the middle line, and that is about 2 Tsbsp.

One other laundry tidbit I’ll pass along:  gym clothes really must be washed after each wearing.  Must.

I love you,


P.S.  I love the new countertop you and Dad built in our laundry room, Will!  Thank you!


2 responses to “Laundry Detergent

  1. I like this idea and I like the idea of saving money. My question is where do u buy 5 gallon buckets with lids? LOL

    • We got ours from an online shop called Breadbeckers. We bought a couple with air-tight lids for storing wheat kernels without worry of insects or moisture. You can also get buckets with lids at Lowes or Home Depot, though. Hope you find one! : )

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