Thursday, March 7, 2013

Natural Laundry Soap DIY Kits are here!

Soap nuts, soapwort root, and papaya leaf
I had been using a liquid soap nuts laundry detergent for our diapers but the company I'd been purchasing from closed shop. From there, it was find a new source, or make my own. Anyone can easily make liquid soap nuts to use as a laundry detergent from instructions online.  It's just boiling actual soap nuts in water; pretty simple.  But, same with cooking, I have this inability to leave a recipe alone . . .

This is something I've been formulating for a little while now. I've always wanted to try soapwort root for washing.  And while researching that, I learned that papaya leaf not only posesses mild cleansing abilities, it is also antibacterial and has been used internally to rid of intestinal worms.  (Saying that, PLEASE do not drink the laundry soap!!!)  I decided to combine the three to see how well it would work on my son's stinky diapers. (If you have a toddler, you know just how stinky those diapers can get!)

1 DIY kit yields 1 pint jar of Natural Laundry Soap
My first batch, I left uncovered and let simmer down too  much, yielding a very small batch.  But the strength was perfect!  My second batch, I covered it to help retain the steam but I didn't watch it carefully and lost a little bit.  At least it yielded a bigger batch!  The strength was still good.  Seeing that, I made a big batch and made sure not to lose any of the steam.  That yielded a  nice big batch, but the strength was diluted and I had to use at least triple the amount I had been using to get near the same strength.

I expected it to clean the diapers at least as well as the previously purchased liquid soap nuts.  Not only did it, but it made them softer - at least in my hard water, I could definitely tell a difference. So then I tried it on my clothes - and they were softer too! However, my mom, who has soft water, didn't feel a difference. Now, I haven't used a fabric softener for years - didn't want to risk buildup on the diapers - so the next test - bath towels.  Since we have ridiculously hard water, some of our cheaper bath towels feel rough, even after being dried in the dryer.  Not only that, but we live in a 112 yr old home, which has no bathroom ventilation besides a window.  Although we use a good fan for air circulation, we still can get that stinky wet towel smell.  Suprisingly, the rough bath towels didn't feel softer like the rest of my clothes, but there was a benefit I didn't think of, which I believe to be due to the papaya leaf.  Normally we use our bath towels for a few days before grabbing clean ones.  As soon as they start to stink, they go in the basket.  I took one of these newly-laundered ones and used it as a test.  It took much, much longer to get that musty wet towel smell!  I also have a waffle weave fabric shower curtain that I wash right with my towels.  It gets lime and rust buildup on it, and while the new laundry soap didn't get it pristine white by any means, it did a heck of a better job than bleach ever did.

The downside: this liquid laundry soap does not take out oil-based stains.  If you wish to use it on your regular laundry, you may still want to use a stain-remover.

Initially I thought I'd sell the Natural Laundry Soap already made into liquid, but I wasn't happy with the bottling choices available.  Then there was the extra cost involved in bottles, lids, seals; not to mention how much extra shipping would cost for the weight.  To save money, I'm offering instead a Do-It-Yourself Natural Laundry Soap Kit (instructions are included): Natural Laundry Soap DIY Kit.  The recipe amounts provided when made fits perfectly in a pint size jar.

Natural Ammonia Remover
I'm also offering 8 oz bags of clinoptilolite zeolite for ammonia stink: Natural Ammonia Remover  Clinoptilolite zeolite is awesome at getting rid of ammonia stink!!  It's a natural zeolite; it looks like small pieces of gravel but actually has tiny holes all through it that attract ammonia via ion exchange. It does not dissolve in water; rather it traps and carries away the ammonia, washing away with the rinse water.  Just use 1 tsp to 2 Tbsp in your initial wash with  no detergent.  It works best with warm or hot water.  It can be used with each pre-wash to prevent ammonia build up.   May also be used in conjunction with white vinegar if desired, depending on water hard/softness. This is one of the same ingredients used for ammonia removal with fish tanks.  Clinoptilolite zeolite is some really cool stuff with a variety of uses!  I'll be putting some in my garden this year to help hold water in our drought-stricken area. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eliminate diaper pail stink!

our diaper pail next to a pine log
Pine.  Yes, pine.  But not just any pine: freshly split pine.  2x4's won't work.  Shaved/sanded down logs (to make them smoother) won't work.  It must be split pine - something about the coarse grain, maybe??  Pictured is red pine; we don't currently have another variety of pine to test out, but I think any split pine would work well.

While the diaper pail spray I make works well on the ammonia that can come with a dirty diaper pail, it wasn't taking care of that toddler-stinky-urine smell.  As our son got older (he's 4 now), the stronger the urine smell became in the dirty diaper pail. I tended to wash every other night just because that was about the time I could smell them.  One of my many diaper pail spray experimental concoctions included sweet orange, lavender, and fir needle essential oils - that one worked fairly well - it needs to be spritzed often - but I thought it was the lavender, never really giving the fir needle essential oil another thought.

Right now my husband is busy cleaning up damaged trees from the tornadoes that ripped through our county in June of 2010.  We plan to install a wood burner before next winter to help save on heating costs.  One day, in the course of our teasing banter, when he was leaving to cut wood, I asked him if he was going to bring me back a bouquet of twigs, and his reply was "no, but I can bring you back a log!"  And he DID!!  He knows I love the smell of freshly cut wood.  Well, the split log ended up in the downstairs bathroom where the diaper pail resides, just a place to temporarily have it out of the way.  And then I noticed . . . the diaper pail smell was missing. 

me, dressed up all scientific-like
So to experiment a little (because I love to experiment!) I took the log out of the bathroom.  The smell returned.  I put the log back in the bathroom and within 15 minutes, I noticed a definite lack of stink.  (yeah, give the picture a good laugh, LOL!  This was for my JM cloth diapering mamas, from my clinoptilolite zeolite experiment back in 2011 - which by the way, works awesome for getting rid of ammonia stink in the wash routine!).  After 2 - 3 weeks, my husband decided to "freshen up" the log, and shaved it down to expose fresh wood.  Right after that, the stink returned.  He shaved it down again, and still the stink was there.  Then we tried a pail full of fresh pine shavings.  No go.  I asked him for a new log, and the stink disappeared again.  This time, I asked him to just leave it be, don't shave it down.  It's been 2 weeks since the fresh log was put in place, and no stink yet.  I don't know how long one log will last, but thankfully we have a good supply.

Another bonus: this has cut WAY down on the amount of clinoptilolite zeolite I need to use in my wash routine.  I'm in process of experimenting how much I can cut back.  Because our water is super ridiculously hard (we are over 10.5 grains per gallon), ammonia can easily build up.  Previous to the pine log, I was using 3 Tbsp per wash - 2 with the initial warm wash, and 1 more with the hot wash with detergent.  But, I also switched to *my* liquid laundry detergent, which is soapnuts, soapwort root, and papaya leaf.  So far I've cut back to 1 tsp total, only in the inital warm wash and that's going well.  Next diaper load I'll skip it altogether and see what happens.

I realize this solution isn't available to everyone - I mean, not everyone has access to free pine logs, LOL!! But if you can get your hands on some, it's well worth it. I mean there is literally NO smell. I'd have to remove the lid, stick my nose in and really inhale deeply to smell them.  Now, I'm washing when I run low on diapers and that can be 3+ days.  I have actually forgotten to wash them, just because I was relying on my sense of smell to tell me when to wash!