Clothes hang on the line to dry after being washed with homemade laundry soap. (Betsy Wharton/for Peninsula Daily News)

Clothes hang on the line to dry after being washed with homemade laundry soap. (Betsy Wharton/for Peninsula Daily News)

PENINSULA KITCHEN: For a change of pace, make your own soap

TAKING A BREAK from the kitchen this week, I thought I’d share a recipe meant for the laundry room.

This recipe came to me from a no-nonsense gal I met the Drop-in Center at First Step Family Support Center.

Peggy had recently been laid off from her back-office job at a small construction company.

She wanted to stay busy while looking for a new job, and took the opportunity to give something back.

For a few months, she’d come and help package diapers, hold babies, take donations, bake muffins and generally make herself useful.

She and I exchanged some recipes.

One day Peggy brought me her mother’s recipe for laundry soap.

She preferred it to store bought because of the simple smell and because it was less expensive than the grocery store alternatives.

My husband and I are always looking for ways to reduce the amount of mysterious chemicals that we wash down the drain.

The Puget Sound really does start right here … right in our sink.

We have switched back to bar soap, and we use vinegar for most cleaning jobs.

A few months ago, I decided to try out Peggy’s laundry soap recipe again.

So far, I like the results.

It cleans clothes with minimal smell and is way cheaper.

There is a lot of chemistry involved in washing soaps and I am on a steep learning curve.

The three ingredients in this recipe — borax, washing soda and Fels Naptha — sound simple and old fashioned, but are they safer for the environment than Tide Pods?

l will have to leave that question to the chemists, but I can say for sure this recipe will yield an effective and affordable laundry soap.

Peggy’s homemade laundry soap

1 bar “Fels Naptha” soap, grated (comes out to approximately 2 cups)

1 cup borax

1 cup washing soda

¼ cup OxyClean (not necessary but it does improve stain removal)

Mix it all together into a bumpy, granular mix.

Don’t worry about stuff getting correctly dispersed, even if it doesn’t look like it does.

Use 1 tablespoon per load or 2 tablespoons, if it’s an extra dirty load.

Betsy’s laundry gel

We have a front loader that needs liquid soap, so with a little googling I learned to just add water to Peggy’s homemade powder and simmer.

Make the powder according to Peggy’s directions.

Place powder in a large stainless steel or enamel pot with 1.5 gallons of water and bring to a simmer.

Simmer for 20 minutes or so to ensure all the solid crystals are dissolved.

Pour into wide mouth jars and allow to cool.

The cooled soap will be the consistency of a firm gel.

Use 1 generous teaspoon per load*.

And If you want softer laundry, add ¼ cup vinegar to the rinse cycle rather than adding a dryer sheet.

*I have been doing loads with 1 teaspoon for four weeks now and the clothes are getting clean.

Peggy’s recipe says 2 tablespoons, which I think that is too much.

My washing machine repair guy once told me, “if you are following the directions on the soap bottle, you are using too much soap.”

________

Betsy Wharton is the proprietor of the Clallam Canning Co., a local purveyor of artisan pickles and other farm to jar goods. You can find her and her products at the Sprouting Hope Greenhouse at 826 E. First St. in Port Angeles. Or contact her at betsy@clallam canningcompany.com.

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