Sunday, January 08, 2012

How to: Launder a Fresh Smelling Gi (and it's not bleach!)

 Made a discovery just before Christmas that I gotta share.

100% natural homemade laundry soap, made by a firefighter in Maryland who sells her stuff on Etsy, that smells oh-so-good and costs the same or cheaper than commercially made laundry detergent.

She makes her own cocoa butter soap bars (which you can also buy on her Etsy site) and allows them to dry outside in the sun for about 1 week before grinding them up. Then she adds baking soda, borax and soda ash (aka washing soda) and mixes it all together with pure scented oil. It is free of harsh chemicals, detergents, and petroleum products that store-bought products are mostly comprised of.

I tried three of her fragrances and can't decide which one I like best so far.  (I tried the apricot-chamomile-tangerine-orange... the vanilla-walnut... and the "fresh snow" which is a clean, laundry-ish, otherwise-indescribable fresh scent. She included a sample of Monkey Farts too-- which is described as pineapple/banana/grape/cherry/bubble gum/vanilla.)  The scent is strong enough to last on a gi through a class and into open mat.  I have a front-loading, HE (high efficiency) washer and this works great in it because it's very low sudsing.  I use 2 Tbsp of soap per load because I like the fresh scent to be relatively strong and I want to be double-sure things are clean.  You're supposed to use a tablespoon for a front loader, or two for a top loader.

It comes in a little paper sack with a wee wooden scoop that is just about one tablespoon.  I transferred it to a tupperware container because one of my sacks sprung a small leak during shipping.  She charges $7.49 a pound for the soap, and shipping is $5.95 each (or, if you order 3 lbs at once, she'll ship them all for the cost of one.)

I found that using about 2 Tbsp per load (I liked the smell!) I got 43-45 loads out of one package of soap.  You should get the same "coverage" if you have a top loader.  That's $.17 per load, or if you figure in the shipping and buy 3 pounds, it's $.22 per load.  Tide liquid laundry detergent with 24 loads was $5.54 today at my grocery store, on sale, which is $.23 a load.  I guess it's not a huge savings, but I like the smell, first of all... and the fact that it's ordinary ingredients, not petrochemicals, and it's supporting a small business-owner (a woman and a firefighter, on top of that.)

I did a test run with some white bathtowels to guesstimate the cleaning capacity.  Unbeknownst to my husband, I rubbed yellow mustard into two, grape juice into a second pair, and spaghetti sauce on the third pair.   One load of one each was washed with Tide in warm water, and one load was washed with just one tablespoon of her homemade soap and warm water.  All towels came out clean except (cough) for a faint pink spot on the grape juice towels.  (I bleached them.)  Assuming my husband doesn't read this blog, I should be fine.  Assuming you don't spill grape juice on your white gi, you should also be fine with one tablespoon of the soap.

I did some research on homemade laundry soap for this post, of course.  Some people with hard water complain about soap residue (but that is a problem with hard water, no matter what kind of soap you use.)  Some people with septic systems say that soap flakes clog up the system-- but this looks more fine and powdery, so I don't know what to tell you.  I don't have septic, but if you do, please share what you know. A series of questions and answers on the subject of homemade laundry soap and septic systems here indicated this wouldn't harm a septic system...

I read about it here, on the Prairie Homestead blog, where the author made a liquid/gel version, and on about five hundred other sites.  Pretty much everyone uses the same recipe, except this version adds baking soda too.  I think this may help with the pH of the water and it's a common laundry additive.

I love the variety of scents this gal offers.  I found the apricot-chamomile-tangerine one to be soft and less citrusy... the vanilla-walnut is creamy, nutty and not overly sweet... and the fresh snow is very typically laundry-ish.  Some others I plan on trying..

AUTUMN HARVEST (LIMITED EDITION) ~ hints of cranberry & autumn citrus fruits. It's the scent of fall & the crunch of fallen leaves.
BABY BEE ~ Scented in Peaches, Coconut, Bergamot, Oranges, & Lemons.
BUTT NAKED ~ Sweet smelling, has fresh apples perfectly harmonized with refreshing melons & juicy pears.
IRELAND JADE CLOVER ~ wonderful ozony blend of clover, green grass, with hints of fresh cut wisteria. Refreshing!
LIME CUPCAKE with VANILLA CREAM FROSTING ~ Persian lime and lemon zests topped off with vanilla cream!
OATMEAL, MILK, HONEY ~ Perfect blending of the 3 scents Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey.
PUMPKIN CRUNCH CAKE (Limited Edition) ~ Pumpkin pie filling, yellow cake, pecans & spices.
SOAPY CLEAN ~ Clean, unisex scent that smells just like its name. Neutral smell like you've just taken a shower.
YUZU ~ Japanese grapefruit with a peachy, strawberry scent.

 Now I'm hungry :)

Anyway, thought I'd share.  I'm off the mats for a bit... doing some minor medical procedures in the pursuit of fertility, plus caught a cold.  I hope I am over both by next weekend, because I'm doing the Women's Grapple Camp in San Antonio with Emily Kwok and Val Worthington!  I'd hate to have to just sit and watch but if that's what I gotta do, I will.


Steve said...

I might be interested in an unscented version. I don't want my clothes/gis to smell like fruit! :)

And I'm a 100% believer in white vinegar. If anyone has a problem with residue, try a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. It makes the clothes smell clean, no vinegar smell at all, helps kill bugs and also helps with the rinse.

I bet this soap plus vinegar is a winning combo.

Triin said...

Oh snap, we just did my daughter's 4th grade science project about laundry detergents. This would have been a nice addition.
Will definitely try it out!

Anonymous said...

Is it any good on blood stains?

Georgette said...

Anonymous, I imagine it's as good as any other soap... since it is, after all, soap..

Just make sure you wash in cold water, not warm or hot.

Shark Girl said...

Love that you did your own Consumer Reports testing. Can't wait to try the soap. thanks for the heads up.

Brendan said...

This is awesome. My training partners are already thanking you.