Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wool Dryer Balls

Welcome to the final chapter of replacing dryer sheets and fabric softener.

Wool Dryer Ball
You Will Need:
100% Wool yarn

Instead of giving all the directions right here I'm going to actually show pictures of the step by step process. 

wind the yarn around 2 fingers about 5-6 times. Take your fingers out of the loop you just made and wind the yarn around the center of the loop a few times to make a bow.

Fold the bow in half and wind yard across the length of it.  Keep the yarn tight.  Repeat this process until you can no longer fold it in half. 

 Now just keep winding yarn around and around trying to keep the shape of a ball.  You want the final wool ball to be about the size of a tennis ball. When you get the size you want, cut the yarn and tuck the end in.

 Put the balls into a nylon and tie a knot in between each one so they are separate. Preferably you should do this step when your kids and husband aren't around or they might think it's a pretty awesome weapon and throw it across the room to try and knock toys over.  This may or may not have happened in our house.

Put your weapon balls into the washer and wash on the hottest setting, then put into the dryer on the hottest setting.  Do this 2 or 3 times.  Your goal is to get the wool to sort of fuse together.

And voila, you have some dryer balls. 

The Verdict: It took about an hour to make 4 balls and I wish I had done more.  They have a habit of disappearing in the laundry then appearing later in the play room or occasionally hidden in the dogs bed. 

They aren't as good at getting static out as dryer sheets but they are pretty close.  Close enough that I've been using them for 7 months and don't plan on ever using dryer sheets or fabric softener again.

 I use two for each load and occasionally they can get pretty loud and thump the sides of the dryer, but I just close the door and ignore it..... I use the same method on the play room and the mess in there.

I have heard that you can drop some essential oils in the balls to give your clothes a fresh scent but I haven't tried it yet.

And with that, I am DONE with the laundry posts..... for now. I'm sure I'll come across something else I want to try. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Re-Usable Dryer Sheet

Part 2 of the dryer sheet replacement saga

Re-Usable Dryer Sheet
You Will Need:
Hand Towel
Fabric Softener

Soak the hand towel in the fabric softener until completely wet. Wring out any extra fabric softener then let the towel air dry (this can take a few days) After the towel dries you just throw it in your dryer along with clothes and use it as a dryer sheet for 40-50 loads before soaking again. My clothes are softer then they have ever been when I used fabric softener.

I really liked the idea of being able to still have my clothes have a clean smell when coming out of the dryer, but not having to worry about the dryer sheets that tend to multiply.  Seriously, every time I do laundry I find random dryer sheets around the house for 3 days.

I soaked my towel then quickly realized that my nose was not going to appreciate the smell coming from the towel as it dried.  The fabric softener smell was very strong.  So I hung the towel in the basement shower.  It took about 2 days to fully dry.

 The Verdict: It helped but I didn't think it was as good as a dryer sheet.  The original poster said you can get 40-50 loads out of one towel before you have to soak it again.  I only got 10 before the static cling started to take over.  I read through a lot of comments on the original blog and this one seems to be an either love or hate project.  So it might be worth your time to try it. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Aluminum Foil Dryer Ball

 As I was testing out all my laundry detergents I was also trying a few alternatives to dryer sheets.  Join me as we explore the fascinating world of DIY fabric softeners.

I tried three different kind, so guess what my next three posts are going to be about?

Aluminum Foil Dryer Balls
You Will Need:
aluminum foil

tear off a sheet of aluminum foil, about the length from finger to elbow.  Crumple it up into a ball.  Put it into the dryer with wet clothes.  This can be used several times. 

That is simple enough.

The Verdict: Pretty much worthless.  When I pulled apart some of the kids fleece pajamas the sparks were flying.  Then I pulled a shirt over my daughters head and her hair stuck straight up from the static and needed a lot of coaxing to come down.  I thought maybe it just needed a few loads for the clothes and the foil to become acquainted, but the more I used it the worse things got. So I tossed the foil and moved onto another experiment.

 To be continued...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Carpet Cleaner with Oxiclean

This one was sent to me via email and when I read the ingredients I was pretty excited. (Yes my life is pretty dull when I get excited about cleaning products.  Just last night I had a dream that I cleaned my whole house and I woke up really happy. I think I need a new hobby that doesn't involve cleaning)

  I really like the DIY carpet cleaner I have been using, but because it has hydrogen peroxide in it, it can bleach some darker carpets. 

Carpet Shampoo Solution
1 Cup Oxiclean 
1 Cup Febreze
1 Cup distilled white vinegar

Pour contents into shampooer tank and mix with hot water to fill tank completely. This will not only clean your carpets it will also deodorize. It will smell slightly of vinegar until the carpet is dry, then will smell like Febreze.

I didn't have any Febreze so I made my own.  I mixed all the ingredients together and got a fun little surprise.

Apparently Oxiclean and vinegar have a fun chemical reaction.  Fortunately the bubbles popped very quickly so I didn't have to wait long to continue with the experiment. 

The directions say to pour the mixture into a shampoo tank then fill the rest with hot water.  Because each shampoo tank is a different size I assume this can change the outcome.  My carpet cleaner is a little hand held one so I poured in half the solution, then filled up the rest with hot water.  
 The Verdict: Inconclusive.  Let me explain why.  I set up my carpet cleaner then pressed the button to spray the solution.  I got one good squirt, then a little dribble, then nothing.  The hose was completely clogged and nothing would come out.  Of course I immediately blamed it on the DIY solution I just put in (ignoring the fact that I've only used DIY products in that machine) then I got online to see what I could do about it. 

Apparently getting a clogged hose after about a year is very common with the particular brand I have, even if you only use the carpet cleaning solution that comes with the machine.  So I guess the homemade solutions aren't to blame. 

I found a tutorial online about unclogging the hose and got to work. As I was using the needle nose pliers to unclasp the hose, my hand slipped and I pierced a hole all the way through the hose.  The lovely un-lady like outburst I had sent our skittish dog scurrying to the other room.  Sorry Bud.

So now I had a new carpet cleaning solution just begging to be tested, and no machine.  Time to get old school.

I found a scrub brush, dipped it into the solution and scrubbed my carpet.  Then blotted up the extra with a towel. 

 It got a majority of the stains out but I had to scrub a bit hard. It also left little Oxiclean pellets behind, but they vacuumed up easily once they dried.

 I then tried a spot on the couch (I have no idea what it is, it just appeared one day) and it didn't even lighten it.

 So over all it worked pretty good on my carpet.  I like to think that it would work great in a carpet cleaner, but it will be a while until I can buy a new one and test it out.

If you have tried this solution before I would love to hear what you think about it. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Orange Candle

I have seen two methods for making an orange candle. One way is to place a wick into an empty orange peel, pour in beeswax and tada, a candle inside an orange.  To me the question of that one isn't "will it work" the question is "will you smell the orange?"

The second method is to pour in oil and use the stem in the orange as a wick.  This one seemed a lot more debatable on how well it would work, so I decided to give this one a try first.

Orange Candle
You Will Need:

Cut an orange in half.  Scoop out the insides while leaving the center core-like them in tact.  Pour in kitchen oil (vegetable, olive, etc) just below the stem.  Light the stem. 

I used a spoon to scoop out the middle and it all came out very easily.  I then left it to dry over night. 
 I poured in some vegetable oil then pushed the stem into the oil to let it sit for a bit.  Then I lit it on fire
 The Verdict: After several attempts, I was only able to get a flame for about 5 seconds.

 I went back to the internet to see if I did something wrong and found a tutorial on YouTube

If this guy could make it work in under 4 minutes, surly so can I.

I grabbed another orange and followed his directions exactly.

I held the lighter to the stem for over a minute and all I got was a burned stem,

and a really cool indent from holding the lighter. 

 So either I just have really bad luck or the youtube guy used trick photography, or maybes he's Gandolf.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What I Have Learned About DIY Laudry Detergent

 Disclaimer: I have a HE front loading washing machine with a water softener.  Your results may vary from mine

I have spent the last 8 months experimenting with homemade laundry detergents.  I have tried many recipes and countless combinations of those recipes.  I know the laundry aisle in the store better then I know my closet and can navigate my way through that aisle blindfolded while holding an octopus.

I have learned a lot of things and will share a few of the more important ones.
  • Castile Soap is not a good idea.  It leaves an oily residue behind that is impossible to get out, and over time it can damage clothes.  I've heard that it can also damage your washer.
  • Glycerin is a great stain remover and it dissolves easily in any temperature of water (I have only tried glycerin in a solid form and don't know if results are different with a liquid form)
  • Fels-Naptha is a popular choice for the bar of soap that most recipes call for, but in my opinion Ivory and Dove work just as well and they are easier on the skin.  Fels-Naptha can irritate the skin if to much is used. When I do use Fels-Naphta I always do half of what the recipe calls for and my clothes are still clean.
  • A good food processor will save you an enormous amount of time and energy when it comes time to grate the soap
  • The most important thing I have learned is that Borax and Washing Soda are a must.  Every time I eliminated one or both of those from a recipe my clothes did not got get very clean
So if your going to make your own laundry detergent then you should stick with the basics; Borax, Washing Soda and a bar of soap.  After that it's up to you and your preference.  Do you prefer a more liquid/gel detergent, a creamy one, or dry?

You can also add things to customize it a bit more such as glycerin, Oxiclean, or essential oils. Just play around with a few batches until you find the right combination that works for you.

Good luck and happy washing. I am off to purge my laundry room of a lot of unused detergents and ingredients I will never use again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Borax Free Laundry Detergent

 Welcome to my final installment of homemade laundry detergent. Woo Hoo!!!!  I must say that I am overly excited to be done with this.  For the last several months my laundry room has been over crowded with many bins of half used laundry detergents, soap bars, and boxes of ingredients. 

When I saw this one on Pinterest I was very excited!  I don't have to use Borax or the stinky Fels-Naptha?!?! That is worthy of a celebration

Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Borax 
You Will Need:  
4 ounces glycerin soap grated 
1 cup washing soda 
1/2 cup citric acid 
1/2 cup baking soda 
1/4 cup course salt

Mix the ingredients together and store in a sealed plastic or glass container.  Use one to two tablespoons per load of laundry.

 The citric acid turned out to be difficult to find.  After several stores I eventually found some at Hobby Lobby in the canning area.

 The glycerin soap (which you can get at Hobby Lobby) chopped up very easily in my food processor.

The original poster said that the mixture can clump up and harden so she suggested putting in a moisture killer pack (I have no idea what they are called).  It helped, but the detergent still got a bit hard within 24 hours and I had to use a knife to break up pieces.

The Verdict: Let me put it to you this way; it washed my clothes about as good at my 3 year old cleans up her room.  It got about half way into the job then got distracted and wondered off. As I pulled some of the clothes off I could tell they were cleaner, but still seemed a bit dingy.  Then I got to a pair of my sons underwear that he had had accident in and it was very obvious that these clothes weren't clean. 

I put the same load back in, put in 4 Tbsp this time and let it run again.  There was no difference that time.  The clothes looked and smelled exactly the same as they did after the first wash. 

DANG IT!!!!! I was really excited about this one and was hoping it would work for me.  Oh well. Disclaimer: I have a front loading machine and a water softener so you might get different results

So there you have it, my laundry detergent experiment is done and I have learned A LOT, but that will have to wait for another post. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Going 'Poo Free Take 2

Back in July I attempted to go 'poo free. After 2 1/2 weeks I couldn't handle it anymore (for many reasons) and stopped the experiment. 

After I shared that blog post, a friend of mine pointed out that I didn't give the baking soda shampoo a fair chance because I used regular conditioner instead of apple cider vinegar.

He said:
"you may need to use the vinegar to help remove the baking soda from your hair. The reaction that occurs between baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) is a decomposition reaction which results in carbon dioxide and water as well as a diluted solution of a salt known as sodium acetate. If you are willing to try this again I highly recommend the use of vinegar to help clear the baking soda from your hair"

My response:
"The last time I used vinegar on a regular basis it made my hair fall out. So I'm not willing to try it again. But I do agree with you, I'm sure using the vinegar would make a big difference."

Apparently my friend used some sort of Jedi Mind Trick on me because he eventually convinced me to try it again, with the understating that if my hair fell out again he would be getting hate mail.  

So my plan was to use the same baking soda recipe, then follow it with a apple cider vinegar rinse. 

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
You Will Need:
1 Tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
1 Cup water

Mix the two ingredients together then pour a little on just the ends of your hair, let it rest for a few seconds, then rinse it out.

I was hopeful that since I was just pouring the apple cider vinegar on the ends of my hair and not scrubbing it into my scalp that my hair would stay in place this time.  

The Verdict: First of all MY HAIR DIDN'T FALL OUT!!!!! That is always a good sign.  The last time I tried this I had many complaints so I will address them again and give my new opinion for each one:

1) It didn't get all my products out of my hair.  This time I didn't use any products and I didn't need them, my hair didn't frizz at all.  The problem is I don't know if that's because of the vinegar rinse or because I did this 2 months later and the humidity wasn't as problematic. 

 2) My roots felt pretty clean, and they never did get extra oily but the rest of my hair felt dirty.  It felt like I had grabbed a hand full of sand, rubbed it all over my hair and went on with my day My hair still did have a bit of a dirty feeling to it, but it was very minimal this time.  When my hair was wet it was a bit harder to manage and blow drying it was a bit frustrating sometimes since the round brush would get stuck in my hair, but once my hair dried it was fairly soft and easy to do. 

3) Because it was basically water, it was not easy trying to massage it into my scalp, especially around the base of my neck.  I would try to flip my head over so gravity would help but then the baking soda water would run up my nose or into my eyes. It took time, but eventually I got the hang of it and was able to massage the baking soda into my scalp with no problem, and even though it was basically water, I could tell where I had massed the mixture into my scalp and where I had missed. The vinegar was really easy to use.  I just poured some right onto the ends of my hair, massaged it in then rinsed it out and my hair NEVER smelled like vinegar after. 

4) Even with using regular conditioner my hair started to dry out and break very easily, especially when blow drying it.  My hair did dry out, but not nearly as bad as last time.  It could also be that my hair was 'normal' and I'm just to use to overly moisturized hair. 

5) I got some awesome static cling. My hair never got static cling, again this could be due to the change in the weather, but it was nice to not have hair stuck to my face all day. 

Overall Verdict:  The apple cider vinegar definitely made a difference.  Personally I don't plan on using it anymore, but that's because of the length and thickness of my hair, I want the extra softness and moisture that comes from regular shampoo and conditioner.  If I had a shorter hair cut that was easier to manage I would definitely switch and go 'poo free.

So thank you Obi Wan Kenobi for using your mind tricks and getting me to try this one again.  You no longer have to worry about an angry skunk showing up in your mailbox