I had been using All Free and Clear. Since I know people with access to the Commissary I could get the good stuff without the optical brighteners and other not so hot things for cloth diapers. (Handy Dandy list of what I am talking about here) After that ran out, I decided I needed to go even cheaper. I looked at a few recipes, and here is what I tried.
2 bars Ivory soap, shredded
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax
30 drops Grapefruit Peppermint EO (it's what I had lying around)
In 6c hot water, melt shredded Ivory. Fill 5 gallon bucket 1/2 way with hot water, add melted Ivory, washing soda and Borax. Stir. Fill remainder with water. Stir again, just to be sure. Let sit overnight. Fill recycled and cleaned detergent bottle. Use 4 oz per load.
The detergent is jell-ish after it sits. I stirred again to break it up into uniform lumps. I've heard it called "egg-drop soup" I just use the full cap on an old detergent bottle. Either way, measure out 4 oz of water, pour it into your cap, and mark for future reference.
Borax - 76 oz - $3.99 at Kmart. Ordered online and got 3% back through Inbox Dollars
Washing Soda - 55 oz -$4.50 at Kroger
Ivory - Free with coupons
I had a 5 gallon bucket and recycled detergent container on hand.
This recipe works out to less than a penny a load. I barely made a dent in the boxes of borax and washing soda, so there are many more loads! Ivory is frequently free, and I've heard any soap will work. So you can use a more traditional Zote or Fels Naptha, or whatever you happen to have.
Here is a fancy list of what I clean and how I clean it. You will notice a trend. The more jobs an item can do around here the more I like it! There is no reason to have so many special cleaners, when a few things do the same job.
"Swiffer" - I actually have a Libman Freedom Spray Mop That I really like. I used to have a Swiffer, but they really aren't intended for the daily long term use that we were asking of it.
Cleaning solution - In the "Swiffer" I use vinegar, on both the laminate and the tile. I use a gallon of water and a cup of vinegar. I actually use one ounce in the 18 oz container on the mop.
Pads - For now I only have the one pad that came with the mop. It's doing a good job, and unless I come across something that just makes me squeal in delight, I will eventually buy another one just for convenience.
I read once on a website I don't care for, that the "scam" of foaming hand cleaner was really just watered down regular hand soap. The article was written to get people riled up about being hoodwinked by corporate fat cats into paying big money for watered down goods. I read the article as an opportunity! The next chance I had to pick up a foaming soap dispenser for cheap with coupons I did. I've been filling it up with the "scam" of watered down soap since! I have used commercial hand soap, like Dial or SoftSoap (liquid of course!) I have also used dish soap, and even baby shampoo! Really, for hand soap, it's the friction of rubbing your hands together that kills germs.
Whatever you have, put about 1/3 soap and 2/3 water.
Family cloth! The thrifty family uses re-usable toilet paper! It sounds kinda gross when you say it like that. If you hate spending money to literally wipe your butt with and then flush down the toilet (with perfectly potable water, but we will get to that one later) You should really consider family cloth. Or pee rags as they are called around here.
There are many ways to do this, basically they all boil down to using cloth on your fanny, then washing and re-using. The system we have is an old Huggies wipe container, cut up flannel blankets, and a re-purposed magazine caddy to collect until wash day (about every 3rd day).
Here is the setup. Our bathroom is really small, so you don't have to strain to reach something on the counter. The box sits on the counter, waiting to be of use.
About the cloth its self - I used a flannel sheet I picked up at Goodwill for under $2. I cut it into about 6 inch squares. This doesn't have to be an exact science. If you really want something professional, feel free to get as particular or creative as you would like. You can either surge, or top stitch the edges. You can also leave them willie-nillie, but the won't last as long, and you are prone to getting strings EVERYWHERE. If you have a little one in cloth diapers as well, they have a huge tendency to get into the "sticky" side of the Velcro and preventing proper grab when strapping on a diaper. You can just pick this out, but it's time consuming and really an unnecessary step. Like I mentioned though, you can leave them willie-nillie, it won't end the world.
The dispenser - I highly suggest using HUGGIES boxes for this. The plastic fingers they use to cover the opening are the BEST! I have giant hands, and can't get my fingers into the top to dig out the wipe once they have fallen in. Pampers has too much of a hole and things just slide right back down. If you don't happen to have one of these containers laying around, you can ask a friend with kids, or check back for a good deal and pick up one of your very own. Even if you don't use a lot of wipes (a "cube" last us over a year!) You still manage to collect wipe containers like they are Pokemon.
The Wash- If you have kids in cloth, just throw them in. Family cloth doesn't really need special treatment like diapers do, but I like to keep... like colors together. If you get my meaning. It seems a waste to do just a load of family cloth, and ThriftyDad may freak if his favorite tee-shirt was getting down in the washer with 'Those'.
The Rest -A few notes, I am sure to keep a roll of T.P. around for guests and family. I have found that not everyone likes saving money as much as I do. Also, family cloth makes PERFECT tissues. They aren't so hot for cleaning, or wiping up spills, but that's when you use
UnPaper Towels, in the next installment!