Category Archives: Healthy living

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

Making natural liquid laundry soap is so easy, inexpensive, and great for the environment. I’m glad to say that despite the introduction of GST in Malaysia this year, we can still maintain our commitment to green cleaning at home by making our own natural laundry soap.

It takes only 30 minutes overall to make your own liquid laundry soap (including the time to divide it into containers).

This recipe I’m sharing with you makes 15 litres of soap (126 loads), which is enough to last my family slightly over 4 months (we run one load daily). The total cost is around RM39.50, which works out to only RM0.31 per load!

Compare this with store-bought “natural” liquid laundry detergent. One of the popular brands in Malaysia retails at RM47.70 for 50 loads, which works out to RM0.95 per load, 3 times the cost of homemade.

Conventional laundry detergent pollutes our earth with chemicals like sulfates, phenols, petroleum distillates and more, so all the more reason to switch to homemade natural laundry soap.

Ingredients

  • 1 bar natural soap or homemade soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Baby-Mild bar soap, 5 oz)
  • 1 cup Borax (I used 20 Mule Team Borax)
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (I used Arm & Hammer)
  • Essential oil (optional) (I used 10 drops of peppermint EO from an old bottle)
  • 15 litres plain tap water*

* Some other recipes use more water (all other ingredients remaining the same), bringing the total volume up to 19 litres, and users are apparently happy with the results. I chose to make my laundry soap more concentrated because of the amount of dirt our 4 kids get onto their clothes! I suppose when their messy days are over (if ever?), I may make 19 litres instead which would mean this recipe alone will enable us to run 160 loads across 5.3 months, decreasing the cost even further to RM0.20 per load!

What’s in these ingredients?

  • Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Baby-Mild bar soap is made with organic oils (coconut, palm, olive, and jojoba). Best of all, Dr. Bronner’s soaps are certified fair trade.

Dr Bronner's castile soap

  • Borax (sodium tetraborate) is a naturally occurring substance produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. The 20 Mule Team Borax variety is free of phosphates, per-oxside, chlorine, and other additive chemicals. Some people have expressed concerns over the use of borax, but this well-researched article by Wellness Mama has convinced me of the safety of using it in laundry soap. Basically, we won’t be ingesting it or using it undiluted. In my view, this reasoning applies equally well to many other natural substances.

borax

  • Washing soda (also known as sodium carbonate or soda ash) is the water-soluble sodium salt of carbonic acid.

washing soda

Where to buy

(Prices at the time of writing:) 

  • 20 Mule Team Borax (available at Ace, RM38.05 for 76 oz)*
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (available at Ace, RM28.51 for 55 oz)*

* Borax and Washing Soda are useful for a myriad of natural household cleaning jobs, and they are used so minimally in our homemade cleaning concoctions so the cost of these items (reasonably priced already) are spread out over a long time.

Now for the recipe!

Liquid Laundry Soap Recipe

  1. Add 2 litres of water to a medium-sized pot.
  2. Grate the entire bar of soap. (I used a cheese grater.) Add it into the water.
  3. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly until the soap dissolves.
  4. Add the borax and washing soda to the soap mixture. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour 13 litres of warm or hot water into a big bucket/pail that can contain at least 16 litres. (A large one that most people use for mopping floors will do just fine.)
  6. Add the soap-borax-washing soda mixture to this big pail of water. Stir well.
  7. Keep overnight and allow to cool in a safe place, away from children and pets.
  8. The next day, the mixture will have separated a little, but that’s ok. Add essential oil (if using). Stir well until combined.
  9. Pour into clean, empty containers. Using a funnel helps get the job done much faster and with minimal spills. (I recycled our empty milk cartons, cleaning and drying them well beforehand.)
  10. Use ½ cup per load (or up to 1 cup if clothes are really dirty). Shake before use.

How to make laundry soap

Does this liquid laundry soap work?

When researching numerous homemade laundry recipes online, I decided to go with liquid laundry soap instead of the dry powdered version as the liquid recipe ensures all the ingredients are well incorporated.

We have been using this laundry soap for exactly 2 weeks now. I usually add 4 tablespoons of white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment of our front loader washing machine and am extremely pleased with the overall result.

(By the way, using white vinegar as an alternative to store-bought fabric softener is another healthier, environmentally friendly, very cheap and effective way of softening fabrics. Clothes don’t come out smelling like vinegar at all. On where to buy white vinegar in bulk and save cost, contact me here.)

With this homemade liquid laundry soap, the clothes come out without the distinct and heavy fragrance of conventional laundry detergent, but I prefer that because those fragrances are actually made of a mix of harmful chemicals. The fragrance of the peppermint essential oil in this recipe dissipates after the clothes are washed but adding the oil may extend the shelf life of this homemade laundry soap, given its antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Given how simple this laundry soap is to make, its economical and environmentally responsible benefits, why not give it a try? You may never use store-bought again – and ease your budget!

 

Upcoming posts: Homemade liquid dish wash, homemade liquid body wash, homemade citrus cleaner and more.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Bronner’s Malaysia. All opinions are mine. I’m so glad these versatile, magic castile soaps are now available in Malaysia, both bar and liquid versions! You can also buy them at MacroB Malaysia, located at SS2, Petaling Jaya. Go ahead and like these Pages to get more updates on green cleaning and natural health!

Kefir

Kefir in a cup

Kefir has become a staple drink in our family.

I was first introduced to milk kefir last August by a dear friend who passed me some of her milk kefir grains. She showed me how to brew the kefir and pointed out some useful kefir sites.

The first time I tasted kefir, I fell in love. So did Sweet Man and the kids. Kefir has a tangy flavour but the kids didn’t seem to notice or be bothered by the sour taste. We drank it as it was, chilled and plain. As a two year old, Piglet downed his portion with tremendous gusto and I wish I’d taken a photo of his thick milk kefir moustache!

I now drink milk kefir three times daily and the rest of the family consume at least one cup each.

Kefir is rich in protein, calcium, fiber and is a powerful natural probiotic – 10 probiotic strains! Research has shown it helps lower cholesterol levels and keeps the gut healthy. Drinking kefir has helped to strengthen our immunity and we have noticed that it improves our digestion and regulates our appetites too. I drank kefir during pregnancy as it was great not only for me but also for the baby. I am so glad our kids love kefir, even plain kefir, as it has so many health benefits for children.

If you want to know more about the benefits of kefir, check out the National Kefir Association. For lots of in-depth information on kefir, visit Dom’s kefir site. (He is the absolute Guru of kefir. You’ll know why, when you read his site.)

After Roo was born, I continued brewing our milk kefir every 24 hours for the first few days during my confinement. After a week, I decided I needed a break because, well, life is full as it is with a newborn and three other kids! I stored my kefir grains in the fridge following Dom’s instructions.

Two weeks later I was ready to resume kefir brewing again. My kefir baby was still alive and active and I was glad it took no time at all to produce the same results as before.

I embarked on a new way of drinking milk kefir quite by chance. It happened when I had to take a second break from kefir, when Roo was 8 weeks old and I had to go on a 2-week course of antibiotics as a precaution against infection, a risk when you have retained placenta remnants. Kefir is slightly alcoholic and so I couldn’t consume it while taking the antibiotic I was prescribed.

Nevertheless I continued brewing kefir everyday and gradually accumulated 3 jars of kefir in our fridge. I then had an idea of using our excess kefir to make a banana milk kefir smoothie. This is how I did it:

BANANA MILK KEFIR SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

800ml milk kefir

4 bananas

1 tbsp honey

Method:

Put all the ingredients into a blender. Give the mixture a good whiz. Serve chilled, either as is, or with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder on top. If you wedge a slice of orange or lemon on the edge of the glass, you are guaranteed to get lots of oohs and aahs from admiring little ones.

Banana milk kefir smoothie was a raging hit from the first sip. It has a lovely fizzy zing. The moment he tasted it, Lamb proclaimed I was “The Best Mama in the World”. It can’t get easier than that!

Lately, we tried adding freshly squeezed orange juice and love the results.

There are other natural flavours we want to try, so this week I’ll be making mango kefir smoothies and we might try a honeydew version soon after.

Have you tried milk kefir yet? It just might revolutionize your life!

 

Sticks, stones and free play outdoors

Playing outdoors is an essential part of our homeschool.

One hour at the park, every morning, after the breakfast dishes and lunch prep are done, is a great start to the day.

Fresh air, warm sunshine, wide open spaces, lush greenery, a myriad of wild living things and ample opportunities to play  – these are what we look forward to.

But that would be an understatement.

We go out because we yearn for it, are desperate for it, and feel, instinctively, that we need it.

Staying indoors, mostly all day, every day, in a building – whether at home or in a classroom environment – is simply destructive to the mind, body and spirit.

It drives kids nuts. It breeds an illness called Stay-Home-Mama-Madness.

And this is also one of the main reasons we homeschool – so we can incorporate lots of outdoor play into our day. The flexibility of homeschooling means we can extend outdoor play beyond the hour, if we need it, and if the tropical sun isn’t beating down on us too severely. We have spent whole mornings outdoors, on cool days, with never a dull moment.

We have such strong, primal feelings toward outdoor play, I thought I’d deconstruct what we did over the past two days.

Yesterday, my 30-week pregnant body was too tired to agree to a game of hide-and-seek with 5 year old Lamb and 2 year old Piglet at the park, so I sent them on a pebble-hunting expedition.

I sat on a bench and just watched.

And loved what I saw.

 

1. Sensory stimulation.

Hmm. Why can’t I pick these ones?

Picking pebbles (30Sept13)

 

I can feel them with my feet.

Walking on pebbles (30Sept13)

 

2. Imagination.

What could I do with these?

Stone construction 1 (30Sept13)

 

3. Creativity.

I could build something.

Stone construction 2 (30Sept13)

 

Anything.

Stick construction 1 (30Sept13)

 

4. Attention-building.

Keep it there, keep it up!

Stick construction 2 (30Sept13)

 

5. Social development.

What can we do together?

 

6. Motor skill development.

We could run a race.

Running races (30Sept13)

 

Skip race.

Skipping races (30Sept13)

 

Hop race.

Hopping races (30Sept13)

 

Crawl race.

Crawling races (30Sept13)

Every single one of these, their ideas.

 

7. Physical diversity and development.

Climb.

Climb (30Sept13)

 

Leap.

Midair leap (30Sept13)

 

Balance.

Balance (30Sept13)

 

How many different poses can I strike in mid-air?

Leap (30Sept13)

 

All of that was just yesterday. And today?

8. Environmental awareness and identity.

Look, Mama! A bird’s feather!!! Just as we entered the park.

Whatszis feather (30Sept13)

All sorts of questions. Would it feel soft or hard? Which bird?

I plonked myself down in a swing and let them go.

 

9. The shaping of morals and values.

Can we chase birds?

Bird chasing (30Sept13)

 

10. Good ‘ole plain fun.

Races again – rolling toy cars down the tunnel. Over and over again.

Car tunnel rolling (30Sept13)

 

And enjoying going barefoot. Peace!

Two thumbs up (30Sept13)

 

We often play different organised sports and games during our one-hour morning at the park. But over the past two days, they got these 10 things.

All this, with only a teeny bit of me.

It was mostly just themselves, their imagination, and the great outdoors.

Have I also said how wonderful it is for two young siblings to be able to homeschool together? It is so much easier, enjoyable, creative and productive, compared to keeping them separate. But that’s for another post.

Get out there, my little friends. Wonders await you.

I’m so happy to have a post published recently at Makchic where I share my breastfeeding story and 7 essential breastfeeding tips for new moms. Please come have a read. Thank you!