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The Self Examiner

Sharing is very important to us at Cafe Gratitude. This blog is our means of connecting with you, our community through sharing what's happening with us and creating a conversation around the many facets of this community.


Familia gratitude:  DIY

Your actions have spoken: we know that my Fibonacci blog post is accepted through the community, it has gotten 4 digits clicks/traffic! Bang! Puyaka!

Congratulations if you have created toothpaste & other DIY things, we welcome feedback (comments below all blog posts or email info@cafegratitude).

Here is another thing in life you should want to do yourself.  After you read this blog and make it your brain is going to excrete so much serotonin/dopamine/norepinephrine/melatonin/insulin/prostaglandins that you will shine 2,000 light years of beauty & health; the laws of physics will bend for you.  Of course you will brag about making this household item, show off to your friends and be cocky, start a new business, enroll others, and be community. Becoming self sufficient is a step by step thing. You will be able to make your own laundry detergent.

This is another recipe/formula for an everyday item that big companies don’t want you to know.  How come I didn’t think of this before? How come you haven’t made this when it first clicked in your brain? If the left side of the brain thinks creativity I had ignored it every time, I would go to purchase the powder stuff thing & complain. "How come this is so expensive?" or "I don’t want to smell like petro-chemical-rose scent every time I dress" or "I don’t want my chones to cross-contaminate where I am more vulnerable!"

Of course I’m always about bulk buying; I know that greater quantities = less $. Buy that fancy soap, go for it.  Consider buying a whole gallon of body soap and then refilling it every time. For toothbrushes, buy the ones with changeable heads.  I have been using the same old toothbrush handle for as long as I have been working at Café Gratitude.  Now the time came for laundry soap so here it is for you and your community to try.




Things to know:


  • ·         Soap is the chemical reaction between a salt (or alkali, ashes, calcium, etc.)  and a fatty acid (like coconut, lard, olive oil, xken fat, etc.)
  • ·         Soap & foam doesn’t mean clean; that’s a lie! Yes, when you take a shower you want foam to scrub that oily nasty stuff in your skin.  Where have you been/what you been up to?!  Fat, salt, dead bacteria and dry skin. But for your clothes it is different, you need light water.
  • ·         Light water is not hard water ;) duh! Light water is water that has less minerals. Specially, calcium carbonate. Potable water is said to be slightly hard water.
  • ·         Detergent was created right after the world wars to satisfy two major things: the scarcity of animal/vegetable fat (remember, soap is fat) and then the expectation of laundry machines. Then it came the baby boom/suburbia/boxed dinners/tv  etc.  Corporations responded with a cheap non environmental conscious way: petrochemicals and synthetic aromas/soaps and so on.
  • ·         We use detergent in laundry machines to make the water more light.  Through mechanical agitation it emulsifies the water and the nasty stuff in your clothes.
  • ·         Give up on liquid detergent; you need ammonia (yuk), big glass jars, and 2 days to prepare that. Trust Vini: be lazy here, ok?
  • ·         Most laundry machines are now "high efficiency" meaning less energy & less water; we are cool with that; we want that. High efficiency also means detergent that creates low suds and that’s exactly what you will be doing.


This has been the rule of thumb for SO many years and now it is our turn.  Stop updating your Facebook status and make something cool!  Really, this has been happening already.  Communities all around us are making laundry detergent but we are not aware of it.  For this first round, please try first on clothes you aren’t attached to.  Results might be different- it’s the law of DIY.


This is what you need:

·         Soap! 2 bars or a 10 oz ball of soap, grated (use a grating box or a food processor).

All those hotel/motel/bed & breakfast single bars you and yours have been thieving can go in the mix, minuscule soap bars that can’t be lathered any more, castile soap (I used this one to test this recipe and it works amazing) is cheap & fine.  No liquid soap though.

·         Borax, 2 cups.

Borax is better described here by Wikepedia.  I trust what I used for the test (20 Mule Team Borax).  My chones are still intact, clean & pristine.  Borax will make the water pH neutral or that’s at least what I understood... trust! I trust even the super weird two vowels and the X name it has.  Sounds like a super villain.  See other's recommendations the uses of your borax leftovers here.

·         Washing soda or soda ash, 2 cups

I bought mine from the bulk section at Rainbow Market here in SF. I’m sure that there is several places you can find this.  Be aware that soda ash is not baking soda.  This is going to make the water less hard (or less mineral concentration).  See online shopping options here and here but remember to check your local supply and keep your money in the community around you first.


Once you’ve got your soap bars grated, you just need to mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl or bucket (if you’re doubling/tripling++ the recipe).  Make sure that there are no lumps and everything is well distributed.  Very simple, depending on how fine you grate the soap you will see it in the mix, just shake it before using.  ¼ cup of final product is a good measurement for cleaning 30lbs of chones.  Remember, try it first small scale to build your understanding of it.


Way simple! Powder detergent your way.


Tagged in: soda ash , soap , plastic , pH , homesteading , home products , DIY , borax
Comments (2)add comment
Thank you
written by amy , August 15, 2011

Great article on DIY laundry detergent..I'm going to give it a go. And, thank you for the humor in your article; it made me laugh. You're right, people DO need to stop updating their Facebook and do something productive!!


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Glad to find a simple recipe PLUS an underarm deodorant recipe
written by Tarah Locke , October 10, 2011

First I wanted to add a recipe that I've found from Wellnessmamma's website that REALLY works, plus, after a while of using it you sweat LESS!

DIY Underarm Deodorant
6 tbs coconut oil
1/4 cup Baking soda
1/4 cup Cornstarch(make sure its Non-GMO) or arrowroot
essential oils optional (I don't use them, heard something like their endocrine disruptors)

Mix powders, then mix well with coconut oil. Google wellnessmamma's website for more info on the Deo.

THanks for this easy Laundry soap, I'd found a recipe before and got stuck trying to find a particular kind of soap (fel naptha?) and then after I finally found it, never got around to making it. So now I will with this recipe!

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