Friday, January 25, 2013

Cutting The Cleaning Supply Costs

We have been trying to cut costs here and there in an effort to not break the bank every time I need to head out grocery shopping.  We were able to cut our food costs drastically thanks to planting more quantity and variety in our gardens and raising some of our own meat but we were still spending way too much.  I go grocery shopping every two weeks for a family of five so my grocery bill will be more then someone how shops every week but it was getting to be outrageous.   It was time to figure out what was taking so much of my grocery money yet we seemed to run out of groceries all the time.  You guessed it, the largest expense of grocery shopping wasn't the groceries but the cleaning supplies.  I needed to keep things (laundry, dishes, house) clean so how could I cut those costs?  It was time to do something, but what could I do.  I loved my household/laundry supplies and bought only the brand that I had the best success with.  Yes they worked great but were they really worth the investment.  I liked the effectiveness of each of my cleaners and didn't want to have to start buying less effective cleaners because they were cheaper.  I would not be saving if I was buying double just to get the same effect.  I will admit it was a tough decision for me.

I had been Pintrest or as I like to call it my "Idea Site" and notice a lot of people pinning cleaning and laundry supplies saying it was costing them less then the store brands and how much safer it was.  I decided to "Pin" them and wondered if that would that be the answer I was looking for to cut the grocery bill?  Should I make my own cleaning supplies?   Did they really work as well as that person said or were they just too happy with the savings that they didn't really care about the effectiveness?  I pondered over the idea for a while before I decided to give making my own a try.  Okay, honestly the real reason I decided to try was I ran out of Jetdry one day and remembered someone saying use vinegar instead of Jetdry so I gave it a try.  Yup it worked just like they said it would and there was definitely a major saving between the vinegar and Jetdry.  That was all it took and I am now making my own cleaning supplies.  I have made my own orange cleaner, Clorox Wipes, laundry detergent.  I used vinegar as both Jetdry and fabric softener now and it works great.  It has been a slow go for me because I'm always thinking of the what how tos and what ifs involved with all the different cleaners. 

I just got back from my first grocery shopping trip where I did not purchase any cleaning supplies.  Yahoo!!  First let me say that it is strange not going into the cleaning supplies isles at all.  It just seemed like I was forgetting something while I was shopping but I wasn't.... This might take some getting used to but its well worth it.  This shopping trip alone I saved around $50.00 on my grocery bill for 2weeks which means I was spending approximately $100.00 a month on just cleaning supplies! I should mention that this savings is also considering I shopped at the discounted stores (family dollar/dollar general).  I couldn't imagine what the savings would be if I was buying them at our regular grocery stores I would probably double that savings. 

With all that savings plus the realization of how easy and effective making my own cleaning supplies work I should be one happy person right now.  I am actually a little uncomfortable knowing that I was basically "washing" money down the drain all that time.... I say this often but I will just consider it another lesson learned.   I will however move on knowing I will be saving all that money from here on out!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Dirty Laundry Truth

I have always bought Arm and Hammer liquid laundry detergent.  Some of our laundry can be pretty stinky now with all the animals.  Of all the detergents I have tried Arm and Hammer has showed the best results.  I can say I have always bought the biggest jugs I could find too.  This way it would last through to the next shopping day.  I have found lately that the size of the bottle is shrinking and the price is rising.  I decided it was time to finally make my own detergent.  
For less then what I pay for one jug of Arm and Hammer liquid detergent I was able to buy everything I needed to make even more then a regular large jug.  Plus I can still have the same freshness I was used to.  Now it was just a matter of finding the time to make it.

Today I did it!  I finally made my own laundry detergent (insert happy dance here) and it was easy and took no time at all!  No way, I was expecting it to take forever but it didn't and I was done in no time.  Plus an additional bonus that I wasn't expecting is now the house smells so fresh and clean now too from melting the soap.

I have to admit I have been putting it off for a while now.  I was sure it would take half the day plus it was so much easier (or so I though) to just grab another jug at the store, which I did last week.  I had the supplies sitting on the counter for two weeks now and the directions sitting there with them.  But still could not bring myself to make it.  The thought of grating a soap bar and waiting for it to melt was probably the biggest deterrent for me to actually start making it.  Let me just say it was done and ready almost quicker then it took me to get the 5gallon container and the water ready.  Note to self have everything on hand and ready next time.  I completed the whole process in maybe 15-20 minutes. 

For anyone who has wanted to make their own but has been putting it off for one reason or another like me you will be glad you did it.  I have to say that I'm feeling a little ashamed now that I bought the jug last week rather then just making it when I already had the supplies on hand.  Guess I will just toss it up to a lesson learned.  I will also be sure not to make that mistake again.  Not only was it not all the "Hard Work" I was expecting but I actually had fun doing it.

Here are the directions I followed to make my detergent (liquid). With a thank you going to for them.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
Things You'll Need
  3.1 oz. bar of soap
  1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
  1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  5-gallon container
  Knife or grater
  Pot large enough to hold 6 cups of water
  Long stirring stick or spoon for 5-gallon container

1  Use the knife/grater to shave the soap into small pieces. Then place 5 cups of water into the pot and heat the water on the stove.

2   Place soap into pot and begin stirring until the soap melts. If the water begins to boil, turn the stove off to prevent it from bubbling over.

3   Place 3 gallons of hot water into the 5-gallon container once the soap has melted.

4   Pour the melted soap mixture into the container of hot water. Stir.

5   Add 1/2 cup of washing soda. Stir until the soda dissolves, and then add 1 cup of Borax. Stir until dissolved.

6   Add fragrance, if necessary.  from your favorite scent. (I did not add fragrance as I liked the way it smelled as is).

7   Cover the container and set it aside. Let it sit overnight so it can cool and gel. The detergent will not gel uniformly; it may appear watery and clumpy.

Tips & Warnings
1/2 cup of detergent is sufficient to clean a full load of laundry.

Homemade laundry detergent is low sudsing and thus perfect for high-efficiency, front-loading washing machines.

This recipe makes 442 oz. of laundry detergent. At 4 oz. per load, you'll be able to wash 110 full loads.

If you're using a high-efficiency washing machine: Prior to adding the homemade laundry detergent to the dispenser, stir it to break up large lumps. This ensures the detergent will fully dissolve in the normal wash cycle.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Yearly Quilt

Well, its winter and other then feeding our animals and playing in the snow with the kids (on their days off from school) I will be spending a lot more time indoors.  I try to keep myself entertained in the winter by crafting and sewing.  I'm starting off my winter "fix" with a quilt.  Most of my quilts I usually end up giving away as gifts to friends and family but this one is staying in my home.  
The first quilt I ever made was for my Hubby, then boyfriend.  I had sewed a few things before so he said I should make him a quilt and I guess looking to impress him I decided to give it a try.  I went to my Grandma and asked for a simple but not too simple pattern.  She set me up with a simple rectangle pattern, I think she called it a Split Rail pattern but I'm not sure if that's what it was called or not, now 10yrs later.  I did all the cutting and sewing with just advice from her and she also showed me the way to put it all together so it made a nice pattern.  I went and purchased all matching "manly" material and had extra of everything for just in case I messed up, and I did many times but even I was impressed with the end result.  I also realized how much I liked quilt making and have been making at least one quilt a year since then.  We still have that quilt today and it sees regular use, mostly by my son (4yrs) on his bed so it also see regular washing as well and it still looks the same as the day I finished it.
As for this year's quilt I planned on doing it just a little different.  I wanted to make a special quilt for my youngest daughter.  I decided rather then going out and purchasing new, perfectly matching material I had a "brilliant" idea of trying to make this quilt using only scraps of fabric left over from previous projects as my "scraps" pile is getting out of control.  Since I was planning on only making a twin sized it was going to be easy right.  Ha!  
Trying to make something that would not only match her personality but her love of the color PINK has proven to be a bit of a challenge.  I wanted to make something bright and happy like her but not something too old or babyish.  She is only 5 but I want her to be able to have it and the memory forever. 
I finally found a style that I was looking for on Pintrest but the picture had no link to it, thus no pattern.  I spent almost a whole day just making the pattern for it.  Simple triangles and squares right, sure but getting them the size I wanted took a bit of math and a bunch of time.  So my first attempt at making a quilt with out a pattern to use started out rough.  Using "scrap" material has proven to be just as rough.  Finding patters and colors that match up was easy but not having enough of each material, not so easy. 
I think I have finally come up with what I hope will turn out to be a refection of my daughter: a bright, happy, full of energy, girl.

This was just my template block and it doesn't really line up well but I wanted to give you an idea of the colors and pattern.  I have made most of the blocks now and just have to figure out how I want to put them all together; border, no border, quilt it or tie it off with knots the way my grandmother used to.  I will be sure to post an updated photo once I have finally finished it (might be spring then though).  I know she will love it and I she will know I made it with nothing but love for her.