15 January 2015

MOOing Washing Powder

This must be the week for questions about washing powder, I seem to have answered quite a few. It must be time to talk about MOOing washing powder, why I do it, how I do it and how great it really is.

I've been making our own washing powder for years and years and years - at least 18 - I can't really remember when I started but I think Hannah was either a newborn or very, very young.

I used to make this gloopy stuff that worked really well and was really cheap - when you don't have an income really cheap is really good and in those days our income was unreliable (and that's being generous!). The only problems I had with the gloopy stuff were that it made heaps (I kept it in a nappy bucket with a lid), our laundry was outside and I had two very curious, very active, very mischievous little boys. Those three things together were a recipe for disaster. After losing an almost full bucket of gloop to those mischievous monkeys I decided I either had to find a better way to store it, build a nice new laundry (that wasn't going to happen any time soon) or give up and go back to powder.

Or make my own powder! Doh! It really was a lightbulb moment when realised I didn't have to mix the soap, washing soda and borax into water and cook it up to make gloop, I could just mix the dry ingredients together and use it as a powder.

I think that lightbulb moment has been my all-time favourite. I know it has saved us thousands of dollars over the years, not just on washing powder but on clothes that may otherwise have been relegated to the rag bag because they were stained. This stuff is great for getting stains out of clothes. I should know I'm the messiest cook ever and even with an apron I can get my clothes stained. And Wayne! Oh my, but he works with grease and gunk all day. He also works with graphite and I swear nothing is harder to shift from clothes than graphite. Not even a tomato stain is as hard to shift.

But my MOOed washing powder removes graphite stains from his work clothes completely.

It is a very simple recipe, three main ingredients that you can get at any supermarket, in the laundry/cleaning aisle: laundry soap, washing soda and borax.

I know some of you will email to say you can't find washing soda or borax - trust me when I say they are there, you just need to look for them. And if they really aren't in stock at your supermarket ask if they can be ordered for you.

This has to be the cheapest and best value laundry detergent around.

Cheapskates Washing Powder

1 bar soap, grated
1 cup washing soda (Lectric Soda)
1/2 cup borax

Mix together and store in a sealed container. Use 3 scant teaspoons per load  for a top-loader and 1 scant teaspoon per load for a front loader.

I use the zester side of my grater to do the soap. It makes it a very fine powder so it dissolves completely even in cold water. If you have a food processor break the soap up with a hammer or rolling pin and whizz it. Or use the grater attachment to grate it then whizz it to a powder. And yes it is safe to use your food grater or processor to do this as long as you wash it  properly when you've finished, after all you would wash it in the dishwasher or with dishwashing detergent if you'd used it for food wouldn't you.

It really is that easy. If you don't believe me watch this video of me making a batch.

You can use up the small slivers of toilet soap you collect if you like, ordinary bath soap or laundry soap. This recipe is ideal for using up all the leftovers you collect in the family bathroom.

This detergent won’t produce masses of suds, but it will get your clothes clean.

Now if you don't believe it will get your clothes clean you can give the washing powder an extra boost if you wash really dirty or greasy clothes by adding one small 250g box of bi-carb soda to the mix. But it isn't necessary, I don't do it.

The benefits, other than the cost saving, are that your washing machine doesn't get a build-up of gunk around the top of the drum or in the hoses. Cheapskates washing powder helps to keep them clean and clear.

When I make a batch I quadruple the recipe so four bars of soap, 4 cups washing soda and 2 cups borax. This is enough to last me almost a year doing 8 loads of washing a week. I keep it in a tin in the laundry with an old teaspoon on the top for measuring. And yes, I measure the three teaspoons for each load. Using more won't get the clothes any cleaner it will just cost more.

With five of us in the house, four lots of bed linen and five lots of towels I feel like I am always doing laundry but I'm happy to know it isn't costing me a fortune.

Oh, another thing: this washing powder doesn't make us itchy, it doesn't cause any of us to break out in eczema, it doesn't irritate at all, unlike some commercial powders and detergents, something AJ,Hannah and I are very grateful for.

Have I sold you on MOOing washing powder? If you've never tried it give it a go. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and will save you a fortune.

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  1. We don't have borax in our woolies and they won't order it I have tried. So I make up Wendy's recipe that has bi carb, washing soda and soap. It works well. No reactions to my skin unlike the commercial stuff. Not sure if I save much but it doesn't matter because it's convenient. I store mine in plastic container with the recipe on the side and a lovely picture from your recipe sheet.

    1. Your local hardware would have it Janine. I'm surprised Woolworths won't order it in for you, I've never had a problem getting Woolworths, Coles or IGA to order anything for me. I may have had to wait a couple of weeks but they've always been happy to help. The borax is in the washing powder because it is a brilliant stain lifter, great if you have grotty family (like mine), work in a messy job or play a lot of sport like my kids did/do - grass stains? sweat stains? mud? - the borax helps shift them without scrubbing or soakers.

      Very cute to decorate with the picture off the Tip Sheet - I thinks that's very clever! My tin is just plain, I've never thought to decorate it. :)

  2. Cath, you sold me on MOOing washing powder 4 1/2 years ago and I haven't looked back. It was a major lightbulb moment for me. I've been known to whiz up eight bars of soap at a time and store it in a container ready to make up the washing powdr when I need it.

    1. I do the same thing Wendy - enough for a year, then I don't need to worry about it for 12 months.

  3. Our local Woolies, IGA and hardware store no longer stock Borax. I asked at Bunnings when we went to the nearest big town recently and also met with a firm no!
    It looks like finding a good deal by mail order is the next challenge

    1. Woolworths should stock it, it is one of their core lines. The brand is Bare Essentials and it is in a white tub with a green lid. I'd be emailing Woolworths HO and asking why, when you have asked for it, your local store won't get it in, especially as it is a core line product.

      Harper's Borax, white tub, red lid, is available at IGA in NSW, Vic, SA, NT, Tas, QLD and WA. It is also available at Foodworks in all states except WA and at SPAR in Queensland.

      Coles also stock Bare Essentials borax.

    2. Woolies & Bunnings do not & will not stock borax where I live (country WA) but Coles do. It's in a white tub, green label (Bare Essentials) with a bright pink lid. It is not stored in the laundry section per se but further down in the Draino area, on the top shelf - just in case your store doesn't have it where you'd expect it to be.

    3. I also had a devil of a job finding borax. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Qld, and Woolworths, Coles, Bunnings, other local hardware stores all gave me the same answer - no, we don't stock it, you can only get it in health food stores. So off I went to about 6 health food stores, and guess what, they all pointed me in the direction of some form of health tablet that contained borax, and a couple of the others told me to go to Woolworths, Coles, Bunnings etc. So after much frustration I made the mix with the bicarb soda. Then lo and behold, one day in Woolworths, what did I spy, the "Bare Essentials" brand of borax on the very top shelf near where the Sunlight soap blocks were, but nowhere near the main laundry area.

      To top that off, and completely off topic, I was looking for a bag of cotton wool balls, and after much searching by both myself and two staff members, we finally found it in the "travel" section. All of us were completely perplexed as to why it was there. So the moral of the story - look up, look down, look sideways and hopefully you'll find what you're looking for.

    4. I asked at our local Woolies and they are no longer able to stock Borax as it was being used as a new diet aid ( as in eaten by the spoonful )

    5. So what they are really saying is they don't want to stock it. The story they used to put about was that they couldn't stock it because it was illegal, as it could be used in bomb making, which again was supermarkets just not wanting to devote shelf space to a low consumption item.

  4. Hi Cath, I have just made my first batch of MOO Washing Powder. I have a 7kg front loader machine and wondered whether I should use 1 or 2 teaspoons of powder. Also, my son works part time at a takeaway food store and gets oil marks on his shirts - what is the best way to treat & remove these oil marks/stains? Thanks, Shirl

    1. Try two teapspoons and see how you like the results, you can use three if you think two isn't enough. I use three teaspoons in my 10kg HE machine and find it is just right.

      Try dishwashing liquid on the oil/grease stains and let them sit for a few minutes before going into the washing machine or a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil (only a couple, don't drown it in eucalyptus oil).

  5. Hi Cath I have a box of Lux Soap Flakes can I use it to make the washing powder or should I use the bar soap instead ? Is one better than the other ?

  6. Lux soap will be fine. I often use up the leftover slivers of bath soap when they get too small for the family to happily use (fussy lot they are :) ). Just measure out 125g (the equivalent of a bar of soap) and away you go.

  7. What does Moo stand for ?

  8. Hi Cath, I can only find washing soda crystals at the supermarkets near where I live, would it be safe to blitz it in my food processor? Thanks, Jen

    1. Wow you are fortunate Jen, the crystals have actually been discontinued. You can blitz them but they won't go into a powder as such. And yes, they would be safe in the food processor as long as you wash it before you use it for food (you'd be amazed at the number of people I come across who don't!).

      This might help you find a store nearby that sells the powder: http://www.lectric.com.au/WhereToBuy

      Otherwise it is called Sodium Carbonate and most cleaning supply type places sell it, usually in bulk and much cheaper than at the supermarkets.

  9. Will the MOO powder properly clean clothes on the short 30C cycle, or are hotter temperatures needed?

    1. This laundry powder will work in hot or cold water. I only ever do cold washes.


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