Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY


July 5, 2013

Experiment 1 in ‘Becoming Martha’ yields laundry detergent

GLASGOW — Anyone who knows me would probably use several words to describe me: “clumsy,” “quirky”  and maybe even “funny” sprinkled in every now and then. I don’t think “she’s just like Martha Stewart” would ever come up in a phrase to describe me.

No, you’ll never find me in my kitchen using an icing bag to make the perfect rosebud to place atop some lovely homemade petit-four dessert. Nor am I really crafty. I’m terrible at scrapbooking, and I haven’t made my own Christmas ornament since I was in kindergarten, when I made a star-shaped ornament out of baked applesauce, cinnamon and glue. Our family dog ate it a few days after it was placed on the tree.

Perhaps it was my recent engagement to my fiancé, Will, that made me get a wild domestic hair to try to do more things around the house. That being said, for the next few months, I’ll be bringing you a series of columns about “Becoming Martha,” where I will, for better or worse, attempt to create homemade recipes, cleaners and other do-it-yourself projects for the home. I’m not sure how well this will go, but either way you can laugh and learn from my pitfalls.

For the first month of “Becoming Martha,” I made homemade laundry detergent. I got my recipe from, which called for:

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax

1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean

2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap or Fels Naptha

1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

 2 Bottles of Purex Crystals Fabric Enhancer

I made my pilgrimage to the grocery store. The recipe calls for a five-gallon bucket to mix the ingredients in. I didn’t have a big bucket and had to buy one. Of course, the only five-gallon bucket for sale with a coordinating lid was a tan camouflage bucket.

I wandered around the soap aisle of of the store looking for Zote soap to no avail. I later found out that Zote and Fels Naptha can be found in the laundry detergent aisle like all the other ingredients, which seemed convenient.

Once I went home, I sat the big bucket between my legs. I grabbed the two bars of pink Zote soap and used a cheese grater to cut the soap into small bits. I can tell you there is nothing convenient about grating two 14.1 ounce bars of soap. I actually broke into a bit of a sweat.

I tossed all the ingredients into the bucket. Afterward, I wondered, “how in the world am I going to mix this all.” I put the lid on the bucket and furiously shook it and then used my hands to churn powdery bits together.

Will comes home and sees me ridiculously grating a massive bar of soap into a camo-themed bucket. His response was “Whatcha doing there, hunnie? Hey, that’s a pretty cool bucket you’ve got there.”

In total, the recipe made a little more than 2.5 gallons of laundry detergent. Along with the bucket and lid, my bill at the story was a little more than $36. Since this is such a concentrated laundry soap, it’s recommended to only use two to four tablespoons per load.

After I was done, I asked Will to help me round up any laundry in the house — which was really only a few towels since laundry had already been done — to test out my new concoction. I think it was the only time in my life I can recall wanting to find a bunch of dirty socks.

I was really surprised to find that this recipe does do an amazing job of washing clothes and towels. Everything feels clean, not slimy or filmy, after washing. The Purex crystals make the soap smell super fresh too.

Overall, I’d say the first Martha experiment was a success and I’ll probably have laundry detergent for more than six months.

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