SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











I love the concept of an organized life.  I have a bookshelf full of how-to organize and how-to declutter.  In theory, it creates a sense of peace.

I’m not so hot at the application!

Most of what I’ve read on organizing and decluttering goes room by room.  Well, that means I get a room nice and neat while the rest of the House of Cheaptitude is a hot mess.  My bedroom, for instance, usually looks like it’s been ravaged by Hurricane Mama.

On Pinterest lately, I’ve seen a lot about a “Konmari Method.” Apparently, Marie Kondo is a professional organizer with a ginormous waiting list for her services in Japan, and she’s written a bestseller about her method.  She details the order of decluttering, even giving instructions on how to fold and store your clothes.

Have I read her book yet? Naw.  It’s got a waiting list at my local SoBo library and I’m certainly too cheap to purchase it.

My takeaway from other blogs and articles, however, is that you gather your crap target items in one central area.  Instead of room by room, you do categories – in a hurry!  And category #1 is clothes.  You take everything out, physically touch every single thing down to your socks, and ask ” Does this Spark Joy?”. If not, it needs to leave.

Can my drawers really spark joy?  I mean, my super dee duper VS bras spark lots of joy for me.  But for real?  Everything else I put on is for function and to be a law-abiding citizen.

But with the kitchen and living room straight (and I’m still mentally blocking lesson plans!), I need a project.  So this seems to fit.

I’m not sure why clothing is the first category. Using this method, you put all of your clothing in one place (I keep reading “floor” but I have a queen-size bed and aversion to laundry!). Please keep in mind, I have 3 baskets in the family room waiting to be put up, but since those are clothes I wear all the time, it makes sense that I won’t declutter them. Right?

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Closet before


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Closet before


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Closet before

So my closet is obviously overstuffed. Not only do I rarely get rid of clothes I purchase, my mom has sent a bunch of clothes when she worked at Coldwater Creek (for Monkey #2, but they fit me!), and I have a ton of hand-me-downs from family and Pioneer Woman. Many items are too big and need to be altered but time/Cheaptitude keeps them hanging out in the closet.

There’s also crap a lot of stuff that belongs elsewhere, to be dealt with later.

I did not realize just how much clothing was on my side of the closet until I saw this mess on my bed!
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I share closet space with Grizz and had this much on my own! And I broke a rule of the strategy, choosing to ignore shoes and accessories for right now. This was literally just clothing.

My dresser (which I don’t share was not much better.
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The top needs clearing, sorting, etc. The drawers were all closing (recall the 3 baskets in the family room?) and all of the clothes were in their proper pieces of real estate, but…decluttering was definitely in order.
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See the pretty striped bin? Bed, Bath & Beyond, from Aunt Janice for Christmas. I have 2 that size. Until this point, they have both been overflowing with tightly rolled spirit shirts for school. Who needs that many tees? There are maybe 36 Fridays in a school year and I always wear an 8th grade or Yearbook shirt. Cheaptitude at its worst, I suppose.

The worst part is I also had 2 full drawers brimming with other tees and knit tops. Plus my top middle drawer is full of tanks. Oy!

Once I unloaded all of my clothes onto the bed, I started the process of touching each piece and asking if they sparked joy. OK, not really. But I did cull 8 grocery sacks of clothes to donate, added to my T-shirt quilt pile, and filled a bag to be altered. The donation bags traveled straight to the trunk of the pimpmobile before I could second guess myself. The other items that weren’t going straight back to the dresser or closet were relocated as not to be in my way.

The Konmari method is very specific about how to fold and hang your clothes once you’ve removed the joyless stuff. I went to my good friend Google and found a YouTube video so that I could fold and file my clothes. Tees and tanks are still the bulk, so I tackled those first.

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Spirit shirts


Now my spirit shirts are easy to locate and take up only a bin and a half. I feel like I fit more rolled, but that lent itself to a bit of a mess, honestly. I can locate my options more easily. The extra bin has several non-work t-shirts now, which frees dresser space!
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Loving the semi empty T-shirt drawer!


I watched two YouTube videos and still cannot “file” my jeans or drawers properly. I gave it the old college try and it’ll work for now. Because the underwear drawer is so flipping neat now, I needed to create a divider. Use what’s on hand, right? I happened to have an old shoebox left over from Monkey #2’s much smaller feet. I could go purchase something cute, but I’m the only one who sees it, and it’s just not necessary.
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Neat and organized drawers drawer 😉


I felt really accomplished by the time I finished re-loading my dresser. With it being a league night, I just hung stuff back in the closet and didn’t really organize it. That’s tentatively on my list for tomorrow. I also didn’t take after pics of everything yet, but it was so great to pull clothes out today! Most of what I still have I actually love. As I folded the three baskets this afternoon, I added to my next donation pile. Laundry is going to be so much easier now!

I’m so excited to declutter the monkeys and Grizz next….

Have you tried the Konmari method? What are your thoughts?

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From the beginning of August until Memorial Day, the weekends feel rushed and crazy. I feel like I’ve accomplished something major if everyone has clean clothes for the week and I’ve been to the grocery.

Yes, I am a Middle School teacher.

In a typical school year, my Friday nights consist of grades and recorded TV.  Sunday – most of the day – is spent writing or revising lesson plans.

Friday has a different look this year, with date night, but the only really exciting thing about my weekends right now is sleeping past 4 am.

I set a goal at the beginning of the summer to have my house situated (read clean and organized) by the start of school so that the first few weeks of August wouldn’t be so rough. While I made major progress, this goes on the list of incomplete projects. Labor Day weekend is my make up!

I can often accomplish more on a 3-day weekend than a 2-week holiday break.

My list of projects this weekend looks something like this:

1. Inventory and restock the pantries. I’d like to reconfigure the shelving while I’m at it, but Grizzly has a tight work schedule this weekend.

2. Catch up my freezer meals.  Y’all know I’m all about my freezer to crockpot and I only have 3 in the deep freeze right now.

3.  Laundry. Need I detail this? Oy.  I do need to make another monster batch of laundry soap while I’m projecting.

4.  Deep clean the kitchen.

5.  Deep clean the living room.

6.  Straighten my bedroom and bath.  It looks like my classroom has vomited on my side of the bed!

7.  Cut back the front flower bed and do some miscellaneous yard work.

8. Monkey #1’s closet.

The rewards for this, apart from a livable House of Cheaptitude? I’ll allow myself some scrapbook time and do my monthly hair treatment.  But I have to get the rest done 1st!

I should be able to knock a lot out today. Monkey #1 is cousin timing at Comic Con. Monkey #2 is having girly time with her Nana – pedi and a movie! And Grizz is working.  My friends are all out of town, so my distractions should be very few.  Wish me luck!

What are your big plans this holiday weekend?

~ Katie

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{August 17, 2014}   The Laundry Fairy

There is a laundry fairy at the House of Cheaptitude.  She’s the one who finds the Lego’s, the forgotten receipts, and the candy wrappers that are left in pockets. She often finds pennies and quarters, never enough to get rich, but loves it when she finds dollar bills and one time? She found a twenty.

The laundry fairy is so busy with her chores on Mt. Washmore that she doesn’t have time to out things away immediately. And we end up with a ridiculous pile on top of the dryer.

In the past, she had a small basket, but that got out of hand. She had a piggy bank, but it was regularly robbed by monkeys for concessions at school. There are some neat projects on Pinterest involving boards and jars, but our wall space is so limited in the utility room that they’re not practical.

Of our efficiency apartment sized stackable washer and dryer, only the washing machine works.  The dryer has become a magnetic memo board. I decided to create a “bucket” for the laundry fairy and hang it from that useless dryer.

I consulted my soup can collection to find one that wasn’t too awfully big.  The point is to put crap away before there’s much!  To punch holes for hanging, I filled it with water and froze it (Pinterest tip!). After that, it was easy to hammer a nail in the sides.

I went back to my stash of scrapbook paper I’ve been using in the utility. I traced the edges of the can, trimmed the paper, and glued it on using a rubber band to hold while drying.

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Once the glue was dry, I added a layer of decoupage.

Next, I labeled and decorated it with some cute scrapbook stickers.
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I re-punched my holes through the paper so I could run thin black ribbon through as a hanger.

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And presto! The finished product:
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It hangs from a command hook on the old dryer. It’s working really well since it’s small and gets emptied frequently!

Is there a laundry fairy at your house, too?

~ Katie

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{February 22, 2013}   Weekend Projects
Mt. Washmore

Mt. Washmore (Photo credit: Birdies100)

It’s Friday! It’s sad how forward I look to my weekends lately.  It seems, though, that’s the only time I can get anything accomplished.

Last weekend was a dead loss. I got very little done, which makes me a bit blue.  Some of my projects have been pushed off to this weekend to make up for it.

  • All of my grades are in the computer already – not necessarily a good thing, because most of my kiddos chose not to turn in their assignments. But it frees me up some. I still need to plan for next week, and write some tests, but that shouldn’t be too time-consuming.
  • My kitchen needs some serious attention.  A week of competition prep has left a disaster in its wake.  And my sweet hubby forgot to bring home dishwasher detergent.  I so don’t want to leave the house that I am considering hand washing the dishes.
  • I do plan to do the computer swap, tonight, so that I can clean the kitchen. It’s funny how that one thing keeps me from even going in the kitchen.  It has to get done. DONE – Ok, so it was this morning…..
  • The ugly stool.  Ah, me….
  • Mt. Washmore is calling my name, pretty impatiently.  I’ve been wearing clothes that I haven’t worn in quite a while – and adding some to my “donate” pile as I realize how truly awful they look on me.  Something isn’t right with the dryer right now, so I’m hesitant to even fool with it.  But it has to be done.  Have I mentioned how desperately I still want a clothesline?
  • My bedroom needs straightening, as does my bathroom.  Somebody has been rained out from work most of the week and leaves a mess behind.
  • I have to call Jeepnmom tomorrow and see how she and Mechanic Man are faring.  Poor thing – she’s jacked up her back and he has double pneumonia!  I know she’s going stir-crazy.  I halfway anticipate a call from her at 5 AM, telling me to clean a drawer.  (Note to Bec:  I’ve been drinking coffee since three this afternoon, will be up late, and already have a plan for the next drawer.  Wait till 7 your time, please!)
  • Work on my management binder.  I’m preparing everything on the computer so that when I have ink, I can just print it all out!

It’s a long list but I’m thinking not as ambitious as usual.  How does your weekend look?

~ Katie



{February 18, 2013}   Lost Weekend

The best laid plans of mice and men…go awry in the House of Cheaptitude.  I hate it when I look so forward to a weekend and it goes to waste.  I’m not one of those people who enjoys being slacktastic.  And I’m not saying that this weekend has been a disaster or anything, but I didn’t get everything done that I wanted.

  • I still need to go to Goodwill.
  • I need to add objectives to my lesson plans.
  • I need to write my next Outsiders quiz.
  • My webpage for school needs updating for this week.
  • I have a stack of novel studies waiting impatiently for grades.
  • My room is a little messy again. The Monkey dens are insanely gross.
  • Mt. Washmore is starting to look like Mt. Everest.
  • I still need to move computers around.
  • The living room and kitchen look a hot mess.

Yesterday I was miserable with a headache.  This morning, when Grizzly got up to go to work, I told him I was considering going to the doctor (yes, it has been that bad!)  I didn’t overindulge in adult bevs at Bunco, so I’m not sure what exactly is going on, but it isn’t nice.

Today I need to straighten the kitchen (post-Grizzly grilling practice yikes!), stop by PaPaw’s house, pick up some more 50 cent Cheerios at the grocery (no lie – double coupon with a 3/$6 sale!), and get ready for the upcoming week.  Monkey 2’s play kitchen has moved to the back porch with her picnic table (I see a play restaurant in the future) and I can technically move my computer to her room today.  You know what is on my mind though?  THE FUNKY STOOL!

I feel that if I do something I want to do, maybe I’ll get through what I need to do.  So I’ll dust and clean the stool, do a first coat of paint, and work on chores while it dries.  I really see promise in this plan.

On a happier note, I did (kind of) clean out my email box this morning.  I’m down to about 200 emails….

Do you get frustrated with your to-do list?  How do you handle it?

~ Katie



It’s 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday.  Grizzly is out hunting down dinner.  The monkeys are still tucked snug in their beds.  I’m on my third cup of coffee, a load of laundry is drying, I’ve already made a batch of laundry soap, and I have projects on the kitchen table (clearing out space to continue to re-purpose the hall closet project).  I look around myself and think, “What a hot mess!”

Because in my projecting and tackling Mt. Washmore this week, things are out of place.  Christmas still hasn’t made it to the attic.  There is laundry to put up.  There are dirty dishes in the sink.

Who lives like that?  Ugh!

I go back to work on Monday (didn’t win the Lottery over the break, darn it) and I hate going back to school with a dirty house.  The monkeys did a nice job in their bathroom the other day so it’s down to maintenance in there.  The spaces bugging me most now are the kitchen and utility room.

My utility room is a small, tight, cramped space.  Over Thanksgiving Break, I organized the pantries, which are part of the utility room.  All I need to do to them is some re-stocking.  There is a cabinet over my functioning dryer that needs organizing, especially since I’ve repurposed a new container for my laundry detergent (yay me!) and the top of the dryer is a wreck.  My functioning washing machine is part of a stackable unit (the dryer doesn’t work) and on top of the non-operational dryer, I need to go through the Laundry Fairy’s collection and put things away from up there.

My kitchen is pretty well organized the way that works for me.  So it’s just a matter of cleaning at this point.  The only organizing I need to do is in the “junk” drawers, which I’ll tackle one drawer at a time.

It sounds like a lot, but I bet I can get everything done in just a few hours.  And then I can go back to my projects.

What will you tackle today?

~ Katie

*Side Note*

Yesterday, someone accused me of hoarding (the same person who taught me Cool-Whip bowls make good cereal bowls.) I do NOT hoard.  I REPURPOSE.  My projects today have been a cute pencil holder from a Ball Jar Craft Kit using an old can and I repurposed a snack mix container to hold my laundry soap.  They’ve turned out really cute and USEFUL.  I’ll post pics later.

I’m sticking my tongue out right now, by the way.



{January 5, 2013}   Organization: Orphaned Socks

Round basket mandelette

 

The other day I discovered a blog that addressed one of my big time-sucks:  Mt. Washmore.  I’ve started involving the monkeys in the laundry process and am proud to say they collected a hamper-full of clothes today during a ten-minute tidy and they sorted the entire mess themselves.  Monkey 1 now knows where the laundry soap is located and how to operate the washer.  He also knows how to transfer a load to the dryer.  This shaves about fifteen minutes off my chores already.

 

This lady’s blog addressed some other laundry simplification strategies.  For example, after drying, she stacks clothes according to their final destination before folding.  Too cool.  And in her laundry room, she has one of those plastic drawer set-ups and uses two of the drawers for sock orphans.  I love this idea but I am space-challenged in my utility room.

 

Enter waste-not, want-not, use what you got!

 

For a few years, I have thrown socks into a pretty wicker basket while processing laundry.  Then, once a week, usually on a Sunday while catching up on my DVR shows, I sort socks and the orphans return to the basket.  That evening, socks are in some semblance of order, by color, or style, or what grey is on the foot (toe and heel, whole bottom, none).  Unfortunately, the monkeys scavenge the basket through the week, not caring if their socks match exactly, and it’s a mess by the time I get back to it.

 

It’s not working.

 

I’m about to try something new with my orphaned socks.  Instead of the one wicker basket sitting in the middle of my living room, I have two medium-sized utility baskets.  One will be for white socks and one for all the others.  My plan is to stick these in my repurposed hall closet.  When I’m putting towels and linens away, I can pull these out and situate socks.

 

I guess it’s still not ideal, but at least it’s a little more organized.

 

Do you have a Mt. Washmore monster?  How do you tame it?

 

~ Katie

 

 



{January 4, 2013}   Cleaning Out My Closet

I hate cleaning my closet. Which explains why it looked like this till 3:30 today:

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And my stupid phone died before I took pictures of the bottom. Horrible!

According to my organizing books and a good Google search, I realized there is no one best way to organize a closet. So, with my DH due home within an hour or so, I completely emptied the closet. Not just shoes and apparel. Oh, no, I found half-finished projects, scrapbook pages, old lesson plans, as well as two sticker books I’d gotten for the monkeys the year Toy Story 3 came out.  Not good.

The thing is, I got brand new bedroom furniture this summer. I kept my room SPOTLESS till September-ish. I just kind of forgot the closet. Oops.

I decided the most important thing was to determine the purpose for that piece of real estate. Obviously,  clothing storage. And it needed to be readily accessible. The layout pretty much stinks, but I am really good at making lemons into lemonade. Till Monkey 1 goes to college and his room becomes my closet.  But I digress.

Part of the problem with my closet has been that it is way overstuffed. Every piece of clothing that came out of my closet was tried on.  Some things I’ve never worn (hand-me-downs or “great” buys), some things I’ve not worn in years, and some things just didn’t fit at all.  Now, pants for work I’ve invested a good deal of money since starting to teach and I will just get a lot of those altered if possible.  But blouses that are too short for my 5’11 frame, shoes that are not comfortable or are not functional for any function, dresses that I never should have worn all hit the Goodwill bag.

I left Grizzly’s clothes alone after a quick re-organize.  He’s not the clothes-horse he was when we met, just a shoe-whore now.

Then I had to sort all of the stuff that had been crammed in the closet.  Movies and TV series that I kept in our closet so we could watch in our room (The Sopranos, One Tree Hill, The Godfather) all came out to the living room.  School stuff has just been set aside to be taken to my classroom.  Projects have moved to the hall closet to be finished, hopefully this weekend so I can complete that closet finally.  Extra pillowcases, blankets, etc. have been added to Mt. Washmore.

And this is what I ended up with after:

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Please excuse the glarish, fuzzy Droid pics. My DH and I have completely separate sides of the closet now.  Ok, he has one side and I have the rest, but I’m a girl so I can do that.  There is a hanging organizer at the back of the closet for my purse skirts and other accessories.  Stashed underneath and behind that are photo frames – I haven’t found another home for them yet. Above the organizer I have my dressy shoes and purses.  DH’s shoes are on the floor on his side, while my sneakers and slippers are on the floor on my side.  In an awkward corner of the shelf on my side  I have a box of baby keepsakes (cut down dramatically!) and Monkey 2’s very expensive Pooh Bear bank that her Grandma Cher gave her as a baby.  Also on the shelf on my side, I have folded all of my spirit t-shirts.  I used to hang them so they’d be easily accessible, but think this will work better, especially after I containerize them.

I think that covers all of it.  You’ll notice I haven’t got pictures of the rest of my room on here!  Work in progress.  Is it ideal?  Is it perfect?  Heavens no!  But it’s a lot more functional than it was.

I absolutely must give a shout-out to missscarlet88 because her blog inspired me to tackle my closet yesterday.  Left to my own devices, I’d have waited for a snow day.  And probably made jelly instead!

What projects will you tackle in this New Year?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android



English: Monkeys in a barrel

The other night, cruising the web, I found a really neat blog (of course, I cannot for the life of me recall what it was!) that dealt with running a home more smoothly.  This lady has several children and she home schools them.  It sounds, from her blog, as though all of the kids help around the house.  The thing that caught my attention was LAUNDRY.

Laundry

Mt. Washmore can be overwhelming for anyone.  I just went foundation shopping with Perkilicious and she was saying that she really needed to wash laundry before we go back to work next week.  So laundry even qualifies as “single girl problems.”  With my family of four active individuals, laundry can quickly get out of hand and for sure takes a big chunk of my few free minutes.  Grizzly works in construction and changes clothes at least twice a day.  Summertime, 100+ degrees?  Forget about it.  The monkeys wear uniforms to school and often change when they get home.  Monkey 2 rolls around in the dirt with her four-legged bff, Jasmine. Laundry is never-ending at my house.

The blog I found had some neat strategies.  This lady’s kids process their own laundry!  They each have their own basket.  Each family member is assigned a laundry day.  They wash, dry, fold/hang and put their clothes away!  I think she helps the littlest monkeys.  How cool is that, though?

So yesterday I snatched Monkey 1 up by his ear and took him to the bathroom hamper.

“What are we doing in here?”

“I’m going to show you how to sort laundry,” I told him.

“Why do I need to know how to sort clothes?”

So much for buy-in.

I stood my ground, though.  He sorted his clothes from his sister’s and then separated lights from darks.  We moved on to the utility room and I showed him where I keep the laundry soap, how to measure it, and how to start the washer.  I explained to him that since we use powdered soap, we let the water run a little and start dissolving the soap before we add the clothes.  He needed a little help distributing things evenly, but he actually had a look of accomplishment on his face when we closed the lid!

Not so much when I told him it was time to dry his load of laundry.

“This is taking a long time,” he complained in that whiny twelve-year old voice I’ve come to know and love.  I told him that by shaking out the clothes and putting them neatly in the dryer, things would dry more quickly and not be quite so wrinkled.  He was less than impressed but continued to shake the clothes out.

By the time it was time to actually fold clothes and put them up, the monkeys were on their way out the door for their New Year’s date with Nana and the ladies and I was a little frustrated with the process myself.

Is my adventure in Monkey participation over?  Not by a long shot.  Monkey 1 knows his way around the washer now, with some guidance, and tomorrow is another day.  Even the little bit he knows now is a time-saver for me.  Next, we will work on folding, hanging, and putting away.  He won’t like it, but I imagine he’ll get it figured out.

Vintage Wicker Laundry Basket Large Oval No. 3



{November 22, 2012}   Never-Ending Love and Laundry

If you’re addicted to the smell of Gain, this post is not for you.

If you don’t mind spending $10+ on a bottle of laundry detergent, this post is not for you.

I’ve never been one to spend much money on laundry soap – except when the monkeys were babies and I spent a small fortune on Dreft and All Clear for their itsy bitsy baby gear.  None of us have particularly sensitive skin, so it’s not been a problem to spend $1.59 on off-brand, dollar store soap for our dirty drawers.

Over the past few years, however, my $1.59 soap has risen to over $4 per bottle.  I allow myself to spend $50/week at the store, and doing 2 loads of clothes each day, laundry soap was taking a bite out of my budget.  My Rhonda Belle encourages my endeavors in cheaptitude (she calls it frugality) and told me she’d begun making her own laundry soap for her HE machine.  And she gladly shared some.

And it worked ok.

Until I checked the pits of my DH’s t-shirts.

And I went back to my now high-dollar off-brand soap.

But I loved the idea of each load only costing a few cents in detergent.

And I opened the trusty old laptop and visited my friend Google.

There are probably as many recipes for laundry soap as there are users of laundry soap.  I decided early on that liquid soap would not work for me, not only because of storage concerns (huge batches – 5 gallon buckets!) but also the gross-out factor (I kept reading “consistency of snot”).  I found that most recipes called for about 3 ingredients, 2 of which I had no problem finding at my local grocery.  The third item I found at my local Kroger (not my favorite store) and cleared their shelf.  Following is the recipe I use for my family:

Katie’s Laundry Soap (1-2 tablespoons per load)

Because the Fels Naptha has been difficult to locate, I have changed to Ivory, which is easier to grate, easier on the skin, much cheaper, and doesn’t have the strong smell.  During the summer, because DH works outside, I also add some of the faux OxiClean from Dollar Tree.  There are no added perfumes, so if you like your clothes to smell a certain way, maybe add some essential oils to your wash.  It’s also easier to grate the soap if you unwrap it and let it dry out for a few days.  I keep lavender scented in my dresser drawers, so that may be an option for you.  The boxes of Borax and Washing Soda will make several batches before you need to buy more.

This powdered detergent could be stored in Tupperware or whatever container you have that seals.  Mine fits well in an old ice cream bucket.

This recipe is not the only one, or even the best one.  It works for me. I encourage you to snoop around the web and see what you find.  Explore, experiment – and let me know if you find something cool!

 



et cetera
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