Domestic Badassery, Vol. 2 – Laundry Soap

24 Mar

Based on advertisements, I assumed that one would need an advanced knowledge of chemistry (or at the very least a pristine white coat, an ample supply of beakers, and access to identical garments with vivid grass stains for testing) to undertake such a project.  But no, dear readers!  I don’t have any of those things and I managed just fine!  Take that, March!  Stupid rainy jerk, with your stupid re-runs and stupid ugly face.

Here is what I did:

I googled “homemade laundry soap” and came across the following recipe:

  • 1 cup borax (sodium borate)
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 bar of soap (I used Dr. Bronners, but Fels Naptha is also recommended)

I searched dilligently (read: occasionally perused store shelves when convenient) for the borax and washing soda to no avail, and so I decided to order them in large quantities via the interwebs.  I also contemplated liquid vs. powder recipes, and quickly decided on the powder variety for ease (the liquid versions all involve melting, diluting, and a much larger container for storage).

I made the soap by grating the Dr. Bronner’s bar using a cheese grater into a large bowl.  Then I added the cup each of borax and washing soda and mixed everything with a spoon.  I used a funnel to transfer the powder into a repurposed canister, fished a tablespoon out of our junk drawer, and with a feeling of smug satisfaction, admired my creation.  I always feel like a rock star when I finish a project that enabled me to circumvent some part of the mass-produced consumer/stuff machine.  I use one tablespoon of the concoction per regular-sized load of laundry (which amounts to two tablespoons each load, because I always just cram everything in that will possibly fit).

Not to get too comfortable on my (laundry) soap box, but I feel especially awesome when I can opt out of a product traditionally marketed at women (and increasingly targeted at mothers in particular).  Redefining homemaking and parenting as productive rather than consumptive activities is exciting.  It’s good, honest work that uses my whole self and I’m no longer ashamed to admit how much pleasure I take in my prowess.  I think one of the primary reasons that these domains get such a bad rap is because they’re imagined as being inextricably linked with consumption rather than production – any idiot can buy stuff, but it takes brains and moxie to make things.  It’s more than imagination though – consumption-as-parenting/homemaking is what’s being sold to us through advertising.  We’re reacting to that version of domestic and nurturing work – the version that presents it as little more than merely stocking a set of rooms with the right ready-made stuff – when we devalue it.  The version that depicts a white lady and her (presumable) offspring in a van on her daily errand to big-box-land.  The version that laments the overwhelming choices and our tiny, decision-frazzled brains.  It’s the version that atrophies the creative, resourceful self in favor of a facade of ease.  That’s the version that our mothers had in mind when they pushed us to accomplish more than “just” domestic stuff (not that they were wrong, of course).  It’s the version that taught us that homemaking work belongs at the bottom of the list.

So strangely enough, in finding myself chiefly involved in work as a mother and homemaker (and sometimes educator and artist), I’m discovering new heights of badassery in straightforward and necessary problem solving like this – clothes need to get clean and I don’t want to throw money and chemicals out there in place of a real solution.  I can make a fix.  And it just takes three ingredients!  I don’t mind telling you that I find the whole situation deeply satisfying.  Take that, March!

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One Response to “Domestic Badassery, Vol. 2 – Laundry Soap”

  1. Sarah E March 30, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    I think you should copyright the phrase “heights of badassery” so that you can use it for the title of the book that will be published based upon this and other pieces of your fine writing/thoughts/movement in the world. (And yes I meant for the phrase “movement in the world” to be a double entendre or adianoeta-thank you Wikipedia for the correct spellings). You, my dear, continue to amaze and inspire.

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