Duo Ventures

Saturday, May 4, 2013

DIY: Homemade Laundry Detergent

We're definitely not the most green/organic/all natural household out there by any means, but we have made minor adjustments here & there.  A couple of years ago we switched from the generic scented laundry detergent to one that was fragrance & dye free.  While I initially missed the scent of fresh laundry, I felt like all those extra chemicals that were used to perfume & color the detergent were ultimately not necessary.  

Then recently, I started seeing some DIY detergent recipes on Pinterest that seemed even more natural & more cost efficient.  There are many different ways to make your own laundry detergent, but most recipes seemed to use the same basic ingredients with the combinations & quantity of ingredients varying only slightly. 

I essentially chose the ingredients I liked best & made my own version.  Pinterest led me to two blogs that I referenced the most: Happy Money Saver & A Diamond in the Stuff.  So thanks to you ladies! :)

Some recipes called for 2 or 3 bars of either Ivory, Fels-Naptha, or Zote soap.  I couldn't decide, so I just went with 1 bar of Ivory & 1 bar of Fels-Naptha.  I also noticed most recipes called for the regular Oxiclean, but while I was shopping I noticed they offered a version that was free of dyes, perfumes, & chlorine...so I went with that instead.

Here's my version of DIY Laundry Detergent:
-borax: one box (4 lb)
-baking soda: one box (4 lb)
-washing soda: one box (3 lb 7 oz) 
-oxiclean: one container (3 lb)
-fels-naptha bar soap: one bar (5.5 oz)
-ivory bar soap: one bar (4 oz)

OK, so here's what you need to get started:

I started by grating the soap onto some tinfoil, using the second largest slot.  It came out looking like finely shredded cheese - tacos anyone?  Some people use a food processor to get a finer consistency, but the grater worked OK for me:

Next, I mixed everything together in a large bucket & once everything was incorporated thoroughly I transferred it all into a 2 gallon glass jar.  I also bought a stainless steel coffee scoop which is 2 Tbls (the recommended amount per load is 1 or 2 Tbls depending on the load size):

That's it! It's that easy.
With all the ingredients added, it filled about 3/4 of the jar as you can see.   There is a small amount of fragrance in the soaps, which I was initially hoping to eliminate completely, but it's such a trace amount per load that I don't think it should matter too much.

I literally just made this batch a couple of days ago, so I've yet to wash anything except for a load of white sheets, but it seemed to work great so far!  Most of the reviews I've read were awesome too.

Cost Breakdown:
-borax: $3.38
-baking soda: $2.24
-washing soda: $3.24
-oxiclean: $7.52
-fels-naptha bar soap: $.97
-ivory bar soap: I already had some @ home
-glass jar: $9.97
-stainless steel scoop: $ 1.67
Total cost for approximately 15 lb of detergent:  $17.35 

I normally pay around $12 for my regular detergent, but I have a feeling this is going to last me much longer since you only need 1 or 2 Tbls per load.  I'll be back with an update once I do a few more loads - Happy Washing!

Side Notes:
We happen to have an archaic hand-me-down washing machine from my parents, but these ingredients are safe for those of you with High Efficiency washing machines too.

Also, our DIY version is fragrance free.  While we don't mind the absence of frangrance, I would recommend adding a scented laundry enhancer (like Purex Crystals for example) for those of you who prefer that 'clean laundry smell'.   Other than that, we plan on DIY-ing more laundry detergent when we run out of this batch!

Update:  We have been using our DIY laundry detergent for about 4 months so far.  It has been working great for us - clothes come out nice & clean.  That being said, our clothes are typically not heavily soiled/stained.  It's just the two of us right now - no kids or pets, so I don't know if that would be a game changer at all  ;)


Friday, May 3, 2013

Office Storage: Thrift Store Dresser Makeover

A few weeks ago we posted our office reveal & this week we wanted to include a more detailed post about our thrift store makeover.  This project all started when we decided to turn our formal dining room into a home office.  We needed to find some sort of credenza/dresser piece that would provide more storage for us & work with the style of our existing desk.

This is the desk that we bought @ Pottery Barn several years ago:  
It's really great quality & has ample storage for hanging files & two drawers for small storage, but we still needed space for all that extra 'office stuff':  paper, notebooks, folders, binders, pens, highlighters, pencils, tape dispenser, page protectors, printing supplies, etc...

After scouring several thrift stores, we found the perfect size dresser with 6 drawers that was in need of a makeover.  Now, this was our first legit furniture painting project & we didn't really know where to start.  Google, blogs, & Pinterest came in handy during the research phase.  Like most other DIY projects, there are tons of different methods, tips, & tricks out there.  One blog that I utilized the most was Centsational Girl.  Kate has a lot of painting experience & I chose our primer & paint based off of her suggestions.  
Here's the rundown of our first furniture painting adventure....

|remove hardware|
First things first, I removed all the hinges & pulls:

|wood filler|
Next, I filled all the holes, dents, & cracks with a paintable wood filler:

After the wood filler was dry, I used an 80 grit sanding wedge to lightly rough up the entire dresser.  I followed that up with a 120 grit wedge, focusing on the areas that I had patched up with wood filler.  For the top of the dresser, I used our orbital sander to make sure the surface was super smooth:  

|clean & prime|
 I used a dry paint brush to wipe away most of the dust from sanding & then wiped everything down with a rag & warm soapy water.  Before I started to prime, I quickly ran a tack cloth across everything just to make sure all the dust particles were removed.   To prime, I used Zinsser Cover Stain Oil Based Primer.  For the drawers & base of the dresser, I used the spray version with a nozzle attachment.  On the top of the dresser I used a foam roller to apply the paint instead:

  We decided to go with 2 coats of primer since it's a piece we'll be using a lot & we want it to last.  We didn't paint the sides of the drawers because we were worried the paint would just scrape off in the end & we didn't mind the raw wood:

|sand primer|
I also lightly sanded the entire dresser after priming to make sure the paint went on an ultra smooth surface - I don't know if this step was 100% necessary, but in my head it sounded legit (don't forget to wear a mask if you sand primer - lots of nasty chemicals are being released):

For the paint, we decided to try Benjamin Moore Advance.  We could not find this formula @ our local Ace Hardware store, but they did refer us to a local family owned paint store instead.  The folks over there were so super nice & they even mailed us a handwritten 'thank you for your business' card.  Aw :)

The paint was a little pricey for a quart - it was about $20.  But, in the end we wanted to use the best quality paint for this project...so we just went with it.  I wasn't sure if a foam or angled brush was going to work best, so I tried both.  In the end, I preferred the Purdy brush because it offered better coverage & allowed me to work more quickly:

The paint color we decided on was Cement Gray in a satin finish - we didn't want this piece to be too shiny:

Now that we were finally ready to paint, the weather just wouldn't cooperate.  Since it was too cold to paint in the garage, we brought the dresser inside & propped it up on three 2x4's:

Finally!  The painting could begin!  I used the 2" angled brush for the entire dresser, with the exception of the top & two ends where I used a foam roller instead.  I gave the dresser 2 coats of the Cement Gray paint - waiting overnight between coats.  I was happy to see that most brush marks disappeared as it dried:

Not going to lie, the whole priming & painting process felt like it took foreeeever.  Between our work schedule, motivational/laziness levels, painting, sanding, & dry time - it probably took me over three weeks to finish...maybe longer.  I also think that all the drawers & doors made it seem more tedious for sure.  In the end though, it was worth it!  

|attach hardware|
After everything was completely dry, we began to attach our new drawer pulls.  In our original plan, we were going to add label holders above drawer pulls to give the basic dresser more of an office feel.  That plan changed when I found an option from House of Antique Hardware that fused a label holder with a pull.  Just what we needed!  They have all sorts of finishes, but we went with the oil-rubbed bronze:  

Originally, we didn't want to reuse the hinges, but it was difficult to find replacements that fit in the existing notches & lined up correctly to the holes.  Call it lazy & impatient - we just did not have any steam left to modify the doors to accommodate new hinges.  So, for now we are using the existing hinges that I spray painted oil-rubbed bronze:

No project is ever 100% hiccup-free though, right?
Something you can't tell from the photos is that some of the screws broke off into the drawer as we were attaching the new pulls...so, three of the pulls are technically only holding on by one screw & we have yet to remedy that situation.  Is it bad I want to just superglue them on?

It also took us a little longer to decide on pulls for the doors.  I actually liked the pulls  that came with the dresser & I was originally going to spray paint them.  But then we misplaced one of them.  We searched all over & could not find the second pull - so we finally gave in & decided to look for new ones.  Initially, we were going to go for simple knobs - until we found these cute pulls that were 50% off @ Hobby Lobby (normally only 3.99!):

As you can see, the metal color was more of a brass finish - so I simply spray painted them an oil-rubbed bronze finish:

We also lined the drawers with gray & white chevron wrapping paper from Home Goods.  I stuck some double-sided tape in all the corners to keep the paper in place:

We are still debating if it's necessary to apply a topcoat of wax or polyurethane...suggestions welcome!

Functionally speaking, we have so much more storage for all our office supplies now:

 Some Before & Afters:  

We really like how it turned out.  We are almost 100% finished with this makeover. 
We still need to:

For now, we're taking a break from the dresser & I'm working on 
organizing all the contents of our office instead - so excited to get our life back in order!  Piles of mail & paperwork devouring our kitchen counter stresses me out.

More office related posts coming soon...

Until then!