Instructables

Soft Soap Surface Spiffer

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Picture of Soft Soap Surface Spiffer
01-soaps.jpg
02-Borax.jpg
03b-grater.jpg
03-Soda.jpg
04-Empties.jpg
05-Grating.jpg
06-Everything.jpg
07-Cooling.jpg
08-SettingUp.jpg
Here is a semi-solid cleaning solution for delicate surfaces; microwave oven doors, glass-top ovens (MUCH less expensive than the commercial products), table tops, car interiors, windows, walls, and just about anything else that isn't harmed by water. Microfiber cleaning cloths are ideal for soft surfaces, such as coffee makers and microwave doors.  The cleaner cuts grease, and washes away easily, and can be used to buff most spills out of carpets with a damp terrycloth towel. Also, with a couple of tweaks, it becomes a super-high-quality laundry detergent, at a small fraction of the cost of any store-bought product.
 
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Step 1: Soft Soap Surface Spiffer main ingredient

Picture of Soft Soap Surface Spiffer main ingredient

Any bath bar or bar-type laundry soap will work fine.  Use a standard 4-ounce bar (a little larger or smaller is fine), or half of a larger bar, such as Lirio or Zote, which can both be purchased in stores that sell Mexican products, or online at stores such as Walgreen's.

Step 2: Borax

Picture of Borax
Borax!  Cheap, efficient cleaning booster

Step 3: Washing Soda

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Washing Soda -- this is one of the major ingredients in many commercial cleaing compounds.  Like Borax, it is EXTREMELY inexpensive, and can be bought at most major groceries, as well as some online retailers.

Step 4: Grater

Picture of Grater
For the soap.  Grating helps the soap to dissolve in the water more quickly and thoroughly.

Step 5: Empty Containers

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You can store your custom cleaner in any waterproof container.

Step 6: Step 1 - grate the soap

Picture of Step 1 - grate the soap
Easy!
tsvlasuk2 years ago
Does this stay dissolved/suspended in water, if I wanted to make a spray cleaner?
Ex Machina (author)  tsvlasuk2 years ago
I think I posted my reply in the wrong place, but it's up there.... :)
sunshiine2 years ago
I sure don't know how I missed this one! Very nice! I just made an entry on laundry soap recently and will reference this to it. Thanks for sharing!
This is a great recipe that has been around for eons but I am not sure I understand the need for making the liquid form of this in large batches for storage. If you decide to mix enough liquid for storage be sure to use DISTILLED water. I also make lotions and creams and using tap or well water is risking bacteria. Distilled water will keep for at least 6 months to a year without needing any special antibacterial chemicals. Avoiding those is the reason I have always made my own cosmetics and soaps

This recipe is pretty close to what I helped my grandmother and mother put together for laundry day but we used our own homemade soap. One of my jobs was to grate all that homemade soap into a bucket for use on laundry days. Back in those days the amount of lye used was estimated so there was so much leftover lye that my hands would be near raw LOL.

On Sat mornings mom boiled a kettle of water. I measured out 4 cups of the grated soap, 1/2 c.borax and 1/2 c. baking soda into a bucket. The boiling water was poured into the bucket and everything stirred for about 20 minutes while it cooled down to a thick gel. This muck was used to wash clothes. Whatever was left over went into the wash tub for bathing dirty kids later that evening. For the ladies it was reheated a little and a 1/4 c of goat's milk added to it. If you still have some left, use it to was dishes.

I am over 60 now and have used this formula from wash tubs to wringer washers to electric washers with great result and still make my own soap..

BTW a soapmaker's secret for extra suds - add 1 tbsp castor oil for each 4 cups of grated soap or 1 ou for every 2 lbs of weighed oils if you make your own.

HTH:)
Ex Machina (author)  villagecraftsmith2 years ago
Wow - never thought to use distilled water! That makes perfect sense, though I've never had a batch go bad after 5 months in the garage. But the water is really clean around here (just found out last week they don't even add chlorine).
I spent waaaay too long looking for a laundry soap recipe (where were you when I needed you?? :D ). There were so many different recipes, I just decided to wing it. The lack of suds was strange (how can you clean your undies without suds?), but I won't ever go back to commercial stuff. Does castor oil add any cleaning power to the mix?
You had your bare hands in LYE? Yikes!!
I've never had a problem with my 6 gallon batches either. At a half cup per load, one batch can last me well over a year.

Homemade lye soap is lye and fat mostly. If you guess and add too much lye, then the extra can burn you. At least that's the take I get from what she said. I suppose they didn't have any pH paper down on the farm back then.
The castor simply adds suds. Pure lard soap has almost no suds. When I was a very young girl we made the soap from hog fat. My grandmother would toss in some castor to get suds. You don't need suds for cleaning but psychologically we think it is cleaning better when we get better suds.

Yes lye can burn but I learned that vinegar will neutralize it so I keep a spray bottle of white vinegar beside my soap pot. I always get a few tingles where I have splashed some on me and just give it a spritz or two and never any burns.
kill-a-watt2 years ago
my recipe for laundry soap:
1 bar of laundry soap (fels-naptha, etc)
1-1/2 cups of Borax
1-1/2 cups of washing soda
6 gallons of boiling water

Grate soap and put into the bucket. Add powders. Pour boiling water on top, two gallons or so at a time. Stir between additions of boiling water.

This is much easier than boiling soap on the stove. Because you use all hot water, everything dissolves, but after everything cools, you will still find the soap will gel up to an extent. Stir before use, use 1/2 per load (roughly 3 cents last time I added it up
Ex Machina (author)  kill-a-watt2 years ago
It takes about 10 minutes to get my water hot enough to dissolve the soap, and then after adding the powders, I just dump it into the cold water (either distributed over 3 buckets or into one large one), and it's instantly cool enough to handle.
How long does it take to get 6 gallons to come to a boil on your stove? Do you have a gas stove, and/or use multiple pots?
Yea, it should take longer, but I can multi-task and just do 4 pots full while doing other things. If 6 quarts of water come to a boil unattended, this is no major problem.

OTOH, if you have the powders and a bar of soap all grated up and that mix boils over while you were otherwise occupied, that will be quite a mess. You will only ever do this once, trust me.

I grate my soap about the same as your picture shows and it still takes me longer than 10 minutes. Plus I need to scrub and rinse the soap out of the pot at the end too.
mdiehl2 years ago
In addition to the cost of the ingredients, there is the cost factor of time spent making this, plus the use of the stove, etc. I have never seen the washing soda in any of the store in my area. Not sure if I'm going to make it, but definitely have it tagged--looks like the ideal cleaner for the acrylic tub enclosure. Where do you find the washing soda??
Ex Machina (author)  mdiehl2 years ago
Re: washing soda -- they sell it on alice.com for the lowest price *anywhere* ($2.99 for the 55 ounce box), and the shipping is free.
It doesn't take much time at all (20 minutes if you slow down and take it easy), so the power cost is minimal as well.
Thanks, everyone. Now you have my interest, so I'll have to get my items together and do some cooking!
I get my washing soda at WalMart - they always seem to have plenty in the laundry aisle - occasionally have it with general purpose cleaners, as well

Works great for laundry - and for cleaning silver....wonder if there is an 'ible for that :-)
plsera692 years ago
Just a quick question. I noticed that some of the comments suggest that this soap does not 'suds' up much. Has anyone tried using this as laundry detergent in a high efficiency wash machine? I know that my wife buys HE detergent for our front loader, which costs a premium. She would appreciate the money savings if this would work!
Ex Machina (author)  plsera692 years ago
Re: Front loader -- I hope someone can answer this, because it sounds like a match made in heaven! It doesn't suds up AT ALL.....my first look at this mixture in action was disappointing, because it looked like there was no soap in the water. Couldn't see or feel anything. But it totally combines with the crud and then gets flushed away in the rinse cycle. I hope you decide to give it a try, and please let me know how it goes if you do!
Ex Machina (author) 2 years ago
Update on spray cleaner -- it works! I melted 1 tablespoon of the cleaner in 1 cup of hot water, and then added a second cup of cold water. After sitting out overnight, it gelled slightly, but worked just fine again after a brief re-heat. I think this will be my main window cleaner. Thank you to tsvlasuk!
Why not just use white vinegar in a spray bottle for windows? It's like $2.50 a gallon, and works.
Ex Machina (author)  ambailey2 years ago
It sure does! Plus, it won't go bad.....ever....! And it doesn't gel in between uses.
The upside of the soap cleaner would be that it smells so niiiiiice and is only around 25 cents per gallon.
I just assumed vinegar was the cheapest thing you could use for cleaning glass. I'll have to give it a try, thanks!
triedonce2 years ago
Would this laundry detergent be suitable to use in a cold wash?
Ex Machina (author)  triedonce2 years ago
Cold wash -- yes -- the powder is already dissolved, and the gel is very soft, so the agitator disperses it very easily. I also smash my finished product up a bit before scooping it out -- not that it makes a difference, but it fits better in the scoop and it's fun to play with.....
gmaring2 years ago
for laundry soap, you can also make dry soap by skipping the water and just blending all the powders together in a food processor, it will dissolve in the wash.
Ex Machina (author)  gmaring2 years ago
Re: powder mojo -- yes, for the most part! But not all kinds of soap are as agreeable as Lirio and regular bath soap, and I get cranky when I find waxy little blobs in my socks.... :D
I use Fels Naptha. I buy a bar each time at the grocery store..sure beats spending $8.00 or more on a bottle of detergent! No blobs...the food processor (or magic bullet in my case), makes the powder so fine that it dissolves easily! Never thought to make household cleaner though..i'm gonna have to try this!

Also, you probably want to avoid bar soaps with lotions in it, might add grease spots.

Also, the liquid soap may start to separate if stored for awhile, just shake it up and it will be fine again!
Ex Machina (author)  gmaring2 years ago
Hey, I just made a batch with the Fels, and that stuff has such a crumbly texture (compared to everything else), I think I might give the processor routine another go! Thanks for the inspy!
Ex Machina (author)  gmaring2 years ago
That's a really good point about the lotions - I avoid that sort of soap so strictly that it didn't even cross my mind! I won't use Zest soap in the shower for the opposite reason (it strips oil like crazy, and hurts my skin) -- it is a GREAT degreaser! So far, all the shower bars I've tried work very well. But I haven't tried the Fels, and I think I WILL, due to the amazing fragrance.
Will always keep some Comet on hand, though (along with a teflon scrubber) for that resistant layer of scum on the tub!
octochan2 years ago
I tried this once, but I used a bar of Linda yellow laundry soap, and our house has hard water. I ended up with soap scum all over everything.
Ex Machina (author)  octochan2 years ago
Oh no! I'll file that away for future reference. I wonder if vinegar would have made a difference (?)
dulciquilt2 years ago
we have been using this for laundry for years and it cut down on skin reactions i was getting from commercial soaps. We use the pink Zote. The bar has a very mild scent of lemon that really isn't there once you mix everything, but clothes come out smelling very fresh. It's the only detergent we've found that removes pet urine odor, too. We also add a cup of Oxyclean to mixture.
Ex Machina (author)  dulciquilt2 years ago
I LOVE that about Zote (and Lirio) - they are so fragrant, but leave no trace when the clothes come out of the wash. I'm almost sorry about that.
AmyLuthien2 years ago
Borax also has the added benefit that it kills and repels earwigs (and ants etc.) I was having a real bad problem with earwigs coming into my house, especially the kitchen, but since I've been using it in my spray cleaner, I do not see them around anymore. ;)
Ex Machina (author) 2 years ago
Didn't think to try that! I suspect it would, since the level of hydration would be pretty high, which means the powders should stay in solution. I'll give that a whirl and get back with short term results!
danaross2 years ago
Very cool. Can't wait to try it.
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