DIY Laundry Detergent

Gentle Readers,

Like many before me, I don’t understand the costs associated with keeping my clothing clean. Dry-cleaners believe that women’s shirts are more expensive to clean than men’s shirt. No one has dared tell me that my sweat is tougher than a man’s to treat. And yet, my fancy professional clothes that cannot touch water must receive a costly treatment after so many wears.

A few years ago, I stopped using dryer sheets in favor of wool dryer-balls. You only purchase the product once, which means less packaging in the world. I also like that they have no scent. Many of my friends are highly allergic to any fragrance and I want my clothing to not impact their health. The environment, my budget, and my friendships all win.

I have been itching to make my own laundry detergent for a few years, but I could not justify it until my detergent ran out. I use less than the recommended amount, because my clothes come out clean with far less than the manufcaturer suggests. I finally finished a container of oxyclean and thus had the space I needed to create my first batch.

There are lots of recipes online, and most of them are the same. For my ratios, I looked here.

You don’t need much for DIY Detergent

I purchased 5 bars of soap (you need one bar, but it was cheaper in bulk), 1 box of washing soda, and 1 box of borax.

Per above, I don’t like scents, so I ignored the advice to add essential oils. I did purchase a microplane after checking out my local hardware store for a suitable alternative. I don’t have a dishwasher, and didn’t want to use my small food processor and end up with soapy pesto later.

Steps to making DIY Laundry Detergent

Once I had the materials and the room in an airtight container to store it, I pulled out the microplane and one bar of soap and grated it while watching music videos on YouTube. It took longer than I anticipated, but was not onerous. I think I was done in 15-20 minutes. Per usual, I knicked one knuckle on the microplane twice. So I will refrain from giving myself a manicure for a few days while I heal. Happy to report that no blood ended up in my detergent.

Then I added one cup of washing soda and one cup of borax. I briefly stirred everything together, while being careful to not get things on my skin as two of the ingredients can be drying.

That’s it. I now have very powerful, much cheaper detergent. Most people advise using one to two tablespoons per load.  I immediately did one load of laundry with this detergent; it included a flannel shirt from my dad who was a hardcore smoker living in a moist apartment. It had smelled of mildew and smoke. No longer. The load came out and appeared far cleaner than my expensive store-bought detergent ever achieved.

One final bonus was learning that the friend who hosted me for dinner and games Sunday night is also interested in making her own detergent, but had not been able to procure washing soda. The box is huge and you take so long to go through it one cup/tablespoon at a time. It will be easy for me to put some in a baggie to share with her.

Have any of you ever made your own detergent? Did you like the results?

 

Why I Started My Own Small Business

Gentle Readers,

There are many reasons I decided to start my own small business two years ago. These reasons are still compelling to me even though I have been working full-time on top of my business, and started the business in a niche I did not yet fully understand. I am a queer woman and the professional world wanted to wipe that off of me.

Like many young professional women, I don’t necessarily fit in many work settings. I have worked for small businesses, fast food, county government, local nonprofits, national nonprofits, retail, and a variety of temping opportunities, first as an admin and now as a professional. I fit in maybe one of those work environments, and that organization no longer exists.

A little over two years ago, the female editor in chief of the NY Times was fired for daring to ask why she was being paid less than the male editor who occupied the role before you. Fired for asking why.

Work environments were not designed with women in mind because sexism said they didn’t have to be.

Most women I know contort themselves to fit in to work environments. We ignore the subtle and not-so-subtle sexism. We ignore clients hitting on us when we are not free to leave their vicinity. We ignore that desks are built with the average-sized man in mind, and are not comfortable for our bodies. We beg to have office buildings not burn us in winter and freeze us in summer since we are more likely dressed for the actual weather and not insistent (conditioned into) on wearing a three-piece suit regardless of the appropriateness to the season.

We read the articles telling us that we are considered harsh if we act confidently. We read the articles that bemoan our poor negotiating skills right next to the articles that say we are not appropriately ladylike when we negotiate well.

We are chided for our very voices with new concepts like vocal fry and commanded to talk in masculine normative methods of expression. EVEN when it is proven that women’s general style is more collaborative and more effective.

We contort ourselves. Many of us have extra things to contort. Our colleagues ask about boyfriends we aren’t interested in having. Our preferred styles of dressing can be read as unprofessional on a body read as femme, but would be fine on a body read as masculine. Our bodies themselves are not read as belonging in public due to disability. Our relationship styles may not value marriage or monogamy the way the government and dominant culture would prefer.

We can contort all of these things and still not succeed. We can still be fired for daring to simply ask about our pay rate.

I opened my own small business to avoid these controls on my personality and dress-code.

Two years ago, I was fed up with my gig-centered work-life and my inability to get hired for a career-based job in my profession. I had applied for so many things. I had contorted. I was not getting what I wanted.

So I decided to create it.

I am creating a space that focuses on a niche in my profession and allows me to serve my community through it. I am creating a space where I own the keys to the door, and set the dress code. I am still a professional, but my fantastic dyke hair is fine with my supervisor as she is me. She still makes me wear the pearls when it is required, but she never tells me to grow my hair out. She never requires me to wear heals. She never tells me to dress like a lady. She knows that I am a human and that being a good human is the true goal.

I am creating a space where I do not have to say yes to potential clients that I find distasteful to work with. I can focus on serving the LGBT community. I can serve my community competently, because I know from personal experience some of what they are facing and I know where to research the specific problems that impact us.

I am creating an environment where I do not have to punch in. Eventually, I will not have to be there to “get my 40,” but rather must get the work done in a timely manner for my clients. I work better after 10 am, and can set most appointments after that. I adapt my work life to me. Should I decide to have a family in the future, I can schedule my life and career together far more easily. I am creating this because I am dissatisfied with the work environments available to me.

I don’t want to just show up. I want my work to reflect my values. I am creating that work.

What made you start your own business?

My Frugal DIY Hair Routine

Gentle Readers,

You know that I have a frugal face-routine, and you will not be surprised to learn that my hair routine is similarly personally tailored and low-cost. I spend less than $2 a year on the products I need to look fantastic.

I have a very short hair-cut and was frustrated at the amount of money I was spending on shampoo and conditioner and products. It felt wasteful. It was also just silly since none of the products did precisely what I wanted.

I have very clear vanity needs. I want to look a very particular way. I like that women stop me on the street to tell me how much they love my hairstyle. I even had a woman at my podiatrist’s office ask to take photos of my hair, because she is a stylist and wanted to try and replicate it.

Everything that touches my head is created by me.

I ditched traditional shampoo and conditioner nearly two years ago. I read around and asked my friends, and learned about the No Poo movement (a horrible name).  I thought it was worth a shot since the ingredients were simple and were things I had around my house. I was also intrigued at the idea of washing my hair once a week. Shorter showers means less water waste and more time sleeping in.

On Sundays, I wash my hair.

I have a little container I bought at CVS that holds some baking soda and water. I use a squeeze bottle with a lid that closes so it does not dry out. That’s all you need. I personally add tea tree oil,  which is good for my scalp since my hair is so thick. I don’t like the smell of tea tree, so I add in some mint oil  to have a smell I like that adds a little scalp tingle.  I pour some into my hand and scrub it into my scalp. I leave it in until I feel the tingle and then rinse it out. After that, I use a bottle that is 1/4 apple cider vinegar and 3/4 water as conditioner.  I make sure to rinse thoroughly because I don’t want to smell like a salad. Once I’m out of the shower, I warm a tiny bit of coconut oil in my hands and put it through my hair as a deeper conditioner. That’s it. My hair is clean for a week!

I like my pomade to have a little bit of shine, but mainly I want it to just let my hair’s glory come through.  My current favorite version is easy to make and much cheaper than buying a product that someone else made for me.

I use a glass bowl and a pot as a make-do double-boiler. In the glass bowl I put some Shea butter or coconut oil and then half as much Beeswax.  It melts quickly on a low heat. I stir it and watch carefully to prevent burning. Once it is all melted down, I put on my potholders and carefully transfer into a little metal one ounce container. I let it sit with the lid off until it solidifies. That’s it. My pomade is ready for 8-12 months. You only need a little when your hair is short.

The shea butter version feels a little greasier, but is nice in the winter when my hair just wants a little more love. The coconut version is my go to in the summer when looking crisp is my greater goal.

Sometimes I add an essential oil for a little scent, but not much, because I don’t want to cause anyone to have an allergic reaction around me. I try to have so little in that only someone who actively tried to smell my hair would know.

Do you make any of your own hair products? Share your recipes below.