It’s an appealing thought. Take some relatively cheap ingredients, mix them together and in a certain way and BAM, low cost laundry butter.

The premise of the recipe is grated coconut oil soap with a 0% superfat, combined with hot water, borax, and washing soda. Mix them together, let sit until cool, and then stick blend until you’ve got a creamy emulsified soap “butter” for washing laundry. Add some essential oils at the end for smell and there you go.

Common knowledge was that this miracle butter only required 1TB in an entire load of washing. Reputed to clean everything, it was supposedly gentler on clothes and machines, and basically a miracle in disguise.

Laundry Butter

Laundry Butter

Of course I wanted to try the laundry butter myself, so I read a lot about it – both from the people who loved it and swore by it, and the people who didn’t.

I read A LOT.

I fall down Internet rabbit holes all the time and I like to research things, but despite what all the naysayers were saying, I felt I had to try it myself.

So I made some.

After a few weeks of using only laundry butter, I upped the amount we were using in the machine to 1c per load. It was … okay I guess.

But there was still occasionally a funky smell in the armpits of t-shirts, and stains didn’t seem to be coming out. Plus washing needed to be hung out immediately post-wash, otherwise the clothes smelled musty, quite quickly.

I wasn’t prepared to blame the butter though. We’d recently switched to a new machine and reviews weren’t glowing, but we pushed through.

The homemade butter was cheap you see, and we were getting the business off the ground still. One kid was still in nappies, and money at the checkout was tight.

Right there was the upside. Money was tight and not having to spend $20/month on detergent was a god-send.

I kept using the butter, adding in a soap stick stain remover when I had stubborn oil stains on clothes which needed shifting.

Look, I’m a soapmaker. I am frequently oil and mica covered. My clothes get grotty. I have three children and a husband. We garden. We play outside. We don’t live in a sterile environment and our clothes are part of that.

I wanted to love the laundry butter so much. I NEEDED to love the laundry butter, because I needed to believe it was working.

It was not working.

But I hung in there. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t something I could change, or fix.

We switched to all warm washes, just in case. I added more butter to washes. I added eucalyptus essential oil to the rinse water whenever I remembered, to help.

It was only when I started having to use dishwashing liquid as a pre-wash stain treatment on oil-spotted shirts and yoga pants I finally saw the light. My home-made laundry butter was not working and I couldn’t pretend it was anymore.

I wanted to love the laundry butter, but I couldn’t anymore.

12 months of intense testing on a five person household and I couldn’t do it anymore.

I went out and bought proper laundry detergent instead. Super sensitive and unscented style, to cater for Nat and Evelyn, who both get contact dermatitis.

And 3 weeks after switching back to commercial detergent, I can safely say that my experiment was a giant failure.

Laundry butter did not work properly. I tried really hard to brainwash myself into believing it did. I have soft water. I did serious testing. But I cannot claim honestly that home made laundry butter or laundry powder actually gets clothes clean.

My clothes feel different since stopping the experiment.

Because the buildup in my clothes was a slow and gradual process, I didn’t notice it happening until I washed everything in commercial detergent and suddenly they felt different.

Water will clean clothes of most dirt. I brainwashed myself into believing that a little bit of coconut oil soap, borax, and washing soda was making a difference when it wasn’t.

So there it is.

12 months of testing over.

Laundry butter does not work, and as much as I wanted to love it, I can’t anymore.

{ 6 comments }

Streamlining things.

by Veronica on January 28, 2016

in Soapmaking

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The beauty of working for myself is when I find a better way to do things, I don’t have to mess around waiting for a superior to okay changes which make my life easier. Which frankly, is quite nice.

I’ve done a lot of markets in the last 12 months. I’ve learned a lot, tweaked my set up more than a few times, and created more things to sell.

But it’s too much. Too many types of soap, too much to keep up with, too many products.

So I’m streamlining things down.

Less choice at markets. Less scents. Less products.

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I was at Mona Market on Sunday, with a limited edition range of soaps. The fermentation theme of MoMa this year works perfectly with soap – it’s easy to add fermented products to soaps and make the soaps even more beautiful. Fresh Tasmanian goat’s milk I turned into yogurt. Beer. Whisky. Fancy soaps, with fancy ingredients, and fancy bubbles.

What I got out of MoMa is that sometimes, less choice is best. I took along 10 different types of soap, three hand creams, three bath salts, and a beard balm. It was the simplest set up I’ve ever done, and it worked. 30 minutes to set up. 10 minutes to pack down at the end of the day.

Streamlined perfection.

Of course it helps that we sold really well at MoMa, and went home with less than a third of the stock I took along, but still.

Sometimes less is more, and allowing the products to speak for themselves, while not being overwhelmed with choice, well that’s a beautiful thing.

Markets are hard work. Rewarding – very rewarding, but they’re work.

You have to leave home early, carry all your stock in, set up, sell things, pack down, carry all your stock out, then go home and unpack everything.

None of this is a problem if you’re taking along 10-15 utterly gorgeous types of soaps you love. But slowly, my market set up was getting unwieldy. Five huge boxes. Shelves. Little bits and pieces everywhere.

And then I’d sell soap and at the end of the day end up with four soaps here, three soaps there. Not quite enough left to create a perfect set up and keep it restocked, but too many (and too nice) to shuffle into the seconds bin, or cut down for samples.

Lonely soap, waiting for me to restock them, to recreate their perfection all over again.

Of course, I’m always going to have that problem. I’m always going to end up with 1-2 soaps left from a batch, while I wait for the next lot to cure.

But this is an easier problem if I’m not constantly trying to keep 80 types of Thing in stock.

Which is to say, we’re going smaller, not bigger.

And I’m good with that.

On the flip side, it means that the online shop becomes my smartest resource. What better way to sell soap than online, to you guys, who have been here since the beginning?

There’s beauty in having customers able to pick up a soap and smell it, to experience it, to love it.

There’s also beauty in online customers taking a chance on my descriptions. On buying with prettiness in mind. Of having to keep my photography skills on point to showcase just how good the soaps are. (They’re pretty good)

We’re in a state of flux right now, as I phase out some types of soap, and restock others.

But that’s okay.

Like I said – the benefit of being in business for myself, is that I get to do what works for me.

2016-01-24 10.34.07

{ 2 comments }

Seven! How does this even happen?

by Veronica on January 18, 2016

in Isaac

Isaac

Isaac turned seven today.

I’m not quite sure where the time has gone.

Words are maybe returning. I might be back soon. x

{ 2 comments }

Multiples of three

by Veronica on November 15, 2015

in Life

We’re heading into the craziest part of the year. Markets every weekend, soap orders here there and everywhere, wholesale accounts popping up (insert quiet cheering).

Annnnd my doctor rang me the other day. Apparently my thyroid levels are fine, but my iron is “quite low” and “please start an iron supplement immediately”.

Huh. That might explain some things here, you know. Like, everything.

It’s 8pm and it’s still light outside. Summer is coming and it’s lovely – long gorgeous days, lots of light – it also makes bedtime challenging, with children who don’t want to fall asleep when it’s daylight outside (despite hanging all the extra sheets up over their curtains).

Add that to exhaustion and insomnia in equal measure, and well. It was a recipe for getting sick, really. Which I did, quite spectacularly last week, with antibiotics required.

I cancelled my Friday night market, and while I know it was the right thing to do – I’ve pretty much spent all weekend recovering and collapsing in various measures – I still feel guilty. Even though I was sick, and Nathan was sick, and Mum (my driver and co-marketer) was sick – I still feel guilty, because I said I’d be there and at the last minute, I couldn’t be. I’d really hoped my antibiotics would work fast enough, but that’s the way it goes.

Exhaustion. Illness. Anaemia.

On the upside, I’ve stopped coughing my lungs up, I can buy iron supplements tomorrow, and I’m hoping this week will be full of Netflix and packaging, rather than running around in circles.

I also turned 27 last week, which was nice. Happy Birthday to me, I’m a multiple of three… etc.

2015-11-11 15.48.20

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Baby goats

by Veronica on November 8, 2015

in Life

image

Baby goats at The Brighton Show today.

These kids are drinking and getting fat on the same milk I use in my soaps. They were gorgeous, and I loved being able to meet the mother goats who supply my milk.

image

Here is one of the milking does my Goat’s Milk comes from.

It was a long hot day, which is why I’m catatonic on the couch right now. Not sure the Brighton Show is my target demographic, but it was lovely weather and I got to stand and work barefoot on the grass. Very nice.

Now. zzzzzzz

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