I do my best to keep everything in my life simple, natural and ecologically responsible. When it comes to wash day, the bulk of my laundry is done by hand in the sink and hung to air dry around the apartment.
I don’t believe in chemical detergents, or the wasteful plastic containers they come in, and even though my clothes get pretty caked with grease and grime from playing grease monkey in my spare time, I manage to get everything down to the grossest shop rag clean naturally and for less money than the store bought bottles by using clean, 100% natural soap, white vinegar and baking soda.
100% natural, Savon de Marseille (soap from the French region of Marseille) is made exclusively with a base of olive oil, copra, and palm oil. It’s PH neutral for extremely sensitive skin types, biodegradable and to be considered authentic ‘savon’, must contain 72% olive oil. It costs about $7 for a big chunk and can be found at your local health food store or in a pinch, online HERE
Using a potato peeler, shave off a bit of soap (play with the proportions til it’s right for you. you can always add more). Add the shavings to a sink full of warm water and clothing.
Pure, natural soap can have a tendency to be a little ‘scummy’. If you find this to be the case, add a tablespoon of Baking Soda to the wash. This will help pull stains and cut through the soap scum.
White Vinegar (a cap full or two) can also be added or can be substituted for the Baking Soda. It will also cut through the soap scum, as well as getting odors out of clothing. I use one or the other or a combination of the two depending on the wash load contents, based on trial and error.
Make a thick paste using soap shavings, Baking Soda, White Vinegar and a little water. Spoon it on to the stain and allow to sit for a half hour or so. wash as usual.
The history of Savon de Marseille
In the Middle Ages big blocks of olive oil soap were first crafted in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille with olive oil from local groves, marine ash and sea salted water. The quality of these soaps were immediately famous throughout Europe and in 1688 French law declared that only soaps made according to certain ancient methods could bear the important mark Savon de Marseille. Now the most prized of all soaps in the world, our Savon de Marseille is still crafted by hand, in Marseille, just as it has been for hundreds of years. It takes the Maitre de Savon (soapmaster) two weeks to make Marseille Soap. The purest ingredients are heated for ten days in antique cauldrons. The soapmaster knows just the right moment to pour the mixture into open pits where it slowly hardens. Cut into cubes and stamped, without machines of any kind, the soaps are then set out to dry in the sun and cool winds. Savon de Marseille (“Marseille Soap”) is once again being rediscovered for its extraordinary purity, gentle skin care and ecological value. Savon de Marseille is recommended by dermatologists throughout the world for dry or sensitive skin, eczema and other ailments. In France it has been trusted for generations to cleanse everything from linens to little faces. Marseille Soap is totally biodegradable, requires little packaging and its manufacture is environmentally friendly. Authentic Marseille Soap is stamped with its weight in grams – a practice left over from years ago which allowed households to compare prices and plan their inventories. This gram weight is the weight of the soap “frais,” or fresh, in the factory. The soap will lose weight as it becomes drier and it will weigh less than the “fresh weight” when you receive it. No soap is “greener.” In France they are sold piled high on open-air market tables like produce, wrapped in craft paper. Your Savon de Marseille will be delivered without plastic packaging, carefully wrapped in paper stamped with the famous marks to prove its authenticity. – Savon de Marseille’s website
Happy Wash Day!