Pinterest Reviews: laundry detergent, couch-cleaning, plastic ollas, and southwest salad

Ever wonder if some of those things you see on Pinterest really work?  Here’s my personal experience with four of them.

  1. Whipped Cream Super Laundry Soap 
  2. Cleaning a Microfiber Couch 
  3. Plastic Milk Jug Ollas 
  4. Southwest Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing 

Whipped Cream Super Laundry Soap (as seen here)

This pin promises a recipe for super-concentrated cheap homemade laundry detergent.  There’s a lot of recipes out there on the internet for detergent, but this one intrigued me because I didn’t need to add extra water (thus need a huge container to store it, and since there’s only one of me I don’t go through detergent as fast as mommy bloggers do) but also because of the cute little labels on the jars.  Yeah, I can be that visualistic sometimes.

Right off the bat, I knew if I couldn’t find the three ingredients at the grocery store I wasn’t going to bother.  (Yeah, I’m too impatient to wait for Amazon or try to find enough stuff to qualify for free shipping.)  Luckily, all three were right there on the shelves — maybe due to the apparent rise in popularity of internet posts about making your own detergent?  I hate cleaning my cheese grater, so instead I sat in front of a movie with the bar of Fels Naptha and a steak knife, shaving little bits off.

Boiling the ingredients was pretty straightforward.  But I still had a few chunks of Fels Naptha that weren’t dissolving.  I decided to strain them out with a slotted spoon and continue.  To help avoid messes (yeah, I’m that clumsy), I filled the jars in the bathtub and turned them upside down.  When I came back four hours later, they had separated just like in the picture.

I had neither an adaptable blender nor a hand mixer, so I took a deep breath and dumped everything into my stand mixer.  Whipped up just fine, immediately re-filled my jars (I actually had a little extra so put it in a leftover jar), and washed that mixer immediately with lots and lots and lots of water and dish soap.  When I smelled it (and licked it) later, there was no hint of detergent — but my apartment smelled like Fels Naptha for a fortnight!  No worries confusing this stuff with mayonnaise; it definitely smells like soap.

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Then I had to wait until my regular detergent ran out, which was last weekend.  I scooped the specified tablespoon out and plopped it in the detergent compartment of the washer, poking at it when the water was running in to make sure it dissolved.

When the load was done I reached in and grabbed something randomly: the shirt I wore for the Bolder Boulder.  Yuck!  It still definitely stank of sweat.  Disappointed, I tossed it aside to rewash and reached for something else: a knit shirt.  Nothing.  No smell at all.  Not even the Fels Naptha.  Next item, no smell.  I went through everything in the wash and nothing else smelled except one other workout shirt that also stank to high heaven.  I tossed everything in the dryer and took those shirts to soak in some white vinegar.

Overall verdict: I call this a success.  Everything came out smelling very fresh and clean and not smelling of soap, but non-cotton workout clothes still need something extra.

Cleaning a Microfiber Couch (as seen here)

This, too, looked pretty easy.  And the poster has my EXACT couch, except that mine is red.  A few years ago I had a rash on my leg and I put some petroleum jelly on it, then accidentally bumped my couch.  I unzipped the cushion and tried washing it in the bathtub with castille soap, which helped a little.  This is what taught me that cleaning a microfiber couch is tough.  I try to take very good care of my couch but it still could use some love.

I went to the dollar store to pick up alcohol, a new sponge, a spray bottle, and a brush.  Came home and knelt on the carpet as I opened up the alcohol.  Oops.  Wintergreen alcohol.  Dyed green.  Tossed it and ran to King Soopers.

I started on the bottom of one of the cushions, just in case there was some discoloration.  Nothing noticeable, so I did the whole treatment to all the seat cushions, the arms, and the front.  (Back cushions were fine, so I let them be.)

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Overall verdict: I also call this one a success.  The couch doesn’t look new (mainly because it’s lumpy from use), but the process did remove most of spots.  Would do again.

Plastic Milk Jug Ollas (as seen here)

I first saw this in March, before we got four feet of April snow plus more in May and it was looking like we were going to have severe water problems this summer.  Regardless, though, Colorado is a desert and something like this looked like a good idea to save water as well as encourage deeper root growth.

I don’t drink milk so I saved apple juice bottles, dumpster dove in the recycling bins for some Simply Orange containers, and asked a friend if I could take their empty milk bottle.  I could only fit two in the freezer at the time, so the process of putting holes in them took a few weeks — watching an episode of Downton Abbey with a hammer and nail.

The original article said to poke a hole every one inch.  I did this with the first jug and set it in the bathtub to let the ice melt and drain.  (Note: the second jug – milk – was too brittle from the cold and shattered.  I found the juice containers much more resilient.)

Before I started punching holes in #3 and #4, I decided to try filling up #1 for fun to see how the water squirted out.  With the holes that close together, it drained FAST.  Like it took a long while to get it filled to the top because water was coming out.  Remembering how this was supposed to be a hacker substitute for porous terra cotta pots, I thought this wasn’t a good idea.  Wasn’t the water supposed to leach out slowly?

For #3 and #4 I punched the holes FOUR inches apart, like only five or six on each of the four sides.  When I filled these up later, they took a good 30 seconds to drain instead of the previous five seconds.  I figured that was probably better.  I planted six among my tomatoes, peppers, and beans, and I noticed my gardening neighbor did likewise about the same time I did — so maybe this isn’t a crazy idea.

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Overall verdict: not sure.  Will have to continue monitoring.  I fill them up twice per week, but still feel the need to sprinkle the leaves of the tomatoes a little now and then (because I’m weird or something).  One thing I like is that I can pour the fertilizer right into the olla then fill it up with water.  Seems like an effective way to make sure the fertilizer gets down deep to the roots without being washed away by a rainstorm (which we rarely have, but still).

I’d like at the end of the season to dig the tomatoes up and see if the roots really did go down deep, or maybe if they wrap around the olla.  Oh man, now the scientist side of me is thinking I should have planted a control….

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing (as seen here)

Self explanatory, but I left out the green onions because I’m allergic.  I’m a sucker for anything with lime.

Overall verdict: too. much. cilantro.  I had heard some people say they didn’t like cilantro and I was always like, “How can anyone not like cilantro!?”  Now I know.  I don’t like a lot of dressing on my salads, but even with just a tablespoon or two on a BIG salad it was intensely cilantro-y.  Since the dressing was meant to be the primary flavor on this salad, the lack of it made the whole dish a bit bland.  I think it could use some grilled chicken or hot sauce or something.  I still have some dressing left and I’ve been putting it on other salads just to use it up, but VERY sparingly.

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