Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Hello! I'm the oldest daughter, ALP, and mom asked me to guest post today while she is in surgery. So here we go. =)
The topic of today's post: Home-made Laundry Detergent. 
Let's face it; Laundry detergent is not only expensive but also contains harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances (code for more chemicals), and dyes. A few years ago I started exploring websites and blogs, looking for an easy laundry detergent recipe. It had to meet the following criteria:
1. It had to be easy. (Mom was not totally on board with this yet so complicated recipes were going to be a no-go.)
2. It had to be a powdered recipe. (see number 1. Mom was not going to go for a huge 5-gallon bucket of slime sitting on the laundry room floor. I also didn't like the idea of having to melt soap like so many of the recipes called for)
3. It had to work in a high-efficiency washer.
4. It had to be cost effective. (a tough thing to live up to, as mom was ((and is)) a coupon queen and got laundry detergent at great prices)
5. It had to work. (obviously)
 After some experimentation I have come up with this recipe, which is very close to this recipe.

You will need:
One 4oz. (or close) bar of natural soap. Any will do, such as Kirk's Castile (pictured here), Dr. Bronner's, or Kiss My Face, which can be found in the laundry aisle or in the organic/natural section of your grocery store. Ivory soap can used in a pinch but does contain fragrances. 
Fels Naptha, although recommended by many, contains harsh ingredients and comes with an eye and skin irritant warning - not something I want to use to wash my clothes! If you are looking for a soap to use, read the label and look for something that has only a few ingredients, ones you recognize! Kirk's Castile does list fragrance as an ingredient, but it is that last thing listed and will not make your clothes smell. It is sort of the least of all evils, if you will. =)

 Washing Soda, found in the laundry aisle in a Yellow box.

 Baking Soda (usually cheaper if bought in the baking aisle or the dollar store!),

 and Borax, found in a white box in the laundry aisle. 

Please do not be afraid to make your own laundry soap, it is super easy!
 First, grate (or have your children or siblings or husband grate) the 4 oz. bar of soap with a cheese grater. (oh, and please be sure to wash it after you are done. thank you.)

 You want the flakes to be fairly small, not huge soap shavings.

You can sort of mash them up if they are too big.

 Next, add 2 cups of Borax,

then add 1 cup of Washing Soda,

and 1 cup of baking soda.

Mix well, stop to take a picture. ;)
Now, this is where you can get fancy and add 2-3 drops of an essential oil to make your clothes smell nice. I have yet to do that. But please feel free. 

Put your laundry detergent in a container. Mine happens to be a vintage glass jar that came from an falling down house on a family farm but a plastic dollar store container works just as well. =) 
 You can also make a fancy tag, if you are so inclined. And you are done!

To use: just add 1-2 tablespoons per load. Now, if you are like me, you will want to add a cup. After all, (in my mind) regular laundry detergent works that way and if 2 Tbs. is good a cup will be better, right? Wrong. Regular laundry detergent is watered down so it is cheaper to produce and so you have to use, and therefore buy, more. This detergent is not watered down at all so you do not need nearly as much of it. 1TBS for regular loads and 2 TBS for heavy or super dirty loads like towels or gym clothes. Trust me.  Much more will not get rinsed out, leaving soapy residue on your clothes.

Now for the details.
1. It is safe for top-loading, front-loading, regular, and high efficiency machines.
2. It will not foam and bubble like store bought detergent. This is normal, and makes it safe for HE machines. Trust me, it is still working.
3. It will not make your clothes smell like a forest, spring meadow or rainbow. The smell that we have come to associate with clean is actually a toxic combo of chemicals. Please realize that until you get used to the lack of "clean smell" (aka pink cherry blossoms or lavender dream) you might think the clothes don't smell clean. They are clean, and I promise that you will get use to it. You can, however, add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice if you would like your clothes to smell like something.
4. It makes about 90 loads worth of detergent. Our family of six does a minimum of 9 loads of laundry a week. That means I only make more detergent about every three months, and it only takes 10 minutes to do. (Ok, more if you photograph it.)
5. Cost break-down. I figured it out at one point but I'm not sure where it went (maybe it got washed...). Suffice it to say that we are still using it, so it must have been cheaper than what mom was paying for detergent even using coupons. =)

There you go! Easy, cheap, and natural laundry detergent.

Please continue to keep mom in your prayers and we will keep you up to date with how she is doing!
 Blessings, ALP


  1. Thanks ALP, I was searching for a detergent recipe as I am just about out of my store brand. I have this on my list to do for this weekend. Also, keeping your mom in our prayers for a speedy recovery, please let me know if you need anything!

  2. First-We are praying praying PRAYING for your momma today! God has her in His hand and that is the best place for us to be! (((HUGS)))

    Second-Can I just say how much I LOVE this recipe?!? It has been almost a year now since you shared with our family and we were happy to kiss our store bought detergent AND YES, our homemade 5-gallon liquid detergent, goodbye! Have you tried to lug 5 gallons of HOT detergent up a flight of stairs to your second story laundry room?!? Not fun, believe me! ;-) This also makes really cute Christmas gifts packaged in pint-sized mason jars. Thank you, ALP, for sharing your mad homemaking skills with us! :)

  3. Looks great! I'm going to try for sure! Oh, and one way to get your clothes to smell good is to use a natural dryer sheet with a nice fragrance (I found some make by Method).

  4. I really enjoyed your post! Humorous and informative ;)
    I make my own soap using my mom's homemade bar soap along with the other ingredients. Did you come up with the measurements on your own or just followed the other recipe? I use 1 cup of each borax and washing soda. I don't use baking soda but I am wondering now if it would help with whitening. I found our whites were dingy.
    Also, do you wash in warm or cold water (or both?). You could reply here or email me :)
    Thanks! ~Blossom

    1. Oops, Blossom, just realized I probably never answered this for you. I wash most everything in cold water, except sheet sand towels in which I use hot. I do the boys clothes in Warn about once a month...just because! ;)

  5. I loved this post, you made it very entertaining lol I can't wait to try this also, I don't like liquid recipes, so I'm glad to have found this, thanks!

  6. I'm curious - how have you found this to work?

  7. Very well! We have used it for over a year now and still love it!

  8. Replies
    1. Yes, we use it for whites as well. I sometimes add vinegar for a rinse.


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