Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Make It Yourself: Laundry Detergent

I posted this a year ago but I so strongly think everyone should make their own laundry detergent that I'm going to post it again:

I haven't bought laundry detergent for over two years and it's been wonderful - not shelling out cash for the expensive store bought laundry detergent that seems to last about 4 loads or having to wash our clothes in chemicals that is suppose to smell like something nice but instead makes me nauseous.  Instead we make our own detergent.  We got the recipe at The Simple Dollar and haven't looked back.  I love it because 1) It's way cheaper then buying the store bought stuff - they figure about $0.03 a load and 2) Because you control what goes in it.  After using our own stuff for over two years now, I highly recommend it.


• 1 bar of soap
• Borax  - can be found in a box in the detergent isle
• Washing Soda (I use Arm & Hammer) - can be found in a box in the detergent isle
• 5 gallon bucket
• 3 gallons of water plus 4 cups
• Cheese grater or food processor

1.  Shave your bar of soap with the cheese grater or food processor until you have a nice pile of soap.  You can use any soap - we've used left over bars from the tub, Zote's Laundry Soap, Levers 2000, and many more - they all work great, however I tend to like Zote's Soap because it's the best bang for your buck.  It's nice to be able to make your own detergent because you can choose to use soaps that are made from goats milk or soap that have little additives like sent and color.

2.  Boil 4 cups of water in a large pan.

3.  Add your soap shavings to the pan and stir them until they melt.

4.  Turn your heat off and add 1 cup of washing soda to the water and 1/2 cup of borax.  Stir.

5.  Add 3 gallons of hot water to your 5 gallon bucket.

6.  Add your pan of soapy water to the five gallon bucket and give it a stir.

7.  Cover and let sit for 48 hours.

8.  Your soapy water will turn into a gel of sorts and this is your new detergent!  I use 1 cup for every load of laundry.

It's better for your wallet, the water, the environment, and your clothes.  Combined with our own detergent we also use  Nellie's PVC Free Dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.  They last two years and cut down on drying time when I can't dry clothes outside.   They also don't add chemicals to your freshly cleaned clothes. I've also been adding about 1 cup of white vinegar to some loads during the rinse cycle.  The vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener for larger items to wash like sheets and also dissolves pet hair.  I can swear that I notice a difference in cat hair with loads that I wash with vinegar and those that I don't, but my mom also tried this and couldn't tell... either way, your clothes won't smell like vinegar so you don't have to worry about that.

Making your own laundry detergent is fun - now go make some yourself!


Joseph and Emma said...

I love the idea of making my own laundry detergent. I do have a question though. I have a high efficiency (HE) washer, and I know I need to use or not use specific detergents. Do you know if these are okay to use in HE washers or if the amount used in each load should be adjusted?

Thanks in advance!

City Roots, Country Life

Danielle said...

That's a great question. I have a regular top loader so it's something I've never thought of. I do know that there are also a lot of 'make it yourself' powdered laundry detergent recipes out there and I wonder if that would be a better option for an HE washer? On The Simple Dollar, where I got the idea for making your own laundry detergent, people brought up the HE washer issue too. One person said this:

#21 Char @ 5:00 pm April 9th, 2008

I have been using this in my HE front loader and it works GREAT! It is not too foamy at all ( I use 3/4C ) and I can not see how it will ruin my machine when it has less crap in it rather than all the chemicals of the commercial detergents. I use vinegar in the fabric softener compartment to help soften/reduce static in my clothes that I line dry.

I can tell you that compared to store bought detergents homemade seems less soapy. However, I would hate to see your machine foam up or worse! This post has a lot of comments about having HE washers and using homemade detergents:


If you dare to try it, let me know how it works!

Joseph and Emma said...

Thanks so much for the information Danielle. I'd love to reduce my dependence on purchased cleaners, so if we can shift to making our own, all the better.

Right now I use Charlie's Soap for the majority of our wash while I finish up the last of the Tide I've got stocked in my garage. I really love Charlie's Soap, so there are probably quite a few similarities between it and home made.

Thanks again!

City Roots, Country Life

Robin said...

very cool! I've been thinking about trying this for a long time. It's a must soon!