Homemade Laundry Detergent (how and why)

UPDATE:  I haven't bought laundry detergent in three years!  I love this stuff and it has saves me so much money.  Also, our local walmart carries all the ingredients needed for his soap.  I know walmart is the devil, but the devil sells stuff cheap.  I don't go often but when I do I stock up on soap supplies.  Happy cleaning friends.

Do you ever have those weeks where you just can't seem to get anything to go your way?  That has been my week.  Everything I have attempted to get done has just kind of sucked.  Alot of this has to do with the fact that I was flying solo this week.  Jason was out of town for work (he is home now!).  (By the way, this is the second time I have written this post.  Blogger and I got into a fight . . . and I lost.)  Sigh.  I hope no one else is having such an unproductive week as I am. Anyway, on to laundry soap.

First let me say, there are probably a 101 posts out there about how to make laundry detergent. Seriously, just google it and you will find bunches.  That being said, I thought I would share a little about my experience and history with laundry detergent. How's that for an attention grabbing topic?   First and foremost I would like address a question that is likely to be at the forefront of your mind.  "Why in the heck would you want to make laundry detergent?"
Why Make Laundry Detergent:
1.  MONEY.  This alone should be motivation for you to at least give it a try.  It was saves you loads (pun intended) of money.   I'll break down the ingredient cost below. Cheap. Cheap.
2.  Better for you.  Anytime you make something at home it gives you control over what you and your family are exposed to.  There is a lot of yucky stuff in laundry detergent.  This lets you get natural laundry detergent without the big price tag.
3.  Better for the environment.  Just think of all the packaging that comes with laundry detergent.  You can bypass that if you make you own.  Less trash means happier landfills.  Also, you aren't putting all those chemicals that are in detergent down your drain.

For about 6 months before Henry was born, I exclusively made my own laundry detergent.  Then, two things happened.  First my grocery store stopped carrying the ingredients I needed.   All recipes are basically the same. They all call for washing soda, borax and a bar of laundry soap.  I had never been able to find washing soda but I had simply substituted baking soda instead. Then all of a sudden our local grocery store stopped carrying the bar laundry soap that I had been using.  I tried a few other alternatives but they just didn't seem to have the same cleaning power.  The other reason why I stopped making my own detergent was the very reason I probably should have continued . . .  I had a baby.   Making your own liquid. laundry detergent can be a bit messy and requires a little time.  With the adjustment of having our new little bundle of responsibility, it was just too easy to buy the "ready-made" commercial brands.  Recently, however, after reading "Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things" (Caution: anyone reading this book should take it with a grain of salt or you will never touch anything plastic ever again) I decided to give it another go.  I was doing a little web surfing and looking at ordering the stuff for soap online when I learned a secret from my dear husband . . .

They sell ALL of the ingredients at our local Ace Hardware!  Yes, that is where my husband works.  And no, I didn't think to ask him if they had Fels Naptha.  I didn't think he would know what it was.  I just happened to be meeting him for lunch when I over heard a customer mention washing soda.  When I asked Jason about it, his response was "Ace sells all the old school stuff you can't find anywhere else." All this time, it was right under my nose (and he totally knew what Fels Naptha was)   Now, before a jump into how I make my powdered detergent, I want to share with you a link to make liquid detergent.  This is an excellent liquid detergent tutorial, if you want to give liquid a try.



Borax (not to be confused with boraxo or boric acid).  This is widely available anywhere you get laundry detergent.  This will make A LOT of detergent and is a great household cleaner. Cost: $4.00

Washing Soda (not baking soda).  The only place in our town that sells it (that I know of) is Ace Hardware.  I have read that people can get it at the grocery store, but I have been unable to find it at any in our town. This also makes many batches of detergent. Cost: $3.75

Laundry Soap.  You can use any kind of bar soap you would like.  I have found that standard bar soap doesn't clean quite as well. Between my husband and kid (who can at times be one in the same),  we have some dirty laundry. A brand that work great is Zote soap.  It is a soap from Mexico that you can usually find anywhere that sells Hispanic groceries.  Our Save-a-lot carries it (it is a little cheaper than Fels Naptha).  Cost for Fels Naptha: $2.75.

The Method:

Grate your laundry soap bar.  Add grated soap into a container with 1 1/2 cups washing soda and 1 1/4 Borax.  Stir or shake (if you have a lid) until combined.   It will take 2 -3 tablespoons per load of laundry.  This is what it will look like:


I have read where people process it in their food processor to make it a smooth mixture, but I don't see the need.  It would look pretty but it would not clean any better.  My scoop is a 1/4 cup.  It is a little more than standard recipes recommend but I always wash big loads of laundry and the extra powder helps make them clean, clean, clean.  If you want to get fancy, you can add a little essential oil for fragrance.  I don't because I like the smell of Fels Naptha and I don't like a lot of fragrance in my laundry soap.   If you do add oil and have a baby make sure to do some research.  Some essential oils and babies don't mix well.  This soap is gentle enough for kiddos.  For newborns I would recommend making a batch using a very mild bar soap like Dr. Bronner's baby soap (you can get this at most health food stores).

One last laundry tip . . . . use vinegar in place of fabric softener.  Seriously.  Your clothes won't smell like vinegar.  I promise.  I stumbled upon this when I was desperately searching for a way to get the sent of diesel out of a pair of Jason's jeans (not to confused with diesel jeans). It worked like a charm.

PS.  When I sat down to work on this post, I decided that it would be best if I didn't look at the pictures from last weekend.  You see last weekend was amazing.  It was sunny and in the mid-60s.  We spent the entire weekend outside soaking up the sun.   But, it was a cruel joke.  It tricked you into thinking that spring had sprung.  Not even close. This weather has been cold, gray and rainy.   The winter weather is even more awful after getting a taste of spring.  When I started downloading photos I just couldn't resist looking at our sunny photos.  Oh to be warm!  I thought I would share my favorite.  Here is little Henry climbing between the shelves of the changing table daddy is building for baby.  More on the changing table once it is finished.  Have a great weekend and if you live somewhere sunny and warm, please get outside and enjoy it for us!