I think it is accurate to say that homemade laundry soap is the “in” thing right now. While some people don’t realize that making your own detergent is even possible, others have been seeking the homemade route for years. Why I have not done it before now, I don’t know. Probably because my husband is very picky about how his clothes smell when they come out of the laundry! How could you make a detergent that works and smells as good as something at the store? And before I blame it fully on my husband, I have to take half the responsibility and say I was skeptical too. After starting cloth diapers with my daughter, and not having much success with finding a mild, non-residue, CHEAP method of cleaning these diapers I opted to try the homemade powder. This stuff works great at keeping her diapers smelling fresh, and getting them fully clean without leaving a residue. That is one of the biggest reasons cloth diapers can leak is because of the detergent build up. Also wondering why your towels have that nasty smell even though they have been run through a good washing? That is also thanks to detergent build up. You may think using more laundry soap with help to get the smell out of your clothes, but actually it is only making the situation worse. That is why I love this detergent! I have not had a problem with my cloth diapers since using this, and I plan to switch over to washing all my laundry with it as soon as I run out of our box of Cheer. Check out tutorials on how to “strip” your cloth diapers and towels. It is amazing how fresh they are afterwards!
Have you ever wondered what “fragrance” is made of? It is funny, because almost everything has fragrance in it, but there is no explanation as to what fragrance actually comes from! Here is a link to some information on fragrance and what it actually is. I will save that for another post sometime, but not only are you saving money making your own detergent, you also save your body from smelling and absorbing the fragrance and chemicals! This recipe is not 100% organic (I understand Borax is a much debated subject), but much better than even so-called fragrance free detergent.
Here is my method and recipe.
Homemade Laundry Soap
1 1/2 cups Borax
1 1/2 cups Washing Soda
1 bar Dr. Bronner’s soap
1/4 cup baby oxi clean (optional)
Using the shredding blade on your food processor (a food grater will work too), finely shred your whole bar of soap. Usually there is a clump left over that won’t blend unless you are really awesome. :)
Then pulse the soap to go from shredded to crumbly, like parmesan cheese. This is my favorite part. Dr. Bronner’s soaps smell heavenly, yet aren’t too overwhelming! Fels Naptha gives me a headache, but is another option when making this. I am using the Dr. Bronner’s lavender bar soap for this recipe. It is made with oils and the scent comes from natural essential oil – 100% organic! Pulse it as fine as you can. If you do not have a blender or a food processor, try the finest blade on your grater. It’s important to get it ground up so it can disperse through the powder.
Next, add your powders. Baby Oxi Clean is optional, but I think it helps with some of the stains in my diapers. It is free of dyes, perfume and chlorine, though I’m not totally sure that means it is 100% fragrance free. See link above for explanation. I put the cover on and shake the mixture up. Leave a tablespoon in there for measuring each load. I have a very small, top loading washer (it is apartment sized) and I still use a tablespoon per load. I would recommend a heaping tablespoon for HE machines as well. For a big smelly load of cloth diapers I sometimes use more. Play around with it and see what works best for you. And by all means, double, triple or quadruple this if you would like!
The expense up front can seem a bit pricey, but after your initial purchase these ingredients should last you a while, except the bar of soap for each batch. This is only my second batch and I have been using it for months. We will see how long it lasts with all my laundry.
I will be doing research on soap nuts in the future. I hear that is a 100% organic, affordable alternative to commercial laundry soaps and even homemade detergent! Little steps toward a healthier home… we’re getting there. :)
Happy laundry soap making!
The Happy Homemaker