Saturday, January 17, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Laundry Detergent is super easy to make. Really. It may be the thing that puts us over the top as weirdo homespun-homeschool-backwoods folks, removing us permanently from the ranks of the urban sophisticates, but what can I say? Making stuff is fun, making really useful things is empowering, and making things that actually save money is just smart. Besides, in these days of financial insecurity and economic woes, doesn't it just make sense to at least know how to be as self-sufficient as possible?

So... here's the recipe I use for liquid laundry detergent.
I have a 2.5 gallon stockpot which is the perfect size for this recipe, but you could also do the stove part in a regular saucepan, and dump it into a bucket.
In a stockpot over medium heat whisk together until completely melted and incorporated:
2 quarts water
1/2 bar Fels Naptha laundry soap, grated
(or 1 whole bar of bath soap, like Ivory)
Remove from heat and whisk in until completely incorporated and slightly thickened:
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda (not baking soda!)
Fill to 2.5 gallons total with hot tap water, stir to mix. If desired add:
1/2 -1 oz. essential oil
Let sit overnight undisturbed. In the morning your detergent will be cool, thick, and slimy. Hooray!
Use 1/4 cup per load.
Really- that's all you need. It's super concentrated.
This is not foaming detergent, so it's good for both top and front loader machines.
It's really thick, and we keep it in a big plastic bin with a 1/4 cup measure, but if you were to keep it in a pump or pouring type of container you might want to loosen it up with the stick blender. It doesn't seem to thicken up again if you do that.
And if you're in a hurry or just like powder better:
In a food processor (or by hand) grate:
1/2 bar Fels Naptha
(or a whole bar of Ivory)
Pour into a container and add:
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda (not baking soda)
Cover and shake to mix.
Use 2 Tablespoons per load.
add 1/2 cup white vinegar to your rinse cycle.
It really does work, it's super cheap, helps your clothes rinse really clean, and the smell leaves as the clothes dry.


Tara said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I'm going to give it a try. I've given up on caring what anyone thinks (obviously since I've been running around the house with my bathrobe on over my clothes to stay warm; old house = cold winters). If I can get my clothes clean for cheap, that works for me.

mama-aya said...

Yeah- if it's easy enough and cheap enough then I'll always give it a try!

DCFearless said...

I know I'm late to the party...but what's the best storage device for all this laundry detergent for us apartment dwellers?

mama-aya said...

I just keep it in a plastic bin, the "sweater" size, but it doesn't quite fill it. My laundry room is tiny, and is also a bathroom, so space is at a premium for me, too. I keep thinking I should just make half the amount, which would just fill one of those cream puff bins from Costco- an excellent reason for a party, if you ask the little boys in my house! If you wanted something pretty IKEA probably has some big glass containers that would work.