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Monday, February 25, 2013

Make It Monday: Laundry Detergent Revisited

I know I’ve written a post about this in the past, but I also know that it has been a while and that there are quite a few new people visiting my blog now. Laundry detergent. I used to use whatever I could get the cheapest, but preferred Tide. I especially loved the ones that smelled pretty. It’s quite amazing how much things have changed. I can’t use commercial laundry detergent anymore, at least, not the scented stuff. Open up a bottle and I’m sure to be sneezing.

 My pregnancy could be to blame for part of it. I became very sensitive to smell while I was pregnant with A and while I can still wear some of my perfume from before, a lot of it was thrown out because I just couldn’t handle it anymore. Shortly after A was born, I realized that there had to be a less expensive way t have laundry detergent. I was doing so much laundry, between her clothes, my husband’s school, work, and Army uniforms, and our normal clothes. I was easily spending $15-20 a month just on laundry detergent.

I did a lot of digging and asked a lot of friends and found a recipe that works well for us, lasts about a month doing all of our laundry (except the diapers – I use EcoSprout for my diapers) and only costs about $4 a month. And I can make it scented or unscented, depending on my mood.  

Powdered Laundry Detergent

  • 1 bar castile soap – I use Kirk’s. It’s about $4 for a three pack 
  • 1 cup washing soda 
  • 1 cup borax 
  • About 20 drops essential oil, if desired 

Making the detergent is easy enough. Dig out your cheese grater and grate the soap on the smallest size setting you have. Just a little hint, if you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting a grater that has four sides and can stand up by itself. This will help expedite the grating process. Mix your grated soap with the washing soda and borax. If desired, you can use a food processor to help break down the soap even more. I don’t bother. It works just fine as is. Mix in your essential oil, if desired, and you’re good to go. Just make sure you mix very well if you decide to use the oil, you don’t want to end up with little oil stains on your clothes. Because I have a baby at home and my husband works with motorcycles all day, I also mix OxyClean into my detergent. I add about 2 cups to the finished detergent. That way I don’t have to scoop it into the wash separately.

To use: Use about 1 tablespoon detergent per load or 2 tablespoons if you added the OxyClean. Add to your washer with warm water running to help dissolve the soap. If you want to continue your wash in cold, that’s fine. Just use a little bit of warm water to help in the beginning. Dry as normal. I know one tablespoon doesn’t sound like a lot of detergent. But we’ve had really good luck with it. If I have something that’s stained, I usually just let the laundry soak for a bit before continuing the wash cycle and it works fine. Even got a spaghetti stain out of one of A’s shirts the other day without using anything else to treat it.

There are a few variations of the recipe. Some people use regular bar soap, like Ivory. It works fine this way as well, but since we’re also a green household, I like using the natural castile soap. I’ve also seen versions of this recipe with Fels Naptha. I’ve done some reading on it and it’s ingredients and they seem a bit questionable to me, so I’ll stick with the castile soap. But you are welcome to try this recipe or any of the variations.

You can find Kirk’s in with the hand-soaps at many grocery stores and at Wal-Mart. Dr. Bronner’s also makes bar soap, but it is more expensive. Washing soda and borax can be found in the laundry aisle, usually near the powdered detergents.

Have you tried making laundry detergent? What was your experience?

1 comment:

  1. We tried making our own last year but I got burned out on constantly grating up the soap. Since our family is so big I was making detergent ALL the time. So I went back to Tide and it's also what I use for my diapers and gets them so clean. But still, I really like the idea of making my own; just not practical for us right now! Great post! - Anne Sweden (Zephyr Hill Blog)