Sunday, June 7, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

One of the things that I absolutely hate paying a lot for is laundry detergent. I was thinking about that yesterday when I was washing my third load of dog laundry and hanging it out on the line. I had been using the Aldi equivalent of Tide, and it does an adequate job of cleaning, but I was always running low and needing to stop and get more and also it comes in a plastic jug ( more to recycle) and is heavy to lug around. Even at the great price at Aldi, I just thought there had to be something more convenient, better for our pocketbook and better for the environment. I started looking around on the frugal living sites and found this recipe for homemade laundry detergent and decided to give it a try.
The ingredients are simple- there's only three. One thing, though, they may be hard to find where you are. I was lucky and found all three on the same shelf ( actually side by side) at my Kroger store. This means to me that there are others out there who are doing the same thing, or else they wouldn't have grouped them that way.

Here are the players: Borax Powder (, Washing soda, and Fels-Naptha laundry soap. According to the several sites I visited, you can use other soaps, but this was the most frequently mentioned. The Duggar Family uses this one, so I am thinking it must work with as much laundry as I KNOW they have to do.

The Fels-Naptha soap has a distinctive smell - sort of like Murphy's oil soap, but that smell goes away completely when the clothes are dry, leaving them with no smell at all. A few sites said that they add a few drops of essential oil to the mixture to scent it, but I didn't.

1 bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry soap - finely grated ( about 2 cups)

1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax powder

1 cup of Arm & Hammer Laundry Soda ( not baking soda)

Grate the soap bar finely on a cheese grater. ( Be careful not to grate your knuckle like I did. ) Then just add the Borax and Soda and stir up. There are some references to using a food processor to make it more granular, but I couldn't find the thingie for mine, so I didn't bother. It makes about 4 cups and will store nicely in a plastic screw top container or a mayonnaise jar.

To use, shake to evenly distribute soap flakes and powders, then start empty washer, adding 2 tablespoons of mixture to the running water. Go get your clothes and add to the washer and shut the lid. Then go figure up how much money you are saving by making your own soap. (Or eat some banana pudding that was left over from last's ok. I made it with no sugar added)

The grated soap looks like cheddar cheese. I would not suggest tasting it though.

The finished product looks like this. I would strongly suggest writing instructions on the container, or maybe even posting it on the wall in the laundry room for those who will take it upon themselves to so whatever is easiest. It would be a good idea to put a string on the measuring spoon too and tie ti to something so it doesn't get misplaced or taken to by some child to use with playdoh. I used it with cold water the first load and all seems to be well. I have that load in the dryer now, so we'll see how it turns out.

For this experiment, I bought one box of Borax (3.49), one box of soda (2.99) and 4 bars of soap(5.19, or 1.29 each). I will probably not have to buy borax or soda again for 6 months at least since the boxes are huge, and will likely get 40 loads per bar of soap. Guess time will tell if this turns out to be something we will keep doing. Even if it did as good a job as the store detergent, it would be worth it to me to make it this way just so I didn't have to lug jugs home all the time and feel guilty about all those plastic containers. Anyway, I'll update y'all on how it works for us!

1 comment:

Nancy M. said...

I make my laundry detergent too. Sometimes I use the powdered, sometimes I make it into the liquid. Which is really a goopy gel. My husband bought me several boxes of washing soda a couple years ago, and I am still using the same boxes. So, it really does last a long time. I don't have any of the Fel's soap, I just use whatever soap I find on sale.