Friday, May 15, 2009

homemade laundry detergent

When my friend Becca told me she had made her own laundry detergent I knew I had to try it. I love to make things myself, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment. More than that I love to save money. And best of all, making your own detergent is better for the environment- less chemicals and packaging.

This is the recipe I used:

1 bar Fels Naptha bar soap (about 4 cups grated)
2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 cups washing soda

Grate the soap. This can obviously be done my hand but my parents gave me a fancy KitchenAid grating/slicing attachment for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!) and it made quick work of the grating.

Mix the grated soap with the borax and washing soda. Store in an air tight container. Use 2 tablespoons per load.

(I love how the grated soap looks like lemon zest. Makes me want to make lemon bars.)

I also used 1/4 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener (I usually use dryer sheets). The clothes didn't smell like vinegar but I think I might try adding lavender essential oils to the vinegar.

My next way to save money is to stop using shampoo. Sounds gross, I know. Read this and you'll want to try it too!

***update: see this post for a new laundry detergent making tip!


jen said...

I use Borax and white vinegar as a laundry booster all the time...I never thought to make my own laundry soap though. What was the cost per load, do you think? And how did everything smell? I'm interested to see how long things stay fresh. With Tide, I know towels and stuff stay fresh for a week before I have to wash them again.
Very interesting!

Erin said...

jen... just did the math. $0.07/load! It was even cheaper than I thought it would be. the clothes smelled great when I took them out of the dryer. as for long lasting freshness... we'll have to see.

Lindsey said...

I made some too, but made mine the liquid form. It filled a 5 gallon bucket.

Erin said...

I thought about doing that way Lindsey... but I went with the powder to save space and because I am lazy and it seemed like more work!

Are you happy with your detergent? Do your clothes and towels stay fresh?

katie said...

this is awesome. and convenient since i happen to have a big box of borax from the GAK making last week. (i had to go to SEVEN stores to finally find it.. wait, that means i'm going to have trouble finding that bar soap too.. dang brooklyn ). question: did it make a really sudsy soap? i'm wondering if i could do this with my front-loader..

oh, and i'm TOTALLY going shampoo-free with you once the pantene is out! yay! thanks erin!!

Erin said...

the soap doesn't really suds up at all. from everything i have read on the subject i understand it to be safe for front loaders and he machines.

you can use substitute another type of bar soap. ivory is a good choice I think.

vicky said...

My sister made a batch of this and shared with me. Loved it. Just be sure to agitate before putting in the laundry, to make sure it's dissolved. The fragrence is wonderful, made my whole house smell good for hours after the laundry was finished. Clothes were "tide" clean without the expense. Thanks for the recipe.

Erin said...

thanks for your comment. i am glad that detergent worked well for you! you are right, you have to let the soap dissolve before adding the soap. i have recently started putting my grated soap through the food processor and it becomes a soft powder. it works so well that i no longer have to wait for it to dissolve, i can add the clothes right away!

Heritage of Home said...

Hi. I have been making this laundry soap with Fels Naptha for about 6 months. I had a question for you. Do any of your dark clothes come out with like a white haze on them. I put less than a tablespoon in each wash. When I don't the clothes feel sticky when dry.

Erin said...

i haven't had any problems like you are describing- no sticky clothes and no haze at all. are you adding any other ingredients to your detergent that could be causing this?

We are Stephen, Kelly and Gracie said...

I really want to make this, but I'm not sure where to buy the ingredients. Where were you able to find them?

shelly's sewing shrapnel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
shelly's sewing shrapnel said...

I found everything at WinCo
Love it and its fun to make.
Now I am wanting to make dishwasher detergent also.

Cindy from Canada said...

Hi Erin, I'm new to your blog and I love all of your wonderful ideas. I used to make my own laundry soap until I started to notice my whites where turning gray and dingy. I use the same ingredients as you. Just wondering if you or anyone else has had this problem. I would really love make my own laundry soap again. BTW I have a HE washer and use the same amount as you do.

Erin said...

@Cindy- I haven't had a problem with my whites becoming dingy. I do use a little bleach in white loads. Also, everything I have read says to use two teaspoons for HE washers. Maybe it is the excess soap that is making your clothes dingy?

Cindy fom Canada said...

Yikes 2 teaspoons! That explains it. I didn't read teaspoons anywhere at the time which was about a 1 1/2 years ago. Thanks so much Erin.

Anonymous said...

I started making this recipe and liked it until, I noticed that all of my sons clothes are coming out with oil stains on them. I don't know where this is coming from, except noticed on another sight that one lady said she used cold water and thought the soap wasn't dissolving. I wonder if this is our problem because I always use cold water. Does anyone have any advice for this???

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