Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've been doing a lot of DIY stuff lately... partly for the sake of saving money, mostly for the sake of being cautious about the myriad toxic chemicals that enter the home in the form of cleaning and hygiene/beauty products.

First stop: Laundry Detergent

Well, actually... I did that second.  The real first thing I did was replace my "all-purpose" cleaner with simple citrus-infused vinegar:

I peeled four clementines and sprinkled them with salt to help the peels release their citrus-y goodness.

Then I split the peels between two large jelly jars and filled them with white vinegar almost to the top, but not quite.  That's it.  Let them sit for two weeks (adding more peels each time you have that delicious fruit - and the reason for leaving a little room at the top).

This amount will fill a typical-sized sprayer.  I reused an old Windex bottle.  However, I used my homemade cleaner once and lost it... or that is, I put it away so well I can't find it.  If I ever unearth it (or just make more), I'll elaborate more on how great it is. 

It being my first time out of the gate with my new cleaning product, I intended to use it full strength to see what I thought of it, but I've heard it can be diluted with water and still does a good job.

So, about that laundry detergent.

Here are the players.

The Fels needs to be grated.

I just used half a bar.

Dissolve the Fels in a gallon of water, then add a cup each of the Borax and washing soda.

When everything is dissolved, turn off the heat and add another gallon of cool water.

When it's cooled a bit, poor it into gallon containers.

And voila...

Two gallons of fantastic-working laundry detergent for pennies per load.  This cost me less than $2.00 to make (plus the pennies it took to turn on my stove).

This will do between 64 and 96 (32 and 48 per gallon) loads depending how much you use per load (1/2 - 1/4 cup).  The amount I use varies depending on the size of the load.  

This recipe gelled a bit too much; it's not easy to pour it out of the spout, so... Kristiina, who has made this more often than I, suggests reducing the borax to half a cup.  I'll try that next time!

Think you'll give it a try?  What's your motivation for this type of DIY project... dollars or toxins?


KristiinaSheree said...

There is a couple ways to remedy the gelled consistency.

1) Cut the borax as you mentioned.

2) Add more water.

3) Cool in an open container and blend with handheld beaters or immersion blender.

4) Any combination of the above.

As you use the recipe, you'll be able to tailor it to your families needs. Don't add water if you have kids who need the stain fighting boost!

Mom said...

This is what Kristiina gave me the last time I visited. It worked great and now I have the recipe...thank you Pam and Kristiina!!

sue said...

Just wondering if it works in HE machines?

Hopcake said...

:) I had the same question as Sue did ... the answer seems to be 'yes'. (Love the ideas on this blog)

Evie said...

I make the homemade laundry detergent also, but I do not add the water. I just grate the fels naptha ( I use a whole bar) and add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well, then store in empty plastic coffee containers. This produces a dry detergent. I used to do the water one also and found it does get very thick when it sets. Try this version and see how you like it.

Anonymous said...

Since you stated your first concern being toxic chemicals I thought I would share my findings. I like to use a website called to look up products. They rate cleanerS A-F. Borax is rated F, most liquid detergents use Borax because it needs heat to dissolve. The Fels Napha soap us rated C. I make a powdered detergent with items all rated as an A. I make small batches at a time since I don't have a food processor and have to hand grate my bars. 4 Cups Baking Soda, 3 Cups Washing Soda, 2 Cups Dr. Bronner Castile Soap you can use unscented bars and add a few drops of essential oils or I use the already scented. Use 1/8-1/4 Cup per load. For stain treatment or if you feel load needs a boost OxyClean Baby rates A. ~ Bonnie : )