Tips and Tricks Tuesday #5: Homemade Laundry Detergent

So for a few years now, I've been making my own laundry detergent.  Yes, MAKING it.  In my attempt to get rid of harsh chemicals and all things toxic in my home, I found this recipe I'll be sharing with you today on Tips & Tricks Tuesday. Now, don't get the wrong idea.   I'm really not a "purist" or "naturalist"; "I only eat organic" kind of person.  Those labels come with expense and I'm more of the "keep the money in my pockets" kind of girl.
Making your own laundry detergent is a great way to save money though.  I've read that it cost some ridiculous amount like .02-.04 cents per load with this recipe.  I have no idea who spent the time calculating those numbers.  All I know is I can make a 3 month supply for about $5 (maybe less).  Good deal, right!

Here's the real reason I started making my own version of laundry detergent.  I was struggling with PMS irritability and read a great book about steps to take to help with that issue.  I learned that our environment has a great deal to do with our hormones, so controlling our environment by what we eat, drink, breathe, and allow on our skin (think make-up, lotions, cleaning products) can curb the effects of crazy hormones causing mama to go crazy.  My response- Yes, please!

 By the way, the book is called What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause by Dr. John Lee.  I think every woman over 30 should read it. 

Ok, back to business.  There are a few recipes out there to make your own laundry detergent.  I'll give you both the powder version and liquid version recipes and you can choose what best fits you.  I personally use the powder version because it's quick and easy, but the liquid version is more cost efficient (aka-cheaper!).

So here is the cast of characters!
1 box of Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1 box of  Borax
Fels-Naptha bar soap

You can find all of these products in the laundry aisle at the grocery store, but I have found that they are about half the price at Wal-Mart.  The washing soda and borax is about $3-4 each.  The bar of soap is less than a $1.  My advice is to buy a few bars and make a large supply to get you through a couple of months.  If you don't live near a store that carries these products, you can also order them from Amazon or Soapsgonebuy.

Powder Detergent
1.  Grate the soap. (One bar makes 2-3 cups)
2. Add 1&1/2 cup of washing soda and 1 &1/2 cup of Borax.
(This is my tweaked version. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of grated soap, 1 cup Borax, 1 cup washing soda.) 
3. Mix and store in an airtight container. Use 2-3 tablespoons per load.

It takes me about 5 minutes to grate a bar of soap and mix in the other ingredients.  Grueling, I know.  It doesn't make suds in your washing machine, but trust me, the clothes are cleaner than if you used store bought detergent which mainly consist of salt and phosphates.  This home made recipe is safe to use in HE washing machines and safe for little helping hands.

By the way, I just found out you can make washing soda from regular baking soda.  Without going into a chemistry lesson, bake your baking soda at 400 degrees F. on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes.  Mix it during the baking process and use gloves when handling.  Let it cool down then add it to your laundry recipe.  You can find out more about this process on my Cleaning Board on Pinterest.
Making washing soda from baking soda - smart!
Personally, the fewer steps I can take in making detergent the better.  This is good to know though and I'll keep it in my files under "just in case".

Liquid Detergent
1.  Boil a quart of water
2.  Add 2 cups of grated soap to the water.  Let the soap melt over low heat.
3.  Pour the soap water into a clean 5 gallon pail that has a lid.  Mix in 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of   washing soda.  Stir until everything is dissolved.
4.  Add 2 more gallons of water and stir well again. (You can add a few drops of essential oils here for scent)
5. Cover the pail when storing and stir before each use.  It will look like gel.  Use 1/4 for each load. 

I've never made the liquid version; like I said, the fewer step the better for me, but if you're in a pinch, this will last you a while.  Every penny helps and I'm all about making my pennies scream!

If you have family members that suffer from allergies/sensitive skin or you're someone that likes "green" cleaning, this is certainly the way to go. 


  I link all my projects with some wonderful blogs.  To visit them, go to the {Link Party Love} page found at the top of this page on the {Home} bar.
Also linking to:
Savvy Southern Style
No Minimalist Here
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Saved by Love Creations 
Miss Mustard Seed
Funky Junk Interiors
Coastal Charm 
Tip Junkie