Monday, January 26, 2009

Laundry Detergent, Re-Visited

For Christmas, we received some homemade powdered laundry detergent from Josh's brother. It was lemongrass scented and wonderful to use. It was less messy than the homemade liquid detergent I posted about last April. We ran out of it, so I wanted to figure out how to make my own. I talked to my brother-in-law, did some google searches, and came up with a recipe that is a mish mash of what I found.

1/3 bar laundry soap (fels naptha or zote seem to work best)
1.5c Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1.5c Borax

Grate soap and mix everything. Use 1-2 tbsp for a load of laundry. About 1/2 tbsp for a load of cloth diapers.

When grating the soap, you want it really fine (your final product should look a lot like store bought soap). There are a couple of options here. My brother-in-law grated it by hand, let it dry out on a cookie sheet, then crumbled it up. I cut the soap into chunks, ran it through the food processor until it was pretty fine, then added half the washing soda to the food processor and ran it a little longer. Dumped the whole works into an old margarine container and mixed. I have a really good, kitchen aid food processor, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to do this or not. I didn't have any trouble cleaning out my food processor, but I've read the suggestion to do it by hand instead of putting all that soap in the dishwasher. Another option, my brother-in-law added oxiclean (about 1/4-1/2c for this size recipe). I'm pretty sure this helps with the kiddo's stained clothes, but I didn't have any, so I didn't add it. A handy measuring device is an old medicine cup--check out the markings, many of them have a 1 or 2 tbsp line.

A note on the financial aspect of homemade laundry detergent. I have a picture of my ingredients back in that post I made last April. Today I finally grated up the last 1/3 of that original bar of soap, and I still have enough borax and washing soda to do at least one more recipe of detergent. For somewhere around $7 or $8, I've had about a year's worth of laundry detergent (by the time I use up today's batch). That's at a rate of about one load of laundry a day (I know, I know, that's NOT especially frugal of me, but I have two small children, one in cloth diapers).

And while I'm on this topic, I'll update about my Homemade Dishwasher Detergent as well. I don't like it. We used it for several months, but it didn't really get the dishes clean. I found I was doing a lot more pre-washing and I figured the cost of having the water running and using liquid dish soap was eating away the savings of not buying commercial dishwasher detergent. So, I went back to buying (generic) cascade. If you know of a homemade option besides the washing soda/borax mix, let me know!


One Acre Homestead said...

I was making this same mixture before we got our front loader. I loved it...just not sure if it's okay for the HE washers. I need to check into it. Also, you can add a few drops of essential oils to change up the scent. It makes your clothes smell SOOOO good!

The Hills said...

Everything I've read says it's fine for front loaders. You need special soap for front loaders because you want less suds. Since the homemade detergent has little to no sudsing, it's perfect. There's a short blurb about it here. My brother-in-law and his wife (does that make her my SIL? never figured that one out...) have a front loader and I'm pretty sure they're using the homemade stuff without problems. Maybe she'll chime in here ;-)

Mom said...

of course she is your nut. As long as she stays married to your BIL she will be your SIL, and it looks to me like she is there for the long haul. LOL

One Acre Homestead said...

Yeeeaaahh! I'm so glad to find that out because I thought it cleaned our clothes so much better than any of the store bought stuff. I have been using Seventh Generation eucaplytus & lavender as my substitute, though, and it is miles above Tide or Cheer or any of that stuff. The homemade is so much cheaper, though. Oh, and I sometimes add a bit of tea tree oil to the towels and such to be sure to sanitize them as they lay around damp so often. I hate musty towels! YUCK!

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