Saturday, February 9, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Do you know what is in your laundry detergent?  Most cleaning products on the store shelves do not fully disclose their ingredients - at least not in a language that I can understand. And like our cosmetics, as I have discussed previously, the chemicals in them may not even be tested for safety. Check out the Environmental Working Group's rating of various laundry products in their Guide to Healthy Cleaning here.   

Since I don't want unsafe chemicals on my clothes (and subsequently against my skin - for hours at a time - being absorbed into my body), I choose to make my own laundry detergent.  There are several recipes out there, and they are all fairly simple and use just a few easy to find ingredients.  I make a dry  detergent, but you can also make it into a gel/liquid version...I have never tried this, mainly because I don't feel like bothering with the extra step, and also because I would need to purchase a large container to hold it.

OK - for the recipe:

1 bar Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap (may use any scent you like - I use the tea tree oil bar)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda

1.  Once you gather your ingredients, you will need to FINELY grate the soap.  I use my Pampered Chef Microplane Adjustable Fine Grater, but you could also use a food processor to make the soap into a nice powder.

The grated soap almost totally fills my container!  But it compacts just fine once I add the Borax and Washing Soda - don't worry, it will all fit!
2.  Put all your grated soap into whatever container you are going to use, and then add the Borax and Washing Soda (can be found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store).  Mix well, or put the cover on and give it a good shake.  

3.  I use one tablespoon for a regular load in my top-loading washing machine (I recycled a protein powder scoop to measure this out).  You can use more or less depending on the size of your load of laundry and how soiled the clothes are.  I have not officially tracked how many loads of laundry this lasts me, as I often have loads of varying size, but somewhere between 32-40ish.  Now you can wear your clothes with the peace of mind that nothing dangerous is seeping into your body!

Alternative liquid/gel version:

1 bar Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda

1.  Melt grated soap in 1 gallon of water.

2  Mix in washing soda and borax.

3.  Put into a 5 gallon bucket and add 3 gallons of water; stir.

4.  Add essential oils of your choice (7-8 drops), if desired.  Mixture will gel after ~24 hours.

5.  Use 1/2 cup for a regular load, again - more or less depending on size of load/how soiled the clothes are.  

For additional information about making your own laundry detergent and an alternate recipe, check out this blog post from Little House in the Suburbs.  And for some insight into the debate on the safety of Borax, check out this post from Crunchy Betty (I personally agree with her conclusion based on the evidence, that it is safe for home cleaning, but I wouldn't want to ingest it).

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