I started making my own laundry detergent around 10 years ago, when the baby boys started arriving at our house. I was just beginning the switch to more natural cleaning products, but I was pretty suspicious of the expensive ‘baby’ laundry detergents marketed to new parents.
Honestly, making laundry detergent isn’t my favorite chore. I think it’s worth it, because it’s inexpensive, and there are less chemicals and fragrances than in traditional detergents. I do a lot of laundry–usually at least 2 loads a day. It’s always a little disheartening to see the laundry hamper go from empty to full at the end of the day, just from everyone changing into pajamas. However, this recipe lasts me about 3 months, and takes only a few more minutes to make.
I keep the ingredients that go into laundry detergent stocked in my laundry room for other cleaning jobs–dishwasher detergent, stain removal, and all kinds of bathroom scrubbing. I like having supplies on hand that serve multiple purposes.
Using different types of soap will change the price of the detergent, and the amount of chemicals involved. The first time I made this detergent, I used Fels Naptha, but the scent bothered me so much, I haven’t bought it since. (Although I hear from other baseball moms it’s the best thing to keep white baseball pants clean. So far Oxi clean and peroxide has worked for us.) I’ve used castile soap, which is more natural and more expensive, and I’ve used Ivory.
Begin by grating the 3 bars of soap. I use a hand grater, and it takes me only 10 minutes. I don’t really want soap in my food processor, and I immediately soak my grater in warm water, and run it through the dishwasher twice.
Next, mix all the additional ingredients together with the grated soap in a large bowl or bucket. That’s all there is to it. I use two Tablespoons of detergent in a regular load, and store it in the Oxy clean bins or glass jars. This is a more natural detergent than standard detergents, although it’s by no means 100% natural–do your research on Borax, and decide if it’s something you’re comfortable using around your family.
I’ve been using this recipe for quite some time now, and I think it works just as well as any name brand detergent. I’ve bought expensive detergents that were recommended by Good Housekeeping magazine, I’ve bought more basic detergents that the Queen of Clean recommended, and I’ve bought expensive natural detergents that I still didn’t know the contents of.
I usually don’t use fabric softeners, but if I feel a load needs it, I simply add some white vinegar and a few drops of essential oils to an old Downey ball and toss in the rinse cycle. Just plain white vinegar will work too, if you don’t have any oils handy.
This is what’s working for our family right now, and it seems to be up to the task of cleaning the clothes of little boys who like playing in the dirt! What do you use for laundry detergent? Do you make your own, or do you have a brand you swear by?