Homemade Laundry Detergent

6 Apr

This is the first of many practical, “how to” posts I plan to write. Yeah, there will be a lot of existential musings and social commentary on this blog, but breaking away from apathy requires action – a lifestyle shift. It’s not enough to say it’s bad (the negative), but now what to do in response (the positive).

Teaching people to be positive. Wow. Considering how cynical I am, that statement just seems weird. Maybe there’s an optimist hiding in me somewhere (more like an anarchist).

Anyway. Laundry detergent.

Here is a brief rundown of standard ingredient concerns in commercial detergent. My guiding principles are always:

Synthetic = bad.
If you want it done right, do it yourself.

I’m going to leave it at that… my thoughts on why you should make your own everything constitute a whole separate post. Suffice it to say I’ve been making this stuff for years, it works, and I know what’s in it.

1 Bag of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
$4 at Costco (13.5 lb)

1 Box of 20 Mule Team Borax
$4 at Price Chopper (76 oz)

1 Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
$4 at Price Chopper (55 oz)

1 Bar of Castile Soap (not pictured)
$5 at Price Chopper (5 oz)

2 Gal. Paint Bucket
(with lid)
$4 at Lowes

Cheese grater
hopefully you already have one of these useful devices

Shred the entire soap bar on the finer side of your cheese grater. Dump about 3 cups of baking soda in your bucket, followed by a a third of the box of borax, followed by a third of the box of washing soda, alternating with the shredded castile soap between each layer. Repeat until you run out of borax, washing soda and castile soap (that bag of baking soda will last you WAY beyond this project). Now put the lid on (tightly!) call your overly energetic kids, and have them roll it all over the porch until mixed.

Well that was easy. Now here’s the breakdown…

Your total is $15 for the ingredients. The bucket will be about 3/4 full, so we’ll assume that’s 24 cups. I use a half cup per (super) load. $20 / 50 loads = less than .50 cents per load of laundry. That’s about the same as Mrs. Meyers “natural” liquid detergent, but doesn’t contain sodium laureth sulfate or fragrance. But here’s what makes it worth it for me: I make every cleaning product in our house, and they all use these ingredients (plus a couple other mainstays). You keep this stuff on hand and you can make everything you need.

DO NOT BUY THE INGREDIENTS ON AMAZON. I provide links for everything just for reference, or so you can see what I use personally. Household stuff like this is ALWAYS more expensive on Amazon, with the exception of the Dr. Bronner’s bar soap (because it’s a 6-pack).

This project is best done outside (porch). Don’t inhale any of it and I don’t recommend mixing with your hands (some people actually use borax in skin care products. I’m not one of them).

Put a paper grocery bag or something under the cheese grater to save all the wayward shavings.

For whites, use white vinegar and/or lemon juice (as a bleach substitute).

If you’re concerned about the castile soap dissolving run hot water for the first minute or two (I mostly wash cold).

Have a similar recipe? Tips or tricks you’ve learned? Comment below, especially if you have specific questions or would like more detail.


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