Sunday, March 4, 2012

DIY laundry detergent

Exciting news: A few days ago, we invested in the "ingredients" to make our own laundry detergent. We just ran out of our store-bought detergent, so we made our first batch of homemade tonight. I can't wait to do a load and try it out! I can't really remember a time I have EVER been excited to do laundry. It's kind of pathetic but...oh well!

The benefits of making your own detergent (or any other cleaning product) include lower cost and, because you have control over the ingredients, they can be more "green" and/or more hypoallergenic, if you need. If you search online, most of the recipes are pretty much the same. We used:

1 bar of soap, finely grated
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of washing soda

The advice I got from some other moms was:

1. to grate the soap and let it dry out for a day before making the mixture
2. it may take a few tries to get it how you want it, so don't get too frustrated or give up!

Some sites recommend using OxyClean instead of Borax. I was also thinking of making a batch with dry bleach powder for whites. I also wanted to play around with what kind of soap I use. I just used Zest this time around because it's what we already had in the house (I know - GHETTO!) but it would be cool to try using Dove to make a gentler formula. I want to go to LUSH (a brick and mortor location opened in Rochester a couple years ago, THANK GOD!) to see what they have to offer.

Well, I will keep you posted on the results. I know you are all waiting with baited breath! HAHA!

***Detergent Update: My first load came out well. I was happy that the laundry smelled clean but didn't smell like "soap", you know? I did see some little chunks of residual soap left on the clothes. I think next time I will fill the washing machine all the way with the soap in it, to give it more time to dissolve before the clothes go in. I might even start the cycle on hot for a little bit and then turn it back to cold. That should help it dissolve faster, too, right? I'll keep you all posted on my progress.

***Detergent Update Update: So I think user error was all that was pretty much wrong with my first go-around with my homemade detergent. I didn't think one tablespoon would be enough so I put in two. The result was residue. One tablespoon is absolutely enough. The clothes smell fresh without smelling like detergent. Stains come out, clothes are definitely clean. I use it to wash ALL laundry and nobody, not even DD, has had any reaction to it. I am hooked. I can't wait to make more batches with different kinds of soaps!

I start with the washer set to hot with no clothes in it. I add the tablespoon of detergent. I let it fill up for just maybe 10 seconds. Then, I add the clothes and switch it over to cold water (how I normally do all of my laundry, except CDs). Why this weird process? I think the hot water helps the soap dissolve before the clothes get in there. I just made it up, basically, so it's not difficult for me to "remember the steps". It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is when I type it all out here.

In an effort to be more "green", I have also started line drying more of our laundry. I can't wait for the weather to warm up so I can get some more lines up outside! Before this, I was so lame that I wasn't even line-drying my Cloth Diapers! Forget the green factor, line-drying significantly increases the life of your CDs. It just makes sense! So anyways, I started thinking, why not increase the life of ALL my clothes? Uh, duh!

So, I can't believe I have just written a whole blog about laundry! But I guess if everyone's gotta do laundry, I may as well do it in a way that makes me proud. I guess it's easier to do laundry when I feel like I am doing it the "right" way. It's taken me one tiny step closer to the kind of socially responsible person I want to be. 


  1. I make ours using Ivory soap. Did you know that you can microwave a bar of ivory soap in the microwave for 2 minutes, and it morphs into this huge crazy-looking object? It has a strange texture to it, but it breaks apart super easy- you put it in the food processor and blend with the borax and soda, and its all a fine powder. I wonder if you can do this with other soaps?

    1. i just made a huge batch of soap, so i won't have an opportunity for a while, but now i can't WAIT to try microwaving some soap!