Friday, November 4, 2011

Home Made Laundry Detergent

This had got to be my fifth homemade recipe for laundry detergent.  What I want in a homemade laundry detergent is simple but evidently not so easy to find:

  • safe ingredients for me and the environment
  • easy to find ingredients
  • quick and easy to make
  • actually gets my laundry clean
  • lasts a long time
  • cost effective
Of the recipes I have used, one had clay powder and sodium lauryl sulfate in it which took a bit of time and money to find. I hate making trips to stores I don't frequent plus I wasn't confident using the SLS and have since learned that I do in fact want to stay away from SLS.  One recipe called for melting castile soap with some other ingredients and then when it cooled it was this disgusting mix of goop.  One didn't seem to get the clothes clean.  At one point I did find a good recipe in a magazine but then lost it and couldn't find it in the magazine archives.  Alas, I think I have finally settled on an adaptation of this simple soap from Robyn Griggs Lawrence found in Mother Earth News. Here goes:
  • Get a big tub.  I used an old tub from store bought detergent (I save things like that) which is probably close to a 4 gallon tub.  I think 2 gallons would be sufficient.   
  • Mix together:
    • 1 Box (4lb 12oz) - 20 Mule Team Borax This can be found in the detergent isle of your local grocery store. Cost: $3.49
    • 2 Boxes (4lb) - Baking Soda  Cost:$2.99 x 2 = $5.95
    • 5 Bars (5oz) - Grated Scented Castile Soap - (If you have one, use a food processor to grate.)  Hopefully found in your everyday grocery store's personal hygiene section. Depending on where you live you may have to visit a specialty nutrition store.  Cost: $4.19 X 5 = $20.95 This does go on sale and I can get it for around $3.50 if I watch the sales
  • That's it! Use 1/8 cup per load. I have a high efficiency washer and have had no problems using this soap with it.
  • I write the ingredients right on my tub so I don't have to go looking for the recipe when I need to remake it and to keep me from losing the recipe.  I don't need any reasons to put things off so cutting out the step, "find recipe," helps me.
The original recipe says this should last a family of four about a year.  It lasted my family of four about 6 months but my children are young and I am, after all, doing laundry 24/7.  My cost to make this batch was $30.42.  To be honest with you I don't know how much it would cost me to buy detergent from the store for six months.  I know it would be more than $30 and I would be exposing my family and the environment to unsafe chemicals and using a lot of extra resources for product production, packing and shipping.  Plus my clothes would smell like "laundry" and not lavender or peppermint! :)

I changed the recipe a tiny bit for simplicity so I could use for example, 1 Box - Borax which is 11 cups instead of the recipe's 12 cups - Borax.  I mean, who has time to measure Borax.  The recipe calls for 8 cups of grated castile soap. One 5oz bar is about 1 & 3/4 cups so you decide, use 4 bars or 5 - it's not worth using 3/4 of a bar.  Also I don't use the recommended 3 tablespoons of essential oil.  That much essential oil is half the cost of all the other ingredients.  Instead I simply used scented castile soap - problem solved!  If you give this a try I hope you enjoy it as much as I have and I welcome your feedback!  I get a real kick out of simple yet effective household products.


  1. Ooh I love this! Do you know if you can use this in an HE washer?

  2. Yes maam, our washer is HE. I have had no problems at all.