Friday, May 11, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I was asked by someone a little while ago to share how I make my homemade laundry detergent. It is not a special recipe or anything, just something I have modified over the course of a year and half.  I started to feel like we needed to be more ecologically responsible in our home and after reading about all the chemicals in laundry soap/detergent (they are not the same thing), I thought this would be a good place to start. 

The ingredients are super simple, all natural, and ecologically responsible.  Originally I used Fels Naphtha as the bar soap, but James didn't really like the chemical smell. Then I researched Fels Naphtha and found out that it is a major skin irritant and toxic.  People who make their own soap often use this because it is super cheap.
2 cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (this is not the same as baking soda)
2 cups Borax
1 bar Dr. Bronner's Organic, Pure Castile Soap (I have the hemp variety, but any castile bar is fine.)
10-15 drops (roughly 1/4 t) Organic Lavender Essential Oil (I use Aura Cacia)

1.  Cut the bar with a serrated knife into shavings.

2.  Put the shavings in a food processor.

3.  Run the food processor until the soap is a very fine powder.  This can kind of smell a little, not sure why.  You will probably have to use a spoon to scrape some off the bottom of the food processor bowl.

4.  Place the castile soap and all other ingredients into a storage container.  Make sure the container is clearly labeled!  Put the lid on the container and shake until mixed thoroughly.

The final product all mixed together!

Because this detergent doesn't have all kinds of chemicals in it, you do have to take a few extra steps.  I usually start running the water into my washer without any clothes in it, dump in about a heaping tablespoon (yep, that's all you need!) and swirl the water with my hand or a piece of dirty clothing in order to get the soap to thoroughly dissolve.  Sometimes I also add about a tablespoon of OxyClean (this is an oxygen bleach, not a CHLORINE bleach which has all kinds of toxicity) just to boost the cleaning capabilities. Oh, and I almost exclusively wash with cold water because it is more ecologically friendly (a few exceptions of course.)

Ok, time and cost.  It takes me about 15 minutes to make a batch of this detergent.  That includes walking around to gather everything, because of course I store everything on opposite sides of the house, to actually make it, and to put everything away.  One batch lasts us about 3-5 months, depending on how many loads of laundry we have to do.

Price is a little harder to break down because I haven't made exact measurements to see how much I get out of each box.  I will do a little quick, guessing math. I paid $2.77 for a box of washing soda and got 8 cups out of it, so that's about $0.35 a cup.  The borax cost me $2.98 a box and so far I have used 10 cups out of it with some still left, I will guess that I have about 3 cups left, so for that comes to about $0.23 per cup.  The lavender essential oil is listed as $9.57 for 0.5 fl. oz. on, and I used next to nothing from that bottle so I will go the high guesstimate of $0.50 for the amount I used.  Dr. Bronner's Organic Baby Bar soap is pretty expensive but absolutely worth it knowing it is completely plant-based and all-natural.  I paid $23.06 for 6 bars from, which is $3.84 per bar.  Grand total for the detergent is $5.50.  Not too shabby! 

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