I’ve made my own laundry detergent for about 2 years. I started when Matt and I bought a new washer and dryer. The washer is front loading, and as I think everyone knows by now, needs low-suds detergent. I found my recipe on this page on Tipnut.com, and I love it. It is very cheap, I haven’t done my own calculations, but this pdf (which also has a cost worksheet, and other recipes) come up with the cost at around 1 penny a load. Most other name brands come to about 15 cents a load. I love it because you don’t have all the packaging, unknown chemicals, and fragrance in most brands.
- 1 bar Fels-Naptha soap. Alternatives include Ivory, Castile, or Zote. I tried Zote, and loved that it was pink, however the bar was very sticky and hard to finely grate. The finished detergent was very chunky, and sometimes in cold washes didn’t dissolve all the way. I think a food processor might solve that problem.
- 1 cup Borax (sodium borate). For a gentler detergent omit the Borax. Keep in mind that sodium borate is a skin and eye irritant and is toxic if eaten.
- 1 cup Washing Soda (sodium carbonate). Also called soda ash, this is different from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and like Borax is a skin and eye irritant and is toxic if eaten.
It’s really so easy to make this detergent here is how to make it in pictures:
I’ve only got one picture of the Borax and Washing Soda because they look exactly the same… I actually don’t know which this one is:
1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap grates down to about 2 cups, I think with a food processor you would end up with a little more, and if you use a different soap bar it won’t be the same.
For normal loads I use 2 tablespoons, and for delicate or small loads I use 1 tablespoon. Over time the ingredient can settle, just stir the detergent before adding it to the washer. I only make a bar’s worth at a time, because for a 2 adult household it last around 3 months. Making a larger batch is very simple: 2 parts grated soap to 1 part each of the Borax and Washing Soda, use this formula for other soaps that don’t equal 2 cups.
I also use white vinegar as a natural fabric softener, I just add it to my machine’s fabric soften compartment before I start the load. It’s great for removing any trace odors, softening fabrics, and removing static cling. When I use vinegar I don’t need to use a dryer sheet to remove static for most things.Fels-Naptha soap is also good for pre-treating stains, and whitening whites. I dampen a dingy white item with water and rub the bar all over, let it sit for an hour and wash normally with other whites.
All washers are different, so some experimentation will be needed. If you don’t have a good experience with this formula try another or tweak your ratios.
Remember that it’s really the water that is getting the clothes clean, the detergent is only an aid!