Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Easy Peasy Homemade Laundry Detergent...and it works!!!

Last month I rolled up the ol' sleeves and set out to make a batch of my very own laundry soap. Boys get dirty, especially sliding-into-first kinds of boys. Girls get dirty, too. And dogs are gross. I mean, messy. Plus, I've been on a personal mission to simplify, be more self-sufficient, and be more aware and vigilant about the things that we put on our skin and in our bodies.

There are so many great resources online, and I pulled my ideas from lots of terrific blogs and other sites. The only real criterion I had was this: it had to be simple. As in, I wanted to dump the ingredients in and voila!, there would be the finished product. No cooking, boiling, finding pH balances, or any other overly laborious task.

{I figured I should include a picture of the ingredients, but obviously not until after I'd started in on that Fels-Naptha bar...oops!}

Almost every recipe I found called for 1 cup each of BORAX and WASHING SODA. Next, you choose the cleansing agent, or soap. With boys and a dirt-hungry gal, I knew I needed something with a little kick to actually clean our clothes, and since I had just swiped borrowed my Mom's Fels-Naptha bar, I decided to try that.

I had read about the challenges associated with grating Ivory soap by hand, so I had Big Bertha on hand just in case. 
 Big Bertha, say hello to everyone. Everyone, Big Bertha.

As it turned out, I didn't need her. Sorry, Bertha. The Fels-Naptha bar grated so smooth and powder-fine on the smallest grater "holes," it was perfect for use just as it was. I stopped at about 1/3 of the bar since it's a big one, figuring I'd used enough (translated, my arm was tired) and mixed everything together with a big spoon. I really liked the scent, but then got to thinking, and decided to add a dash of Ivory soap for good measure. 

And, well, yup...that didn't grate so smoothly.

 No big deal. It probably only totaled a tablespoon or two, but it did add such a nice fresh scent, so it was a win-win. (By the way, our clothes smell like heaven after they've hung out on the line all afternoon. Who doesn't want heaven-y smelling clothes?)

I didn't have a covered container to spare, but I think this looks even nicer, especially since it sits on the windowsill near my laundry closet. I was a bit worried that the powder might clump in the open air, but it has been over a month now, and it's still perfect. I use a heaping spoonful with this old camping spoon for each regular load, a tad extra for baseball uniforms and such.  =)
                      Here's another helpful hint for front loading machines: when using powder of any kind, start the wash with the warm or hot water setting and on the longest or heaviest load setting, so it begins to spin immediately. I find this helps to dissolve the powder better so, in turn, it works better to clean your clothes. If I'm doing a regular load, I adjust the settings back to cold water and regular wash after about 15-20 seconds. I almost always wash and rinse in cold water, and starting off each load this way really helps boost the powder's efficiency.

I have noticed two things about this homemade detergent. First, at times traces of deodorant smell linger, like it doesn't completely dissolve the scent. It gets our work-out clothes smelling good, so it does remove body odors well. Second, if the socks are really really soiled, this doesn't get them whiter-than-white by any stretch of the imagination. I think I may beef up the Fels-Naptha for the next batch, or experiment with Oxy-Clean, or even add more Borax to that specific load. If those are my only complaints, I'm still happy.

 While I didn't set out to make my own detergent primarily to save money, I think it really does save in the long run. What matters most to me is knowing exactly what is in the detergent, and ultimately what's spending hours and hours against my family's skin. Plus, it seems to be better for our environment too, and that makes me feel like a good steward of our earth.

To recap, here is the recipe I made:
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/4 - 1/3 Fels-Naptha bar, finely grated
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons Ivory soap, finely grated

Happy laundering!

1 comment:

Nicole said...

What would you say is the cost of those ingredients?

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