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Homemade Laundry Detergent

July 31, 2011

I posted on twitter that I was successful with my first loads of laundry with homemade detergent and I got a lot of questions of how this worked and how to make it. It also worked on smelly triathlete training clothes so that’s a huge bonus. Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 c. borax
1 c. washing soda (not baking soda!!)
1 bar of soap, grated

Mix well until the grated soap breaks up even more and everything looks evenly distributed. You can also add 2-3 drops of essential oil (not extracts) when you are mixing it. Use as follows: 1T for small loads, 2T for large loads, 3T for heavily soiled loads. Yes, that’s tablespoons.

For HE machines everything online says it’s safe since it doesn’t suds. The internets recommend only using 2T max, as there is less water in HE machines. DISCLAIMER: I don’t have a HE machine, so I can only pass along advice that I’ve found.

Here’s my notes:

  • The recipe I had said you can use any type of bar soap. I used a bar soap from Yardley’s that was lavender scented. There are some special laundry soaps, and a lot of people online said they like Dr. Bronner’s soaps, but others said they used plain ivory.
  • My soap was scented so I didn’t add the essential oil.
  • The detergent will not get sudsy and the water will look grey. Everyone assures me this is normal!
  • For my sports clothes I added 1/2 c. of baking soda to that load to help with the smell. I did this with regular detergent as well. I didn’t notice any smell (other than the lavender) when the clothes were dry.
  • To grate the soap I used my microplane grater, rinsed it well, and then ran it through the dishwasher. I may at some point invest in a separate grater.

Overall I’m happy with it and I felt like my clothes are just as clean as with regular detergent. As a bonus this is phosphate free and costs about $.05 a load verses $.15 a load that my previous detergent was. That’s the on sale with a coupon price. If I purchased detergent at full price it would be about $.25 a load.

Let’s do the math. Four loads a week for a year is 208 loads.

Homemade detergent: $10.40
Regular Detergent: $31.20

Over a year that’s a savings of $20.80.

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