Make Your Own Laundry Detergent. Woo Hoo!

Why?  A couple of reasons.  It’s green.  It saves money.  It smells better than the store brands.  The kids think you’re amazing because you get to use a cool food processor, and it just feels good to make something of your own.

Best of all?  It’s super easy! You all know I’m strapped for time, but I made seven batches in 20 minutes.  I now have enough to fill up a ginormous ice cream container (did I mention that you should throw an ice cream party first?) and at two tablespoons of detergent a load, it’ll last a good long time.

First, the ingredients. 

1. Half a bar of Fels-Naptha soap.  It doesn’t have to be Fels-Naptha, but I heartily suggest it.  It’s used for pre-treating stains, you only use half a bar of it vs. an entire bar of a different soap (Ivory, for instance) and it has an exceptionally pleasant, clean smell.  I couldn’t find it anywhere in town except at Ace Hardware, but you can buy it via Internet if you so desire. It can be fairly pricey that way, though.  One bar at Ace cost $1.49.

2. 1 cup Washing Soda.  Once again, I shopped at Ace.  Arm and Hammer has a Washing Soda which is different from baking soda. Washing Soda is a water softener and helps remove grease and stains, and I picked this box up for $4.29.  I made seven batches and still have some left.  But Baking Soda shouldn’t feel left out, because the next ingredient is:

3. 1 cup Baking Soda.  Usually you can get a four pound box at Ace for $3.79.  This keeps everything white and fresh.  You’ll see in my picture that I used fridge/freezer baking soda. No big.  Same thing as the regular, but it was what Ace had, and I wasn’t running all over town in order to buy everything.  Again, time is currency for a writer, and I’d rather get an essay done than find a prettier box of Baking Soda.  Also, I had some extra money socked away and I didn’t feel bad blowing it on a small box of soda.  I’m free-spirited like that. :P

4. 1 cup Borax.  I had this on hand, but you can generally buy a box of Borax for three or four dollars.  Borax is a laundry booster, and you can use it for other things around the house. I know a lot of people are iffy about it because, yes, Borax can be used to kill ants.  I wouldn’t recommend flinging Borax around like a crazy person.  Don’t use it on your carpets or anywhere that your kids and pets can get to it. But it’s diluted enough in a laundry detergent that I don’t worry about it.  Your kids shouldn’t be eating laundry detergent anyway, so be sure to keep everything in a safe place.  Hopefully I don’t need to mention that, but hey, better safe than sorry right?

5. (optional) 1/2-1 cup of Oxy Clean.  I don’t use Oxy Clean so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. My friend, an Oxy Clean junkie, will definitely throw it into her mix. It’s whatever floats your boat.  I also hang my whites outside in the hot, hot Vegas sun, so they’re plenty white and bleached.  The addition of Oxy Clean is your choice.

Okay!  Onward!

I borrowed my mother’s food processor, and she was nervous about the sound of the chunky soap spinning around in it.  Out of respect for her delicate feelings, I took my big ole knife and chopped the soap into more manageable pieces. Remember that you only need half a bar. Blend it in the processor until it’s ground.  It’ll be fairly grainy at first, but will smooth out when you add more ingredients.  Also, you see my trusty Coke Zero in the background. I can’t work without it.

Add 1 cup of Washing Soda to the soap.  Blend that while you measure out and add the Baking Soda.  Blend that while you measure and add the Borax.  Do a little dance and drink your Coke Zero while that blends.  Ta Da!  That’s it.  No, seriously.  That’s it, unless you want to toss in the Oxy Clean.

It took me seven batches to fill up this ice cream container.  I feel like I’m set for life.  I took a tablespoon and just keep it in with the detergent.  Two tablespoons to every load of laundry.  The kitchen smells fresh and clean. I’m Supermom!  I want to invite the neighbors in to marvel at the homemade glory that I just created.

This detergent works well for us.  No fading that I’ve noticed, and our clothes smell extremely clean and fresh.  It also doesn’t irritate my son’s sensitive skin. I don’t think I’ll go back to store-bought, quite honestly.  This is quick and easy, and you can put it in a cute little jar or something if you’re all crafty like that.  Nobody sees my laundry room, so an ice cream container works for me.

Thanks for reading! If you have any comments or any other Do-It-Yourself recipes, please let me know!

9 thoughts on “Make Your Own Laundry Detergent. Woo Hoo!

  1. I haven’t made my own detergent yet, but I have switched from fabric softener to using straight white vinegar. We were having a problem with the softener actually causing severe “gunk” (it’s a technical term. ;) ) in our washing machine. The vinegar is a washing booster (even though it’s in the rinse cycle), and keeps everything very fresh and soft without the chemicals.

  2. I used to make my own laundry soap all of the time. I actually grated my soap in those days as I didn’t have a food processor. I am lazy and use bought detergent again but I will say that the kind of homemade laundry soap that you use it great stuff. Enjoy using it.

    BTW, I do recommend rinsing every few loads of whites with vinegar. It helps freshen them and most importantly it helps to keep the soap from building up in your washer and lines. Just a word of experience.

    Cheers,

    Ardee-ann

  3. thanks for this, mercedes! i have terribly sensitive skin and find that even the “free” detergents – the ones without frangrance or color – cause me incredible discomfort. will have to throw together a few batches of this stuff this weekend.

  4. Hey Ashley! I just started doing the same thing with vinegar in the rinse cycle as a softener. We had a lot of build-up in the old washer, and it was full of yuuuuuuuck.

    Great advice, Ardee-ann! Thanks so much for sharing! I borrowed my mom’s food processor because I hate hate HATE grating things. My husband (or my friend Minna, if she’s visiting) always grates my cheese because it just makes me angry somehow. You’re a better woman than I. ;)

    Thanks for stopping by, writernubbin! It feels good to have a little homemade something around. The benefits are just super cool.

    I hope it works for you, Bentley! My son’s skin is sensitive, and this works well for him, but everybody is different. It’s great to see you!

    Hi Elise! :D I don’t know how it works in high-efficiency washers. Our washer is anything but. Does anybody else have any experience with this?

  5. Ooh, I love this! I’ll definitely have to bookmark it for later when I can actually try it. And the sun is the very best stain remover. Ever. Just wish we actually saw it here in Berlin. :) I’ll be interested to hear the thoughts re: high-efficiency washers.

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