There are several different recipes for laundry detergent floating around out there, but here are the ingredients for the one I chose to use:
|Borax, Washing Soda, Fels-Naptha Soap and Oxi-Clean (Billy Mays would be proud.)|
The first ingredient is Fels-Naptha laundry soap. I hear that this can be tricky to find. Strangely enough, I was able to find this in our small town grocery store! Our grocery store doesn’t consistently carry boneless skinless chicken breasts, but by cracky it has Fels-Naptha! As an added bonus, Fels-Naptha can also be used as a remedy for poison ivy. It will strip the poison ivy oils right off your skin.
The second ingredient, which can also be challenging to find, is Washing Soda. This is not quite the same as baking soda. I also was able to find it in my grocery store but I was prepared to order it online via Lehman's. Alternatively, you can make washing soda by cooking baking soda on the stove or in the oven. If you homeschool like we do, changing sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate counts as a chemistry lesson, an added bonus!
The third and fourth ingredients are common: Borax and Oxi-Clean. Obviously, Oxi-Clean isn't exactly old-fashioned, so you will not find it in every laundry detergent recipe. Some recipes stick to just the first three ingredients or add baking soda instead.
How to make it: Most recipes call for grating the soap and melting the whole lot of ingredients together to create a liquid detergent. You end up with a 5 gallon bucket of slimy goop. That’s A) too much work and B) yet another 5 gallon bucket for me to trip over, so I decided to go for powdered detergent. I grated the soap and made sure my pieces were tiny. Then I mixed it with the other ingredients. I made a triple batch, which I calculated to be enough for roughly 158 loads.
When I did the math, this homemade laundry detergent cost me roughly 7 cents per load. The Tide HE detergent I had been buying at Sam’s Club costs about 20 cents per load. If I had skipped the Oxi-Clean, the savings would have been even greater. But does this stuff work?
Yes, it does. I have a front-loading HE washer which means I need only a small amount of HE-friendly (ie. low-suds) detergent. This detergent fits the bill. I found that 2 tablespoons of the detergent does a great job getting my clothes clean. The freshly washed clothes smelled faintly of the Fels-Naptha (a pleasant scent), but the scent faded quickly. I don’t like my laundry to have a strong smell, so that is a plus for me. All in all, I’d say this is a successful experiment.
Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder
1 bar Fels-Naptha laundry soap, shredded and pulverized
1 c. washing soda
1 c. Borax
1/2 c. Oxi-Clean
Mix together thoroughly. Add 1-2 T. per load for an HE washer, more as necessary for a conventional washer.
If you try it, let me know how it works for you!