Last December, I made my first batch of homemade laundry detergent. I had been considering this option since I first heard that it was possible (What exactly did I think people used to wash their clothes before chemically laden detergents were mass marketed???). Ava has extremely sensitive skin. The only detergent I had found that was semi-mild enough for her skin was the 365 brand at Whole Foods. Whole Foods is in Dublin, which is technically only 30 minutes from where I live on the south side of Columbus, but, when you live in a city, you have no reason to travel 30 minutes away to shop because nearly everything you need is five minutes from your front door. Going to Dublin once a month (or two months if I had enough cash to spring for 2 containers of detergent) wasn't really that difficult, but, as I said, the detergent was only semi-mild enough for Ava, so why would I travel that far that often if I didn't have to?
Eric's lay-off at the end of October 2009 gave me the push I needed to dive into the detergent making process. I chose a powdered detergent recipe(it involves much less storage space) after doing more research than anyone ever needs to do for such things. It contained borax, liquid castile soap, vinegar, baking soda and washing soda. It doesn't sound like it would end up as a powder, but all the chemical reactions and lots of stirring resulted in something that was almost a powder. Sort of. And as far as the stirring goes? When I say lots of stirring, I mean that I stirred until I thought my arms were going to never move again. Eric and I took turns. The author of the recipe made it sound like it took 5 minutes to make that recipe. I promise you we stirred for 45 and still had rock-hard chunks in our detergent. It was a pain in the patutie, and I didn't love that the recipe contained borax because it made my skin itch when I was making it thus making me wonder if it really was the best for Ava's skin.
Over the summer, this recipe wouldn't mix well at all. The extra humidity in the air prevented it from becoming a powder at all, although we used it anyway. It was hard as rock at times, but we made it work. The clothes were clean. That's all that mattered, right? No, that's not all that mattered. The detergent making process was becoming super frustrating!
Thank goodness I discovered that my friend, Sarah, makes her own detergent. I asked if her recipe was difficult to make. She showed me her stash, and it was somewhat pasty. She copied her recipe for me, and, when I was ready for a new batch, I very happily gave it a try. It's easier, has fewer ingredients, no borax and works just as well as the previous recipe I was using without 45 minutes of hammering away at the rock-hard lumps caused by the chemical reactions. This recipe really does take only 5-10 minutes to make a double batch.
It's frugal. It's all-natural. You choose your scent or none at all. Ours smells fantastic! We used a bottle of peppermint scented castile for 11 months worth of detergent and now we're using a bottle of citrus orange castile. We all love the scent, but Lukas raves about it.
So where is this fantastic, inexpensive, easy to make detergent recipe? Here you go! Give it a try. Even if you aren't an all-natural, crunchy, granola-type gal like I am, you might find yourself smiling when you try this and like it and realize that you're saving so much money while doing something so great for your family!!!
8 T liquid castile soap (I get Dr. Bronner's which you can find on-line or at many local health food stores or chains like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's)
3.5 C baking soda
3/4 C washing soda
2 C warm tap water
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl that is permanently designated as your soap making bowl(you can buy one at Dollar Tree for $1 if you don't want to give one up). It takes 5-10 minutes to get the lumps out, and there is no pounding necessary. The detergent may seem to be more like a thick liquid when you are done, but, once it sits for a day or two, it will become thicker and more paste-like. It can be used immediately and stored in an air-tight container. I use 1/8 C per load.
Please let me know if you give it a try! I love the smell, the cost and the fact that it's all-natural and easy to make. One batch lasts us about a month or so. I make a double batch most of the time. Anyway, let me know how it turns out for you if you!
Here's what it looks like when you're done