Make Your Own Liquid Laundry (and Dish) Detergent

Today I finally got around to making my own laundry detergent. This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, and I have many recipes I'd acquired, but I never went out and got the few basic ingredients I needed -- until now!

Making your own detergent saves a lot:
you save the earth (less packaging)
you save money (see my estimates at the bottom to find out just how much)
you save the environment (homemade soap is low-impact to the groundwater ecosystems)
you save your back (store bought detergent is heavy, and requires carrying from shelf to cart to cashier to car to home)

Plus, you get to control what scents you use, and just how pure your soap is.

As I said, I've been researching this for quite a while, and everyone claims that it works very well on everything from delicates to cloth diapers and tough stains. I tried it right away on my son's own cloth diapers, and I must agree. The diapers were totally fresh smelling, bright white and soft. Better than they have looked or smelled in months, frankly, no matter what detergents or additives I tried.

Here's What You'll Need:

A One-Gallon Glass or Plastic Container with lid (old vinegar or ale bottles work well)
1/4 Cup Washing Soda (In your laundry aisle at the grocery store)
1/4 Cup Borax (In your laundry aisle at the grocery store)
1/2 Bar of Soap, Grated (Many people use Ivory, or you can use something even more pure like Castile, Goat's Milk, or another Homemade Soap. For this first batch I mixed Ivory Soap and Lavender Dr. Bronner's)
Warm Water
A Cooking Pot
1/4 oz. essential oil of your choice (optional)

1. Heat the grated soap and 3 cups water in a pot on the stove, stirring until soap has melted. Add Borax and Washing Soda and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.

2. Put 2 cups warm water in your storage container. If adding essential oil, now is the time. Add Soap Mixture and stir. Then fill container with warm water, stir again.

3. Let sit 24 hours. It will thicken to a light gel consistency. If you use cold water instead of warm the final consistency will be similar to egg drop soup.

Use 1/2 cup of detergent per load of laundry.
Each gallon of homemade soap gives you 32 loads!

But At What Cost?

Initial Outlay: $6.35
1 bar Ivory Soap: $0.50
Borax, 76 oz. Cardboard Box, $3.25
Washing Soda, 55 oz Cardboard Box, $2.85

One Gallon Detergent: $0.43
Gallon Container (recycled, re-usable vinegar bottle) $0.00
1/2 bar Ivory Soap $0.25
1/4 Cup Borax (1 oz. weight= appx .14 cup volume) = $0.08
1/4 Cup Washing Soda (1 oz. weight=appx .14 cup volume) = $0.10

One Load of Laundry: $0.013

Why buy detergent ever again??

Personally, compared to the laundry detergents I generally use I am saving about 7-10 dollars a month.

This recipe can easily be doubled and quadrupled, just line up some storage containers before hand and make your own detergent in minutes a few times a year (yes, literally, it takes me less than 5 from start to finish.)

Please note: You can also adjust quantities depending on the type of laundry you do (mostly washing diapers and oily mechanics clothes? Add some extra borax and/or washing soda) And you can dilute it in half with water and use it to re-fill your liquid dishwashing containers, unless you use aluminum utensils or pots. Also, this is a low-sudsing soap, which means you won't see a lot of bubbles: don't worry, it IS doing its job!


Rachel said...

great stuff! I always wanted to try this and never got around to it. Thanks for the recipe :)

Soap Making Machine said...

Excellent guideline on how to make detergent at home. It will be loved by everyone as it is nature friendly, too. Thanks for sharing...