Thursday, September 20, 2012

homemade laundry detergent

This past weekend I needed to stock up on laundry detergent, and since I've had such impressive feedback from my friends and family with this recipe, I decided to share it.

There are lots of different versions floating around the Internet of how to make your own laundry detergent, and I've taken the standard "requirements" and added to them to make something that works perfectly for my stinky family.

I will be the first to admit that I am far too lazy to have any desire to make liquid laundry detergent. That requires some sort of cooking, which I do enough of, so I passed on that version pretty quickly.

This recipe is for the powdered detergent I have used for the past 6 months. I made a batch the first week in April, and I just ran out in the middle of September. I do 3 medium sized loads of laundry twice a week, and it has lasted me about 6 months, though I have given away SEVERAL mason jars full to friends who wanted to try it out. If I hadn't shared, it would have lasted me 7 months or more.

I am so totally satisfied with the way this cleans our clothes. I love the fact that you only need 2 Tablespoons of detergent per load. Because this detergent has no fillers or strange ingredients, you don't need nearly as much to get your clothes clean. This works well on my son's sensitive skin, and is strong enough to get out whatever gross gets on my husband's uniforms.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 FULL box of Borax washing powder ($3.38)
  • 1 FULL box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda ($3.24)
  • 1 HALF box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda... Look at the picture above, it's NOT the small size in the baking aisle ($2.12)
  • 2 small containers of Oxi-Clean... You can also use one large container, but I had a coupon if I bought 2 Oxi-Clean products ($3.86 each)
  • 2 Fels-Naptha Bars ($0.97 each)
All of these ingredients I found in Wal Mart's detergent aisle. Since I've had so many questions on how much this costs, I saved my receipt and included the exact price I paid next to each ingredient above... $18.40 total.

Because this detergent doesn't leave a strong "laundry" smell to your clothes after they are washed, I included fabric softener crystals to my ingredients, though you don't have to. It isn't part of the "required" ingredients, though I really like the results (and it doesn't cost my NEARLY as much when I add it directly into the detergent, as opposed to each load individually).

I add an entire large bottle of Purex softener crystals. I didn't include this in my ingredients picture above because it isn't necessary if you prefer some other type of fabric softener. I highly recommend these though; the smell is great and there isn't any residue left on clothes. I spent $8.96 on the large bottle, by far the most expensive piece of this laundry puzzle, but totally worth it. $18.40 for the above ingredients, plus $8.96 is $27.36. Not bad for nearly 7 months of laundry detergent.

I used to buy these bottles individually, and add the required capful to each load along with my detergent. In the six months I used my previous batch, I bought 4 of these containers. When I added this one jar to my new batch, I noticed NO negative difference in scent or softness in my clothes, even though the ratio of crystals to detergent is definitely lower. WIN!

Here's how to do it:

1) In a LARGE container or trash can, slowly combine the powders and crystals. It is best to do this step a little at a time, then stir, add a little more, then stir, and so on. This gets heavy and hard to stir. Make sure you're tipping the container to get the powders on the bottom to fully mix.

2) Before you're totally done adding the powders (and I say that only because it's easier to mix that way), grate your two Fels Napths bars. You can use a fancy food processor, or just a plain cheese grater. Or, if you're unlucky like me, uses a zester. Because that's all I have. Though I will say that I like how much smaller the "grates" turn out when using a zester. I timed myself, and each bar took 10 minutes to grate. Time consuming? Yes. Worth it? Totally.

3) Mix Mix Mix. You can even put a lid on (if you have one) and take it outside to shake around.

 This makes about 2.5 gallons of detergent. You're only using 2 TBS per load. You can do the math :)

I add my detergent to a cute jar I found at Wal Mart (it was less than $10). I added scrapbook stickers to label (make it beautiful!) as well as indicate how much to use (because my fabulous husband does laundry way more than you'd think he does). I attached a TBS with a ribbon to the lid so we never have to search for one.

Let me know if you have any questions!

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