Foodless Fridays – Homemade Laundry Detergent
Welcome to Foodless Fridays! I’ve been kicking this idea around for awhile now, because believe it or not, I DO have other interests besides food! Shocking I know – now pick your jaw up off of the floor and read on!
When I first started IBIH, I intended to include recipes, but I also wanted to blog about gardening, crafts, DIY projects, photography and other topics that interest me. The blog quickly became all about the food though, and I’m mostly OK with that. But I thought instituting a Foodless Friday would give me one day a week to blog about other things that you guys might find interesting (or not!) I have lots of projects backed up, and a ton of things pinned that I want to try variations of, and this seemed like a fun way to go about it.
At the top of my list lately has been to try making my own laundry detergent. I’ve seen tons of laundry detergent recipes out there, and it seemed pretty easy and cheap to do. I was waiting and waiting (and WAITING) for my never-ending supply of laundry detergent to run out before I started making my own, and it finally happened this week. I couldn’t wait to get started but I debated the merits of powdered vs liquid detergent, since both seemed to have advantages, and I finally decided to go with the liquid. Most recipes use Fels-Naptha soap mixed with Borax, Washing Soda, and water. Simple, right? I wanted to make a lavender scented laundry detergent, so I used Mrs. Meyers Lavender Soap, which is all natural and has no dyes in it. I researched a bunch of recipes and there were lots of complaints about the detergent being too solid, too liquid, or too gloopy in all of the comments. I figured I’d experiment with my own combination of ingredients and liquid for my first batch, and go from there. You can find most, if not all, of these ingredients in the laundry or cleaning sections of your local Walmart or Target. Or you can order them online. I order my Mrs. Meyers from Drugstore.com and there are lots of yummy scents – my next batch will be Lemon Verbena or Peony I think. Or I might make a smaller batch of Basil or Rosemary so Mr. Hungry’s work clothes don’t smell like the garden! Because dudes don’t want to smell like flowers at work. Or so I’m told! Honestly though, this left almost no scent at all on the clothes – they just smell clean which is how I like it!
Laundry Detergent Recipe:
1/3 bar of Mrs Meyers Soap
1/2 cup of Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
100 ounces hot water
100 ounces cold water
Slice the soap into flakes and then chop into small pieces. Add to a large (2 gallon) sauce pot. Pour 100 ounces of hot water into the pot and heat on the stove, stirring until all of the soap dissolves – takes 3 – 5 minutes. Add the Borax and Washing Soda to the mixture and stir well. Bring to a boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and pour in the 100 ounces of cold water. Stir well and let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour into an old laundry detergent bottle (wash it out first!) or into two separate one gallon milk jugs. Let cool for 24 hours before using. It should thicken but not solidify. If it’s too thick to pour smoothly, break it up with the handle of a wooden spoon jammed into the bottle. Use about 1/2 cup per load. For tough stains, pre-treat and let soak for an hour or so before washing. It seems that many people have been using versions of this for years in HE machines with no trouble. From what I’ve read, it’s suds that are the issue in an HE machine, and this laundry detergent hardly suds at all. My machine handled it beautifully and smelled nice and clean when I emptied it. As I continue to use this homemade laundry detergent, I’ll update here if I have any issues with it over time.
Like I mentioned earlier, I researched a ton of recipes before having at it, but I want to give a shout out to these two blogs which I personally found the most informative: Why Not Sew & The Simple Dollar. In coming up with my own version, I made a few changes from the accepted norm of laundry detergent making. I didn’t grate my soap – it seemed like a waste of time and energy. I also used less bar soap than most recipes call for because I suspect too much soap is what was making it solidify. I used less water than most as well because I think too much water to soap ratio was making it clumpy. Of course these were all just theories before I started. I’m happy to say though that I was very satisfied with the end product! It was easy to make, smelled great, and the final consistency was pourable and not unpleasantly gloopy. But, the big question is, would it work????? So I tested it out on an old shirt. Observe exhibit A below.
The left stain is dark chocolate, the middle is mustard, and the right side is sriracha sauce. I rubbed them in and let them set for about half an hour. Then I rinsed them in cold water but that didn’t remove much of the stain. I pre-treated with the homemade laundry detergent on only the top half of each stain, and left it on for about 10 minutes. Then I threw it in the wash with 1/2 cup of the detergent. I was skeptical because the stains seemed pretty set in there. When I took it out of the wash, I was surprised that most of the stains had come out though there were a few spots that were still slightly visible. The sriracha was the toughest, though the half I pre-treated was much better than the half I didn’t. You can see for yourself below. Note: I underexposed this so you could see the stains the best because when it was brighter they completely disappeared from the photo.
I was mildly disappointed that it didn’t remove all of the stains, but still thought the end result was good. The rest of the clothes in that load looked, smelled, and felt clean and fresh. Interestingly, when I went to put another load in, I saw that at least half of the soap hadn’t been used because the compartment had stayed shut. Who knows how the shirt would have come out with more soap in the wash?? I switched it so that it would open more for the next load which resulted in all of the soap getting used and the clothes came out perfect – even Mr. Hungry’s work clothes, except for a few old stains that still remained.
My conclusions? I may never spend money on traditional laundry detergent again!! Making your own is cheaper and better for your family and the environment. What’s not to like? I am thrilled with the results so far, though I will say that for very tough stains you should definitely pre-treat, and maybe even add an oxy booster for extremely dirty loads. Let me know if you try it, and what your verdict is!