So Fresh & So Clean: Homemade Laundry Detergent

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I hate laundry.  There, I said it.  Does anyone enjoy laundry?  It’s never finished.  There’s always that sock that fell on the way to the laundry room.  Or, the clothes that you’re wearing that will go in the dirty clothes basket just as soon as you’ve put away all the clean clothes that are now filling it.  Why do the dryer and the washing machine never finish at the same time?  Why are there always just a couple empty rungs on the drying rack but not enough for a whole other load?  (Is it just me or is “rung” a funny word.  Yep, just googled that to make sure I knew what I was saying! And, yes, “google” is a verb!) I do have a nice new laundry room, so the chore is more enjoyable than it used to be.  (Blog post coming on our basement renovation;  soon, I promise!)  But, I still don’t like it.

It’s unavoidable, though.  So, let’s just get on with the dirty work.

(You’re smiling now, right?  You’re welcome!)

Today, it was finally time to make some more laundry detergent.  Yes, I said “make.”  Yes, I MAY be crazy, but not for making my own laundry detergent!

I started researching laundry detergents while I was pregnant with our little Bambino.  I know there are special “baby” formulas, but have you ever wondered what’s special and different about them?  The baby smell, you say?  Well, did you know that the baby smell is just a fragrance added?  There’s nothing inherently “baby” about the ingredients in it.  I also didn’t like the idea of always having to separate laundry.  Now, for those of you who already have little munchkins, you know that it takes no time at all to come up with a full load of little clothes.  (3 outfits per day is the status quo around here!)  But, there are plenty of times when you have just a thing or two to wash and want to throw it in with whatever else you’re washing.  Do you really want to worry about what detergent you should use?  My answer was no.

As I was researching about chemicals in laundry detergent, I found that a lot of the so-called “free” versions are not so free of hidden chemicals.  I love this post from Goop:  The Dirty on Getting Clean.  (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Goop, this is Gwyneth Paltrow’s website.  She explores all sorts of topics, and it’s a fun and informative read.)  I’ll admit to still using some of the products on her “was using” list, but one thing at a time!  I definitely don’t have the energy for a complete whole-house overall of every evil ingredient at once!

I also kept coming upon recipes for homemade laundry detergent.  Was it really that simple?  I would know exactly what was in it; I could pick a recipe that would be safe for Bambino and us; and, BONUS, maybe save a little money in the process?  Worth a shot!

I’ll admit I was a little overwhelmed at first at all the different variations.  Some people say no to Borax in laundry detergents, but I decided I was OK with it.  You can make your own decision.  I’ve done a little experimenting, and I have 2 favorite recipes that I use.

The first recipe from Consider a Field of Lilies came to me through a friend.  She actually uses Fels-Naptha soap.  This recipe is the simplest – 1 cup soap, 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda.  And, while it does a great job with our everyday laundry, I found I needed a little something extra for heavy duty laundry that comes during a basement renovation.  So, that led to me try out another recipe.

The second recipe is from one of my favorite blogs: Southern Savers.  (Another friend actually put me on to Southern Savers; it’s a great website for the budget savvy.)  This recipe has a couple extra ingredients, but I find that it does a great job on super soiled laundry.  Some people add color-safe bleach or other stain fighters to regular laundry detergents.  This one is all ready to go!  For this recipe, you’ll need the standard three ingredients above (bar soap, borax, and washing soda), plus Oxi Brite and baking soda. (Note: this recipe makes a lot because you are using full boxes of the ingredients, rather than measuring smaller portions. I wish I had made a note of when I made it, but it was sometime early in the year, and I just ran out.  I’d say AT LEAST 6 months!)

For both recipes, I use Dr. Bronner’s Castile Bar Soap.  Dr. Bronner’s is becoming very readily available at major stores.  In the past, I’ve ordered from Amazon, but I haven’t price compared recently to know if that’s the best deal or not. I chose the baby mild soap with Bambino in mind.  You can add some essential oil drops for a scent if you choose.  I did try lavender oil with one batch, but I couldn’t smell anything after the clothes were washed and dried, so I think it’s unnecessary.  I also ordered Oxi Brite from Amazon.  The other ingredients I can actually find at my local Kroger in the laundry aisle.

Now that you have all the ingredients, it’s time to put it all together.  You will need to grate the soap.  You can use a cheese grater on the very fine setting, or (faster option) throw it into your food processor.  At first, I didn’t like that the food processor left the strips bigger.  I happened to have run out of washing soda, so I couldn’t make a full batch and had extra grated soap leftover.  I threw it into a plastic Ziploc and discovered that I could mash the soap into finer pieces.  I will definitely be doing that the next go-round!

I found a cute glass container at Home Goods to store it in.  Now, I think I need to add some other jars for my leftover ingredients!  Happy Laundry Day!

Laundry Detergent

Laundry Detergent

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