Several weeks ago, I highlighted a series of articles about homemade laundry detergent from my friends Kris and Whit. Since they raved about the fabulous results, I decided to give it a try myself. I’ve always been fascinated by being a “do it yourselfer”. In the past, I’ve thought “wow, it would be so great to be able to do that” and then went about my business… blissfully and ignorantly buying what I could be making for a fraction of the cost.
Over the last year or so, I’ve learned that a lot of the things I’ve always considered Too Much Work to try doing myself aren’t really much work at all. Picking blueberries and using them in recipes… making homemade chowder… cooking great Thai food… saving money using coupons… Now I find myself looking for ways to do things myself, the most recent of these things being Homemade Laundry Detergent.
Here’s what I bought:
- 1 Bar Zote Soap – $.89 at the Cobb International Farmer’s Market (but Wal-Mart has it for $.97)
- 1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax – $3.19 (I think)
- 1 box of Arm & Hammer WASHING Soda**Found next to the Borax in the laundry detergent aisle. (Do not get baking soda. It won’t work.)
Here’s what I did:
- I cut the HUGE bar of Zote in half. I could probably have done 1/3 and had plenty.
- I shredded the soap using a cheese grater into a large pot on the stove.
- I added 6 cups of water, per the instructions provided by Kris & Whit, turned on the stove, and let the soap melt.
- Put in 1 1/2 cup of Borax
- Put in 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda … (because I mis-read the article! It said 1 ½ cups. L )
- Stirred until everything was dissolved, then turned off the heat.
- Since I planned to keep the detergent in the same pot, I just added 4 cups of hot water and stirred it up, instead of putting it into the bucket to add.
- Then I put in the 1 gallon 6 cups (22 cups) of cold water and stirred it up.
After letting it sit until the next afternoon, I noticed that the mixture separated, with a thick grainy gel on top and really watery liquid on the bottom. I’m fairly certain that this was because 1) I didn’t put enough Washing Soda into the mixture and 2) because I didn’t let it dissolve long enough before removing it from the stove.
I am using the little plastic cup that comes on top of the store bought laundry detergent dispensers as a measuring cup. I stir up the detergent really well before scooping it out each time and put one full scoop into the washer. I am using plain white vinegar instead of fabric softener. Mark was VERY pleasantly surprised that our laundry is not coming out smelling like vinegar. It has a fresh clean smell.
What I like most about it is that the clothes come out of the dryer feeling like “new material”. The jeans feel just like they did the day we bought them. The dinginess is coming out of our whites, the bottoms of our socks, and out of my footie pajamas! The drip stains that are all over our kids old t-shirts are even coming out. This impresses me a great deal because those t-shirts are years old with stains that have been set in forever.. with dozens of washes and tumbles through the drier each… even the white ones!
Next time, I plan to make sure I get the Washing Soda amount correct… and heat the detergent mixture a bit longer. Maybe this will resolve my issues with the consistency. Even if it doesn’t, it’s cheap… easy to make, and does a GREAT job on my family’s clothes. 5 Stars from Ida (and Mark.. who was REALLY not sure about this whole homemade laundry detergent thing.