Hubby and I haven’t spent a dime on laundry detergent or dryer sheets in over TWO MONTHS! Would you like to find out how? Don’t worry. . . I’m not suckering you into some type of corny Amway presentation. I just wanted to share a really CHEAP and easy recipe with you for homemade laundry detergent.
Hubby and I are very pleased with this recipe because it’s UBER cheap and saves us money. PLUS it’s better for our health (hubby has eczema, our son has asthma, and many name brand laundry detergents make my skin itch and break out).
I have tried sooooooooo many laundry detergents for sensitive skin — from the “no fragrance, no dye” major brands, to the all-natural/organic brands. They either worked well but were TOO expensive, or they weren’t pricey but they didn’t clean my clothes thoroughly and brighten them. Some laundry detergents didn’t completely rinse out of my clothes, and left residue behind. After a while, my clothes would look dingy, and tough spots which didn’t come out in the wash would turn into stains. So I began googling and came across a recipe for homemade laundry detergent.
Don’t let the word “homemade” throw you off. You don’t need to be a chemist, June Cleaver, Martha Stewart, or a radical-environmentalist-tree-hugging-hippie to make homemade laundry soap. Anyone can make this recipe, all you need are 3 key ingredients. What are they?
1. One box of 20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster. I found it at Walmart for about $3 (near the laundry and cleaning items).
2. One box of Arm & Hammer All Natural Super Washing Soda. I found it at Walmart for about $2-$3 (near the laundry and cleaning items).
3. One bar of laundry soap named “Zote” or “Fels-Naptha.” Walmart carries both brands. I use Zote (it comes in a pink bar or a white bar. You can use either or. I use the white bar). I also bought a bar of Fels-Naptha, but I haven’t tried it in my recipe yet. I bought Zote at Walmart for just under $1 (near the laundry and cleaning items). Some people use a bar of Ivory soap. Others use an all-natural or organic bar of soap. It’s up to you. But if this is your first time making homemade laundry detergent, you might want to start off with Zote or Fels-Naptha, then experiment with other bar soap brands once you’re familiar with the process.
What Does Each Ingredient Do?
Washing soda is a cleanser and water softener. It affects the PH balance of your laundry water and bonds to minerals and things in hard water so that your detergent works better. It helps with stains and eliminates residue build up (residue build up is often the bandit behind dingy clothes), this helps brighten your clothes.
Borax is a natural laundry booster which increases the cleansing power of your soap, lifts stains, and removes odor. It converts small amounts of water into Hydrogen Peroxide, which acts as a mild bleach for your clothes (don’t worry, it won’t damage your colors or leave bleach spots on them).
Zote is a laundry soap which uses non-abrasive ingredients to gently remove stains and clean delicate clothing. I find that Zote works better than major brand stain removers. Just wet the stained area with cold water, then wet the Zote bar and rub it on the stain. Let the garment soak in cool water for a little while and the stain should wash right out.
Other Items You Will Need
-A 5 gallon bucket to store your homemade laundry detergent (make sure it comes with a lid!). I found one at Walmart for a few bucks. You can also find them at Lowe’s and Home Depot.
-A long sturdy spoon to cook and stir your detergent with (it doesn’t matter if it has holes in it or not).
-A cheese grater to grate your soap (don’t grate your soap with the SAME grater that you grate cheese with! Use a separate one. . . unless you want soap-flavored grated cheese mmmm yummy! lol).
-Measuring cups to measure out your washing soda and Borax.
-An old laundry detergent bottle that still has it’s cap/top (you will see why you need this in a moment).
-An oil funnel (you will see why you need this in a moment). I found one at Walmart for super cheap in the car accessories section.
Now For The Instructions
Don’t fret. . . it’s really easy.
Step #1. Grate 1/3 (one-third) bar of your soap
Step #2. Add grated soap and 6 cups of water to a large pot and boil together. Stir every so often until the soap is dissolved.
Step #3. Add 1/2 (half a cup) of washing soda and 1/2 (half a cup) of borax to the hot soapy mixture. Mix and heat until dissolved. Boil entire mixture for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You are boiling SOAP. . . you don’t want it to boil over the pan and make a mess.
Step #4. Remove mixture from heat. It will have the consistency of honey.
Step #5. Add 1 quart of hot water to your 5 gallon bucket. Then add the soap mixture to it and stir.
Step #6. Add enough cold water to your mixture to create a 2 gallon mixture. I add cold water until the 5 gallon bucket is ALMOST half-way full. Then stir it again.
Step #7. Let it sit for 24 hours. The detergent will thicken, separate a bit, and have a gel-like consistency.
Step #8. Some people use a cup or ladle to scoop detergent straight from the 5 gallon bucket, but this can be a little messy. This is where the old laundry detergent bottle comes in. Stir your homemade laundry detergent first to make sure that it’s blended. At first it will be very thick, but that’s normal — as you stir it, it will loosen up and become more fluid. Now take your funnel and stick it in the opening of the old laundry detergent bottle, pour your homemade laundry detergent into the funnel and fill up your bottle. Now you can use your old laundry detergent bottle with its measuring cup! All you have to do is refill it. This is so much easier, convenient, and cleaner than scooping detergent from a 5 gallon bucket.
Remember to shake your old detergent bottle each time you use it, because homemade laundry detergent separates.
Use half a cup to 1 cup for each load, depending on the size of your load.
This detergent does not produce bubbles and sud up in the washer, but it will still clean your clothes. It CAN be used in HE washers.
It is perfectly safe to use bleach with this recipe when washing your whites.
This recipe makes my clothes really soft. But if you have ridiculously extra hard water the soap may not clean as well. Just add half a cup of borax or washing soda to the load to see if that helps. Or put white vinegar in a liquid fabric softener ball, which will help rinse out the detergent and soften your clothes.
I find that ever since I have been using this homemade laundry detergent, our clothes don’t get static cling anymore (when I find out the science behind that, I will update this article and share). This has totally eliminated our need to buy dryer sheets. If this recipe works just as well for you, and you do not care about adding fragrance to your clothes, you will not need to waste anymore money on dryer sheets. But if you still have static cling, you will need to buy dryer sheets of course. Some people want to give their clothes a light fragrance, so they add essential oils to their detergent or washing machine. I am not sure how effective this is, how long the fragrance lasts (or if it lasts through the drying cycle), and I have seen reports that it is not safe for the dryer — so I do not use essential oils in my laundry. Plus adding fragrances might agitate our skin and our son’s asthma. Our clothes come out of the dryer smelling fresh and clean using the detergent alone.
If you feel the need to spruce up dingy or heavily soiled clothes, or if you would like to stretch out your homemade laundry detergent — add a little scoop of oxyclean versatile stainremover or Triple Action Purex with Crystals. The oxyclean is a bit pricey. But I bought a HUGE box of the Triple Action Purex with Crystals for about $3. It’s super cheap and lasts a LONG time alongside my homemade detergent.
Did you know that the same ingredients used to make homemade laundry detergent are used in dishwashing detergent? Yep. . . . that’s my next project 🙂
I really do hope this recipe works for you and that it SAVES you MONEY $$$$$