March 4, 2012

Easy Peasy Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

My family is making an effort to become as toxin free as we can in our house...and one of the things we've eliminated is store-bought laundry detergent. Now we could buy the GOOD detergent...but it's so expensive that I would much rather make my own for a fraction of the cost...and my recipe works just as well, if not BETTER than any detergent I've tried...and I've tried a LOT!

Since I decided to make a batch today I figured I would share a step-by-step tutorial of the process for all of you who are VERY visual (like me!). I've also given you a link to where you can download and print off a copy of my recipe for yourself at the bottom of this post...making it easy for you to give this a try--and it really doesn't take long to make...can be done in 30 minutes since the longest thing is just waiting for your water to get hot!

The #1 thing to remember about homemade detergent...it will NOT suds and foam like store bought detergent...but do NOT think that means it's not going to clean. Trust me, you don't need suds to clean. Your clothes won't care if they aren't taking a bubble bath!

Okay so what do you need?
* bar of soap--you can use any soap really, but if you want to keep it free from all that junk in most commercial brands stick with these brands: Ivory, Fels-Naptha, Castille or your "good" soap bar of choice. I use Ivory because you can get it about anywhere and it's cheap--just $1-$2 for 3 bars. Stay away from heavily perfumed bars though...kind of defeats the purpose of making a fragrance free and such.

* 1/2 c. Borax--you can buy this at Wal*Mart, Safeway, Kroger, Meijer...just about any grocery store in the laundry detergent section. Even my local grocery store has it. It's in a box. About $3-5 a box depending on where you get it...but it's a big box and you can make a LOT of detergent with it.

*1/2 c. Washing Soda--also purchased at these same stores in the same place. In fact most stores stock them side by side. Also in a box and runs from $2-4. Again...one box does a lot of detergent!

*Water--you can use distilled or tap...doesn't really matter in my opinion.

*Essential Oils--optional: peppermint, lavender, tea tree oil, rosemary, etc...

*You also need a Stock Pot or any other pot at least the size of a dutch oven, a Pail or old Detergent containers to put your NEW detergent in...(needs to be a LEAST 1 gallon--because this makes 2 gallons. So get a couple of them if you have them--or just keep it in a bucket!), and a Grater

I recommend getting all your ingredients ready before you start--it's just easier to have it measured and ready to go.

Start by grating your bar of soap and measuring out your Borax and Washing Soda.

Now heat up 3 pints of water in your stock pot--doesn't have to be to a boil--just get it steaming and hot! You also need to heat up in a separate container (I use my tea kettle) 1 quart of water to be used later.
(my el-cheapo stock pot for making detergent)
To the hot water in your stock pot (or whatever you have the 3 pints in), add the grated bar of soap and stir it until it's completely dissolved. Won't take long. Maybe about 5-8 minutes.
(see, you can clearly use a smaller container if you don't have a stock pot)
Next add in your borax and washing soda...again, stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.

Now you need to get your container you are going to store this in out and make sure it's clean.
(I recommend also getting a funnel if you are messy like me!)
 Pour in the quart of hot water you heated up separately. Now pour in your heated soap water.
(I use my old detergent containers--perfect size and great to shake!)

Note: If you are going to use TWO containers, then split the hot water between them and then split the soap water equally between them too.

Now top off your containers of hot soapy water with COLD water and stir well. If you use an old laundry detergent container just put the lid on really good and shake it, baby! This mixes it all up really well.

And that's it! Yep, easy as that! I think it's nice to write on your containers the date you made the detergent so you can see how quickly you use it up.

When you are ready to use it--and you can use it right away if you want--just add 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load. Make sure you shake/stir the detergent before you use it each time because it will gel up.

Once your detergent cools, feel free to add 10-15 drops (per TWO gallons) of your essential oil of choice to your detergent. Make sure it's added once the soap is cooled and shake/stir it REALLY good. I like to mix lavender and peppermint in mine...some other choices are rosemary and tea tree oil.

Now--a note about this recipe. This recipe originally came from my mom, but this version is MY recipe which means I've tweaked it to fit my washing needs. I have two kids who adore mud and get grass stains on nearly everything. I also have a mechanic for a husband who comes home with clothes that can stand up by themselves from all the grit, dirt, grease and only our Father God knows what else...so I needed a heavy duty detergent--which means I added extra soap to my recipe!

If you don't need one that heavy duty, then just use 1/3 of a bar of soap in your mixture!!

Another change I've made is that I use all the measurements above but only use ONE container--1.17 gallons (see picture above)--which means I use a more concentrated detergent. So this is another option...just make sure you decrease the amount of detergent you put into each load.

I tried out my concentrated formula in today's nasty mechanic clothes load and it worked like a charm!

If you want to print a recipe for yourself, here is your link:

Feel free to pin and share the link to this blog post since I'd love for others to see how easy it is to make your own laundry detergent!