Home Made Laundry Detergent

Yesterday, aka Day One of our experiment was a success.  It’s easy not to shop when it’s a holiday.  Still, we did need to stop for some items to make it through the next few days.  I had to pick my son up from a town about an hour north of here as he was with his father for the last few days of Winter Break.  The town we meet in has a privately owned grocery store and we headed there for some produce and the like.

The Max knows all about the resolution and has agreed to cooperate with our scaled back way of buying.  Of course, when faced with all the impulse items a grocery store offers, he had a little trouble.  The town we were in has a large Native American population so when he mistakenly exclaimed, “I want a Lunchable!   I hate the reservation!!!!”  my face did turn all sorts of red while I tried to shush him and let him know it was a resolution, not a reservation.

Max calmed down, we finished shopping, and our total bill ended up under thirty dollars.  It is amazing how little you spend when you don’t buy what you don’t need.  Though understand we have saved in the freezer a good amount of meat which helped as well.

Now let’s talk about laundry, nothing could be more fun.  I don’t mind doing laundry, I only have an issue with it when I haven’t kept up on laundry and I know I must do twelve loads to catch up.  For two years while I was living in an apartment building without a laundry room, I washed my loads by hand in a bucket and dried them on a makeshift line in my bathroom.  Ewwww.

Now I have a washer and dryer in my house and it feels luxurious.  Mr Pilver loves the non-scented detergent made by companies who don’t use yucky toxins, but I stopped buying those to save money.  We were using whatever was the cheapest on the shelf any given week.  So, I decided to see if I could make some.  Turns out it is crazy easy and enormously economical.  Here’s a diagram:

I tried this last week with skeptical predictions.  The idea that I could use inexpensive commonly found items and create detergent that would save me a bundle seemed as possible as getting a free ipod if I clicked on the pop up ads on my computer screen.  But, it works.  It works well.  Considering how elementary it is, I wondered how we became to be a nation of convenience to the point we waist THAT much money on something we use so often.  And considering the extra toxic ingredients your national brands provide you with and I am convinced aliens are controlling the laundry detergent market and eventually, will add nasal probes to the mix which will suck out our brains.

You just want the recipe, so I will get to that.   But not before I mention that I posted that I made laundry detergent on facebook via my all-important-status-update feature.  I cannot believe the amount of people that responded.

OK, here we go.   You need:

1/2 bar of laundry soap grated with a cheese grater (roughly 1-1 1/2 cups)  I used Fels-Napthia

1 cup of Borax

I cup of Washing Soda

Clean Empty Jugs (Old milk jugs, old detergent jugs, 2 liter soda bottles etc)

a one gallon pot for the stove

a 3-5 gallon bucket, very clean

Step 1:  Boil 4 cups of water on your stove, turn heat to low and add all the grated soap.   Stir until soap dissolves.

Step 2: Pour hot soapy water into bucket.  Add Borax and washing soda and stir until they have dissolved.

Step 3:  Add one gallon hot tap water and stir.

Step 4:  Funnel your hot and sexy detergent into your clean jugs and containers.  Fill only 3/4 full, you will want to be able to shake jug before each use.

This recipe makes about 1 1/2 gallons.  Use 1/4 cup per load.

I have been using this for about a week now.  Haven’t had any troubles, I love it.  If you’d like, add essential oils to the mix to make it smellerific. Without oils, it has a faint soapy smell which you cannot really notice.  So, if you like a fragrant load of wash, you might want to pick up some lavender oil or something similar.

After talking about this old school laundry phenomenon with a few folks, I found out I was not alone in my thrifty laundry soap adventure.  If this one is not your bag, search online for more recipes.  There’s plenty out there!


About kristiane

killing spiders with my laser eyes.
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11 Responses to Home Made Laundry Detergent

  1. Amy says:

    I’m looking forward to trying this. I always use the cheapo liquid detergent (Sun, etc.) but I had some coupons for Tide so I’ve been using that and feeling uber classy (it does smell sooo good). Rob just came home with one of those five gallon buckets of the powder detergent from Sam’s but I’m not worried about saving HIM money. 😉 I’m going to make my own liquid because I HATE the crappy cakey powder stuff.

  2. Mystie says:

    I’m going to finally try this this week. I have tons of essential oils to scent with, too. I’m not sure heliotrope and nag champa will lend itself to laundry detergent very well, but I’m sure I have some lavender and citrus scents in the mix. Neroli maybe. I could get all kinds of metaphysical with my dirty clothes.

  3. Bad Pants says:

    Perhaps Mr. Pilver or some other super-sciency-type can correct me here, but I’m under impression that the Borax essentially dissolves into Boric Acid, which is where the detergent gets it’s capacity to dissolve the unwanted material in the clothes/fabrics being washed (food enzymes, dust mites, shed skin cells, other organic matter) that makes dirty clothes “stinky” and unhappy.

    The Soap contributes two elements, the glycerin in the soap lowers the coefficient of friction and allows the material to flow away from the fabric when rinsed; and the lipid base combines with the borax to create a lipase surfactant (essentially a chemical that breaks down grease).

    The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) breaks down the boric acid into a neutral liquid that rinses away cleanly with no residue as well as dissolves the glycerin.

    As the sodium bicarbonate acts the slowest, the other two chemicals complete the detergent element of the reaction and then the baking soda dissolves the chemicals.

    That’s the way it was explained to me, and I am NOBODY’S chemist, so that may all be complete B.S. and I’d really have no idea.

    What I do know, is that this sounds like a) it would work and b) it would be essentially environmentally safe and low cost. These are things that I like, and I am also nobody’s hippie.

    As the dissolved borax/baking soda isn’t a true linear alkylbenzenesulfonate (which all modern U.S. detergents are “supposed” to be as part of the Clean Water Act), I’d suspect that commercial grade use and flushing into a water source would be a no-no…but that’s the difference between 12 loads of laundry and 12,000 loads.

    Also, and this goes without saying, that once used for this mixture, nothing used to produce this is food-safe. Borax, while used in small amounts as a food preservative in third-world countries, will make you sick over time if the pot you use to dissolve Borax when making Ink is the same pot that you use to make Raman. There’s a funny – though rather scatological – story there I’ll share sometime.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this. This was an extremely interesting post and I look forward to following along.

  4. Bad Pants says:

    Just to be clear (because apparently I wasn’t), I think this if FLIPPIN’ AWESOME.

  5. Oregon Sunshine says:

    You know, Kristiane, I’ll smack Bad Pants for you any time you like. If he gets outta line, just let me know! 😉

    So, care to share the cost analysis? What’s the breakdown cost-wise in comparison to say, Tide?

    • kristiane says:

      I figured it cost me around three dollars to make about three gallons. So, a buck a gallon. Tide is a lot more, depending on the variety you get I think maybe 8-13 dollars. So, a rough estimate is that I will spend 10 times less. 😀

      • Oregon Sunshine says:

        We buy Tide, but only because it’s one of the few laundry soaps I haven’t had a reaction to and it gets the dirt out, including car grease and Oregon clay. Important stuff when you’re me.

        I do want to try this, but not until after we move again. Our drain field is my pasture and even though it should be ok, I’m not going to chance anything when it comes to my horses.

        I have never seen a liquid detergent recipe until yours. I’d only found powder ones. So, thanks!

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