Homemade Laundry Detergent

Posted on 18th November 2012 in Environment, Health & Fitness, Money & Finances, Prepping, Survival

I’ve been researching the subject of making my own laundry detergent for several months and am pleased to report I have discovered an awesome and simple recipe. I’m not a fan of cooking up so-called simple goopy liquid products, so this is a dry powdered mixture that is easy-peasy to assemble. It will travel easily, so I’m thinking it will be perfect for the trib.

Because I like things to do double-duty, I experimented with using this for handwashing dishes but it doesn’t suds up so I was disappointed with that. Dear son says it doesn’t have the chemical ability to lift food off hard surfaces (he thinks suds are needed for that). So I suppose I’m looking for an ingredient with that property that is powdered (or can be powdered at home) to add to this recipe. Or maybe I need a totally different set of dry ingredients, who knows. If you have been making and using a great powdered soap recipe for hand washing dishes, please share! 

Anyway, back on topic. We love how soft our clothes are when we wash them in this homemade laundry detergent! Dear daughter especially likes the fact that she doesn’t have to deal with scents and tells me there is no more itchiness, either! I like the fact that we use just the tiniest bit (about a tablespoon) of the homemade detergent per load (and can use more or less as needed), so it goes a long way. If you use a level tablespoon per load, you can wash 96 loads with one batch. When I costed this out earlier this year, that meant that I could wash one load for $.034! I haven’t done any stats on the number of loads per bucket I got out of any of the commercial detergents I’ve purchased in the past, but here’s a quick calculation on the most recent one using the numbers printed on the product which I purchased at Costco. I paid something like $18 plus taxes for a bucket that would do 200 loads, so the cost per load was $.102. Wow–I can wash three times as many clothes with my homemade laundry detergent! 

I’ve seen variations of this on the internet (of course; where else would I find this stuff?) and some of them are very helpful videos, so by all means look for them if you don’t believe me. 🙂 However, if you are ready to try this recipe here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups superwashing soda
  • 2 cups borax
  • 1 x 9.5 oz bar Linda laundry soap
  • (optional) 1 cup of baking soda if you have hard water

Instructions:

Put the bar of Linda laundry soap into the freezer overnight or until you are ready to assemble the ingredients. (I’ve had mine in there for weeks; just pop it in the freezer when you bring it home from the store and leave it there until you are ready to make the recipe.) Remove it from the freezer and use a big knife to break it up into chunks. (I cannot speak to whether or not the soap needs to be thawed because I have never chopped it up right away. You might want to leave it for awhile.)  There is something about freezing the bar that makes it much easier to break up into chunks, so be kind to yourself and do it. If you simply must have the detergent right away, though, go ahead and chop the bar when you take it out of the grocery bag. Place the chopped soap into a food processor and run it about a minute or until the soap has been broken up until tiny grains. Pour the grated bar soap into an 8 cup or larger container and let it dry out for a couple of days. Mix in the superwashing soda and borax, plus baking soda if using. Store in laundry room with a small scoop that holds about 1 level tablespoon and use 1 scoop per load. Experiment–if you can get away with 1 teaspoon per load, go for it!

Note: if you would rather not use your food processor to transform the bar soap into tiny pellets, you can (I’m told) simply grate the bar using one of those graters you use for cheese. They say it’s not so easy to get the soap and/or the taste off the grater so you’ll want to have one on hand just for grating the bar soap. I can’t speak to that, either, but I’ve had no problem cleaning or using the food processor after making detergent.

Speaking of cheese, please be sure to keep the Linda bar soap away from cheese-loving children because it looks exactly like cheddar cheese!

By the way, several different kinds of laundry bar soap (such as Fels Naptha) are listed as ingredients in the recipes I’ve seen online, but I live in Canada and prefer to buy off the shelf rather than order ingredients online. I also prefer to shop at the cheaper groceries stores, like Food Basics. That’s where I found the Linda laundry bar soap and the borax, and of course the baking soda (which I don’t need to use). I did have to go to Home Hardware or Canadian Tire to get the superwashing soda. I bought the borax in a 2 kg box and the superwashing soda in a 3 kg box. Which brings me to a…

BIG BATCH IDEA: If you buy 6 bars of Linda laundry bar soap, you can use up all of the washing soda and borax in one fell swoop. In other words, get a big bucket or tote that can hold more than 36 cups (with stirring room) and dump in a 3 kg box of superwashing soda, a 2 kg box of borax, the baking soda if using, and the 6 bars of Linda soap after it’s been powdered, then stir it all together. That’s enough laundry detergent for 576 loads–about 3 years’ worth if you only do 3 or 4 loads per week. Hmm. That’ll get me through the trib, don’t you think?

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