Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

The other day I told you about The Beehive Cottage, and another thing that caught my attention on this particular blog was the recipe for homemade laundry detergent. I've read about making laundry detergent many times before on the Internet, but finally decided to give it a try last night. The main motivator behind all of this would be this little cherub:

The Griffer has some pretty sensitive skin. I can't quite figure it out. I've tried all kinds of different detergents and fabric softeners, and while the "free" types do help, he still complains of itchy skin. So, I thought we'd give this a shot. Here are the ingredients:

The Borax and large box of baking soda are readily available in just about any store. I've read that you can find Pink Zote Soap at WalMart, although I found mine at a local Mexican market where I live. The Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda proved a bit more challenging for me though - - I think I went to five different stores before I finally found some at WinCo. It is sold with the laundry detergent, usually right next to the Borax. Here is the recipe:

~ 4 lbs. Borax

~4 lbs. Baking Soda

~4 lbs. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (the box is actually 3 lbs, 7 oz. - - close enough)

~ 1 1/3 bars of Pink Zote Soap

The first thing I did was cut the Zote Soap into big chunks, then grated it in my food processor. Don't worry, I washed my food processor really well afterwards. It's just soap, people. Here's what it looked like after grating:

After grating it, I put it back in the food processor with the chopping blade so that I could pulverize it. Didn't want the soap pieces this large.

There. Then, I took a random Rubbermade tote and poured everything into it so I would be able to mix it all together with my hands.

In the end, it makes about 12 lbs. of detergent. For a large load of laundry, you only need to use 2 tablespoons, so I think it will last for quite a while - - about 150 loads! The total cost for all of the ingredients was $11.65, so pretty economical, to boot. I'm actually going to see how long/how many loads of laundry I get out of this batch, because I'm a geek like that. Now, just store it in an airtight container.

If you freak out over low-sudsing detergent, then you probably won't like this. It doesn't suds up very much. It does clean your laundry though. My first load was some cleaning rags that didn't smell too good (ick), but came out of the wash smelling fresh and clean.

If you are worried about the soap dissolving (I was, because I wash most of my laundry in cold water), just set your washer to hot water long enough to to get a cup or so of water in the bottom of your washer, add the detergent, and give it a good swish. Then, continue filling with cold water. I did this and did not have any soap residue at the end of the wash cycle.

I liked MaryJane's idea of using a tea cup for a detergent scoop, so I had to steal that idea, because I'm a geek like that, too.

17 comments:

Jean said...

This is something I've said I wanted to try making, but I haven't done it yet. Maybe your post will inspire me.

Cute picture of little Griffin sound asleep.

Heather said...

I think you would like it, Aunt Jean. For some reason I really dislike buying laundry detergent - - it is always such a chunk out of my grocery budget, so it makes me feel good to know that I saved some money, and have some detergent without a ton of weird ingredients in it.

Kate said...

The pink bits make it pretty too! I have thought about making this too so maybe I'll try it now.

Heather said...

I've read that you can also use Fels-Naptha laundry soap, or even Ivory soap, in place of the Zote. I like the Zote since it is pink! It has citronella oil in it, but I don't think it smells strong like a citronella candle. I'm kind of hoping the slight scent will be an extra mosquito repellant on our clothes...we shall see. You can always add a few drops of lavendar oil to the wash water for a light scent - - I do this with towels and sheets.

Jenn said...

Cole has very sensitive skin too. He has excema patches, itchy skin and breaks out in blisters with even the slightest change (a diaper that had extra large weaving even for whatever reason...same brand, same style I always buy...made him blister.) I will be interested to see if this helps Griffin because I buy the Tide Free right now and Free bounce sheets but maybe it is still not enough...I am nervous to make the change to this though for fear that would make him break out!

Heather said...

Jenn, I will let you know if this seems to help Griffin. He tends to have very dry, red patches, mostly on his bottom, poor thing. I ended up doing 4 loads of laundry today, and am very pleased with the fact that the detergent really seems to work. The best test was Camden's pants - - he comes home every single day from school with grass stains on his britches. I didn't pre-treat the stains at all, and his pants came out of the wash without any trace of grass stain. I'm sold on making my own detergent now!

Terrij83@yahoo.com said...

HEATHER so cool I started making my own soap a month and a half ago. I use the fles-neptha and mine is a liquid detergent...same thing the low suds worried me for a moment but my cloths have never been cleaner or smelled more fresh...not perfumed...just purly clean...a smell one cannot describe. I use mine also for dishwasher detergent..works awesome! I can make a 5 gal bucket for less than two dollars and it last a month! so awesome!! whooo hoo!

Heather said...

THat's neat, Terri...where did you find your recipe? I'd like to try the liquid, too. I know what you mean about the smell...it just smells CLEAN. I'm still amazed that grass stain came out so easily. Try the Pink Zote sometime, it smells soooo good and it is only $1.15 at El Puerto on Washington. The bar is gigantic and is equal to about 2 1/2 bars of Fels-Naptha, I think. Oh....one other thing, did you know you can use white vinegar for fabric softener? 1/2 cup in the rinse cycle, and no, your clothes will not smell like vinegar. :)

Cheryl said...

Sweet photo of Griffin. This sounds great and so economical! Maybe I will have to mix up a batch, with just Ashton home occasionally it would probably last us for a long time! Thanks for sharing the "receipe".

Terrij83@yahoo.com said...

Defenitley will have to try the pink soap I must agree it's very pretty (= and your recipe as well. My mom got the recipe from a really old lady that used this her whole life. for sure gonna try the vinegar too. Landry just makes me smile now (=

Terrij83@yahoo.com said...

Defenitley will have to try the pink soap I must agree it's very pretty (= and your recipe as well. My mom got the recipe from a really old lady that used this her whole life. for sure gonna try the vinegar too. Landry just makes me smile now (=

Linda said...

I may have to try this! First I will use up the remaining coupons for free detergent that I got when we bought our new front loader washer and dryer almost two years ago. Not only did we get several rebates, but we also got three years' worth of free Tide coupons--woo hoo!

kirsten said...

You're inspiring! Very cool.

Joy said...

I hope the Zote works out! Javi can't use it as it breaks him out. :( That's a great price on laundry detergent! I have mine down to .16/load and get at least 96 loads for $15.99! I use the scent-free for Javi as the fragrance can (and does) irritate him. That would be awesome if this works for Griffin's skin!!! Way to go!

Heather said...

So far absolutely no problems with Griffin's skin and this detergent, Joy - - I'm so pleased, because he is super-sensitive. I liked the Melaleuca detergent but it just didn't make sense for us to stay members (money wise) so I'm very happy to have found a great alternative. Seems to do a great job cleaning which is saying something, because these boys get dirty!

Little T said...

Great post. I have been looking for a detergent "recipe" and someone who would explain in pictures and the results. Thank you thank you.

Question: I have a front loader so I don't have the option of mixing with warm water first, to dissolve the soap then adding cold. Would I be able to dissolve it in a cup of water first and then put it in the detergent opening?

Thanks so much

www.rawadventuresarmywife.blogspot.com

Heather said...

Yes, you could definitely dissolve it in a cup of water and then add it to the machine. I have to say, I've probably done 30 loads or so with this detergent at this point, and I still love it!!

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