I have been into making my own soaps, cleaners, and body products for around 15 years now and had somehow never made my own laundry detergent until a few months ago. We have very hard city water in this neighborhood and I wanted to give this detergent a 90 day trial to see if it really does work. Well, it does! There are several detergent recipes floating around and you can tweak any recipe you like to make it work for your machine and water composition. I prefer powder detergent for both its superior softening abilities as well as ease of use.
My powder laundry detergent recipe is simple:
- Bar soap (my own)
- Sodium borate (Borax)
- Sodium carbonate (Soda Ash)
- Essential oils.
First, you want to grind up your soap. Your bar soap should NOT be a moisturizing bar of any kind. You do not want to moisturize your fabrics with repelling oils. Some people use a Fels Naptha laundry bar (an old stain treatment aide), but I use my own homemade shampoo bars. The shampoo bars are a dry soap and very easy to shred with a kitchen rasp.
You want your soap ground as finely as possible for powder detergent, since it needs to dissolve in the washer.
For hard water I suggest a ratio of one part sodium borate, one part ground soap, and 1.5 parts sodium carbonate. For softer water you can use one part sodium carbonate.
For a two to three week supply mix
- 1 cup ground soap
- 1 cup sodium borate
- 1.5 cups sodium carbonate
- 20 drops of lavender essential oil (You can also add orange oil and any fragrance you like)
Mix it all together in a glass bowl until the oil drops are no longer clumping.
Store your powder detergent in a closed container out of reach or children or pets. I used an old Oxygen bleach powder container and a laundry scoop I had laying around.
I use about 1/8 to 1/4 cup in a large load of laundry for my heavy duty top loader Kenmore. I highly suggest washing with warm water to dissolve the soap particles more quickly. As you can see below, they do take a few minutes to dissolve. I prefer to wash in warm water as opposed to cold anyway since it works better for hard water.
I used this detergent on clothing and diapers for a few months and so far, there have been no issues. However, I would not usually recommend this type of recipe as a diaper detergent because the soap could potentially cause repelling, especially if you use the wrong kind to make the detergent. If you do use it for diapers, I recommend washing in hot water and rinsing in warm.
Why make your own detergent? Well, laundry detergents are outrageously priced and half of the time, the expensive ones don’t work all that well and do not rinse easily. This recipe is non-sudsing, rinses easily, and can be used in any machine. It is made from the same greener ingredients as most eco-friendly detergents, for a fraction of the price. A box of 20 Mule Team borax and Arm&Hammer Washing Soda are usually cheaper at your local hardware store than anywhere online, especially in farming communities. Broken down by the ounce, this batch of detergent cost me $2 compared to spending $15 on the same amount in an eco boutique or online. The savings could be huge, even if you only use homemade detergent half the time.
I recently made a batch of cloth diaper specific detergent. I am hoping it works out well, so I can share the results!