17 March 2012

homemade laundry powder

For forever, I bought liquid laundry detergent. I thought I liked better than powdered detergent; sometimes the powdered stuff didn't dissolve well. When we moved into our new house, I decided that instead of buying jug after jug of liquid detergent, I'd buy powdered detergent to pour in a big glass container that sits on the dryer. Functional and cute. Two of my favorite things. (Actually, just one. Cute supersedes functional at pretty much every level.)

Recently, I've been on a homemade kick. I want to learn to can vegetables. I want to learn to sew. I want to plant a garden. All of these require learning a skill (and some patience) for gratification. To avoid waiting for a result or learning patience, I decided to try my hand at making laundry detergent. Even before Pinterest, I started researching DIY laundry soap. I found recipes that make 10 gallons of clumpy liquid soaps. First off, I don't need 10 gallons of soap. I don't have a vat sitting around to make that much detergent.  And then there's the clumpy part: gross. I knew that the liquid stuff wouldn't be for me. Since I'd gotten reacquainted with powdered detergent, I began researching that area.

I combined a couple of different "recipes" for homemade laundry powder. I really like the results. My whites are bright, and my towels are fluffy. Two signs that it's doing a good job. Also, instead of fabric softener, I use distilled white vinegar.

Homemade Laundry Powder
1 bar Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
1 box (55 oz) Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 box (76 oz) 20 Mule Team Borax
1 small container (32 oz) Clorox Oxi Magic (bleach-free)
4 lbs Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
4 "shakes" (~10 drops) of essential oil, optional

Using a food processor, grate Fels-Naptha Bar Soap; also, have blade in place at bottom to make smaller crumbles of soap. In a large bowl or bucket, mix all powders, and then add grated soap. At this point, you can stop; add 4 good shakes of essential oil and stir again. I chose to process mine a bit further to have a really fine laundry powder. I wanted to be sure it dissolved well. I ran small batches back through my food processor, and then added essential oil.

*I use 1-3 tablespoons per load, depending on a small, medium or large load. (I saved the scoop that came in the Oxi Magic.)
*If my math is correct, this laundry powder will get me through 120 loads. The ingredients cost me $16. A box of laundry powder at this cost would normally clean about 80 loads.
*If you can't find Fels-Naptha, you can use Ivory, Zote or castile soap.
*I'm sure you can substitute other brands of ingredients. I found all of mine, except for baking soda, on the laundry aisle. Just look on the bottom shelves.
*There is a debate about the toxicity of borax. I did appropriate research and found that it LARGE amounts it can be toxic to rats. Since I only use 1-3 tablespoons per load, depending on the size of my load, I feel that the clothes are sufficiently rinsed of borax. Also, borax does not contain boric acid, which is toxic.
* This soap doesn't suds. Soap (laundry, hand soap, etc) has a foaming agent added. Although we don't have an HE washer, I've read that this soap works well with those machines.
*Next time I make it, I'll do it outside. Running powder through a food processor creates quite a bit of dust.


Christine said...

You little genius! I'm excited about this. I must try it when my Charlie's Soap runs out. It's powdered but is in huge clumps that I have to break up with a screwdriver. UGH. Way to go on making your own!

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