Until nontoxic, biodegradable, single-use, disposable socks become a reality, everyone has to do the laundry. And for many this is a pain. Besides the obvious time sink, laundry can be fairly resource intensive.
However, with this simple DIY project, you can dramatically cut down the cost of cleaning your clothes by making your own laundry detergent.
Even though it may sound daunting, making your own laundry detergent is a worthwhile endeavor for several reasons. Commercial laundry soap is very expensive– gallon for gallon, it costs more than twice as much as gasoline– and making it yourself can save you a lot of money. It is also possible to make laundry detergent that is much more environmentally friendly than most commercial brands are. All it takes is a little time and a few ingredients.
The key ingredients in homemade laundry detergent are available at any department store and include water, bar soap, borax, and washing soda. Washing soda is very similar to baking soda, but has been processed differently so that it has an extremely basic pH so it doesn’t emit fumes, but it can burn your skin and take the wax off your floors, so wear gloves and handle it carefully. However, once it is incorporated into your laundry soap, it is diluted and considerably neutralized, so it is no longer dangerous to handle and won’t harm your clothes. Borax is a naturally-occurring laundry booster that has been used to help remove stains and odors from fabrics for more than 4,000 years. It works by converting some of the chemicals around it into hydrogen peroxide, which helps your laundry detergent clean in the same way that oxygen-based cleaners like OxyClean do.
To make your own environmentally friendly laundry detergent, follow these steps:
1. Decide if you prefer liquid or powder detergent.
Liquid detergent is easy to customize; you can include essential oils to give it the scent you love most. Powder detergent is easier to make, as it doesn’t involve using the stove, and easier to store, as you can put it in any box and don’t need a leak-proof jug or bucket.
2. Assemble your supplies and ingredients and start soaping!
To make powdered laundry detergent, you will need the following:
-2 cups of finely grated bar soap (Any brand will do, but avoid strong scents.)
-1 cup of washing soda
-1 cup of borax
To grate the soap, a food processor works well, or if you are feeling strong, try a cheese grater and some elbow grease. Mix all the ingredients well and store in a box or other container. If the container is air-tight, your soap will last longer. Use about two tablespoons per load.
To make liquid laundry detergent, you will need these ingredients:
-2 cups of bar soap
-2 cups of washing soda
-2 cups of borax
Boil one quart of water and add the bar soap, mixing until it has completely melted. Then pour the soapy water into a large bucket or jug and add the borax and washing soda, mixing until it is all dissolved. Add 2 gallons of water and mix thoroughly. Once the mixture has cooled, you can add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice for scented detergent. This soap does tend to gel when it cools, so be prepared to mix or shake it before you use it. Use about 1/4 cup per load.
It couldn’t be easier to save money and the environment by making your own laundry soap. The ingredients are common and the steps are simple, so get washing!