I fought the urge to make my own laundry detergent for so long, really I did.
It has been the thing to do in frugal homemaking circles and I had every reason not to do it.
1. Eczema. My kids have very mild eczema and so do I, so it’s important that our detergent be free and clear of all perfumes and dyes. Harsh soaps can be a big problem with eczema too, so I wasn’t sure if the soaps would be too harsh for our skin.
2. It’s a mess. Right? Maybe? I didn’t know; I hadn’t tried it.
3. It probably wouldn’t clean as well as store bought detergent.
So when everyone started making their own detergents, I remained quietly skeptical.
But my friend Bria is both a little more persistent and generous than most folks. I stopped by her house one day, maybe to pick up the clothes that she often hands down from her son to mine, and she mentioned the detergent. I gave my reason about the eczema and she got out a container, put a small amount of detergent in it, and offered for me to give it a try.
Excuse #1 was gone.
Her homemade laundry detergent had no effect on anyone’s eczema. And it seemed to clean just as well too. Bye bye, excuse #2.
Meanwhile, I got busy. I gave birth and had a newborn.
Then I decided to get her recipe and make my own detergent. I waited for a weekend so that my husband could watch the kids while I created a huge mess in my kitchen making detergent.
Except that it didn’t make a huge mess. And it only took about 15 minutes.
That batch of laundry detergent lasted 9 months and my husband recently asked me to make another batch. He has also said that he feels that our homemade detergent doesn’t seem to get stains out as well. To combat this issue, we’ve decided to make it a point to pre-treat stains first instead of counting on the laundry detergent to get it out. In this way, we can save tons of money on our detergent but still get stain-free clothes. Well, as stain-free as you can get when you’re in the spit-up stage of life.
How much does it cost to make your own detergent? $18.50, give or take a few pennies. And now my local Walmart groups all of the laundry making items near each other so that you can find them all easily.
Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
Here’s the basic recipe that I follow, which you can find 50 other places on the internet. Still, people ask which one we use, so this is it:
1 4 lb 12 oz box of Borax
1 4 lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 bar of Fels Naptha (or Zote, or 3 bars of ANY soap)
2 small containers of Oxyclean (try to get about 3.5 lbs total).
Oxyclean is optional but if you’ve got little kids in the house, any stain-fighter is a must!
Dump all ingredients into a large bucket. Grate the Fels Naptha soap with a cheese grater. This is easier than you think and takes far less work than you’d think too. And it really does wash out of your cheese grater with no problems! Stir it all up. Put into smaller containers with a tablespoon for scooping. You’ll need 2-3 tablespoons for a regular washer or 1-1 1/2 for an HE washer.
I hear that maybe you’re not supposed to use this for HEs because you should only use liquid detergent, but all I can say is that we’ve been using this in our HE frontloading washer for almost a year with no problems. But of course, consult your owner’s manual and do what you think is best.
Do you make your own detergent? If so, what recipe do you use? How long have you been making your own? If not, what’s holding you back?
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