I dislike doing laundry. I don’t mind throwing the clothes in the washing machine as much as I dislike folding everything when it’s done. The only thing I really enjoy washing are the towels…I LOVE to fold a fresh, warm towel! Weird, I know, but it’s one of life’s little pleasures for me…lol.
Another thing I dislike about laundry is paying for the laundry detergent. I mean, really, our pioneer ancestors had no problem washing their clothes in a stream out back with no expensive Tide, or Gain or All…and they were a lot dirtier than I will ever be! It also seems that I always run out of the detergent AND fabric softener at the same, so dropping $20 on the two does not make me happy! Well, I decided to make my own laundry detergent! Yes I was sucked in by the line that I could make enough detergent to last me all year for under $6! Who wouldn’t?! So, I decided to give it a whirl!
Now several of my children and myself have eczema, so we have to be careful of what kinds of products go against our skin. I decided to use a recipe that didn’t make a whole year’s worth, just in case it caused some skin irritation for us. Right now, as I write, I have my first load of detergent in, using said recipe. It was super easy to make, and by my figures, for one batch (64 loads), probably only cost me $1-2 to make! It cost $10 for all the ingredients, but I only used 1/2 cup of 2 of the ingredients and part of the bar of soap. There are a lot of homemade detergent recipes out there, but as I said, I chose the one that made the smallest batch.
To make the homemade detergent, you will need:
1 box of Borox
1 box of WASHING Soda (Not to be confused with BAKING soda)
1 Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap
1 large pot, a spoon, a food processor (or some way of chopping up the soap into fine chunks), a 2 gallon container.
All of these items can be found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store. I got mine at Wal-Mart because it was at least $1+ less expensive per item than at my national food chain grocery store. You can use just about any type of soap but you have to be careful what you choose. A lot of soaps have oils in them that could transfer to your clothing, so I decided to stick with the Fels-Naptha, which almost every recipe I found recommended. I think it smells really good, and even my daughters were saying how good it smelled while I was making it! If you don’t like the smell of it, or want a scent to your detergent, you can purchase Essential Oils from a store like Whole Foods, in the scent you like. Make sure that they are real essential oils so they don’t contain oil (strange, I know, but the real ones don’t have oil in them!) Next time I make the soap, I may try adding a little lavender scent in mine.
To get started, fill the pot with 6 cups of water and place on stove to boil.
Next, cut the bar of soap into chunks using a knife.
Then, using a food processor, you will finely chop the soap. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a knife or some other chopping method. I discovered that you really need to chop it up finely!
(Funny story about my food processor. 7 years ago, when my grandma had to move from her home into an assisted living residence, we found this brand spanking new food processor in her kitchen cabinets—she had never used it, and seeing as it was an almond yellow color, we’re guessing she purchased it in the 70’s!! I grabbed it up quickly, dreaming of all the wonderful, healthy meals I could make if I only had a food processor….yep, it sat in my kitchen cabinets for another 7 years before I used it for the first time today!) Now back to the recipe…
You’ll notice that some of the chunks did not get chopped, but stayed at the top of the blade (one of things I dislike about food processors…if we can put a man on the moon, why can’t someone figure out a way to get all the food through the blade!?!?). I tried running them back through, but they just stayed at the top like this once again, so I decided to just throw them in with the chopped soap—BIG mistake! (I’ll tell you why later)
Now throw all the chopped soap in the boiling water to melt them. Be careful to watch the pot…the soap foams up pretty quickly and can spill over the edges. Ask me how I know…. I also threw in the chunks that didn’t get chopped and this is what happened:
Big chunks of soap that wouldn’t melt!! I kept boiling, and stirring, and boiling, and stirring, to no avail!! UGH!! Then, I used a knife and tried to chop the chunks right on the spatula and still I couldn’t get those chunks to melt! Note to Self (and YOU!): Do not put chunks of the soap into the pot…put them on a cutting board and chop finely with a knife if you have to!!
While you are boiling, stirring and melting, you also need to be boiling a pot of 4 cups of water.
When the soap is finally melted, add the 1/2 cup of Borox and 1/2 cup of Washing Soda, and stir. When it’s all dissolved and melted, remove from heat. Pour the hot water into the 2 gallon container of your choice.
I chose a 2+ gallon Rubbermaid container. Mostly because it’s what I had on hand, and also because this recipe will turn into gel that you have to stir and scoop out every time you use it! You can use gallon milk jugs (emptied out and washed, please), but I wasn’t sure how I’d stir it and get it out if it was in gel form! I have a shelf over my washing machine where it will fit nicely. If you do decide to use the milk jugs, you will need to pour everything together in one large bowl, and then, using a funnel, pour it into the jugs. Do this immediately as I don’t know how quickly it gels and gel doesn’t pour too easily!
Anyway….pour the hot water into the container, then add the soap mixture. Stir well. Then add cold water until you fill it to 2 gallons. (I just guessed)
Another mistake I made was using the spray faucet to add the water…let’s just say this stuff foams quite easily! I would definitely use a cup or pitcher or something else. Please learn from my mistakes!! Now just stir really good and you’re ready to start washing!
This is how quickly it gelled! I took it from the kitchen into the laundry and it had already started gelling! Use 1/2 cup per load of laundry. I put it in while the washing tub was filling, and before I put the clothes in. I also used cold water, since I rarely use anything else unless it’s towels or linens. This detergent will not get all sudsy like regular detergent (even though all it did was foam while I was making it!), so if you’re looking for suds, you won’t find them. I’ve read that you can use this soap in the newer energy efficient, front-loading machines, but I don’t really know so don’t take my word for it!
While I’ve been sitting here writing this edition of my blog, the first load is finished. I ran in there to put them in the dryer, and can I say they smell CLEAN!! Not perfume-y, but CLEAN! I think I’m going to enjoy doing laundry just a tad bit more…now if I could figure out a way to have the clothes fold themselves…..