Monday, April 23, 2012

homemade laundry detergent

i recently tried my hand at homemade laundry detergent for the first time. i'd been hesitant to do it because i have some requirements when i clean my clothes:
1) they're clean
2) they smell clean

this does both. as an added bonus, you can leave some of it in a shallow dish on the counter and it absorbs odors while leaving a slight fresh scent. besides how well it works and how good it smells, another plus is that it only cost about $31 to make-- and it will last me for about a year and a half. that's right, a whopping 18 months.

recipe taken from howdoesshe. edited to read as i made it, without her commentary.

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax- Found in the detergent aisle
1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda- Found in the detergent aisle
1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean- Found in the detergent aisle.
2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap, use the pink kind- Found in the detergent aisl
2 (2 lb) Boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda- Found in the cooking aisle
1-2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener- Found in the detergent aisle 

if you have a hard time finding things, go to walmart. i avoided it and tried to shop at two other stores (tom thumb and target), but walmart was the only store that had all of these items.

so simple to make! shred the zote soap either using a cheese grater or the food processor. i used the food processor. then i added about 1/4 of each ingredient, layering them, and stirring after each grouping. it makes it easier than adding all of everything and stirring it all. i've got it stored in a rubbermaid container in our closet, but what i'm using is in the purex bottle. it's a perfect size to keep some near the washing machine, and i'll just refill it with the bulk of it as it runs out.

when using this, you only need TWO TABLESPOONS to do a whole load. that's the middle line inside the lid of the purex bottle (see? another reason i'm using that to keep small amounts available).



  1. I've made detergent before but the formula i used was just the first three items you mentioned. They didn't smell clean and it appeared that they faded a lot. I wasn't really happy with it and only used it for cloth diapers since you have to have special soap for that and the "cloth diaper" detergents are outrageously expensive. I had seen a recipe similar to yours, but it only used the zote or a similar soap. I've never tried it because my food processor is TINY and didn't want to grate soap using a grater (I'm lazy, what can I say?). But this looks pretty good and CHEAP and lasts forever. I may have to try it. Especially since it smells good. Maburn hates laundry that doesn't smell like laundry.

    Question, does the fabric softener make the clothes really oily? I only ask b/c Maburn hates for his towels to have liquid fabric softener b/c then they don't absorb as well. Just curious.

    1. 1) my food processor is tiny, too. really. one of those four cup ones or so. i just did it in small batches. so worth it over using the cheese grater.
      2) it's not liquid fabric softener, it's the crystals that really just make it soft. they don't make it oily AT ALL. the first load i did was towels as the real test of it.
      3) it smells great, even after it comes out of the dryer! i wouldn't have used/endorsed it if it didn't smell good. i'm a lot like maburn in that way.
      4) this is amazing and cheap and i think it will last for WELL over a year-- because we don't do a ton of laundry, and you really do use only 2 tablespoons per load. it's the middle mark on the lid of the purex crystals, and i use that bottle to store them near the laundry area so i don't have my big bucket of it there.
      5) i'm SO EXCITED about this.