DIY Laundry Detergent

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I heard of this new fad where people were making their own laundry detergent and wanted in on it. I did some research and saw so many great comments. Not only were they saving money by making their own detergent, many people were saying that they actually liked it better than the store-bought detergent. Here’s my experience.

I found a bunch where you had to go through a process of boiling water and adding ingredients together then letting it sit all night… blah, blah blah. That’s all fine and dandy but I barely can find time to cook sometimes… or inclination for that matter. My neighbor tried this method and loved it, but her husband said that it looked oily. Not sure how that happened. But she said it worked great and made her clothes smell amazing, and this is coming from a woman who is OCD about everything… clean, clean, clean!

So I found a few that were left in their powder form.  I really liked the simplicity of the one from Katydid Country. It inspired me to create my own “recipe”.

What you will need:

  • Container that will hold at least 4-5 cups (I used a big Coffee Mate container)
  • A cheese grater, a cheap-o one will do. As a matter of fact, I would suggest you get one specifically for laundry and cleaning only. It’s so hard to get the residue and smell off of them once you use it for soap.
  • Borax (I used 20 Mule Team)
  • Baking Soda (It’s best if you go ahead and use Arm & Hammer brand. Somehow, it’s just better in my opinion and easiest to find the washing soda in this brand.)
  • Fels-Naptha, Zote, or another laundry soap bar (I used Fels-Naptha). Just to let you know, SMELL your laundry soap bar before buying it. It will determine if you want to use it and what laundry beads to get (next ingredient).
  • Laundry beads (I used Purex because it’s cheapest but you can use Downy, Gain or any other brand you like)

You should be able to find all of the ingredients in the laundry isle. You can use either regular baking soda or super washing soda. However, they are NOT the same! Here’s the explanation word-for-word from Arm & Hammer’s website.

“Baking Soda is made of 100% Sodium Bicarbonate. Super Washing Soda is made of 100% Sodium Carbonate. While they sound similar, they are not the same. Both products can be used to improve liquid laundry performance for cleaner, fresher clothes. Both products can also be used for cleaning around the house. Baking Soda can be used in baking, as a dentifrice and as an antacid, Super Washing Soda cannot. Super Washing Soda should never be ingested. Be sure to check product packaging for specific uses and recommendations.”

I personally used baking soda. There are 3 different ways you can make this detergent in variation of the baking soda/washing soda.

UPDATE JANUARY 14, 2014

It was brought to my attention that Borax is a harmful chemical that should not be used in detergent. However, there has been arguments on both sides saying that it is or isn’t. I have posted a “link” blog with some information that may help you to determine if you want to use it in your detergent. Personally, I believe that because it is being rinsed thoroughly out of your clothes, that it should not pose a threat. If you like the awesome cleaning power of Borax but are concerned, you can lower the ratio of how much you put in or get rid of it all together. It is your choice. I still use the full amount of Borax in my detergent.

CRUNCHY BETTY: Getting to the Bottom of Borax: Is It safe or Not?

End of Update

Option #1 (The way I made it):

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 bar soap, grated finely
  • 1 cup beads

Option #2:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 bar soap, grated finely
  • 1 cup beads

Option #3:

  • 1 1/2 cups washing soda (washing soda is stronger than baking soda so it’s advised to only use 1 1/2 cups instead of 2 cups if you’re using it alone).
  • 1 bar soap, grated finely
  • 1 cup beads

Personally, I believe that doing half and half baking soda & washing soda would probably do the best, but it’s not necessary because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this detergent with baking soda alone. I would consider using washing soda later in the future but it is not a must and why mess with a good thing, right?

The simplicity of it is amazing as well. You simply grate the bar of soap, mix the ingredients in a container, shake or stir well, and it’s ready to use! it’s a plus that it can be kinda pretty in a glass mason jar like the picture up top (which came from Katydid Country’s post).

Okay, this is very IMPORTANT. This stuff is potent with a very, very strong scent. Katydid Country suggests that you use 2-3 Tablespoons for each load. You can change it to your own use but I urge you to not use much more than 2-3 Tablespoons for each load. This is what I wrote on the lid of my “detergent bowl” aka CoffeeMate container and the measurements work great.

  • Super large load: 3 Tablespoons
  • Large load: 2 1/2 Tablespoons
  • Medium load: 2 Tablespoons
  • Small or mini load: 1 1/2 Tablespoons

You do not want to go under 1 1/2 Tablespoons even for mini loads because it doesn’t seem to work as well if you only use 1 Tablespoon for any size load.)

Here is a warning for those of you who are sensitive to strong scents. Although this is by far the BEST laundry detergent I have ever used, it is also as I mentioned extremely strong. It gave me a bit of a headache while making it, mainly because of the soap bar. I would suggest to open a window or do it outside and enjoy the fresh air if it’s nice weather. As a matter of fact, this spring I plan to make an entire year’s worth of detergent for this reason and because buying the ingredients in huge bulk is even cheaper in the long run. If you leave the lid off of the detergent your laundry room will always smell amazing. If you don’t, it will be a little overwhelming when you open it. It’s your choice, really. I keep the lid on because I’m clumsy. :)

So how much money does it save, you ask? Here is how much it would be on average if you used just the baking soda (the washing soda is only about $1 more per BIG box by the way).

Average cost per item:
Borax 76 oz (9.5 cups): $3.38
Baking Soda 64oz (8 cups): $2.24
Purex Beads 55oz (7 cups)*: $8.96
Fels-Naptha bar (5 1/2 oz): $0.99
*since the Purex beads are so close to

Average cost per cup:
Borax: $0.36 cup
Baking soda: $0.28 a cup
Beads: almost $1.28 a cup
Bar soap: $0.99 a bar

Cost per batch:
1 cup borax: $0.36
2 cups baking soda: $0.56
1 cup beads: $1.28
1 bar soap: $0.99
TOTAL PRICE: $3.19 per batch
TOTAL TABLESPOONS PER BATCH: 139
TOTAL FULL LOADS PER BATCH (3 TBSP): 46
PRICE PER FULL LOAD: $0.07!!!

Other brands:

A fairly cheap brand is Arm & Hammer (with Oxyclean). For a 9.92lb is $13.47. It is 120 loads. That’s $0.11 a load. To do 120 loads with your homemade detergent, it will only cost you $8.40!

The Arm & Hammer without Oxyclean is $7.97 for 100 loads  ($0.08 a load) which is pretty close to the same price as the homemade but nowhere near as good. I have used it before. For 100 loads of your homemade detergent it would be $7.00 which is still cheaper.

Even worse, a lot of people use Tide which is very pricey! $17.97 for 102 loads! That’s nearly $0.18 a load. For 102 loads of your homemade detergent it would only cost you less than half that at $7.14!

I hope everyone finds this post helpful and if you try it please tell me your success stories (or not so success stories if you have any).

UPDATE MARCH 9, 2014

I am still using this detergent and still love it! After speaking to some friends of mine, they informed me that there is a more natural way of making laundry detergent that is very similar to this! Here are the differences:

#1: Instead of using Fels-Naptha, use Bronner’s Castile Soap Bar.
#2: Instead of using the scented beads, use a few drops of essential oils. You will need to shake it after you add the essential oils, then break the clumps apart with your fingers, and continue to shake until all the clumps are gone.
#3: Completely get rid of the Borax (as I said before, I love the Borax but if you’re going on a natural/crunchy journey, you can get rid of it all together. A lot of all-natural/crunchy people use it though! So it’s all up to you.

For extra smell-fighting power and fabric softening, put a cup or two of vinegar in the rinse cycle!

End of update.

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