Saying that the items that pass through my laundry room are dirty would be an understatement.
It appears as though my two sweet little girls have a mission in life to get as dirty as possible on a daily basis. My husband is an active duty Marine who lovingly brings me home sea bags of items who haven't seen the likes of soap in weeks or hunting clothing that is covered in who knows what. Add in 2 black labs and 2 cats and my washing machine definitely earns her keep.
The amount of laundry detergent and stain remover we consumed was becoming embarrassingly excessive. Warehouse packages were the norm. Tired of spending so much money, I looked into alternatives, although skeptical on how clean the clothes would actually be. My youngest has eczema so I need something pure and gentle. We also owned an HE washing machine which obviously needs low sudsing detergent.
After some research I came across this basic recipe in most books and online research which was as close to natural as possible and safe for HE Machines.
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Washing Soda
- 1 bar soap
I felt the ambiguity of the recipe left me room to experiment. For the bar soap element I used natural and pure soap for the baby's sensitive skin. The natural oils in soap gave the detergent a nice smell but I needed something stronger for the heavy duty loads.
My mom told me about Fels-Naptha soap her mother used as a stain fighter. A bar soap know for stain fighting, yes please! The Borax I have always kept consistent. Washing soda is sold in different forms and Oxi Clean can be substituted but I find Arm Hammer Washing Soda works very well and is much less expensive.
In addition to being easy to find (my best suggestion is WalMart where the three products are typically grouped together in the laundry aisle) all of these products have multiple household uses.
Prices at my local WalMart for all these items are:
- 4lb box of Borax - $3.38
- 3lb 7oz of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda $3.24
- 1 bar of Fels-Naptha - $0.97
To make your own laundry detergent:
- Roughly grate bar soap (I typically use 2 bars each time).
- Combine one cup of Borax and one cup of washing soda (or Oxi Clean) for every bar of soap. Example - 2 bars of Fels Naptha, 2 cups Borax, 2 cups Washing Soda.
- I combine the ingredients in a food processor to finely grate the elements and throughly mix.
- Store in an air tight container, such as a large Ziploc Storage Container.
Some great options to personalize your detergent:
- Choose bar soaps whose scents you are attracted to or you can add essential oils to create your perfect scent
- For babies or anyone with sensitive skin, pick bar soaps that are pure and natural
- If anyone is blessed with a hunter in your life, as I am, scent free bar soaps recreates that expensive scent free detergent used for hunting clothes.
- 2 Tablespoons of the powder is sufficent for regular to large loads. In HE machines, put the powder right into the drum. I keep a tablespoon in the container with the detergent.
A great compliment to this detergent is a super homemade stainer remover:
- 1 teaspoon Dawn
- 3-4 tablespoons hydrogen peroxide
- Optionally, baking soda can be used to make a paste to work into tough stains
Happy Washing (or as close to happy as possible)!
About the author: Molly Bourne is mom to 2 beautiful girls, the proud wife of a Marine, and has mastered the art of saving money while keeping the mountains of laundry from taking over her home.