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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been considering making my own laundry detergent ever since I came across a post on another site that mentioned it. That blogger was concerned with being 'green' and thus decided to make her own powder. Don't get me wrong - I am all for the green aspect of it, but my real motivation is money. I have always used Gain detergent (just the regular Gain - no Febreze or bleach or anything else added in) which is expensive. Until recently, I was happy with the results. I don't know if I have changed or if the formula has changed but suddenly Gain doesn't smell the same in my clothes. It smells chemical-ly (how's that for a word). So, my search for another detergent began. And I was in major sticker shock. I realized how much money I am pouring down the drain each month with these expensive detergents. And then I realize that they smell like chemicals because of all the chemicals they contain!

I am going to share the recipe for homemade detergent, which I have made and am using for the first time tonight. One of the ingredients is Borax. Some readers believe that Borax is dangerous and harmful to your skin, lungs, etc. There has been some major confusion regarding this in recent years. Mainly due to the fact that people confuse Borax and boric acid. Borax is an ingredient in boric acid but you have to add the acid to get boric acid. Even those that know the difference still claim that Borax is dangerous. You have to decide for your family what you think is best. Borax doesn't cause cancer, doesn't accumulate in your system, etc. I believe Borax in high doses can be dangerous but so can salt, water, baking soda, etc.

The recipe:
1 Fels Naptha bar of laundry soap, finely grated
2 cups Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
2 cups Borax (or baking soda if you don't like Borax)

Use 1-2 tablespoons per large load. Cold/warm/hot water - your preference.

I found all of these items in the laundry detergent aisle at the supermarket. The bar of soap was $1.29 (some people use Ivory), the washing soda was $2.89 and the Borax was on sale for $2.49. This total comes to $6.67 plus tax. This recipe makes enough for 80-140 loads depending on how much detergent you use for each load. There is enough washing soda and Borax to make at least 3 more batches of detergent, you would just need to buy a few more bars of laundry soap. For my first load, I used a coffee scoop which is 1.5 tablespoons. I decided to do a load of bath towels and kitchen towels. I will let you know how it turns out.

I grated the soap with a 'microfine' grater from Williams and Sonoma. Even if you don't have one, a regular cheese grater will work fine. It took me about 15 minutes to grate the whole bar of soap by hand. Once you have it grated, mix the washing soda and the Borax in. Put a lid on it the ingredients and shake for a minute to ensure it is mixed up well. Store in an airtight container.

I am curious to see if my son, who has sensitive skin, will have a reaction to this detergent. He has never had a problem with Gain (even with it's new chemical smell). When he was younger, I used Borax as an additive to my laundry and it never seemed to bother him so I doubt that would be the culprit.

There are recipes for making liquid detergent but I prefer powder detergent. If anyone decides to try it, comment on your results and let me know what you think.

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