Monday, November 28, 2011

I Made My Own Laundry Detergent!

I've seen and heard about homemade laundry detergent before but I was never inspired to try it. I don't know why. Maybe because I just didn't trust it to do the job. In fact, when I mentioned it to my best friend I received a flat "why?" it was the most ludicrous thing she had ever heard. Well, Mr. LH and I had always used a pretty cheap brand of detergent until a few years ago when we started using Gain constantly. The Gain was much more superior to the cheaper brands when it came to getting out stains. But, Gain is not cheap and laundry for five people (though now whittled down to four with Elder Boy off on his own) was pretty expensive. I needed to find an alternative.

About a month ago, I ran across a recipe for homemade liquid laundry detergent. It had great reviews - mostly from people who had been using a homemade detergent for several years. But, I thought, these are all moms and moms know what types of stains they have to deal with pretty regularly. If they say it's good, I'll try it. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical. But with one 60 load batch (approximately) costing just under $2, I decided to try it.  Mr. LH was surprisingly excited about it (though he, too, liked the Gain detergent).

The laundry detergent recipe came from

1 c borax
1 c Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 c shredded Ivory soap
1/2 c shredded pink Zote soap
30 c water

I was able to find everything I needed in the grocery store (I used Fels-Naptha laundry soap instead of Zote Soap). I also got a cheap brand of detergent in a bottle to use (I planned to use the empty bottle to dispense my homemade detergent).

The process is very simple:
  • Grate the bar soap until you have 1/2 cup of each. This was approximately 1/2 a bar of Ivory soap and 1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha soap.
  • Place the soaps, borax and Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda into 4 cups water and heat over medium heat stirring constantly until everything is dissolved (the Fels-Naptha soap took the longest to dissolve and the mixture was almost boiling by the time it did dissolve).
  • Pour 8 cups hot tap water into a large bucket (preferably a clean 2 gallon bucket with a lid that you can find in the paint department at a hardware store). 
  • Add the soap mixture to the bucket and stir.
  • Add an additional 18 cups hot water and stir. (It took less than 30 minutes to get to this point)

Cover with plastic lid and let sit for 24 hours. (Mine sat for a few hours extra before I could get to it)
Uncover, stir and discard any solid soap bits that might have floated to the top.

At this point, the soap was pretty gelled on top. It was goopy and had the consistency of gelatin. After a good stirring (including with a whisk), it was fine so I poured some of it into my detergent bottle. If this stuff works out, I'll invest in a new paint bucket from the hardware store so I'm not keeping laundry detergent in my mop bucket :)

Use 1/2 cup per laundry load.

I've done 2 loads with this and so far, so good. But the real test will be when I have some really soiled clothes...those shouldn't take too long to acquire in this household...

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Joy said...

Cool! I've made detergent in the past as well, although I admit to not doing it on a regular basis. It's a fun experiment for kids too. I hope it cleans well for you!

Trish said...

I'm thinking Tia might have to do a comparison for her science project - get the homemade detergent and put it up against the big name brands...

Meghan Jones said...

This is great method to make homemade laundry detergent in your home. Thanks for sharing this great idea.