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Homemade Laundry Detergent

May 25, 2010

“Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down.” -Don Henley, Dirty Laundry

Reading the labels of many household cleaners is almost impossible for me.  I get flustered about the fact that I can’t pronounce half of the ingredients and understand them even less.  That is…if the product even contains an ingredient list!  I’m always surprised by how many that don’t.  After doing some research, it seems that most of the additives are not only unnecessary, but actually harmful to the environment and our health.

Over the last couple weeks, our laundry has been piling up.  I’ve noticed “environmentally friendly” cleaning products on the store shelves, but I’ve restrained myself from buying them in an effort to consume less plastic waste.   Today, I made laundry detergent based on recipes I found at and The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier. Included is  a photo, because I found the ingredients to be a bit of a pain to find at local stores.

Where did you find the ingredients? I found borax at Target and a local grocery store chain, but  the washing soda I could only get at the grocery store. I’ve read it can be easier to find, depending on your area. The bar of castile soap and essential oil were made by a local soap maker. I never found castile soap in liquid form (Trader Joe’s used to carry it),so if you are going to make your own liquid, Fels Naptha is a good bar soap that is quite easy to find.  Essential oils can be purchased from craft, health food and home care stores…OR from local artisans like my soap lady.

There are many, many, many laundry detergent recipes, this is just a very simple start…

2 1/2 gallons water
1 bar castile soap, grated (about 2 cups)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
5 drops essential oil (ex: orange, lemon or lavender)

To Do:
1: Bring 1/2 gallon ( 1 quart=8 cups) of water to boil.  Once it begins to boil, remove from heat and add the grated soap.  Stir until the soap melts.
2: Add borax and washing soda.  Mix well.
3: Add remaining 1 gallon (16 cups) water to mixture and stir.
4: Allow mixture to cool, then add the essential oil.  Place the detergent into a sealed bucket or container (a used detergent container works).  Shake or remix together before each use.

Use 1/4 cup detergent for average loads and 1/2 cup for heavy loads or very soiled clothes.   Add a couple Tablespoons of distilled white vinegar to your load as a fabric softener or bleach.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. daynemercy permalink
    May 25, 2010 6:43 am

    I’ve been looking for a good recipe for homemade laundry detergent, and happily stumbled onto this one. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

  2. Jess permalink
    October 14, 2010 10:12 pm

    Golden Grocer in the CWE sells liquid castille in bulk if you bring your own container! Happiest find ever in our laundry detergent quest.

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