View Full Version : Laundry Detergent

01-09-2016, 07:41 AM
Because I'm feeling very homemaker-y-ish this week with all of my cooking and cleaning. (Hello January motivation...) I happily make my own laundry detergent. Here is the recipe I use: http://www.howdoesshe.com/cheaper-and-better-diy-laundry-detergent/

Everything is available at the grocery store, and it took me about 20 minutes to make it while I was making dinner at the same time. It was right around $30 for the whole recipe. Last time I made a batch it lasted nine months for the four of us. I expect this time will be even longer because I used two bottles of the smellies and added the oxyclean - which is maybe 4lbs more detergent. So we are saving maybe $100/yr using this over Publix brand. Not huge, but more than Couponing ever saved me.

Do you make your own detergents? What do you use? I'd love a good one for the dishwasher.

01-09-2016, 09:14 AM
I use 1 c. Borax, 1 c. washing soda, 1 bar Fels Naptha grated fine. Mix thoroughly and store in airtight jar, use 1 T per load. Seems to work fine, and it's dirt cheap and easy to make.

I'd love to find an easy dishwasher detergent recipe--last time I looked into it, I would have needed an ingredient that was hard to find, and I just sort of gave up on the project...

01-09-2016, 11:57 AM
Basically the same one I use....though I may give the oxyclean a try???....

Nice link :)

01-09-2016, 11:59 AM
I've read that Borax in the dishwasher at least works in a pinch. I don't know if it's supposed to be ideal, but I use it when I have a load ready to go and I discover we're out of detergent.

I make laundry soap from time to time. If you use a recipe that dissolves it into water (putting the ingredients into water over the stove and stirring, then after it's dissolved, dilute with more water into a bucket), it works better in your laundry. The chemistry is somewhat beyond me, but it has to bond with water for best effect, and the dry stuff will bond but not all of it, especially in cold water. Bonding it in hot water, and then suspending it in the water/gel solution, increases the effectiveness. Feel free to school me on any chemistry mistakes I made, but it's just worth some thought. When I make it, I make a LOT at a time, so the extra 10-15 minutes dealing with the stove is not a big deal, since I end up with 6 months worth.

01-09-2016, 12:08 PM
You could be right Squares, but I always just assumed dry vs liquid was a matter of dissolving/dispersing in the wash and what temperature water you use, and whether you put it directly in the the wash basin or through the detergent dispenser?

Interesting.....anyone have an answer????

01-09-2016, 12:58 PM
I never thought too hard about it. Though, I notice no difference between the Publix, Purex, or All Free and Clear and this detergent - other than the smell. My clothes aren't cleaner or less clean. The checkout lady warned me (aren't they so helpful all the time...?) that the feels naphtha will take the color out of my clothes, but I never noticed. DH uses it for his work clothes and doesn't complain. I don't sort anything anyway, so I'm not picky.

01-09-2016, 01:27 PM
I used Maylee's Garden when Libby was still selling laundry soap:


and it was so totally worth it. ds and Maylee were babies then so it was like ivory snow on steroids as far as soft clothes, stain removal, and pure ingredients. I made most of ds' clothes back then and it's kind of an understatement to say I wasn't that great at it, so it was a huge plus that they lasted until he outgrew them even though he had a small wardrobe and I did laundry every day. Her scents are out of this world--I actually looked forward to doing laundry and called it my "spa day" and "aromatherapy".

She had some problems with trolls and we sort of drifted apart about the same time I befriended a lady at the farmer's market who raises goats, sells goat milk soap, and completely misunderstood my self-deprecative comment about my adult homeschoolers not being as "successful" as the Colfax boys. I mentioned how much i loved Libby's laundry soap and how sad I was that I couldn't get it any more. Eventually she started selling it with her own soap and since she's a bit self-deprecating herself, she recommends 1/4 cup per load on the package, but i just kept right on using a tablespoon and it works fine on ds24's gross Army gear, although sometimes he adds extra borax.

I bought her out the last time I went to her farmstand and needed what she had for Christmas presents so I had to make do with fels-naptha and pretty much the same recipe dragonfly posted. It's dirt cheap, but I definitely plan on going back to handmade soap from a craftswoman ASAP, although I'm comfortable just buying a bar and grating it myself if the Colfaxes and my mutual friend is out of premade laundry detergent and/or if Libby reopens her Artfire store.

01-09-2016, 04:37 PM
I'm very intrigued by microwaving the soap--if it works, it would make the fels naptha so much easier to deal with--I think I'll try it next time I make detergent.

I've tried adding oxyclean. Didn't notice a difference. I'd rather use it as a pre-soaker for whites/light colors. Also, it's great for stripping the vinyl(?) tiles on the kitchen floor, and smells better than ammonia.

I used to make the liquid/gel version of homemade laundry detergent.. It probably does work better, but it was more messy and time consuming, and harder to store, so I'd rather use the dry formula. I wash all my clothes in hot water anyway, so it may be a moot point for me. (I figure, I have to pay the same for the coin operated machines whether I use cold or hot, and I don't care if my clothes fade, so...)

01-09-2016, 07:08 PM
Microwaving only works for Ivory, I believe. I tried it with a bar of goat milk soap between soap makers and the soap only melted a bit around the edges and exuded the most awful smell that was very hard to get out of my kitchen.

Dragonfly, I hand wash dishes but I used to use a mixture of equal parts borax and baking soda that was posted on the same hippie sewing group where I met Libby until I read this:


and decided it wasn't something I wanted to use on what my boys were eating off of.

I currently use dilute Dr. Bronner's, which doesn't cut grease very well so I supplement it with baking soda and very hot water when necessary.

The only dishwasher I've ever had has blue eyes and came out of my vagina, so I have no idea if it would be safe for your appliance.

01-09-2016, 08:13 PM
I microwaved the Fels Naptha this time. It did get pretty big and dry. I had to do it longer than the recipe suggested, though. I crumbled what I could and then popped the bigger chunks back in again. Letting the soap cool took the most time of all of it, lol. Last time I used the food processor and my whole kitchen was filled with soap smoke. Is that a thing? Soap smoke? No prob with the microwave though. I was making marinara at the same time and the food didn't tast like soap. Hopefully my clothes won't smell like tomatoes...

01-10-2016, 01:02 AM
dragonfly, I used that same recipe only made it into a liquid. Much easier to handle (i hate powder detergent). I used to make all our cleaners once upon a time. I don't anymore. :-)

01-10-2016, 01:25 AM
Funny, I find the dry much easier to handle than the liquid. I was dripping it everywhere, and I needed a big bucket to hold a batch. That was inconvenient to lug up and down three floors and outside to the laundry room, so I'd put some of it in an old, small detergent bottle, but filling that bottle was very messy. The liquid was half-gelled, so it didn't pour easily. Maybe if I had my own laundry room, and could park the bucket next the the washer, it would be fine. I much prefer two small mayonnaise jars of dry detergent. Lighter, smaller, easier to carry and clean up if it spills--and takes less time and effort to make...works for me!

Here's a short video of someone microwaving fels naptha; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0ItL4PYOnA

01-10-2016, 07:59 AM
Dh spills the liquid. I don't MIND cleaning it up* but I'd prefer not to.

*Yes I do.

01-10-2016, 09:03 PM
dragonfly, if I'd had to carry it far, I wouldn't have used liquid either probably. However, at the time, our laundry room was about 10 steps from our kitchen. For that matter, it's really not much farther in our current house. :-)

01-11-2016, 12:54 PM
I've been making my own powdered laundry detergent for a while. Just last night I tried a dishwasher detergent recipe: 1 part salt, 1 part citric acid (I found it in the bulk section of a health food store), 4 parts washing soda. I've only used it once, but the dishes came out looking fine.