Monday, January 14, 2013

Liquid Laundry Soap :: DIY

One of my green living goals for 2012 was to start making our own laundry detergent. After trying it finally in the spring, I realized it was much easier than I was thinking it would be. And much cheaper. And much quicker. Did I mention how easy it was?

Since then we haven't gone back. I make a bucket of detergent ever 2-3 months, and I think we do about 6-8 loads of laundry on average a week. You don't want to keep it past three months, so if you don't think you will need that much, perhaps try halving the recipe. It works in both HE machines as well as traditional top loaders. Each average load of laundry needs approximately 1 cup of detergent.

With this soap, I only add a little OxiClean to my loads along with white vinegar as a "softener," and I am able to clean a fair amount of dirt. With two little boys, one of whom attempts to wear all his food, our family produces a fair amount of stains, dirt, and the like. I was using either Tide or All brands before, and I have seen no difference in switching to homemade.

To be noted, I do not use this laundry soap on my cloth diapers because borax can break down elastics quicker, and I'd rather my diapers last a bit longer, so we use Eco Nuts Organic Laundry Soap. They also prevent build-up, which, for me, is important for diapers.

Here are super simple instructions you can follow to make your own detergent in no time at all.  =)

You will need:

5 Gallon Bucket and Lid - make sure it has a lid! Look for this at any hardware store near the paint section.

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda - not baking soda. Find this cheaper in the laundry/cleaners section at your local grocery store or sometimes Target has it.

Twenty Mule Team Natural Laundry Booster/Borax - Also to be found at your grocery store for a lower cost.

The above items will last several batches; for each batch you will also need:

1 bar of Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap, Unscented Baby-Mild - I use this kind of soap because it is organic, fair trade, and perfect for my family with extremely sensitive skin. However, you can also use a bar of Fels Naptha or Ivory. Aim for unscented, and then if you want scent, add that with essential oils. The smell from the soap bar just doesn't come out as nice. Believe me, I've tried it.

4 gallons of water + 4 cups of water, separated

Essential oil, if you wish, 10-30 drops should do the trick. Lavender makes for nice smelling clothes!

"Tools" to gather to make it:
Metal cheese grater
glass or metal bowl
metal sauce pan/small pot
metal spoon

(you want to stick with metal and glass rather than plastic, so your dishes don't take on a soapy nature, which won't mix well with food)

Step 1
Grate the bar of soap into the glass bowl. Meanwhile, heat 4 cups of water in the sauce pan until simmering.

Step 2
Fill the 5 gallon bucket with 4 gallons of lukewarm water. Stir in 1 cup of Washing Soda and 1/2 cup Borax. The powders should start to dissolve as you stir them in.

Step 3
When water on stove starts to simmer, stir in shredded soap. Keep stirring until all soap has dissolved.

Step 4
Take the pot off the stove, and dip the pot right into the bucket of water, soda, and borax. Using the pot, swirl the melted soap water right into the bucket water. Give the whole mixture a few good swirls with a long-handled spoon for good luck.

Step 5
Place the lid tight onto the bucket, and leave 12 + hours. Open it and give another stir. Now you're ready to use it!

We've found that over the first week or so, sometimes the soap starts to separate into chunks of soap floating in soapy water. Don't be alarmed! Before you take a cup out to put into your laundry, just give the detergent a quick stir with a paint stirrer or something similar. 

Good luck and happy washing!

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This post Liquid Laundry Soap :: DIY first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 14 January 2013

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