A few months ago I made my own laundry detergent, and I am super happy about it! Yes, this is a baking blog, and this subject is off topic, but it's something I really like to spread the word about.
Making your own laundry detergent has many advantages. The biggest of them all is how much money you save. A typical American brand of detergent, Tide, costs about 20 cents a load. Homemade detergent costs 2 cents a load. Big difference. Also compared to Tide, it works equally as well. I have been using mine solely for months now and I haven't noticed a difference in the quality a bit.
The second reason I love it so much is it really cuts down on my consumption of using plastic. I used to buy liquid detergent. Of course, it comes in a plastic container. I wanted to cut back on my usage of these plastic vessels. I know they are recyclable, but recycling takes energy. I just want to cut back where I can, where it's easy for me. And since I'm the do it yourself type of a gal, this seemed like something I wanted to do. I saved my last bottle of said detergent, and now I fill it up when I need more. (from the bucket I made it in.)
Another plus is the ingredients are relatively easy on the environment, especially compared to a typical in store brand.
It's really easy to make, and when you make it you won't have to make it again for months.
I found the recipe at The Simple Dollar. I did re write the recipe below, but I recommend you go to his website, he has a step by step detailed guide to making it here as well as the cost breakdown and a comparison test he did with both detergents.
I will speak about the details of the ingredients. He uses soap, plain soap. I used Fels Naptha. It's a bar soap used specifically for laundry. If you use another brand make sure it isn't a brand that has a bright color, or has moisturizing cream or oils in it.
Another ingredient is Borax. This is easy to find at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle. He claims it's optional, I used it.
The next ingredient is Washing Soda. Washing Soda is very close to baking soda but not the same. it's processed differently, and a few atoms away from baking soda. More about that here at Planet Green. Usually it's made by Arm and Hammer, it's in a yellow box and reads, "Super Washing Soda." For the locals, the only place I've found that carries it, is the Fred Meyer store in Lacey, I think most Fred Meyers carry it because I've seen it at different locations. It is located in the laundry aisle next to the Borax and Fels Naptha. I've asked the Yelm Food Co op to carry it, but they told me their distributors don't have it available. I've also asked Safeway, but haven't received an answer.
1/2 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar soap
3 gallons of water
First thing, put about four cups of water into the pan and put it on the stove on high until it’s at boiling, then lower the heat until it’s simmering.
While it’s heating up, take a bar of soap and cut it up into little bits. I found a lot of success using our box grater, which resulted in a ton of little soap curls.
When the water is boiling, start throwing in the soap. I recommend just doing a bit at a time, then stirring it until it’s dissolved.
Stir the soapy water with a spoon until all of the soap is dissolved. Eventually, the water will take on the color of the soap you added, albeit paler.
In the end, you’ll have some very warm soap soup.
Next, get out your large container and add three gallons of warm tap water to it.
To this bucket add a cup of the washing soda, the Borax the soap solution you made and stir.
Let the soap sit for 24 hours, preferably with a lid on it. At this point I poured the soap into the old detergent bottle I saved, and stored the rest in other containers I had. You may also store it in the bucket you made it in, covered. Then add it as needed in the detergent bottle.
The soap after sitting for a while may become seperated, mine did, in the storage bottles. I do shake the detergent bottle a little before using. If the soap in the storage bottles seperates, just use a long spoon the stir it up.
More links on making your own detergent
Stretcher talks about using homemade detergent with HE machines
10 different recipes for homemade laundry detergent