Sunday, February 26, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've been a gardener, and canner and freezer of produce for for 32 years, a parent for 26 years, user of cloth only napkins for 20 years, a homeschooling parent for 18 years, a grinder of wheat for 14 years, and a backyard urban chicken-keeper for 6 years (not sure whether I've always just been ahead of the curve, or just a "come up from behind" hippie).  But, even though I had read recipes for homemade laundry detergent -- I just never did that.  Grating, and boiling, and dealing with gloop -- um, no.  Too much effort.  But Lady of the Woods wrote of a recipe for a powdered detergent -- grate the soap, mix with the other ingredients, put in a jar, print out a cute label and you're done.  The cost works out to about half the cost of store-bought laundry detergent (assuming you don't have to buy a jar) and the ingredients are readily available at Kroger.

So, I mixed up a batch, printed out a label, and we used the detergent to wash towels and napkins.  Looks like success!  No weirdness or residue, and appears to have cleaned fine.  I will say that grating that fels naphtha soap was NOT as easy as some have made it sound -- it took a while and a good bit of effort.  Maybe I need a new grater.  Or maybe next time I'll just whiz it in the food processor (it IS soap, after all -- so I think that would be fine.

Here's the recipe:  1 bar of fels naphtha or zote soap, grated (I have read you can use any soap -- ivory, castile soap, etc. The fels naphtha was $1.30 at Kroger, in the laundry section), 1 cup of Borax (remember Death Valley Days?  Twenty Mule Team?  That's the stuff), and 1 cup of Super Washing Soda.  You can add a few drops of an essential oil for scent if you want.  Mix it together, store in a container.  Use 2 tablespoons for a load.

Of course, don't forget to go to The Graphics Fairy and print out a nice label.  I just discovered the "stickies" app on my Mac Pro -- I think I need to make a sticky on my computer for "projects", like "fix up the laundry closet" (we have a laundry closet upstairs, rather than a laundry room -- and it is s-c-a-r-y nasty), so as to better show off my lovely jar with vintage label.

linking to Brag MondayCountry Garden Showcase


Lady of the Woods said...

So glad you tried it! You know, I had to make another batch and grate another bar of Fels Naptha and the 2nd bar wasn't that easy as the first I have to admit. I think my first bar was very old and dry, easier to grate. I did have to struggle a bit with the new one, and then put it through the nut grinder too to get it as fine a powder as the first time....but its worth it. I just had a fire in the house yesterday and the black soot got everywhere. I've done 10 loads of laundry since yesterday and it works beautifully and makes everything smell clean...I love it and it made all my laundry work a pleasure. Even got the towels clean!!! blessings, Lady

LeAnne said...

This is cute! I do make my own soap, but I use Ivory, not Fels Naptha, as I don't like the smell too much! The recipe is a bit different than yours, as it all gets dissolved in water, then it turns to a gelatinous form. Unfortunately, it's on my other computer which is being repaired. I do like that you can put yours in a jar with a cute GF label!! Very sweet!

Elaine @ Sunny Simple Life said...

I have been using the same method for years and love it.

Elizabeth said...

I have been making the gel for years and love it. If you find you have a problem with it dissolving,try the gel, you do not boil it just dissolve the felsnaptha in hot water then add the washing soda and borax and whisk it off and on 24 hrs. It is also great for cleaning kitchen and bathrooms

Heidi said...

I love your label. I'm a sucker for anything old fashioned. I have been looking for the super washing soda for a few months locally, but nobody here carries it. Soon I hope to travel down the mountain and stock up. It looks good and who doesn't love saving money on something that's safer and works.

Deborah Jean at Dandelion House said...

The label is wonderful and I've been thinking about making my own laundry soap lately...especially after seeing so many wonderful posts about how easy it is. ( like this one ) I'm visiting from Heidi's hop!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

The label is super cute and I'm going to have to try making some. I've been wanting to do it (and about a million other things) for some time now.

Heidi- The White Wolf Summit FarmGirl said...

Hello again Diana,
I am dropping by to thank you for sharing this great laundry detergent recipe on The Country Homemaker blog hop last year. I wanted to share with you that this post was the 5th most popular post of the year for the hop.

Thanks again.