Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Going greener series: Homemade laundry detergent

In our quest for greener products, we've learned that this much is true: sometimes you have to shell out more cash for guilt-free cleaning.
*long, dramatic sigh*
BUT, don't you fret.  Sometimes, with a little research and DIY, you don't.  And laundry soap just happens to be one of those products that falls into this category.  So, gather up a few supplies, have a little courage in good old-fashioned know-how, and you too can stick it to the man.
Whoever he is.

This is the idea that started all of our "going green" movement.  While wasting time on Pinterest, I happened upon a link for homemade laundry detergent which claimed to be "the best laundry detergent ever".  Intrigued, I did some research, and ended up with the following "recipe" (with a slightly different amount of Oxyclean, I think...) from being creative to keep my sanity.
Huh.  Someone else has sanity issues.
Here we go!
1 box (4 lbs) Borax
1 box (4 lbs) Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 box (4 lbs) Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
1 large tub (3.5 lbs) Oxyclean or similar cleaner*
3 bars Fels Naptha
*I found a tub of off-brand oxygen cleaner at Fry's (Kroger) for less than $4.  Score!

Grate the Fels Naptha (or stick it in your food processor).  The trick here is to get the Fels Naptha into as small of pieces as possible.  
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
And, lastly, put your mixture into the container of your choice.

Here's the real magic:  you use a tablespoon for a small-medium load of laundry, two for an large-extra large load (I re-purposed the scoop from the oxygen cleaner, which happened to be a perfect  two tablespoons--serendipitous!).  Seriously.  And.  It.  Works.  We used to use Arm & Hammer liquid detergent, which, let's face it, is one of the cheaper brands--and not only are still we saving money--but it works better than what we were using before (and this isn't just "new soap" excitement speaking, we've been using it for a while now).
As a side note, you can substitute 3 bars of Ivory bar soap or Zote for the Fels Naptha if you prefer.  I may try the Zote next time to see if I prefer one over the other.
Another note, if you pick up an extra bar of soap, you can rub it on stains to pre-treat them.

Pros: Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap!  Holy moly, if you do near as much laundry as I do on a weekly basis, you are going to be happy.  Also, my kids have sensitive skin and Eczema, and since we have switched to this detergent, we have seen nary a rash or dry spot.  Plus, the good feeling you get when you don't put a ton of nasty stuff back into the Ecosystem.

Cons: Um.  The grating?  Maybe?  Also, it seems the bar soaps use some perfume and dye (though, I can pretty much guarantee it isn't nearly as much as the commercial stuff we used to buy!).

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