Feb 22, 2012

DIY Laundry Detergent

A few people have asked about this but I've been putting it off 'til I had "tested" my product.  I've been using my homemade laundry detergent for a month now so I feel like I can accurately review it.

First off, I got my recipe from the Tidy Tangle.  That link will send you to the original post and there is an updated one here.  I suggest you read both before you make it.  I'm sure there's tons more out there but Rachel at the Tidy Tangle is a friend (with 5 dirty boys!) so I went with her recipe and made just a few changes of my own.

Note:  The above picture also includes the ingredients for homemade fabric softener - recipe also found on Tidy Tangle.  Haven't come to a conclusion about that yet.

I found all of the ingredients for the detergent in the laundry aisle at Wal-Mart.  There were by the laundry stain removers.  You will need:

  • 1 bar Fels Naptha soap ($1.06)
  • 1 box washing soda - not baking soda (55 oz - $3.54)
  • 1 box Borax (76oz - $3.69)
  • clean 5 gallon bucket with lid
  • old laundry detergent container
The total cost of these items was $8.29.  These prices include tax.  Not sure what the bucket cost - less than $5 at Lowes.  You may already have one so I didn't include it in the "start-up" cost.  

Now onto the instructions...

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar Fels Naptha soap
1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1 cup Borax

  1. Grate your bar of soap into a small pot.  Fill pot halfway with water then bring to a boil.  Boil until all soap has melted.  Remove from heat.
  2. Now dump your melted soap into your 5 gallon bucket.  Fill about 2/3 of the way with water.  Then add washing soda and Borax.  Mix it all up.  Put the lid on it.  Let it sit over night."
  3. Next morning it will be very gloppy - almost a solid.  I think you could probably get it to loosen just by stirring it a bunch (or even having your husband give your bucket a really good shake ~ why does that sound dirty?) but I used a combo of stirring and using my immersion blender.  Keep at it for a little while and it will become a nice smooth liquid.  At this point I used a funnel and a big measuring cup to get it into my old Tide bottle.  I put the lid back on my 5 gallon bucket and it sits in my laundry room waiting to refill my bottle.  Done!

A few notes...
  • I shake my detergent every time before I use it.  Seems like it needs it so that it's super easy to pour and not gloppy.
  • Unfortunately, homemade detergent doesn't have the aaahhmazing scent of your previous detergent (oh yeah, I miss my Tide).  It doesn't small bad.  It really has so smell at all.  Completely neutral.  Next time I make a batch I may add a small bottle of tide to the mix - just to see if I can get my clean scent back.  It kind of negates the savings but...
  • As far as the savings goes...  the cost for the whole bucket of detergent is $1.96.  I'm not sure how many Tide bottles that will fill up - or how much Tide costs.  I think we can all agree that the savings is pretty much insane.  So as far as adding a small Tide bottle to my next batch to get my scent back... I think it's totally worth it.
  • So the biggest question... does it work?  Definitely!  All my clothes come out clean - dirt and stains removed.  I will say I am all about pre-treating our clothes so I can't say how effective it as at removing stains on its own.  But with my current method of stain remover, soaking in Oxi if it's really bad (basically everything Emily wears), then washing... it is cleaning exactly the same as Tide did.  Yay savings!