Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Homemade Suds

About a year ago I decided to try making my own laundry detergent. (Sidenote: maybe this is why I got tired of working full time. Trying to be a diy-er + full-time lawyer + wife + mom = tired combination.) I whipped up another batch yesterday - took me all of 5 minutes - and thought: it's time to share. This recipe does not require an arsenal of chemicals. Three ingredients: borax, baking soda or washing soda (whichever you have handy), and a bar of soap.

I was skeptical about whether or not this recipe would really get our clothes clean. But it does, and I have a pretty messy son! Added bonus: clothes come out static free so no need for fabric softener. It is so easy to make, and I get my own personal satisfaction knowing that I am saving the landfills from plastic bottles; saving the money in my wallet for other goodies; and saving my family, the earth, and my washing machine from harsh and unnecessary chemicals.

Here's how to make it:

1. Grate one bar of soap into a bowl using a cheese grater. I use Dr. Bronner's castile soap, which is made almost entirely from organic oils. It is a bit pricey for a bar of soap so I opt for the peppermint scented soap, which is about $1 cheaper than the other scents if you buy it at Trader Joe's. (Clothes do not come out smelling like peppermint; just a mild, fresh scent.) Costs about $3.50. But you can use any bar of soap you like. Some folks use Fels Naptha for its stain-fighting quality but I'm skeptical of the ingredients. The whole point is to stay away from ingredients I can't pronounce and that are not fully disclosed (such as "fragrance"). My son helps me with this part - he loves grating the soap!

2. Add one cup of baking or washing soda. I use baking soda because I always have a few boxes laying around.

3. Add one cup of borax. Borax can be found on the bottom shelf of the detergent aisle at any store or Target. It costs $4 for a 4-5 pound box. This box will last you more than a year. There is an ongoing debate about the safety of borax (click here for the pro and con). I wouldn't bathe in it (as some folks used to do), but I tend to think that it's fine for use as a laundry detergent.

4. Mix together well.

5. Store in a glass mason jar or tupperware or whatever you have at home, and use 1 - 1 1/2 tbs. per load. I have a front-load HE washer, and it works great! You will not see suds. That's OK. It's working, I promise.

Happy washing!

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