How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

 Posted by on February 4, 2009  Add comments  Tagged with:
Feb 042009

Bee and I have very sensitive skin, so for many years I purchased All Free & Clear powdered laundry detergent. It’s free of perfumes and dyes, and it works great. It also costs almost $5 for a 40-load box.

I was so excited when I learned that I could make my own powdered “free and clear” laundry detergent for only a fraction of the cost of All, and it’s so quick and easy!

If you want to give it a try, here’s what you’ll need:

– 2 bars mild, low-phosphate or phosphate-free soap

Fels Naptha and Ivory are good choices. I use Ivory because it doesn’t bother our allergy-prone skin. It also grates very easily.

– 2 C Borax

I use 20 Mule Team – available at any Wal-Mart

– 2 C Washing Soda

Please note: Washing soda (sodium carbonate) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) are not the same thing! Washing soda can be difficult to find. It’s also called “soda ash” and it can usually be found at pool supply stores. For Midwestern readers – I found washing soda in the laundry aisles of both Hyvee and Fareway. I also found it at Publix in Florida when I was visiting my in-laws.

– 1/2 C OxyClean

This is optional – we add it because it just gives an extra stain-removing boost. We use the generic Sun Oxygen Cleaner.

An airtight container for storage

I use a gallon ice cream pail with a lid. You would not believe how many of these I have. I guess we know how I gained 30 extra pounds, don’t we?

Food processor or box grater

Measuring cups

Large spoon

Here’s how to make it:

Grate soap bars. I use the grater attachment on my food processor, because it makes this process so quick and easy. I timed it, and it seriously only took about 90 seconds to grate both bars of soap.

Pour grated soap into your storage container. If using a food processor, remove the grater attachment and install your regular chopping blade. Measure borax, washing soda, and OxyClean into your food processor. Add grated soap. Blend for about 2 minutes until well-combined.

If you don’t have a food processor, just put all ingredients into your storage container and mix very well with a spoon. Don’t worry if it looks rough and granular – it will still work fine. If you use a food processor, the finished product is powdery fine.

I prefer this, because I think it dissolves better in our hard water.

Use 1/8 C (2 tablespoons) per load.

See…piece of cake!

And look! I even did the laundry math for you so you can see how much money you’ll save. (Me! I did math! I must love you a lot).

Cost of ingredients (based on what I paid – costs vary by geographic area):

2 C Borax – .57
2 C Washing Soda – .67
2 bars Ivory soap – .84
1/2 C oxygen cleaner – .28

Total – $2.36 for 6 1/2 cups detergent, or 52 loads

Cost per load – 5 cents

Cost of All Free and Clear, 40-load box – $4.79

Cost per load – 12 cents

You save 7 cents per load. If you do ten loads of laundry a week (like we do), you save 70 cents a week.

And it only takes 10 minutes! If you make detergent 6 times a year, it will take about an hour of your time to save $36.40.

That’s a pretty good hourly wage, don’t you think?