Monday, July 1, 2013

POW!erful Detergent (amazing homemade laundry detergent)

Laundry detergent has been one of those things that bothered me after we started switching over to organic and a more natural lifestyle, but not enough to make any changes. The thing is, I have two messy boys and my preferred products worked for us. I was always hesitant to change. I'm not sure exactly what my fear was, but I definitely had one and laundry detergent was nonnegotiable in my opinion.

Then one day, for no reason that I can pinpoint, the detergent that I've used since I began doing my own laundry started fading and bleeding the colors from our clothes. I tried to ignore it, but the problem continued and I decided to make a change. With the recommendation of a close friend, I decided to use her brand. I was actually excited for the change and fully embraced the new products. This isn't so bad, it's just detergent...right?

I gave it over a month. I felt exactly like I did when I realized my favorite and go to detergent was slowly ruining our clothes. It just wasn't working. Sure, it wasn't fading or destroying our clothes (thank goodness), but it wasn't cleaning them either. I would have to run numerous cycles to remove any strong odors (chlorine is the worst!) and it never seemed to even touch stains. I felt let down. I was lost. My awesome detergent was now unreliable and I just didn't know if there is a suitable replacement out there.

I realized that now is the time to make a change. I'm pretty stringent (obviously) about the level of clean for our clothing, so I knew that I didn't want something super natural and mild, but I'm not impressed with any of the commercial brands out there. It was time to make my own laundry detergent. I was excited and apprehensive, but I searched until I found a recipe and then I took the plunge.

Surprising even myself, I chose a powdered detergent. I've used liquid for as long as I can remember, but I just found so many positive reviews for the homemade powdered version and when I really thought about it, I couldn't even tell you why I prefer liquid. Powdered it is, then. Now I just needed to find a concoction that I thought would work for us.

I quickly noticed that Borax, washing soda, baking soda, and laundry bar soap were the core ingredients. Of course, my detergent would have to include all of these.  Here's why:

Borax - actually sodium biborate, a natural mineral compound. It has powers that can clean, and bleach, by converting some water molecules into hydrogen peroxide, and because of the boron, salt, and oxygen, it is able to disinfect. We are cold water washers, but Borax is most effective in hotter water.

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda - this stuff is almost magical, the powers that it has! "The high alkalinity of washing soda helps it act as a solvent to remove a range of stains, and unlike bleach, washing soda does not usually stain. It is also used in detergent mixtures to treat hard water; the washing soda binds to the minerals which make water hard, allowing detergent to foam properly so that clothing will come out clean without any residue. Sodium carbonate is also used by some textile artists, since it helps dyes adhere to fabric, resulting in deeper penetration and a longer lasting color." If you have hard water, this is just another reason to make your own laundry detergent.

Baking Soda - a household superhero. Most families use baking soda in baking and to remove odors, but it's cleaning powers are amazing, as well.  It can do everything from dissolving grease to softening clothes. It also works to remove stains, such as perspiration (I've heard that homemade detergent is great for runners and this is probably why), remove odors (another must for runners or swimmers), softens fabric, and is a bleaching agent that won't harm clothes. Another positive for hard water homes as it helps to prevent the stain buildup that comes with having hard water. Most people use Arm & Hammer for their detergent, but we chose Bob's Red Mill due to their chemical free extraction process.

Laundry Bar Soap - different kinds have different powers. Some are amazing stain removers while others give a cleaner and softer feel. The two most popular are Fels-Naptha and Zote. I found that there seemed to be strong opinions on both sides about which one is truly the best and I just couldn't make up my mind. Did I want the stain removal powers of Fels-Naptha or the cleaning and softening powers of Zote? They were even located in two different sections in the laundry aisle - Fels-Naptha with the stain removers and Zote with the detergents. Then a lightbulb - why not use both? All recipes require more than one bar, so couldn't I mix them? I couldn't find anyone before me that used a mixture of both, so I purchased both and prayed that my washing machine wouldn't explode.

Now that I had the basic requirements, I set out to make it work for us.  I noticed that some people use OxyClean, which I have used quite a bit of in the past. I currently have Legacy of Clean Tri-Zyme on hand, which is pretty much the same thing, so I used that. I'm sure that I will switch to OxyClean once I run out since it's much easier to attain. With my dirty little guys, I know that I will need all of the stain fighting and detergent boosting powers possible and felt that this product provided that.

I also added doTERRA Wild Orange Oil. I've been looking into incorporating essential oils into our lives and thought that this was the perfect first step to do so. The oil is light and adds a nice citrusy scent to our clothes.

POW!erful Detergent Team
1 (4 lb. 12 oz.) box of Borax (we used 20 mule team) ($3.38 at Wal-Mart)
1 (3 lb. 7 oz.) box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda ($3.24 at Wal-Mart)
1 (3 lb.) container of OxyClean ($7.52 at
2 (5.5 oz.) bars of Fels-Naptha (97 cents each at Wal-Mart)
1 (14.1 oz.) bar of Zote (97 cents at Wal-Mart)
5 lbs. Baking Soda (Bob's Red Mill or any other brand) (4 lbs. $9.30 on Amazon)
25 drops doTERRA Wild Orange essential oil ($11.55 on Amazon)

Using a cheese grater, grate the 3 bars of laundry soap.  I was terrified of this step. Almost every homemade laundry detergent guide complains about this step. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't bad at all and took less than 10 minutes. Easy, peasy, people!

Take the grated soap and about 1 lb. of the baking soda and process into a powder using a food processor, blender, or other similar appliance. I found the Ninja worked perfectly. I mixed in the baking soda to keep the grated soap from clumping and to it really worked. It was much easier to process into a powder with the baking soda mixed in.

Combine the now powdered soap mixture with the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the essential oil. I know a lot of people use a 2 gallon bucket, but I just used a huge stock pot. I also know that a lot of people like to mix it outside since all of the fine powders create a dust. I did not, but I plan to take their advice next time! A portion of my kitchen was definitely coated with a some dust. And this stuff isn't the easiest to mix, and it gets a bit messy, it's better to be outside than inside.

Separate about 5 - 6 cups of the detergent. In the separated detergent add the 25 drops of essential oil. The oil will clump a bit, but just continue working it into the detergent and the clumps should separate. Once the essential oil is thoroughly mixed, blend separated detergent and essential oil mixture into the large portion of detergent. Make sure that this is well blended. That's it! You know have a huge batch of homemade laundry detergent that should hopefully last at least six months. I firmly believe that the mix of the laundry bars is the unique blend that makes this detergent so POW!erful.

Fels-Naptha is yellow and Zote is pink. The combination is pretty and looks a little bit like cotton candy to me!

To use the detergent dissolve 1 - 3 tablespoons (depending on how soiled the clothes are) in the water before adding the clothes. For front loading washers about 2 tablespoons of detergent with 2 tablespoons of hot water before adding to the dispenser.

Here are the labels that I used on my container. I also made smaller labels for gifts.

Enjoy! And let me know how it works for you!

Information source
Detergent adapted from
Pin It!

No comments:

Post a Comment