Why am I sharing our laundry detergent recipe? There are many arguments for swapping to homemade laundry detergents.
It could be avoiding the sodium lauryl sulphates, phosphates and other nasty chemicals. It could be related to a skin reaction/eczema or the sheer overwhelming stench of some powders. Or like me – it is cheaper!
Part of our plastic-free adventure is having to find new products to replace our old ones. Most commercial laundry soaps are
1.) Not soap but actually synthetic detergents and
2.) Have some form of plastic in either their packaging or their scoops.
Why do the ingredients in laundry soap matter?
While washing machines rinse your clothes, that smell the is left when you pull them out proves that some residue remains to rub on your skin. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down.
However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind.
Once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down.
With my girl’s cloth nappies we have always used my homemade laundry detergent recipe. With the boy, I did trial some Persil sensitive for washing his nappies when we moved to my parents. But he came out in a horrendous rash, so I went back to my homemade laundry detergent recipe.
I usually make the powder version, mostly because it is so simple. But the soap pieces don’t always dissolve right in cold water, so for cold washes, it is probably better to make the liquid detergent.
My Laundry Detergent Recipe
To make either the liquid or the powdered versions you only need these simple ingredients:
Borax – is a naturally occurring, stable mineral made up of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. NOT to be confused with the really-not-safe-to-handle boric acid.
Washing soda (AKA soda ash or sodium carbonate) is made from common salt and limestone or found as natural deposits.
Bar soap (sunlight, ivory, Dr. Bronners or better yet a home made coconut oil soap).
Essential oils for scent if required – I don’t bother but lavender or eucalyptus are two common faves.
Natural Laundry Soap Recipe:
1) Grate the bar soap or chop up in a food processor until finely ground. Use the soap of your choice. I personally use homemade coconut oil soap, but in the past I have used Lux flakes or Sunlight soap.
2) In a large bowl, mix 4 parts washing soda, 2 parts Borax and 1 part grated soap. I find my giant stainless steel bowl and a wire whisk work well.
3) Store in closed container. I keep mine in big mason jars.
Use 1/8 to 1/4 cup per load of laundry depending on the size of your machine and the grubbiness of your clothes – I have a 7.5kg machine and kids so I tend to use 1/4c per load.
** A ‘part’ is whatever volume you want it to be – you could use a spoon, a cup or a 20 gallon bucket – it doesn’t matter. A long as you use the same measuring thing for each ingredient. So 2 parts borax 1 part soap could be 2 cups of borax and one cup of soap, or it could be two buckets of borax and 1 bucket of soap. The recipe is more about the ratios of ingredients rather than the actual amount.
To make liquid Laundry Soap:
1) Grate one bar of soap with cheese grater or food processor.
2) Put grated soap in pan with 2 litres of water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.
3) Put 17 litres of really hot tap water in a 20 litre bucket (available for free at some bakeries if you don’t want to buy one) and stir in 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of Washing Soda until completely dissolved.
4) Pour soap mixture from pan into the bucket. Stir well.
5) Cover to keep dogs, kids and bugs out and leave overnight.
6) Stir until smooth and pour into bottles or other containers.
7) Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load.
If you don’t have a 20L bucket either halve the recipe or use two standard 10L buckets and just split it between the two.
These recipes are a great way to save money on laundry. Try your local bulk bin shop for ingredients, they will often get you in a huge bag and even give you a discount if you are lucky! I bought 15L of double strength white vinegar for $45 instead of the $60 they would usually sell it for because I bought the whole bottle.
Otherwise, you can buy the supplies in bulk from somewhere like here. Buying online you do need to watch shipping prices, I like kiwi soap supplies but their shipping is $15 for most orders, so I just make sure I stock up on everything at once and spread the cost.
Do you have any questions?
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Dana is a homesteading, homeschooling mama to 3, based in the south of New Zealand.
Dana is a Certified Ketogenic Living Coach, and natural wellness expert, as well as a Registered Nurse, with post grad training in mothers and babies.
She enjoys getting out in the garden, or just sitting at the beach in the sun.