We have done our fair share of laundry ~ from baby clothes to poopy diapers, to to blown out accidents from our 5 and 7 year old boys.
Yes, those accidents happen. More times than I would like to admit.
While I have also picked up my fair share of eco-friendly detergent … the cost associated with them is just something that is really, really hard to swallow.
I’ve been using Thieves Laundry Soap from Young Living for the past year, and as much as I love it, the cost of this detergent is a little hard to manage. With 5 kids, we want the best [non-toxic] ingredients, in a formula that will last us for quite a while.
I also want something that’s going to be easy for my 10 and 7 year old to use, as they are required to do their laundry once a week too. As much as laundry pods are amazing, they are not an option when I have toddlers… after all, kids put everything in their mouth. As high as you might *think* you have them, they can always get them down.
I have made my own homemade detergent for many years – with borax, without borax, liquid, powder… the recipes out there all seem to have several things in common: washing soda, baking soda, borax.
But what do you really need?
Lemon: A MUST for laundry – it doesn’t have to be added to the laundry, but it works super as a stain remover and degreaser. I would recommend adding to the laundry after you put the detergent in.
Vinegar: Not necessary for laundry detergent, but it works amazing in the rinse cycle. Since it’s acidic, it helps remove the excess detergent from clothes, and helps offset the pH of the laundry detergent (which is very alkaline).
Washing Soda: Definitely a must for making your own detergent. It’s great for a laundry booster, homemade laundry soap, grease, tough stains, all purpose cleaner, carpet stains, grill cleaner and more. Washing soda is alkaline and that alkalinity allows it to act as a solvent to remove tough stains and grime from clothes. It’s usually used in commercial detergent to treat hard water.
The washing soda binds to the minerals that make water hard and allows the detergent to be absorbed into the fibers to clean clothes. The sodium carbonate softens the water and helps lift dirt and stains from the clothes.
Washing soda is made from baking soda – just spread out on a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Stir, and re-spread out into a single layer, and bake an additional hour. Store in a tightly covered container.
Soap: A rich, coconut based soap is best, something with a high fat content. We recommend Dr. Bronner’s or, Kirk’s Castile Soap.
Making your own detergent is rather easy – you’ll want to make sure you have a food processor relatively handy because that will be your means to converting the soap and the washing soda to a fine powder.
Most modern soaps and detergents have a few ingredients in them that cause suds. These chemicals are called surfactants and their job is to remove the dirt that the surface was on.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, or anything that has Cxx-xx and sulfonate.
- Cocamidopropyl betaine or sometimes glycerine betaine.
- Lauryl glucoside
Since this homemade variety doesn’t contain those items, it’s low sudsing, and should be fine for HE machines. If you reference the Kirk’s Castile Soap site, they mention that the powdered recipe is great for HE washers.
The key is grating that soap down to a powder, which you have done with the food processor. Keep in mind that you may want to reference your owners manual for individual information about your warranty.
Where to Find the Ingredients?
You can find the ingredients at any local grocery – or, Vitacost as well. Kirk’s Castile Soap is most economical when purchased from Vitacost, and they occasionally offer 15-20% OFF sale codes when you sign up for their email list.
What about Fabric Softener?
Most fabric softener varieties are made of toxic chemicals and should be avoided ~ instead, use any of these options:
Non-GMO Vinegar in the Rinse Cycle: Vinegar helps to wash the soap residue from clothes that have been washed, and neutralizes the water. Laundry soap is alkaline, so vinegar provides the acidity to neutralize the pH.
Wool Dryer Balls: An effective way to dry clothes in a shorter period of time and provide scent. Find a set of 6 dryer balls on Amazon or opt to make your own.
Read more about using Wool Dryer Balls.
Aluminum Foil: Helps to serve as a semiconductor in the laundry and remove static.
Read more about eliminating static in your laundry.