Monday, November 29, 2010

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

So, you've probably heard about all these crazy people who are saving a ton of money by making their own detergents and cleaning supplies, right?  And, you've probably told yourself you were going to try that one day, right?  Well, I say today is the day! Yes, YOU, too can save a bundle on laundry detergent without having to sacrifice on quality!  Making the detergent isn't just frugal, but it's a lot of fun!  And the benefits are countless!  You'll be able to make ten gallons of high quality liquid laundry detergent for just $2.50! At that price, almost everyone I know can afford to be generous and share with an elderly neighbor or a young mom.  Ready?  Gather a few ingredients and get ready to have fun "paying yourself" to do laundry!

Things you'll need to begin this journey:
1 Box of BORAX  (**Can be found at Kroger, Publix, hardware stores and online)
1 Box of Arm and Hammer Washing SODA**
At least 1 bar of Fels Naptha Laundry Bar**
A five gallon bucket (or two stock pots, or a large flower pot- any combination of containers that can hold 5 gallons of liquid for one night.)
10 clean, empty gallon containers with lids (or old laundry bottles if you've saved them)
A spoon
A colander or strainer
A cheese grater
A large measuring cup

Got all that?  Geez, you're fast!  Now, let's get to work!  Take that delicious smelling Fels Naptha bar and grate it like you would grate a block of cheese.  You may have picked up a few at the store, but you'll only need 1 bar for this batch. I've done this several different ways, but the most practical is to simply grate it by hand using a cheese grater. Your final product should look something like this:

Yours doesn't look like mine?  That's okay, because you're fixing to melt it anyway!  Now, put 8 cups of water in a pot on the stove and turn it on Med-High.  As the water warms, add your grated Naptha bar to the water and stir.  When you start, it will look like this:
Stir slowly to avoid excess bubbles.  Stir until the Naptha is completely dissolved.  Within just a few minutes, your new, fresh smelling mixture will look something like this:
 Now, grab your measuring cup and add 1 &1/2 cups of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda to that mixture.  Slowly stir until dissolved.  Repeat by adding 1 & 1/2 cups of Borax.  The powders will dissolve much more quickly than the soap did.  Stir slowly until there's no gritty feeling in the bottom of the pot.  The mixture will be a little thick and slimy, but that's what you want!

1.5 cups Washing Soda

1.5 cups Borax

After you've stirred all three ingredients until they've dissolved, pour your warm, slimy mixture into the bottom of your bucket.  Remember that you started with 8 cups of water, so you now have roughly 1/2 gallon of super concentrated liquid laundry detergent in the bottom of a bucket. (If you didn't have a 5 gallon bucket, you will half this mixture between two containers.)  It will look like this:
To this mixture, we are going to add 4 and 1/2 gallons of HOT water and stir. Don't try to cheat and use cool water- you'll be super disappointed!  Again, if you didn't have a 5 gallon container, you'll be splitting your 4.5 gallons of HOT water between two containers.
Ah.  Take a deep breath and enjoy the fruit of your efforts.  You are done for today.  You should have 5 well mixed gallons of a fresh smelling, yellow, watery liquid.  There may or may not be some suds on the top, based on how briskly you added the hot water and how much fun you had stirring.  Your semi-finished product will look something like this, especially if you're an Alabama fan!
Clean up the mess you've made and walk away.  You'll leave this bucket where it sits until tomorrow.  As it cools, it will take on a super fun and slimy gel-like consistency.  Let's just say when you wake up tomorrow, you'll have a surprise that little hands will want to help with!

Let your bucket sit over night.  This is what you'll wake up to:

This molded jello looking substance is just begging for little (and big) hands to dig in and mash it up.  You'll want to play with it until most of the clumps have been mashed to a slime.  Play with it until your bucket looks like it's full of really thick egg drop soup.  

After you get it to a pourable form, you're ready to dilute this mixture into 10 gallons of ready-to-use liquid laundry detergent.  Gather your gallon containers and a large measuring cup.  At this point, to make sure it's clump free, I pour the mixture (4 cups at a time) through a colander or strainer. 
We're really almost there!  Now, it's time to put the semi-liquid mixture into your gallon containers.  What you're working with now is 2X concentrated, so we're going to dilute it.  Simply place 8 cups of your mixture into an empty gallon container.
And now you're going to finish filling this container up with HOT (again, no cheating!) water.  If perfection is a personal goal of yours, feel free to measure out 8 cups of hot water to mix with your detergent.  The rest of us will simply fill the container to within an inch from the top.  Fill SLOWLY to avoid bubbles.  Bubbles will only slow you down.

Now, simply put a lid on the container, tilt it back and forth to mix the soap and water and set it to the side.  Repeat until you've filled all 10 gallons.  Now you're ready to clean up your mess and hit the laundry room!

Instructions for using homemade laundry detergent:

Top loaders: Use 1/2 cup per load.
Front Loaders: Use 1/4 cup per load.
Total cost?  Around $2.50 per TEN GALLONS.

Want more?  How about homemade fabric softener?  Laundry Pre-treater?  More?  Check this out:

*This recipe is not mine.  I didn't create it and make no guarantees to its safety or effectiveness.  While nobody I know has had an allergic reaction to it, I'm sure the ingredients will irritate some.  I've also never known anyone to ruin a fabric or void a warranty or have any other costs associated with using this detergent, but I make no guarantees to this. I am simply a wife and mom who wants to contribute to her home by closely watching the affairs of her family.  I like saving money. I'd like to save you some, too!