Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Homemade Laundry Detergent

My next Suzy Homemaker experiment is going to be making my own laundry detergent.

Some of the benefits of natural laundry detergent:

1. No artificial scents that can aggravate allergies and asthma.
Clothes are naturally deodorized by the washing soda so that they come out smelling clean. If you want the detergent to have a scent, you can add natural scent by adding a few drops of an essential oil. For instance you could add lavendar or chamomile oil. These oils are used in aromatherapy products to promote calm.

2. No synthetic chemicals. I don't know about you, but the more I think about it, the less comfortable I am about drenching my clothes and bedding in synthetic chemicals and having them against my skin 24/7.

3. Cost savings. It's estimated that homemade detergent costs about six cents per normally soiled load of homemade detergent. It only takes one tablespoon of homemade detergent to wash a load of clothes, so each batch lasts a long time.

4. Less waste. Think of all the resources used just to create the packaging for laundry detergents. In the case of liquid laundry detergents, they're poured into big plastic containers and packed in boxes to be shipped to the store. Basically, all of that packaging is created to ship something that is mostly water. It just seems silly and wasteful.

Recipe for homemade laundry detergent:

1 bar of natural soap*, finely grated.
1/2 c. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda** (this is NOT the same as baking soda)
1/2 c. Borax (a natural mineral and laundry booster)

Grate the soap (you can use a food processor or grate it by hand) and mix in the washing soda and borax. Store in a container with a lid.

Use 1 Tbsp. per load of clothes. You can use 2 Tbsp. for a load of especially soiled clothes if you need to.

The detergent will NOT make suds. This is normal. The suds you see in commercial laundry detergents are caused by the synthetic sufacants that are added. You don't need those for clean clothes.

*These soaps are derived from plants rather than being manufactured in labs or being derived from animal fats. They can be a little bit tricky to find. I found a bar of Kirk's Castile Soap at Cracker Barrel for $1.40. You can also find these soaps at SoapsGoneBuy.com.

**Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. It is also used as a PH regulator for swimming pools. If you can't find it in the laundry aisle, you might check the pool care aisle. You can also use this toll free number to locate stores in your area where it's been sold in the last 90 days. I found mine at Harp's/Price Cutter.

NOTE: NATURAL IS NOT THE SAME AS NON-TOXIC. You'll still want to keep this detergent out of the reach of children and pets.

My laundry detergent manufacturing adventure starts tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.


Book and Hook said...

I tried the homemade laundry soap, but it really didn't get my clothes as clean. Specifically my whites. I got the recipe from Moderncottage.com. It sounds basically the same though they added some Oxyclean, which they said was optional.
While grating the very hard bar of Fels Naptha soap, my hand slipped and I gouged a deep hole out of my knuckle.
Please wear gloves while grating.
Let us know how this experiment turns out. How goes the sewing adventures?

Mercy's Maid said...

The grating didn't go too badly. This soap may not be as hard as Fels Naptha.

I haven't washed any clothes in it yet, so that will be the big test. I will be sure to post an update when I do.

I haven't sewed anything else yet (I really don't have time during the work week), but my next adventure is sewing a pillow case dress for my friend's little girl. Wish me luck!

dennisanddanielle said...

Ohh I can't wait to see what you think of it. I have REALLY liked my home-made Rubbing Alcohol + water + vinegar all purpose cleaner. It's GREAT! So let me know. I may want to do my own laundry soap as well :)

Jim said...

a friend of mine does all the homemade cleaning stuff - i wouldn't be surprised if the Borax delivery man actually stops at his house twice a week!
he uses the stuff like crazy
your laundry det. recipe sounds just like his, and they've been using it for at 6 years I know of.

Matt Johnson said...

Soap Nuts (Soapnuts) - The Environmental Detergent

Have you ever thought about all the chemicals that we pour down the drain daily? What impact do they have on our environment? What does this mean for our children’s future? How can we minimize the harmful chemicals we use & save the environment at the same time? Soap Nuts are the answer.

What are Soap Nuts?

Soap Nuts are not actually nuts at all, but berries (also known as soap berries) that grow on trees in India & Nepal. They contain high concentrations of saponin, which acts as a natural soap when it comes into contact with water.

What can I use Soap Nuts for?

The most common & easiest use of soap nuts is as a laundry detergent. Just place three or four half-shells of soap nuts in a muslin bag (provided with most soap nuts orders) and throw it in with your laundry instead of regular detergent and you are on your way to becoming environmentally friendly. When using soap nuts in your laundry, you do not even need a rinse cycle, thus preventing gallons of water from unnecessarily going down the drain. If you want to expand your soap nuts into a multi-purpose cleaner, simply boil 100 g of soap nuts in 12 cups (3L) of water for 30 minutes. Fish out the shells, throw them in your compost, & you are left with a highly concentrated, natural, liquid detergent. For more applications, visit http://SoapNuts.Wordpress.com

How does the use of Soap Nuts affect Grey Water?

Soap nuts are antimicrobial. After their detergent goes into the sewer system, it helps break down the grey water into a more usable form. The use of soap nuts actually benefit the environment, rather than hurting it as the harmful chemicals we use do. Because of their unique antimicrobial properties, soap nuts are also used in aid of soil restoration.

What harmful chemicals are found in my regular laundry detergent?

Regular laundry detergents may contain any or all of the following:

Enzymes – Are a skin sensitizer, but may cause dermatitis and allergic reactions
Sodium Hypochlorite – Causes lung irritations, bronchial or respiratory reactions, cardiovascular damage, as well as eye and skin damage.
Nonylphenoxy Ethoxylates – Is an edocrine disruptor, and can cause an activation of cellular estrogen receptors (even at low levels) This is implicated in causes of a rise in breast and prostate cancer, infertility issues, a decline in amphibian populations and the reversal / feminization of birds, fish or reptiles.
Are Soap Nuts Gentle on my skin?

Yes. Soap nuts contain no chemicals, and are therefore non-allergenic. Many people (myself included) who suffered from eczema and other skin irritations have seen their problems diminish after switching to soap nuts as a laundry detergent.

How does my Purchase of Soap Nuts affect India & Nepal?

Your purchase of soap nuts is beneficial to both the economy & environment of India & Nepal. In these two countries, there are many poor people. Because soap nuts are plentiful, they become non-saleable locally. Therefore, soap nut trees become more valuable & marketable as firewood than for the environmentally friendly soap nuts that they grow. When soap nuts are marketed overseas, it employs local residents to harvest them, which in turn, stimulates the economy. At the same time, it makes the trees more valuable living than dead. This helps save our tropical forests.

Soap Nuts are the Environmental Detergent.

The use of soap nuts reduces the use of harmful chemicals, helps in restoring our polluted earth, and saves our tropical forests. Isn’t it time you did your part in painting a greener future for our children?

For more information on soap nuts & pricing visit http://Stores.HotterThanHealth.com