We ALL have laundry to do (right now, probably…), but conventional store-bought laundry detergent, with its petrochemicals, optical brighteners, and synthetic fragrances, isn’t great for the environment OR your skin. And the super-fancy natural stuff? Well, it’s out of *my* price range, for the most part.
Instead, I rely on my homemade laundry soap. It’s easy to make, the ingredients cost pennies per load (about three, give or take a penny), and it’s much healthier for your body and the environment than most store-bought laundry detergents.
You will need:
Washing soda: If you do any fabric dyeing or other T-shirt crafts, you probably already have washing soda–it’s an excellent dye fixative. If you don’t have it, you’ll find it in the laundry aisle of any bigger grocery store.
Borax: When you’re done with this recipe, use the rest of your borax to make gak with your kids!
Bar soap: I use Fels Naptha, a laundry bar soap. Although it does have some artificial color and fragrance (it no longer contains the petrochemical Stoddard Solvent–yay!), it’s much friendlier to the environment than conventional laundry detergent, and it’s designed for cleaning clothes, so laundry soap made with it is very effective. If you have extremely sensitive skin, however, or prefer to use a soap with zero synthetic chemicals, then choose a bar soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s, that’s designed for sensitive skin, and simply be aware that you’ll need to take more care with stain treatment and whitening.
1. Grate the bar soap until you have two cups of grated soap. This is a great job to outsource to the kids!
2. Put 1 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of borax into a mixing bowl. Whisk well, albeit slowly–you don’t want borax in your lungs.
3. Add any of the following extra ingredients:
One cup of baking soda boosts cleaning power, and is a deodorant.
One cup of Oxyclean or other oxygen bleach is a color-safe whitener.
5. Pour the laundry soap into a large Mason jar. Cut a piece of fabric larger than the jar’s opening, then screw the ring on the Mason jar down over the fabric piece. Now you’ll be able to smell your lovely soap!
Use one tablespoon of this laundry soap per full load of clothes in your he washer, along with a big glug of white vinegar in the rinse compartment–vinegar is a cleaning agent, disinfectant, deodorizer, and rinse agent, so your clothes will come out softer, fresher smelling, and less likely to become dingy over time.
Sit your lovely laundry soap on a shelf in your laundry room so that everyone can see it; this is one cleaning product that you don’t have to hide! And just so you can remember how safe the ingredients in your homemade laundry soap are, and how you can make more, paste on one of these free printable labels that we’ve made for you to help you celebrate Spring Cleaning Week!