As a result of reading certain books as a child (The Little House series, The Swiss Family Robinson, My Side of the Mountain, etc.), I've always had a keen interest in doing things for myself. I love modern conveniences as much as the next person, but I hate being dependent upon them. I worry about all the knowledge we've lost and how we'd respond (as a nation) if the world suddenly fell apart ala Stephen King's The Stand.
So I harbor a hippie deep within myself and attempt to be as independent as I can from modern conveniences. I make my own spaghetti sauce, for example (it's really not that hard); and I used to make 80% of my clothing.
Nearly two weeks ago, I decided to step up and make my own laundry detergent, and I am very satisfied with the results. For a fraction of the cost of Tide, Gain, and all those other over-priced detergents, I'm washing our clothes, and they look great!
I mulled over several recipes I discovered online and finally ended up sort of combining two and adding an extra ingredient just to be on the safe side. If you want to give this a shot (and I highly recommend that you do), I've included the ingredients and directions below).
S U P P L I E S
1 Fels-Naptha bar of soap (available in your laundry aisle)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1 cup Oxy-Clean (safe on colors)
4.5 gallons of water
2 cooking pots
5 gallon bucket
Paint stir stick (or stirring utensil of your choice)
Air-tight containers with lids/caps (cleaned milk jugs, detergent bottles, bleach jugs, etc.)
I N S T R U C T I O N S
- Unwrap the Fels-Naptha and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften. (Don't skip this step because this soap is very, very hard.)
- Grate the softened Fels-Naptha. (I used my CuisineArt.)
- Put the grated Fels-Naptha in a pot with 2 quarts of water. Heat on low until the grated soap has dissolved.
- Bring two quarts of water to a boil in another pot.
- Put your bucket in the sink and add 1 gallon of hot water, 2 quarts of boiling water, and the Fels-Naptha liquid.
- Stir thoroughly.
- Add the Borax, Washing Powder and Oxy-Clean, mixing well.
- Add 2.5 gallons of hot water and stir thoroughly.
- Your brew will froth at first - this is why we put the bucket in the sink - to catch the overflow of foam. The frothing will stop and the detergent will thicken as it cools. (The consistency is like runny pudding.)
You can use your detergent immediately. The yield is 5 gallons.
Use 1/2 cup for normal loads and 1 c for heavy loads.
Shake mixture before each use.
T I P S
- Use a funnel to fill your containers. Milk jugs are excellent containers, as are empty detergent and bleach bottles (just make sure they are completely clean).
- Hold on to the scoop from your last box of detergent. Fill it with water to see how much liquid it holds. Draw a new fill line with a Sharpie if needed.
- We didn't have a 5-gallon bucket, but I had an empty cat litter bucket that held exactly five gallons of water and fit beautifully in my sink, so I rinsed it out and used that!
- I only had one empty container when we made our detergent, so I filled it and left the rest in our kitty-litter bucket (which has an airtight lid). When I got some more milk jugs, I cleaned them and filled two. I've decided to leave the rest of the mixture in the bucket until the two milk jugs run out and then refill them.
S A V I N G S
The cost of 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax is about 55 cents; 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda is about 90 cents; and 1 cup of Oxy-Clean is about 65 cents. A bar of Fels-Naptha soap costs $1.50. So our total cost to make five gallons of detergent is about $3.60.
So 1/2 cup of our homemade detergent (per load) costs about 2 cents.
I can live with that.
This weekend, I'm going to make some fabric softener!!!
Thanks for stopping and have a blessed day!