Have you thought about making your own laundry detergent?

Our grandparents and great-grandparents knew all about self-sufficiency, making do with less and using the most basic ingredients to save both money and time.  We think it is much more than sheer coincidence that in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s the incidence of cancer and other diseases were much, much lower as compared to today.  New “types” of cancer are now being discovered that did not even exist in years past.

A return to natural ingredients is what the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement is all about and it continues to grow and expand like wildfire.  Consumers want to know exactly what is in their products and the best way to know this is to make it yourself.

In light of making your own, we wanted to share the recipe for to make your own laundry detergent.  Using the basics of a laundry soap powered with borax and a natural water softener, this natural recipe works in all machines including high efficiency.  This recipe cleans very well and we have used it for many, many years.  It is VERY inexpensive to make and goes a long, long, way.

I’ve listed each ingredient below with a brief description. Used in the manner and for the purpose described (to make your own laundry detergent), none of these ingredients are toxic.  Many are alkaline, meaning they can dry the skin and over-exposure should be avoided. Beyond that, they are safe.  However, you can readily find web descriptions of each labeling them as toxic and caustic when ingested or swallowed. Really, no joke? Over imbibing on salt will kill you too!

But since our readers hopefully have an abundance of common sense, we are sharing both a wet and a dry version which contain the same 3 ingredients.  You will be avoiding dyes, fragrances, and preservatives while paying around $3-5 dollars for 80 loads or so.

Fels Naptha Soap Bar – The recipe for Fels Naptha is over 100 years old.  It was a bar of soap designed exclusively for use with laundry.  It was never made to be used for personal body use or as a hand soap due to the strength of the ingredients.  Its purpose was to remove dirt and grime, ring-around-the-collar, oil stains and everything in-between.  It is a DETERGENT bar and typically isn’t recommended for the body with 1 exception.  Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and other rashes from plants respond well to the drying effects of Fels Naptha.

20 Mule Team Borax –  Borax is a natural mineral compound and is used to make Boric Acid and Sodium Borate.  Used in the manner in which it is intended….cleaning…..Borax powder is perfectly safe.  There are websites that warn against Borax as a dangerous chemical because of its relationship to Boric Acid.  No……. water + borax does not create boric acid.  Relax.

Let’s put this in perspective. Most of the borax warnings revolve around ingestion, eye contact or extended undiluted skin contact.  Once again……Vinegar, cinnamon essential oil (and others) lemon juice and jalapeno peppers to name just a few, can all elicit skin irritation with over-exposure.  This does not mean they aren’t safe, it just means they should be used with care.

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda – 
Washing soda contains just one all natural ingredient: sodium carbonate.  This is NOT the same thing as sodium bicarbonate, which is baking soda.   Walmart or Kroger may carry it, but I haven’t seen it in too many other stores.  If you can’t find it in your area, remember that sodium carbonate is used in swimming pools to lower pH, so you can probably find it at a pool supply store. (which may or may not be cheaper). Sodium carbonate is a water softener which helps detergents lather better, especially if your home has hard water (contains calcium or magnesium salts).

Dry Laundry Detergent Recipe

  1. Grate an entire Fels Naptha Bar – you can use a cheese shredder or your food processor,      but for the dry version, you will want to grind it as fine as possible.
  2. Mix 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax with it.
  3. Mix 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and mix the 3 ingredients very, very well.
  4. Store in airtight container and add to your wash 1 cup at a time.

Wet Laundry Detergent Recipe

  1. Grate an entire Fels Naptha Bar – you can use the food processor and just a carrot peeler. Fill a large pot half-way with water. Place the pot on the stove and eat to nearly boiling and add soap shavings, stir well until they are all fully dissolved.
  2. Obtain a clean 5 Gallon bucket. – Fill bucket with dissolved soap and add HOT water till the bucket is ½ full. Stir well.
  3. Pour in 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax and stir until dissolved.
  4. Pour in 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and stir until dissolved.
  5. Fill bucket to 75-80% full with additional VERY HOT water. STIR WELL!! Cover and let sit for 24 hours.
  6. Solution will become jellied. Stir well or squeeze through your fingers to break up the mold. (Kids LOVE this job).
  7. Scoop out in 1 cup containers for use in the washer. When not in use, be sure a lid is kept on the bucket to prevent evaporation and discourage curious pets and children.