Friday, January 24, 2014

Recipe: DIY Laundry Detergent

A while ago, I posted "The Dirty Low-Down" about making one's own laundry detergent. Still going great and easily 18 months later! However, some things have been modified, so it's worth reposting.

6 months of detergent

Earth-Friendly DIY Laundry Detergent at our house

*** Making this detergent is for teens ages 14+ and adults. Cover all food or put away. Never complete this project when children or pets are present. Mix ingredients in a kitchen or other hard surface area that is easy to clean up. Borax is the questionable ingredient and it's more dangerous inhaled than rinsed off clothing. Wash hands when finished.

Shopping List for ~12mo Clothing Detergent Supply

$3.00-6.00: 6 bars Ivory soap (contains animal fat), or Kirk's Castile Coconut soap (castile contains only vegetable oils)
$3.97:   1 box (4lb 12oz) 20 Mule Team Borax, in the laundry aisle
$3.24:   1 box (55oz) Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, in the laundry aisle
$1:         1 box (16oz) Baking Soda, in the baking aisle
$9:         Detergent Storage Container 88oz+, plastic with locking lid
$2:         2 Tbsp stainless scoop, like for coffee; or a recycled baby formula scoop (2 Tbsp)
TOTAL: $25.21 - $28.21

My personal preference is castile soap and no Oxy-Clean additives.
If whitening is desired, hydrogen peroxide, a vinegar rinse, or sun drying are alternatives.

How To Make A ~6mo Clothing Detergent Supply in TWENTY MINUTES

Grate soap bars - active time: 10min - total time: 24h

Kitchen box grater
Large non-reactive bowl, like Pyrex
Food processor, optional

  1. Finely grate 3 bars castile soap
  2. Use a kitchen box grater (the soap will wash off easily later)
  3. Grate into a large non-reactive bowl
  4. Leave overnight to dry out
  5. After about 24h, stir vigorously with a slotted spoon to further break up soap flakes
  6. Or place half into a 3c+ food processor and whiz until very fine
  7. Add fine flakes to detergent storage container
  8. Whiz the remaining soap flakes and set aside.
Why fine flakes? They dissolve faster in cold wash.
Is this okay for HE machines? I have an HE machine and everything is A-OK.

Mix detergent - active time: 10min - total time: 10min

1 cup dry measuring cup
Slotted metal spoon
Laundry detergent storage container
All remaining items from the shopping list
Masking tape or painter tape

  1. Add half of fine soap flakes to detergent storage container.
  2. Add 1c Washing Soda
  3. Add 1c Borax
  4. Add 1c Baking Soda
  5. Seal lid on storage container and shake/swirl vigorously to thoroughly mix
  6. Wait for dust to settle before removing lid
  1. Add remaining soap flakes
  2. Add 2c Washing Soda
  3. Add 2c Borax
  4. Seal lid on storage container and shake/swirl to thoroughly mix.
  5. Wait for dust to settle before removing lid


  • Use a slotted metal spoon to break up clumps in the measuring cup
  • If the Borax dust worries you, open the entire top of the box lid with a sharp knife instead of using the pour spout
  • Seal all box openings with masking tape or painter tape
  • Store all of these non-food ingredients out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet

  • Write recipe with permanent marker on masking tape and tape to bottom of detergent storage container:
    • 3 bars grated soap, 3 c Borax, 3 c Washing Soda, 1 c Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbsp for medium load; 2 Tbsp for full load
    • Write measuring instructions on detergent storage lid in permanent marker

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