Dirt, grease, ketchup, and salsa! Washing clothes for a family of six was a daily task when my four boys were young. Successful budgeting meant that expensive laundry detergents were left on the store shelf. Homemade laundry detergent provided my family with a cost-effective alternative to high priced detergents. With just four ingredients, you can make your own detergent for pennies per load! The ingredients listed below are available in the detergent section of your local grocery store.
Ingredients for laundry detergent
½ cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda®
½ cup Mule Team Borax®
1 Bar of Fels-Naptha® or Ivory ®Soap
20 cups of Water
Pour 8 cups of water into an 8-quart pot. Use a hand grater and shave the bar of soap into the pot of water. Place the pot on the stove and heat on a medium setting until the soap dissolves. Gently stir with a whisk to help blend the shavings and water. Avoid boiling the mixture or whisking it quickly (creates bubbles and foam). Once the soap shavings are melted, remove the pot from your heat source. Add ½ cup of washing soda and ½ cup of borax to the pot. Gently stir until blended. Add 4 cups of cool water and gently stir again. Do this twice more until you have added a total of 12 additional cups of cool water to the mixture of soap, washing soda and borax. The mixture will yield 20+ cups of detergent.
If the detergent is still hot, allow it to cool before transferring it to storage containers. Choose a plastic container that has a lid for easy access. To save money, repurpose plastic, gallon-sized, ice cream buckets to store the laundry detergent. Be sure to mark the container with a label to identify the contents as Laundry Detergent. Include this instruction, “Add ½ cup per load.”
After the detergent has rested overnight, it may appear gel-like. This is normal. You may wish to “squish” it up with a potato masher or by hand. This is optional. For a full-sized load, use ½ cup of the soap mixture. Add the soap to the water as the unit begins filling or inside the barrel. Not for use with automatic dispensers.
The box of washing soda and the box of borax will yield 14 batches if mixed according to the recipe (½ cup each ingredient per batch). Store a couple of bars of soap on your shelf with the boxes of washing soda and borax for quick access to make your detergent.
Homemade cleaning products are often made from simple ingredients and can save you money! Check out the publication, Homemade Household Cleaners, for other money saving tips.