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How to make laundry detergent at home!!!

How to make laundry detergent at home!!!


Freshen up your laundry with homemade suds

by MaryJane Butters - Oct. 2, 2008 12:00 AM

United Feature Syndicate

Is there anything better than the smell of clean laundry? Something about crisp linens just out of the wash conjures up lighthearted sensations of spring sunshine.

I love the way that perfect, fleeting freshness makes the world feel utterly luxurious.

But many commercial detergents contain toxic chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin and permeate the air. So a growing faction of farmgirls-at-heart are rolling up their sleeves and thinking outside the store-bought soap box.

Making your own laundry detergent is easy and cost-effective. The recipes for both liquid and powder laundry detergents are simple, natural, and cost as little as two cents per load.

All you need are three basic ingredients: soap (bar, powdered or liquid), borax and washing soda - all of which you can buy at your local grocery or health-food store.

For soap, I recommend going au naturel with either Boraxo powdered hand soap or Castile soap, which comes in both liquid and bar form. The next ingredient, borax, is a mineral compound that works as a multipurpose cleaner and bleach, so it's a green solution to keeping your whites bright. Washing soda, which is similar to baking soda but more alkaline, cuts grease and neutralizes odors.

Here are two basic recipes for liquid and powdered laundry detergents. If you miss the floral fragrance of commercial brands, you can use naturally scented bar soap, or vamp it up by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the liquid detergent recipe. Lavender is always divine. Please note that even though the ingredients are from natural sources, they can irritate the skin, so it's a good idea to wear gloves while mixing.

Powdered laundry detergent (makes 4 cups)

2 cups powdered hand soap (I use Boraxo)

1 cup washing soda (I use Arm and Hammer)

1 cup borax (I use 20 Mule Team Borax natural laundry booster)

Mix all ingredients well and store in an airtight plastic container.

Use 1/4 cup per load of laundry.

Liquid Laundry Detergent (makes approx. 2 1/2 gallons)

2 cups finely grated natural or artisan bar soap; or 1 cup liquid castile soap (I use Kirk's Original Coco Castile soap); or 2 cups powdered hand soap

2 cups borax

2 cups washing soda

Mix soap, borax and washing soda in a pan with 1 quart water. Heat to just shy of boiling, stirring, until water thickens and suds form.

Pour into a clean 5-gallon bucket. Pour another 2 1/2 gallons of boiling water into bucket; stir well. Let sit for 24 hours.

You can leave it in the bucket and cover it, but I like to store mine in vintage 1/2-gallon milk bottles.

Use 1/4 cup per regular load.

If the mixture separates over time, either stir or gently tilt back and forth in its container to remix.

Your costs for these homemade laundry detergents? The liquid detergent will cost you about two cents per load and the powdered detergent about 12 cents per load. Compare that with about 20 cents per load for major-store brands, and even more for those found in natural-food stores.

E-mail MaryJane Butters, an organic-lifestyle expert and the editor of "MaryJanesFarm" magazine, at


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