I know it is easier to not read the labels, to not think about what is in the household products we use and depend on every single day. I understand that for many busy families and individuals knowing what is in their laundry detergent is so low on the priority list that it seems laughable to even bring it up. But I cannot write a post about homemade laundry soap without addressing the reason WHY I bother to make it myself.
The conventional laundry detergent, even the “green” stuff, is loaded with crap. Big, unpronounceable chemicals and compounds like Diethanolamines, which degrade slowly overtime into carcinogens, which we can all agree is not good news. And most of them contain chemicals that are endocrine-disruptors, meaning that the soap we wash our clothes in and then wear around allows these chemicals to be absorbed by our skin and have a real effect on our hormonal balances. Not to mention that as a consumer it is nearly impossible to find out from manufacturers truly what is in their product. The concoctions are considered ‘trade secrets.’ I simply find that obnoxious and motivates me even more to not buy their products. Beyond the fact that the conventional laundry detergent is not healthy for us to be exposed to every day, it is also expensive and harmful to the environment. Making your own laundry soap at once makes it healthy and cheaper for you and/or your family.
You only need three main ingredients: Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, and castile soap. All of these contain naturally occurring minerals and deposits that you can feel good about using in your laundry. These are all safe for HE washing machines too! Once you invest in the materials, you will find that 1) you are saving money; 2) your clothes are clean; 3) you have a ready supply for months before you have to make more! I made my last batch in December before Baby arrived and here I am in April just running out (and that’s with a newborn!).
DIY Laundry Soap Recipe
2 parts Borax
2 parts Washing Soda
1 part grated soap (Fels Napa or Dr. Bronners are popular choices)
1 part OxiClean (optional)
20-30 drops essential oils (optional)
Grate the bar soap in a food processor… or in my case make your teenager do it by hand.
Mix your Borax, Washing Soda, grated soap, and if you have dirty little children or a husband in construction like myself, feel free to add in the OxiClean as well.
Mix in Essential Oils. Also note, the essential oils will make the mixture smell nice (I use Sweet Orange and Lavender) but it will not translate to your clothes smelling like those oils…so reassure the men in your life they won’t smell like a floral arrangement.
I make a large batch every time and store it in sealed containers, leftover plastic coffee containers, giant plastic pretzel containers, mason jars, gallon buckets…you get the idea.
I am not going to convince everyone that they need to start making homemade laundry soap. And I am certainly not trying to do so. My main point in sharing this recipe is awareness with the possible result of self-education and consideration of what we take at face-value to be good for us and our families. I also hope to show that the alternative does not need to be costly or even time-consuming. Making homemade laundry soap is really the first step towards changing your relationship to our consumer culture and finding a way to take control back in our households.