Over the past few years I’ve made the switch from those over scented, over chemicaled laundry detergents to more natural alternatives. I even got rid of the blue fabric softener! At first I began to buy more natural alternatives (and am currently doing so), while it was more expensive than the conventional cleaners, I found it worked just as well and it gave me peace of mind knowing that if detergent remained on the clothes, I’d feel comfortable with them on my skin.
In not using detergents and softeners that do not contain chemicals, you’re also helping to preserve clean water. For many of us that have a septic system, would you just dump out the detergent on your grass or garden? When I think about the products I use, this always comes to mind.
The problem I began to have awhile back is that my grocery budget includes includes all of my cleaners. (uh…because you buy it at the grocery store…?) And while $9 every 6 weeks or so isn’t a huge part of that budget, it’s enough where I had wanted to pare it down a bit.
So I decided to finally bite the bullet and try my hand at making my own laundry soap.
I’ve seen many, many versions of different detergents traveling across the internet, and it really depends on the water in your home. We have hard well water with a softener, so while we don’t see the stains from iron, there are minerals and such in the water that change the way detergents work.
Homemade Laundry Detergent
1 cup washing soda (less than $2 a box)
1 cup borax (less than $3 a box)
1 bar of Dr. Bronners pure castile soap (grated)
Pulse together in a food processor and place in an air tight container. For each load, just use 1 Tablespoon of the mix, less if you have a front load.
Natural Fabric Softener
We’re all so accustomed to using fabric softener in the wash, that we don’t think twice about it. But if you think about it, the softener is used to create an artificial scent and softness to the fabric, which means that some of it must remain on the fabric. For is to breathe in and possible absorb through our skin.
Allowing something to coat the fabric also takes away from the natural softness of the fabric, causing friction in the dryer. Do you have towels that feel scratchy and aren’t very absorbent after just a couple of years? It’s from using fabric softener!
I find that using a natural or homemade laundry detergent, that my clothes and towels remain free of most static. But in the dryer months of the year, or if you need to use a softener on your clothes, there is a one ingredient fix. And you probably have it in your kitchen!
Yes, just plain old white vinegar works to rinse the clothes of any residue (which causes the static buildup while drying) helping your fabrics stay static free. I normally use about 1/4 cup for each load.
Also? The vinegar smell dissipates in the wash. So you won’t smell like pickles.
- Borax and Washing Soda can be found in the laundry aisle of most larger grocery stores, usually on the top shelf.
- Liquid Dr. Bronners is more expensive, but works just the same. I couldn’t find a bar at my local store so I ended up getting the liquid (about $9 instead of $3) and just mixed up the Borax and Washing Soda. I use about 1/2 Tbsp of the mix and one very small squirt of the Dr. Bronners for each load
- Supposedly the castile soap can cause a build up on cloth diapers and that can lead to leaking, stinking, or rashes. So I’ve gone the safe route and have continued using store bought detergents for cloth diapers.
- For Borax safety information, check out the post on Passionate Homemaking, “Is Borax Safe”. I am comfortable using borax in the washing machine, but not in, say, a dishwasher detergent.
I also buy detergent quite often, and I needed in the house when I was washing cloth diapers each day. The brands that seemed to have worked the best for me were Seventh Generation (liquid), Allen’s Naturally (powder), and Rockin’ Green. All are more natural alternatives to those brightly colored detergents you find in most stores.
I have also used Soap Nuts with great success. These completely natural “nuts” are used right in the wash and can be used multiple times, making it very affordable. I bought one pound of them and it’s lasted me a very long time. I haven’t yet tried the concentrate made from the nuts, but would like to at some point.
So what do you use in the wash? What hasn’t worked for you?