Monday, June 13, 2011

Make it Yourself Monday: Laundry Detergent

The last time I bought laundry detergent was a YEAR ago.

No, it was not because I've been using my own homemade detergent all that time. It is because what I bought a year ago was a 10-lb carton of Tide Original Powder from BJ's Warehouse. Even with coupons, it cost $37 (which isn't bad for a year's worth, but that's not the point).

The problem with Tide is it is filled with chemicals. I originally started using it because it is one of the few drugstore detergents that can be used with cloth diapers AND regular clothes. 
But it's chock-full of artifical scents, dyes, brighteners, and enzymes. That's no good for anyone, let alone for something I put on my baby's bum!

There are a TON of new cloth-diaper-friendly and eco-friendly detergents. The problem is that they are usually quite expensive. One of the best I've tried, Thirsties Cloth Diaper Super Wash, costs $20 for 64 loads.  It works great, is gentle on baby and the environment, but $20 isn't exactly a rock bottom price for approximately 3 month's worth of just diaper laundry. 

I wondered, is there a detergent that is gentle yet effective for clothes and diapers, and is inexpensive??

So, I did a little research and found this recipe on The Eco-Friendly Family blog. The recipe is just for cloth diapers, but I plan on using it on all my laundry. The "regular" detergent recipe involves grating soap, and I am much too lazy to do that. 
First, I assembled my ingredients (and a goofy kid):
  • 2 boxes of Borax -- $3.99 each
  • 3 boxes of Washing Soda -- $2.99 each
  • 1 96oz Tub of OxiClean -- $10.99 - $1/1 coupon in 4/17 SS = $9.99
Total Cost= $26.94

Then, I took my giant, now empty box of Tide which I saved and wiped clean, and dumped all the ingredients into it!  It is really that simple. 
I gave it a few good stirs with a long metal spatula; and I did rotate ingredients as I added them -- Borax, Washing Soda, Oxi, Borax, Washing Soda, etc. 

*Note* The Borax does create some dusty powder when you pour it in -- I would suggest doing it outside or perhaps using a face mask when you do this. Or, you could always just go all bank robber and tie a bandanna around your mouth and nose. 

I had ample opportunity to test out this recipe on all our laundry over the weekend, as both kids were suffering from some insidious stomach ickiness.  The good news is, the cloth diaper detergent works just as well as my old powder Tide did on all our clothes -- minus the optical brighteners, additives, and artificial gunk.

Pros of homemade laundry detergent:
  • Cheap
  • Effective
  • more eco-friendly than comparably priced commercial detergents (although not completely eco-friendly -- Borax, while natural, is pretty toxic, and I have no idea what's in OxiClean)
  • Easy to make
  • Makes 9-12 months worth of detergent in one go
  • It's what the Duggar's use
  • Have to actually mix it up
  • Need somewhere to put it -- although I don't recommend my method of buying a huge 10-lb carton of detergent, waiting a year to use it up, then using your now-empty carton.

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At June 13, 2011 at 1:29 PM , Blogger Christina said...

I use my food processor to grate the soap lol

At June 13, 2011 at 2:50 PM , Blogger Kristin said...

See? Another reason to buy a food processor. This post made me giggle! I'll probably "go all bank robber" and emulate the Duggars when I run out of the detergents I had to try and am making myself finish...

At June 13, 2011 at 8:33 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

I'm going to have to save up my Swagbucks and go for that food processor. I was looking at them longingly at Target on Friday.


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