So, as you all know, we are trying to live as naturally as we can. In an effort to do so I have made our first batch of homemade laundry detergent and I am here to share my experience and recipe with you.
What's the 640 loads of laundry you ask? That's how much laundry I can do with one batch of detergent, that's right, one batch!
I have been researching recipes and ways to wash our clothes naturally for a while now and I kept finding one recipe after another that made 1-2 mason jars of detergent at a time. That's like 16-32 loads. That is not going to cut it in the house! Our little family of 5 produces a LOT of laundry! We are outside in the yard, garden, camping, hiking, fishing, etc. everyday. We get dirty!
I needed a way to make a lot of detergent at one time because lets face it, I have more important things to do than make laundry detergent every few days.
This recipe will give you (if you have a front loader) 640 loads of laundry for a little more than $5!
(the cost will be less after the first time when you don't have to buy a bucket.)
Here is what you will need...
1 five gallon bucket with a lid
1 bar of Fels-Naptha Soap
1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup of Borax
4 cups of water + more water to fill in the bucket
(Each one of the above items costs around $3. You will have a lot of washing soda and Borax left over, but there is an endless list of ways to use them. They are all found in the laundry aisle).
First you will have to shred the bar of Fels-Naptha. A cheese shredder works just fine. While you are shredding it you can put the 4 cups of water in a sauce pan on the stove on medium heat.
Here is what the soap will look like when it is shredded... Be sure young children know they cannot eat the soap! (I had to tell my 4 year old 2 times that it was NOT cheddar cheese and she could NOT eat it!)
Now, add the shredded soap to the hot water. You will need to stir very often and will do so until the soap dissolves.
In the meantime, between stirring, you can fill the 5 gallon bucket half way with hot water.
When the soap dissolves completely pour it into the 5 gallon bucket of hot water. Also add the cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of Borax.
Stir all the ingredients in until the powders have dissolved in the 5 gallon bucket.
Then fill the rest of the bucket with more water. Stir again to mix the soap with the new water.
Now put the lid on the bucket and let it sit overnight.
It will turn to a thick gel and will separate a little from the water. I had about 1/2 inch of water on top of my gel in the morning. Stir again. (this time was a little harder to stir. I ended up using a whisk and being elbow deep in the bucket).
Then you will fill a container (it could be a jar, an older detergent bottle, whatever you are going to keep the detergent in while using it) 1/2 way with the "gel". Then fill the second half with more water and shake well.
Here is what mine looks like.
(Please excuse my unattractive old jam jar. It's just one of the many ways we reduce, reuse, recycle)
I put it in front of the window, so you can see it's a little lumpy. I believe this is totally normal, but it may work better with hot water. I used room temp water.
It takes 1/4 cup per load in an HE front load washing machine and a bit more in a top loader.
You will have to shake the detergent before each use because it does separate.
And that is it folks. The time it took me was about a combined total of 45 minutes and I now have enough detergent for 640 loads of laundry! The best part is... it's natural! And I know I am not poisoning my family with harsh chemicals.
I will keep my 5 gallon bucket of "gel" in the basement and refill when needed.
As a side note I will mention that a lot of people think they need to add a scent to their homemade detergent. I think the smell of the Fels-Naptha is very pleasant. But you may add a few drops of an essential oil if you would like your clothes to have a different scent.