Wednesday, June 25, 2014

DIY Laundry Detergent

I have an allergic child.  I was never allergic to anything as a child, though my seasonal allergies have shown up the past couple springs.  My sister sneezed at everything and had eczema and hives and all kinds of trouble with asthma...and now my daughter has it, too.  One culprit: laundry detergent.  Fabric softener seems to be ok (in particular the Purex crystals even though they are purfumed...), but something in Tide, Gain, ALL - unless it's marked free & clear, she ends up with hives and itchy raw skin.

So, for a while I made our own laundry detergent (after seeing an episode of 19 Kids & Counting, though I think it was 17 or 18 kids &counting at the time...).  I used the Duggar's recipe, which was borax, ivory soap and washing soda.  It lasted for ages.  Then I started looking around for other recipes to tweak, and I made a couple more before... one day, I was out, and I had to wash clothes RIGHT THEN to pack for the kids to go to their dad's and bought some free & clear stuff and I've just been living off convenience the last few years.  I don't think I've made my own since I got married almost 3 years ago.

The last type we used (and just ran out of was this:

I paid $19.00 for this at Big Lots, I believe.  They are on Amazon for $26.46 with free prime shipping.  So, with 84 loads, I paid between .22 and .31 a load.  Not a terrible price.  I had to add vinegar and baking soda to the towel loads and the smelly kid clothes and occasionally a shot of OxyClean for stains... so that adds to the cost.

We wash roughly 6-7 loads of laundry per week.  This includes a fair amount of towels because my kids swim on their swim team year round, and I run/exercise daily, so that stuff has to be washed a lot (it is STANKY!)... This container of ALL mightypacs, which I bought in late March, has lasted us almost 3 months.

SO, I decided to compare my homemade DIY detergent.  This is a work in progress.  Now, I love super all-natural things.  I believe there are too many chemicals used in the things we put in and on our bodies.  Having had cancer, and knowing that certain chemicals are carcinogens, I like to limit that.  That said, this is NOT an all-natural 100% free-of-chemicals recipe.  But, it is way way less polluted than the pre-made stuff, and way cheaper.  And all the containers are recycleable or reusable!

You need to make a plan first about what you are going to put this stuff in - I had a plastic container that was used for something else (storage) so that cost me nothing - but I know I got it at the dollar store when I did purchase it...

1 box Borax (4lb, 12 oz.) - $3.97
1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (3lb, 7 oz.) - $3.24
2 bars ZOTE laundry soap (or you can use 4 bars of ivory) - .97 each = $1.94
1 big box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4lb.) - $2.24
1 bottle Purex Laundry Crystals (optional - 55 oz.) - $7.96
1 container of OxiClean (optional - 3lb.) - $8.99
TOTAL: $28.94 (about what the mighty Pacs for 84 loads costs on Amazon...but 4 times as many loads.)

The Purex and the OxyClean are the "unnatural" parts of this.  They are also the most expensive.  Without the oxiclean and the smelly stuff, You'd be looking at $11.99 to make this whole batch.

I like the Crystals because they smell good and keep my towels and running clothes fresh.  When mixed into this huge batch, it's not a huge amount per load.  Also, I prefer to keep the OxiClean in there because it does keep the clothes brighter and cleaner looking, as well as boosting the stain-fighting/removing.

The first order of business is seriously the worst part, but once it's over, it's so worth it.  Grate that soap with a cheese grater into a big bowl:

Then you mix all the other ingredients in with it.  I put in about a quarter of each ingredient and stir it, and then layer the next quarter, and then stir it (I use my hands), because if you just dump it all in there at the same time, it's harder to mix.
This is the full batch in the container.  It's heavy.  It's a lot.

You need about 2 TBSP per load.  Yes.  Read that again.  2 TABLESPOONS.  It's half an oxiclean scoop (which I saved for the big container) and if you use the Purex crystals, the container it comes in is perfect for keeping a smaller amount accessible, and the cap has little lines on it.  The middle line (marked in purple here) is the 2TBSP mark.  This will be great for the kids, because they have progressed from just sorting and folding laundry to actually washing and drying it.

And there you have it!  I have no idea how many loads this will do, but I would venture a guess that it will last me until Christmas at least.  Which would make it less than .14 a load.  I'll let you all know when I run out and recalculate then!


  1. JJ, I'm not sure what all of this stuff is, but I'm going to try this! Seeing as there are only two of us in this household, I'm going to wager this will last us years!!! LOL! LU, Crazy Aunt Anne

  2. I am going to try this too! Trying to keep clean, good-smelling clothes has gotten expensive!! :) Chaquita