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DIY Laundry Detergent Recipes

Ever wonder how to make your own laundry detergent? Seek no more.


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You could argue that the whole DIY movement has gone too far, but we’re not going to listen. Even if DIY Rat Taxidermy is a thing, we’re interested. Even if people are making matchstick airplanes with frozen insect propulsion systems, we’re interested. Even if people are making… well, you get the point.

It comes as no surprise, then, that people have taken to crafting their own laundry detergents. Because, why not? At first we were a tad surprised that this is actually a thing, but then we decided to delve deeper. It turns out making laundry detergent is pretty easy, and you can do it with some basic household goods. What’s more, it’ll save you money in the long run.

Here are a few recipes.

From One Good Thing (Liquid)

  1. In large juice container, mix 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda, and 1/2 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid.
  2. Add 4 cups hot water (to dissolve ingredients).
  3. Fill rest of container with cold water.
  4. Shake container before each use, and use 1/4 cup per large laundry load.

From DIY Natural (Powder)

  1. Grate 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of bar soap (Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha) into a large bowl or bucket.
  2. Add 1 cup of borax.
  3. Add 1 cup of washing soda.
  4. Thoroughly stir mix for 5 minutes.
  5. Use 1 tablespoon per regular load, or 2 for heavily soiled loads.

From How Does She? (Powder)

  1. Grate 2 (14.1 ounce) bars of Zote or Fels Naptha soap with cheese grater or food processor.
  2. Mix the following ingredients in a large bucket:
    • 1 (4 pound, 12 ounce) box of Borax
    • 1 (3 pound, 7 ounce) box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
    • 1 (3 pound) container of OxyClean
    • 1 (4 pound) box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
    • 2 bottles of Purex Crystals Fabric Enhancer
  3. Use 2-4 tablespoons per laundry load.

From Wellness Mama (Liquid)

  1. Grate 1 whole bar of soap with cheese grater or food processor.
  2. Put grated soap in pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.
  3. Put 4.5 gallons of really hot tap water in a 5-gallon bucket (available for free in bakeries at grocery stores, just ask them) and stir in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda until completely dissolved.
  4. Pour soap mixture from pan into 5-gallon bucket. Stir well.
  5. Cover and leave overnight.
  6. Shake or stir until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers.
  7. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load.

As for which to choose, the DIY Natural recipe seems to be the easiest and cheapest to make, but the How Does She? recipe has an ardent following, including some 1,800 comments on the original post.

But stay tuned, because we’re planning on doing a test-run of these DIY detergents in our own labs!

[Photo: Flickr user Garden Hoe (top), Sam & Chelsea Powers (middle), Creative Commons]