Thursday, October 13, 2011

I am a laundromat.

Not really, actually.

I do laundry maybe once a month (a bonus of not having kids yet). The DDH does small loads more frequently because he has a limited number of work appropriate shirts and a lower tolerance for re-wearing clothing than I do (this is, admittedly, the man who was raised to use a bath towel only once before washing it. He gave up this habit when he realized that I, unlike his mother, was not going to wash a giant load of towels twice a week), but I usually do a big laundry party weekend for my clothes and the towels/rags/napkins/sheets roughly once a month.

The beagle likes to keep the laundry warm for me while I fold it.

This weekend, I suspect, has been nominated as The Laundry Weekend, and I noticed that my laundry detergent supply was running low. It's time to make more, and, while I'm at it, thought I'd share the recipe.

Because as it turns out, laundry detergent is so ridiculously simple, fast, and cheap to make that I do not understand why people buy commmercial detergents. Srsly guyz. Have you seen the price for a box of Tide these days? That is not in my budget. Plus, even the not-particularly-keen-on-green DDH has sensitivities to the chemicals in that stuff. So! Without further ado:

You need:


*Washing soda (this is not baking soda; it can be found on the laundry aisle of your grocery store and occasionally Walmart)

*Bar soap, such as Fels Naptha (laundry aisle) or Ivory (something plain, basically, is what you want, and white so it won't discolor your clothes)
*A food processor

*Something to store it in (I use the empty detergent bucket from the detergent I bought at Sam's Club before discovering this magical recipe)

Cut a bar or two of soap into chunks and process in the food processor until it is finely grated (I used to do this by hand until a friend told me she used her food processor--it's much safer for the fingers, heh).

Mix the grated soap with the Borax and washing soda in your container using a ratio of 2:1:1 soap: Borax: washing soda.

Use one Tablespoon for a full load of laundry. Less for smaller loads and, now that we have one of those energy-efficient washer things, I use a little less than a tablespoon for large loads, too.


Seriously, the first time I made it and had to buy everything at once I think it came to less than $15 for a big thing of Borax, a big box of washing soda, and ten bars of Ivory soap. That lasted me a year and a half before I had to get more Borax and washing soda (I think I had to get more soap sooner). Admittedly, I already told you I don't do that much laundry. But call it twenty bucks for a year of two people's laundry is cheaper than commercial detergent any way you slice it, and with the food processor it takes less than ten minutes.

It works better than the cheapo stuff I was buying at Sam's before, and seems to work just as well as Tide or anything like that. In the winter when everything is colder, I use a little less and make sure the soap is really, really finely ground if I'm doing a cold-water load (which is most of them), because sometimes the soap wouldn't dissolve all the way and would leave little flakes on the clothes.

And! While we're on the topic, there's no need to use fabric softener, either. White vinegar does the job perfectly well. I pour some into the little fabric softener ball that came with my washing machine. This keeps all my clothes from being painfully stiff when I air dry them.

This site has some other detergent recipes, including liquid ones, if you're a die-hard liquid detergenter.

Try it! Let me know how it works.

Linked with Your Green Resource at SortaCrunchy.


  1. Thanks for the recipe.i have been using soap nuts for my laundry. But I have been wanting to try making my own. :)

  2. Soap nuts, like essential oils, fall into that category of "things all the green bloggers talk about that seem to intimidating for me to hunt down and use." I have heard good things about them! But I suspect this is cheaper, so it's worth a try. Let me know how it turns out!