Sunday, July 28, 2013

DIY Borax Free Liquid Laundry Detergent


I have been searching for a homemade laundry detergent that didn't contain borax and didn't involved grating soap, one that was simple, nontoxic, and worked. I tried one powdered detergent that required grating soap and that was too much work for me. I also did not like using it when I washed in cold water. I found lumps of detergent stuck to my clothes.

I am loving the ease and the low cost of this liquid detergent recipe I found over at the blog My Merry Messy Life. I have washed four loads of clothes and all of them have come out looking clean and smelling fresh. It's not an overpowering smell like store bought detergents tend to have. Just a fresh, clean smell. And it's super cheap. It will cost you under $3 for two gallons of detergent. Dr. Bronners castile soap may be the most expensive ingredient, but this stuff is great. I used unscented baby mild, but lavender or citrus would be good choices too.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup super washing soda
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • water
  • 3/4 cup Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap
  • 20-50 drops lavender essential oil

Equipment

  • two gallon bucket
  • measuring cup
  • funnel
  • 2 one gallon containers (old vinegar bottles work great)

Instructions

Pour the super washing soda into the bottom of the two gallon bucket. Cover with hot tap water and stir until dissolved. Add the baking soda. Once baking soda is dissolved, fill the bucket to the top with water. Add the castile soap. Do not try to add the castile soap before the water or it will be too sudsy. Stir to mix in soap and add the essential oils, if desired. Funnel into bottles and label.

Use 1/3 cup of laundry soap per load of laundry. Before using, gently slosh in bottle to mix ingredients thoroughly.

*** A note on storing your detergent ***
My washer is located in the unheated garage. I experienced some clumping and suspected it was due to storing the detergent in a cold environment, because this is the third batch I've made and didn't have problems over the summer. I gently warmed the mixture on low, stirring until it was all liquefied again. Good as new. Lesson learned. Now I store it under my kitchen sink and lug it back and forth. 

29 comments:

  1. Where did you buy your ingredients? I looked at amazon and the castile soap alone would cost $5 . . . You definitely got a better bargain!

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    1. I bought the castile soap locally, at Whole Foods I believe. I found the other ingredients at my regular grocery store and I already had the essential oils on hand. The Dr. Bronner's may seem a bit expensive, but it goes a long way. I actually bought a large bottle, which cost me around $9.00 but it will last for quite a while and I use it for many things other than the laundry detergent. I use it, along with some essential oils and a bit of dish soap, in a spray bottle as a multipurpose cleaner. I also use it to mop my floors. Some people have had success using it to make shampoo but I didn't like the way it made my hair feel. There is even more reason to support Dr. Bronner's as they have donated money to support GMO labeling.

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  2. Is this safe for cloth diapers as well? I have a sensitive baby, and hard water. I've been using a homemade detergent with Borax, Washing Soda, and Oxyclean-free. I need something with soap in it, I think.

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    1. Yes, this is safe for cloth diapers. Dr. Bronners actually has a baby and sensitive skin formula too if you are concerned about skin sensitivity.

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  3. If you use a scented Dr. Bronner's, would you need the essential oils?

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    1. You can try it without adding the essential oils, but if you like to smell a "perfume" scent to your clothes after washing you may find the scent isn't strong enough.

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  4. I have been using this & like it, but it's really starting to seperate pretty badly, one of the ingredients is kind of geling & turning white, so I'm finding it's not washing my clothes well enough. Any thoughts? Advice?

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    1. Isabel, where do you store the detergent? My washer and dryer are in the garage and I began to notice the same happening with my last batch. When I brought it into the house I no longer had that problem so I am thinking it is temperature related.

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  5. I'm slightly confused. What is the purpose of 2 gallon jugs? Once I make it in one jug to I pour half of it into the empty jug and then fill both of them with water? Or is the recipe only for 1 gallon and I make it twice?

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    1. When you fill your bucket you should end up with two gallons of detergent to store in the jugs :)

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  6. I made this today (haven't tried it yet) and just made it directly in the gallon jug. I just halved the recipe and put a little hot water in the jug followed by the powders, then filled with water almost to the top and poured in the Dr. Bronners soap. No mess and easy peesey. Fingers crossed it works well for my laundry.

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  7. Is this really liquidy? Mine is and I'm wondering if I just used too much water

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  8. This is quite promising. Anyway, I’m always curious about the texture of homemade detergent. This is the way I test if the experiment I did is good, especially in liquid ones. In my opinion, if it’s slimy on the hand, and can be washed after two to three soaking, it is good.

    Weston Adams

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  9. Mine is quite liquidy as well. It is almost the same consistency as water. wondering if I too used too much water.

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    1. George, how big was your bucket? When I make my detergent it is more liquidy than the really thick store bought liquid detergents, but I'm still finding great success with it. I do have to add a bit more to dirtier loads after my son goes wallowing in the dirt, lol, but for general laundry the 1/3 cup per load works great.

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  10. This recipe is fabulous Gina! It lasted a couple of months, and now onto batch #2. I don't think I'll ever go back to store bought detergent!

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    1. Awesome, Emily! I have been using this recipe for about a year now. I have only used store bought once in that time, and only because I got it for free.

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  11. Thank you for this recipe! I've been using it for a month, so here is my review: Love it!!! I can't lie and say it works as good as my previous soap with all the borax and yuckies in it, but it still does a very good job. We are going to continue using it because we believe the chemicals are not worth it. I really has gotten out all of our dirt and mud, just the whites are a bit dingy. I too had problems with clumping and I had stored this in my house. It doesn't bother me though. I just shake it up and the clumps all the same. They break down in the wash cycle, so I can't justify taking the time to melt it back down to be consistent. Thank you again for this safe laundry alternative

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    1. Glad it works for you. I wonder if adding a bit more washing soda directly into the machine would brighten those whites. I do use double the recommended amount of detergent when I have a particular nasty load, but overall I am very happy with it. I searched for a long time before coming up with a liquid recipe that doesn't require borax.

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  12. Could you decrease the water and create a thicker "concentrate" or is there a reason it needs to be diluted?

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    1. April Martin, I have never tried creating a thicker, more concentrated detergent, but you could try experimenting. You would, of course, use less per load. Let me know the results if you do :-)

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  13. Hi Gina! I have heard that adding vinegar to your load acts as a fabric softener. Do you think I could add ACV to this recipe? Or do your clothes already come out pretty soft?

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    1. We put straight white vinegar into the fabric softener well in our washer. I think adding it with the detergent would just wash it out.

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    2. Andrea, I do use ACV, and just as Panya suggests, add it to the fabric softener/bleach well.

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  15. Hey Gina, would this work ok on a high efficiency front loader machine?

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    1. Lynne, I honestly don't know. I have heard that some high efficiency machines may have their warranties voided if you use homemade detergents, though I am not sure if that is true either. I have 10 year old machine. Maybe someone else stopping by has the answer for us?

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