Ever wonder what kind of ingredients are hiding in your laundry detergent? Since basically none of the major laundry detergent companies actually label their detergent packaging, it’s hard to know what we are washing our clothes in. Thanks to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the secret is out and unfortunately, it’s not good news. As it turns out, we are washing our clothes in chemicals, many considered toxic. Click the link to get the details of why EWG rates Tide Ultra HE Powder Detergent an F: Tide Ultra HE Powder Detergent
Green Your Laundry Routine – Easily And Cost-Effectively
Shocking! But there’s good news. You can easily make laundry detergent for much cheaper than store-bought and without so many ingredients. As a family of 5 we make a lot of laundry. This recipe costs us under $10 for around 6 months’ worth of laundry! Here’s how to do it:
At your local grocery or superstore pick up these ingredients: (or order from Amazon, but their pricing is much higher than my local grocery store).
- 1 box Borax
- 1 box Washing Soda (not baking soda)
- 2 bars ZOTE soap (or 3-4 bars of Fels Naptha or Dr Bronner’s castile soap)
Borax: Borax is a more natural alternative to harsh chemical cleaners. When used in laundry, it acts as a detergent booster, stain remover, and water softener.
Washing Soda: (NOT baking soda) The high alkalinity of washing soda helps it act as a solvent to remove a range of stains. It also helps to treat hard water during washing by binding to the minerals which make water hard so the soap can work properly.
ZOTE: ZOTE is a laundry soap made with coconut oil and tallow. Alternately, you can use Fels Naptha or bars of castile soap such as Dr Bronner’s.
These ingredients will initially cost you more than $10, but you won’t be using all of the borax or washing soda. See the end of the article for pricing breakdown.
If you have access to a good sized food processor it will make this process so easy! Grab the food processor and set it up with the top cutting blade that will slice the bar of ZOTE into small pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, get ready for a great arm workout! You will need the side of a food grater that gives you the smallest pieces- as close to powdery as possible.
Cut the bars of ZOTE in half lengthwise if necessary to fit into your food processor chute. This also makes it easier to grip for those manually grating it. The soap is fairly soft so this isn’t too hard to do.
Grate the ZOTE into the smallest form you can. Or by hand, grate the ZOTE soap on the smallest part of your food grater. My ZOTE ends up looking like cheese pieces from the food processor, but will be further ground in the next step. It’s important to have as small of pieces of soap as you can in the end product.
Mix together 4 cups of Borax, 4 cups of Washing Soda, and all the grated soap in a very large bowl or plastic bucket.
If you have a food processor, in small batches, add the mixture into the food processor and blend until it becomes a uniform powder. I chose pink ZOTE soap so the detergent ends up as a light pink and white swirl. (Be careful opening the cap right after processing or you’ll get a cloud of laundry detergent right in your face.)
Make sure everything is mixed well and transfer to containers. I like mason jars, but just about anything will work.
That’s it! Use 1-2 tbsp per load depending on soil level of clothing. If you were able to very finely grind the soap, you will likely be able to use this in cold water; I even use it in a front-load washer. Otherwise, you’ll need to stick to warm and hot settings so the soap can properly break down.
If reducing or eliminating household chemicals are a priority for your family, ditch the dryer sheets as well. Some brands of dryer sheets have over 10 toxic chemicals hidden inside of them! As an alternative use some of the money you saved making your own detergent and purchase wool dryer balls from one of the many sellers on Etsy or try your hand at making your own. Pinterest has several DIY dryer ball tutorials. The wool dryer balls will get rid of static and as a bonus- reduce drying time!
Here’s how the homemade detergent formula breaks down:
- 1 box Washing soda (55oz)- $4.00
- 1 box Borax (76 oz)- $4.47
- 1 bar ZOTE $2.64
- 4 cups washing soda (at about 9.8oz weight per cup) = $2.86
- 4 cups borax (at about 6oz weight per cup) = $1.42
- 2 bars of ZOTE = $5.28
A total of $9.56 in actual supplies for around 13 cups of powdered detergent. We use 1-2 tsp per load and do up to 7 loads of laundry a week- so it gives us about a 6-month supply!
Final cost under $0.05 per load!