Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Truth About Homemade Laundry Soap

I finally finished my bucket of homemade laundry detergent. Over the last six months, I have done some reading on the ingredients in the detergent as well and have some observations.

  • Homemade laundry detergent doesn't work very well. I stirred the goop. I doubled the amount used - my white cotton socks are so grey and ugly that they look like rags for cleaning the car.
  • The homemade laundry soap doesn't dissolve well in cold water (which is all I use) and often leaves goopy streaks on the washing.
  • Fels-Naptha is made from petrochemicals and isn't very green. Probably shouldn't go on the garden, either.
  • Borax, while a naturally occurring mineral, is bad for your vegetable patch in greywater as it can accumulate in the soil.
I've still got some Borax, washing soda and bar soap - I'm torn between making another batch, stronger, to see how it performs - or finding a hazardous waste disposal for the stuff and going with a biodegradable powdered detergent in a recycled cardboard box.

Thoughts? Observations?


Green Bean said...

Perfect timing in the sense that I was just about to make my first batch of homemade laundry soap. I use borax for cleaning the toilets so you could use it up that way. Not sure about the washing soda.

Jenn said...

Oh - excellent idea - I need something for cleaning the toilet.

Chile said...

I use washing soda for my hot presoak for pads and wipes; it works better than detergent or soap.

I buy Borax every few years when I see others raving about it, but I don't really like it and don't think it works as well as baking powder for most cleaning jobs.

I don't buy the Fels soap.

I don't use homemade laundry soap either, but it's not advisable in front loading machines from some things I've read. I use very little detergent per wash so it wouldn't save me all that much money.

If you don't want to keep your supplies, put them up on freecycle or craigslist. I'm sure someone would take them off your hands. :)

Chile said...

By the way, Happy Belated Birthday!

Anonymous said...

We like Ecover powdered detergent. It seems to work. We only use cold water. And it's the one detergent that doesn't come with a plastic scoop! The scoop is made from recycled cardboard.

Green Bean said...

Beth, do you have a front loader? I've always thought you have to use liquid for a front loader. True?

Anonymous said...

No, we have a top loader. We got it for free from our previous landlady. When it dies, we'll replace it, but it's fine for right now. We ony use cold water and do about two medium loads per week. (Our main strategy is wearing clothes as many times as possible before washing them.)

Jenn said...

Beth - not underwear, right? :)


I do the same strategy - I have some lightweight gym shorts so I try to wear those about 3-5x/week when I go to the gym, but sport bras, socks, tshirts - all gotta get washed. I generate a surprising amount of laundry by exercising 3-5x/week.

Anonymous said...

Um... so I either just admitted that I don't exercise much or that I stink. It's door #1. I need an incentive to start running again!

A Slice of the Pie said...

I too have been using homemade laundry detergent. I started using borax, grated ivory soap, and baking soda. Not too effective.

Then we tried washing soda, ivory soap, and baking soda. Then ivory soap and baking soda.

I do add vinegar on heavily soiled loads and whites, and that helps a bit.

What the homemade detergent isn't effective on is odors, so I've thought about adding some essential oils. I am guessing that store bought detergents cover up odors with fragrance and chemicals as opposed to truly removing them.

Unfortunately, my oldest son can't use my homemade stuff on his super smelly socks or work clothes, so I have been buying detergent for him.

In short, I am still working on a good recipe.

Green Bean said...

Ha! Don't worry, Beth. I don't exercise much either. Wish that weren't the case. We too re-wear stuff several wears - except the kids who tend to get their clothes dirty, painted, etc.

I'm thinking I'll try the soap nuts. Anyone here try them? Anna over at Green Talk just posted about them and she was very happy.

Creative Life Studio said...

I completely agree. I went back to store-bought, e-friendly detergent. The bar soap I used didn't dissolve either and I'd see little white chunks on the clothes. And the socks looked particularly bad. I'm going to be looking thru the comments to see what others have said.

vegeater said...

Yep, go get yourself some Biokleen, or Ecover, or Citrasolve, or (if you live in the mid-west) Restore Products. I have never had luck with the homemade, although I do add a bit of borax to every load because it enhances the action of the soap.

you could try using the Ivory soap as bubble bath...?

B. said...

try soapnuts! they contain natural soap = saponin, and have been used in ayurvedics for centuries...