Homemade Laundry Detergent

After becoming a bit more comfortable with making homemade products, I thought I would I try my hand at detergent.



I spend a good deal of money on both cloth diaper friendly detergent and the most ‘natural’ regular detergent for my family’s clothes.

Both of these recipes are super easy and the ingredients you can get at your local grocery store. Both are great for HE machines as well since they are low suds-ing. (We currently use this detergent on our front-loading HE machine)



Let’s start with the easy one: cloth diaper detergent

Ingredients:

(Equal Parts)

Arm N Hammer Super Washing Soda
Baking Soda
Sun Oxygen Cleaner

I always enjoy understanding why I am using a certain product – so here is a quick explanation to why these ingredients are a good choice to use when washing clothes/diapers.



Washing Soda – (Sodium Carbonate – Na2CO3) Washing Soda is very caustic with a PH of 11 which is great in degreasing, removing stains and cleaning. It is also great at softening water due to the two sodium molecules in the formula.  

Baking Soda – (Sodium Bicarbonate NaHCO3)  Baking soda has a PH that is slightly base compared to washing soda and dissolves faster as well. It is a great product to get rid of funky odors and neutralize acids, like urine (hello, cloth diapers!).

Sun Oxygen Cleaner – NOT OXYCLEAN! The versions of OxiClean contain too many additives. Instead, use simple oxi-products like Sun Oxygen Cleaner. When the hydrogen peroxide (the main ingredient in oxygen cleaners) meets water, it breaks down into oxygen and water which forms little bubbles like soda - which gently bleaches and cleans.  


So here it goes – just add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a wooden a spoon. Viola! How frigg’n easy is that!? I use about 2-3 tablespoons per load for my HE washer.



Place in an air tight container and rock-n-roll. For a scoop, I bought a small metal cup (I believe it is used for measuring alcohol in mixed drinks). I use a whole little cup full - I believe its about 3 tablespoons.

 



Now that you’ve mastered that. Here is a bit more challenging recipe for an all-purpose detergent.


Ingredients:

1 cup  Arm N Hammer Super Washing Soda
½ cup Sun Oxygen Cleaner
1 bar   Fels-Naptha Soap




I got my Fels Naptha Soap at Walmart. I was surprised at how fragrant it was – it smelled very clean and refreshing.


I made a double batch here, so I cut up two bars.


After getting permission to use my husband’s food processor, I placed the soap chucks in the processor to shred up. You could grate by hand if you don’t have one handy and have a ton of time on your hands. (It was actually pretty easy to clean afterwards)


I placed the rest of my ingredients in the processor.


And then run the thing for a good while until everything is mixed well and the soap is pulverized. Place in a container that has an air tight lid – and that’s it! I use the same amount - about 2-3 tablespoons for each load.


Well, then you have to do dishes – bah.


So, 4 ingredients and you have two detergents that are guaranteed to save you money and clean just as well, if not better, then the detergent you buy at the store (most of which contain surfactants, dyes, optical brighteners, and enzymes).  



You may notice that I omitted a very commonly used item in homemade detergent: Borax – this is done purposefully. Due to studies linking this chemical to reproductive problems, many European nations require the box be labeled with warning such as “may damage fertility” and “may damage unborn child”.

I decided to use an oxygen cleaner in place of Borax. This is because when using Borax and Washing Soda, the two combine and form molecules of hydrogen peroxide which is the main ingredient in oxygen cleaners. So, in essence, I am just skipping a step and adding the H2O2 molecules instead of the nasty chemical compound, sodium borate (Borax).

 

Looking for other homemade recipes? Check out some others that I have tried:



35 comments:

  1. How much do you use for a load on the diaper detergent?

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  2. Wow - great question! How could I fotget to include something like that! LOL

    We use about 2-3 spoonfuls.

    My washing routine is COLD rinse, HOT Wash and WARM Rinse with soap, WARM wash and WARM Rinse without any soap.

    I better add this to the section!

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  3. I haven't seen one without borax! Interesting fact about it causing reproductive issues...i had no idea!! Where do you find the sun oxygen cleaner??

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  4. Ashley -

    I got a huge tube of the Sun Oxygen Cleaner at Walmart! It was was about 1/3 the cost of the Oxyclean.

    I wasn't sure I would find it there, but that was the first place I looked. I also have heard you can find it at Dollar General or other dollar stores.

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  5. I have been making the borax, washing soda, Oxiclean detergent for at least a year now. I think I'm going to go to skip out on the borax the next time I make a batch. I buy Oxiclean *Free*, though. Does that still have other additives? I've never seen Sun brand, but maybe that's because I wasn't looking for it.

    I've tried using Fels Naptha, but it has wayyyyy too much fragrance for me. Just simply taking it out of the packaging gave me an instant headache. Trying to grate it by hand made that headache start pounding. I gave up on that and threw it in the garbage.

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  6. I'm thinking the only safe oxiclean brand is the Baby OxiClean...though I'm not certain.

    I understand completely about the Fels Naptha lol - after I made my detergent, the whole first floor of my house smelled like it !!

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  7. Hello... Ive been reading through your blog and just made the CD detergent tonight... a few sites ive ready say not to use baking soda or super washing soda... not 100% why though... has this been an issue for you? I have Bum Genius 4.0 and some prefold/covers? Also I have a top loader so is the amount still 2-3 TBS? Thanks!!

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    1. hmm, interesting - no, we havent had a problem. We've been using this for quite awhile on my grovia diapers. We only have some fuzzy buns and bumgenius 4.0 aplix.

      It's been great and I couldnt tell you how much we've saved since we've been making our own - its such an awesome savings!!!

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    2. Okay awesome! I'm going to give it a try! Thanks!

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  8. How much detergent do you use with a regular load of laundry? Thanks in advance!

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  9. I use the same amount for each type. I use about 2-3 tablespoons I believe. We have a small cup we use, it's a jigger (used for measuring and mixing drinks)

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  10. Is this recipe HE compatible? Should I still use 2-3 tbsp? Thank you for the borax-free recipe!

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    1. Hi Megan - Yes, this is HE friendly.

      We have a HE washer and have been using both the cloth diaper and regular detergent recipe.

      We use about 3 tablespoons.

      I haven't had any problems with replelling with my grovia cloth diapers.

      I'm glad I could help! This is such a money saver!!

      Delete
  11. Does your food processor still have any soapy taste? My husband is against using ours for this, but without it the soap doesnt get incorporated very well... thanks!!

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    Replies
    1. Great question - I was leary to ask my husband if I could make this using his food processor...but we haven't had any issues with it at all.

      In fact, he actually makes the detergent for me now!!

      We usually leave the parts of the machine in hot, soapy water for a few hours.... this recipe has saved us TONS!! If you are leary about the soap, investing in a cheaper, separate food processor might be worth the money!

      But.. in my experience, we have not had any issues.

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  12. Thanks for the last answer, and im back with another question... I just made batches of both of these. Except I used zote instead of fels napths bc I couldn't find it. Anyway long story short, my grovias (stay dry soakers in ai2) started repelling, or so it seems since I suddenly am getting night time leaks every night! (We could go 12 hours w no leaks just a week ago). The diaper that just leaked didn't even feel too wet inside, it seemed like it just seeped out the back after rolling off the soaker. Any advice? Could it be the zote residue in the washer? (I never use fabric softener on anything)

    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Oh no! Don't use it on cloth dipers!!! It is made with coconut oil, tallow, and optical brightners so it will cause buildup badly.

      It is fine to use on your regular clothes - but the cloth diaper detergent is the Washing Soda, Baking Soda and Sun Oxygen Cleaner (equal parts)only!!!

      I also use Grovia (AIO) - I've been using this detergent for forever and it works better then any other I have bought....

      Again - the second detergent listed here on this post is for regular clothes - the first one is for cloth dipes!!

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    2. Sorry... I think my 3am post was confusing. I only used the diaper detergent on the diapers and the other with my other clothes :). But if you haven't had repelling issues it must be something else I did along the way

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    3. Hmmmmm.... interesting...I'm sorry you are having issues!!! MY bungenius started to repel after awhile, but that was before I started using my own detergent. I like Grovia because it made of naterual fibers which are less likely to repel and cause reactions...

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  13. Hi I am wondering for the soap can it be any natural soap? I have found this website that makes natural soap they are also a local shop and was wondering if it would be ok http://www.herbariasoap.com/
    Now I do know they make their own laundry detergent out of their soaps but it's expensive and u don't get much and I want only one scent

    Thanks :)

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    Replies
    1. I would say sure, as long as its not for cloth diapers.

      You could totally use their soap!!

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    2. Awesome hopefully making some this weekend :) ill let u know how it goes for me lol

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  14. Ooo also is it ok to use fabric softener with this recipe ?

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    1. no-no to fabric softener w/ cloth diapers.... also, i would stear clear of using it because its full of chemicals... although I admit my husband sneaks it in occassionally when we wash the bedding...which is kinda nice lol

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    2. O no not for cloth diapers just normal use. No kids for me yet but when I do I plan on cloth diapers they are cute lol. Also instead of the sunoxygen could I use oxiclean bc I do have oxiclean lol

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    3. You can definately replace the Sun oxygen cleaner with Oxyclean... although the Sun Oxygen Cleaner is much more cheaper then Oxyclean .. plus Oxyclean has a bunch of weird chemical additives, such as optical brighteners and weird things. : )

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  15. Just made mine with Oxiclean so far so good it took of part of my husband dried in red stain(he works with colors) it has a strong smell but to me that means it cleaned it lol

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  16. which recipe do you use for baby clothing? TY!

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    Replies
    1. Hey Melissa - We simply used the regular detergent for our kids : )

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  17. We dont have a food processor, will a blender work for the soap bar?

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    1. I have seen recipes that mention hand grating the bar soap if you dont have a food processor...then you could put the ingredients in the blender and mix/puvlerize well.... that should provide compareable results....

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  18. Thank you for this article. I didn't know about the Sun Oxygen Cleaner. Is it all natural? I'd been using 2 Tbsp of equal parts washing soda and borax for a long time and have been very happy with the results for all our regular laundry. I was concerned upon seeing your information about Borax. However, looking further into it, according to the study that found the reproductive problems in rats, an adult human would have to INGEST more than 2 teaspoons a day to see any possibility of reproductive problems. In fact, studies done on humans working with this stuff in factories showed no difference in fertility and in one study even showed INCREASED fertility among the factory workers. It looks like there has been an attempt to demonize Borax because of economic and political reasons instead, and they have used this greatly exaggerated toxicity idea as a way to do so. Here's one article I found on the topic: http://www.health-science-spirit.com/borax.htm I just thought you might like to know this information is out there. Good post and good recipes though. I LOVE simple, natural, homemade solutions!

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  19. Hi! Love your post! I use cloth diapers (now on baby #3) and have been making my own detergent for my family for a long time! I, also, recently read that borax is bad so I've stopped using it!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe and for the time it took you to post it!

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  20. I think the issue is that baking soda and washing soda can be abrasive if not rinsed out properly.. From what I've read, if you ensure you have a good rinse routine everything should be fine.
    I'm excited to try this as it's the same ingredients used in my favourite brand!

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