Monday, August 13, 2012

Wash it! Wash it real good!

So last weekend I FINALLY got around to making something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  You guys already know about my homemade/less chemical deodorant and shampoo and it was finally time I made the leap, to yes, laundry soap.  I have been reading homemade laundry soap recipes for years now but just never got around to it.  I was brought to my attention again when Becca mentioned that she was going to make DIY laundry detergent and that mentioning happened to coincide with my running out of the Seventh Generation Free and Clear liquid that I always use.  I decided on a recipe that I found here – thought really pretty much all of the recipes are the same – washing soda, borax and soap.  Generally the only difference is the type of soap people use.  Many recipes use Fels- Naptha or Zote which are actually “laundry” soaps but the ingredients didn’t meet my standards as a lot of laundry soaps are petroleum based, contain artificial surfactants and contain the dreaded “fragrance” (fragrance is “dreaded” because fragrance is considered proprietary so manufactures don’t have to disclose the ingredients and those ingredients are generally loads of chemicals.  The fragrance issue really started for me the first time I picked up lavender essential oil and thought “This smells nothing like lavender!”,  then I realized it was the other way around and the commercial chemical “lavender” scent smells very little like actual lavender – similar to the way a grape snow cone tastes nothing like an actual grape).  SO, I had planned on using one of my favorite olive oil/essential oil made soaps from the Nature’s Gift soap people down at Findlay Market but as my weekends have been so busy I haven’t been able to get there so I picked up this bar of Kirk’s Castile soap from Clifton Natural Foods and the ingredient list satisfied me.

My third option would have been Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap which contains essential oils for scent but with double the price and a few extra ingredients I figured I could add my own scent.

So my recipe went as follows:

1 Bar grated Kirk’s Castile
1 Cup Washing Soda
1 Cup Borax
6-10 Drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil (this smells really strong in the container but not on the clothes)

Now the recipe I looked at said only to use one tablespoon per load so it appears that this recipe made seriously like at least a years worth of laundry soap.  I couldn’t wait to do my first load and I was soooo happy when I pulled them out of the washer.  I can’t explain how clean they smell.  The don’t really have the eucalyptus scent but just the freshest cleanest scent.

 I'm sure the receipt is stuffed in the bottom of one of my reusable bags and I just don't feel like looking for it at the moment but I'd say this is pretty cheap. The bar of soap was $1.99 and the boxes of borax and washing soda were, let's say, about $3 each and while the essential oil costs about $8 a bottle - you can see I literally only used a few drops. So even if you add the $5.99 cost of the greater from Home Goods (a happy place) and the full bottle of essential oil and all of the borax and washing soda the whole project would cost about $22. $22 for a year's worth of laundry detergent is awesome!  AND, when it is time to make it again I will only have to shell out $2 for another bar of soap.  Sounds (and smells) good to me!

NOTE: Tragically the cute bowl in the ingredients pic was lost a few days later during a mac-and-cheese-with-tuna microwaving incident.


  1. Pretty cool. Are there ways to do this for HE machines?

    So sorry to hear about your bowl. :( My childhood was filled with that pattern.

  2. You can actually use the recipe in a HE machine because it does not make suds. Also, if you ever want to make cloth diaper friendly laundry detergent somewhere in the future, you can substitute the soap for Oxi clean... at least that is what I have read online.


  4. Will this blog be hosting a give-a-way? I would really like to try a sample of "Ellen's Super Magical Ultra Fantastickal Alchemical Laundry Soap" in my HE machine.

  5. Becs1345 is right! The low sudsing action should make this suitable for HE machines. In fact, if you look up "How to Make HE Detergent" you get the exact same recipe. I do believe this post could be used as a give away - in which case, Ellen Fan - You've won! This give away is similar to my other give aways in the fact that I need to see you in person to give you your prize (though the last give away was never actually fulfilled) because I don't want to send white powder through the mail.

  6. Holy crap, are you serious?!?!?!?! I won?!?!?!?!! Hell yeah! I can't wait to finally meet you!