I have seen 40,001 recipes on Pinterest for homemade laundry detergent. Personally, I'm partial to liquid detergent; however, the majority of the recipes I found for liquid detergent required giant stockpots, cooking things on the stove, and thermometers...all things that came too close to me having to buy a second set of pots and setting up a chemistry lab in my kitchen. I make all of my stuff in the kitchen, but I don't want to have to drop through a hole into a secret lab filled with vinegar, Zote soap, and a flashing sign that says "But wait! There's more!"
After combing through about 15 recipes for powdered detergent, I made a mish-mash of the best parts of each recipe (and yes, we have tested it--it works wonderfully!). JR says that it gets the clothes softer than our old detergent (which I tend to agree with), and better than that, it doesn't have a super strong smell. In fact, there's very little smell at all (you won't believe this when you're making it...the whole house will smell like detergent for an hour or two).
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
For a year worth of detergent (at five to seven loads a week), it will cost you about $21--or if you use the optional OxiClean ingredient, $29. Yes, you read that correctly: less than $30 for the whole year.
So, what do you need?
This stuff! This picture doesn't represent the full amount, just for clarification. But it does show all of the types of ingredients.
4 pounds of baking soda
1 box Borax (76 ounces)
1 box Super Washing Soda (55 ounces)
2 bars (approx. 5.5 ounces each) Fels-Naptha soap (you can also use Zote or plain Ivory)
2 bottles of Purex Crystals (55 ounces each)*
A Big A$$ bucket or container for mixing
* In this picture, I have the Purex Crystals for Baby (perfume and dye free, blah blah blah), which only come in 28 ounce bottles. If you want to make the whole recipe with the Purex Crystals for Baby flavor (yes, flavor), this will require FOUR bottles--not two.
One more optional ingredient to add to the mix is one 3-pound container of OxiClean.
So...how do you make it? The first step takes the longest...if you don't have a good food processor. Without a good food processor, grate the Fels-Naptha on a cheese grater. THEN, put it through whatever food processor you have until it's ground up as fine as possible. With a good food processor, you can cut the soap into chunks and pulse it in the processor until it's done. Last night I decided to cut the soap into chunks and pulse it in our baby bullet--after all, it makes short work of brown rice to make rice cereal. Um...don't try to pulse the soap in here unless it has been grated first. It makes a mess. It can be done...but it's incredibly messy and time consuming. I could have carved it by hand with a spork faster than the baby bullet. Anyway, it looks like this after it has been processed:
* Don't let this picture fool you--it's at the bottom of a 3-gallon bowl--NOT big enough. Get a bucket. Just trust me. I used a 10-gallon Rubbermaid container.
Next is the easiest part: dump everything else in and stir it up! Okay, stirring that much material that is basically like sand isn't easy...but it's not hard.
A large part of this will fit back into the Purex Crystals bottles. Put the rest in another container and refill your bottles as needed.
How do you use it? Just like any other detergent! (and here's a side note just in case you didn't know--you should always add the detergent to the WATER, not on top of the clothes to then turn on the water) You use significantly less though:
1 to 2 TABLESPOONS (on the Purex Crystal bottle lid, that is the middle line)
It doesn't get really sudsy, so you're going to need to let go of the whole notion of "sudsy = clean" in order to use this stuff.
Have Fun and Happy Laundry Day!