homemade detergents

Since I began my quest to make our house more enviro friendly, I’ve changed out a lot of my cleaning supplies. I now use baking soda and vinegar for the majority of my cleaning (who knew that old newspapers and vinegar water were the very best window cleaner?). I switched from Cascade to 7th generation for my dishwasher detergent and I’ve also been using Method dish soap, hand soap and spray cleaners for several years. The one thing I never switched out was our laundry detergent.

Not only is the eco friendly very expensive, but I think I was most worried that it would have bad effects on mine and Honor’s skin. We are both SO sensitive, the only thing that I’ve found to work and have used for years is Target’s brand of baby detergent. (Even the name brand bothered me a bit!)

So when I ran across this recipe for homemade laundry detergent, I got all excited. Could I possibly make eco friendly detergent that would be tres cheap? Well, I did. And it works!

I’ve yet to wear the clothes to see how the effect my skin, but I can tell you that they came out of the machine perfectly clean. Here’s the recipe I used:

1 bar Fels naptha soap, grated in the small side of a box grater (be patient, watch your knuckles!)
1 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda (sodium carbonate as opposed to Baking soda – sodium bicarbonate)
1 cup Borax
10-15 drops grapefruit essential oil
Mix together well. (I used my hands to help break up the curls of grated soap.) Store in airtight container.

For “fabric softener”
2 cups white vinegar
10 drops grapefruit essential oil

Dump 2 Tbs. soap mixture in your washer. Turn water on on the hot setting. Fill with enough hot water to dissolve soap. Turn water to cold. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar to fabric softener cup of washer. Run your cold cycle as usual. Wonderful!!

homemade dish and laundry detergents

Making my own laundry soap also got me thinking that I could make my own dish detergent and save a bundle (I’m currently paying about $5 every two weeks for 7th generation detergent! ouch!). I think I’m even more excited about the dish detergent than I am the laundry.

1/4 cup citric acid (I bought this at our local brew shop. It’s about $3 for a pound.)
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/4 cup salt
a few drops grapefruit essential oil (can you tell I like grapefruit?)

I disbursed 2 Tbs between the pre-wash and wash cups. The dishes came out way better than they do with 7th generation. My rinse cup is still full of Jet Dry and when that runs out, I’ll keep it filled with vinegar to keep the water spots down.

EDIT: After much testing, I’ve determined that the homemade dish detergent just doesn’t clean good enough. I am now mixing it half and half with 7th Generation detergent with awesome results. I feel like it’s a good money saving/green compromise.

Where to find borax, washing soda, fels naptha:
I found all of this at my local Kroger grocery store. The borax and washing soda were both next to each other in the laundry aisle. Washing soda was under $2 and the borax was $3.50. Fels naptha was on the same aisle but way at the other end. It’s just a bar of soap made for pre treating laundry (I will use this when my can of spray and wash runs out.) It was just over $1.

Category: green 11 comments »

11 Responses to “homemade detergents”

  1. Allisone

    You can also find fels naptha at Home Depot and Lowes in the cleaning aisle. I think they have borax too – but don’t hold me to that one.

  2. Merededeux

    Fantastic. Love it. I’ve been using vinegar/water for a while to clean and it took a bit to get used to the smell! I’m going to try the dishwashing and laundry soap.

  3. Cher

    Wonderful! Thanks for the recipe!
    Laundry detergent was something my family was eco friendly on for years due to using biodegradable and non filler laundry soaps purchased through private enterprises (Amway, etc.) I was glad when the stores started carrying non-perfume, non dye, no filler, products – and glad to have this recipe.

  4. alexandra

    I’ve been making laundry and dish washer detergents for a while now, too. I think it’s kinda fun. Then again, I have a warped sense of fun.

    I had a hard time finding the products after we moved here to Montana because Kroger is called Smith’s. (In case that helps anyone find the ingredients.)

  5. LeAnne

    Man, this is GREAT! Thanks, I’m going to give it a try.

  6. Rachel

    Thank you!!! I can’t wait to try these recipes. My favorite part is the grapefruit oil!!

  7. Heidi

    Did you read if the essential oil should be used on dish’s intended for food? My sister in law makes soap and she said you should not make dish soap with it? just curious…. She makes hair soap too :)

  8. Nichole D.

    I’m totally going to try this today. If it goes well, I’ll pass it on!

  9. Emily

    Just bought a bar of fels naptha to try on my kids’ stained clothes — lots cheaper than stain spray, and will probably last longer. But I just read on another site that it uses petroleum-based chemicals and is therefore not very green? Do you know anything about this?

    Also, love the grapefruit essential oil idea — do you know if it’s okay to use in other green cleaning mixes like vinegar/water and borax? I use these to clean almost everything but would like a nice smell to go with them (especially the vinegar!)

    Thanks for the ideas! I ‘m bookmarking your site!

  10. Renee

    Fantastic! I only use white vinegar, baking soda, filtered water, essential oils, washing soda, and olive oil in my home. The only thing, like you, I hadn’t changed was the dish and laundry detergents. I have been on hundreds of websites to find a recipe and I came across yours! I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks so much for posting this! The planet thanks you as well.

  11. pretendingsanity » experimentation

    […] I wanted to give an update on my homemade detergents now that I’ve had some time to use them. […]

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