Homemade HE Laundry Detergent

March 25, 2013 · 10 comments

-GO DIRECTLY TO LIQUID LAUNDRY SOAP RECIPE (HE APPROVED)-

-GO DIRECTLY TO POWDER LAUNDRY SOAP RECIPE (HE APPROVED)-

Why we need to use HE laundry soap.

For years we have been told that our front loader washing machines must use special HE laundry detergent.

No…not just any liquid or powder soap will do.

It must be approved for HE (high-efficiency) washing machines.

High efficiency washing machines must meet a certain standard when it comes to water and electricity consumption.

he logoAs a general rule, an HE washer will use about 1/6 to 1/10th the water compared to a non HE model. Less water means less dilution of detergent causing more suds.

While most folks think the HE detergent somehow lubricates the washer or makes the washing machine work better or last longer, it is not that complicated.

The truth is this:

Because high-efficiency washing machines use so much less water, they would not be able to remove the suds (foam) a standard laundry detergent produces.

Using laundry detergent in an HE washer is likely to result in overflowing soap suds and a huge soapy mess in your laundry room.

That’s it. Not rocket science but it makes sense.

That is great news for us because most of the products that cause foaming (aka foaming agents) are bad for our health, bad for the environment and bad for our septic systems.

You can make homemade HE laundry detergent in both liquid or powder depending on your preference. We prefer the powder as it is easier to make, does not need any heat and is easier to store.

The other great news is that making your own HE laundry soap is a lot less expensive than purchasing at your local grocery store. We make 2 gallons of liquid detergent for about $2.00.

Here are the recipes:


Homemade Liquid HE Laundry Detergent

2 1/2 Gallons (10 Liters) of Water

Distilled water is the best but we don’t use it and don’t think you need to either.
Plain tap water will work just fine.

1/2 Cup (125ml) of Washing Soda or Baking Soda

Soda Crystals Washing Soda(read below to transform baking soda into washing soda)

Washing soda (a water softener and food additive) is nothing more than sodium carbonate also known as soda ash. It can either be extracted from the ash of burnt plants or made synthetically from salt (sodium chlroide) and limestone.

Washing soda is usually sold under the brand name “Arm & Hammer” in North America, “Lectric” in Australia and “Soda Crystals” in the United Kingdom and Europe. It is most often located in the laundry detergent section of your grocery/drug/department store.

It is usually not too hard to find if you have access to a large grocery/drug/department store but we have heard others say they cannot find it at all locally.

washing soda for he laundry soap

Even if you are not a chemist you might have noticed that washing soda (sodium carbonate) resembles baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). It is very similar.

Use baking soda as a substitute for washing soda in he laundry detergent.In fact you can make your own washing soda by heating baking soda in an oven.

Simply place 1/2 cup (250 ml) of baking soda on a cookie sheet and bake it in your oven at 200 degrees F for 1 hour. Water and carbon dioxide are released leaving you nothing but washing soda.

1/2 Cup (125 ml) of Borax

Borax is a naturally occurring white powder also known as sodium borate. It is mined underground and is used for a variety of things including cosmetics, food additives, fire retardants, anti fungals and detergents.

Borax works very well as a laundry whitener and deodorizer. It is another one of those items that can be difficult to find. It is found in the laundry section of some grocery/drug/department stores and might even be a little harder to find than washing soda. The most common brand is 20 Mule Team (North America) but is also available as Natura (Canada) and G. Baldwin and Co.(United Kingdom). We can buy a 76oz (2kg) box for $5.49.

Using Borax HE Laundry Soap

Using Unscented Laundry Soap for HE washers1/4 Bar Laundry Soap

Laundry bar soaps are available in the following brands: Fels Naptha, Ivory, Zote, Sunlight and many others. They all seem to work fine and are all different sizes. The first time you use a new bar you can go by the weight (or volume) when after it has been grated. We use a no name laundry soap bar from a bulk foods store at a cost of $2.79 per bar. Some of these bar soaps can still be found in the laundry section of your local grocery store.

 


INSTRUCTIONS:

STEP 1 Grate the bar soap and place in a pot large enough to hold 2 1/2 gallons.

STEP 2 Add 6 cups (1 1/2 liters) of water to pot and heat on high

STEP 3 Stir in Washing Soda and Borax

STEP 4 Keep stirring until everything is dissolved

STEP 5 Add 34 cups (8 1/2 liters) of water and stir

STEP 6 Remove from heat and allow to cool. The detergent will gel.

STEP 7 Pour into preferred container. If detergent is too thick, stir in a little water.

STEP 8 Use 1/2 cup (125ml) per load.


The Cost of Liquid Homemade Laundry Soap/Detergent for HE Washer

2 1/2 Gallons (10 liters) Water – Free

1/2 Cup (125ml) of Washing Soda – $0.54
(based on 55oz or 3kg for $5.95)

1/2 Cup (125 ml) of Borax - $0.61
(based on 76oz or 2kg available for $5.49)

1/4 Bar Laundry Soap – $0.70
(based on one full bar bought for $2.79)

TOTAL COST = $1.85 PER BATCH

EACH BATCH IS GOOD FOR 40 LOADS (10 liters divided by 125ml)

PER LOAD COST = 4.6 CENTS!


Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent for HE Washers

1 Cup (250ml) of Washing Soda or Baking Soda

Soda Crystals Washing Soda(read below to transform baking soda into washing soda)

Washing soda (a water softener) is nothing more than sodium carbonate also known as soda ash. It is usually sold under the brand name “Arm & Hammer” in North America, “Lectric” in Australia and “Soda Crystals” in the United Kingdom. It is located in the laundry detergent section of your grocery/drug/department store. It is usually not too hard to find if you have access to a large grocery/drug/department store but we have heard others say they cannot find it at all locally.

washing soda for he laundry soapEven if you are not a chemist you might have noticed that washing soda (sodium carbonate) resembles baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). It is very similar.

Use baking soda as a substitute for washing soda in he laundry detergent.In fact you can make your own washing soda by heating baking soda in an oven.

Simply place 1/2 cup (250 ml) of baking soda on a cookie sheet and bake it in your oven at 200 degrees F for 1 hour. Water and carbon dioxide will be released leaving you nothing but washing soda.

1 Cup (250 ml) of Borax

Don’t like Borax? Go to homemade laundry detergent without borax

Borax is a naturally occurring white powder also known as sodium borate. It is mined underground and is used for a variety of things including cosmetics, food additives, fire retardants, anti fungals and detergents.

Borax works very well as a laundry whitener and deodorizer. It is another one of those items that can be difficult to find. It is found in the laundry section of some grocery/drug/department stores and might even be a little harder to find than washing soda. The most common brand is 20 Mule Team (North America) but is also available as Natura (Canada) and G. Baldwin and Co.(United Kingdom). We can buy a 76oz (2kg) box for $5.49.

Using Borax HE Laundry Soap

Using Unscented Laundry Soap for HE washers1/2 Bar Laundry Soap (large bar like 14 oz)

Laundry bar soaps are available in the following brands: Fels Naptha, Ivory, Zote, Sunlight and many others. They all seem to work fine and are all different sizes. The first time you use a new bar you can go by the weight (or volume) after it is grated. We use a no name laundry soap bar from a bulk foods store at a cost of $2.79 per bar. Some of these bar soaps can still be found in the laundry section of your local grocery store.

1/2 Cup Oxygen Cleaner Powder

oxygen cleanerOxygen cleaning power is made from hydrogen peroxide and sodium percarbonate. Hydrogen peroxide is the stuff we use commonly for wound care and oral care. Sodium percarbonte is made by combining sodium carbonate (which is washing soda) and peroxide. Both of these substances are used in many eco-friendly cleaners as the byproducts are water, oxygen and washing soda when they are mixed with water. The most common brand of oxygen cleaner is OxiClean but it is also marketed as Oxyper and OxyBoost. Oxyboost is a Natural Choices product and is a bit cheaper than the OxiClean brand.

Oxygen cleaners used for homemade laundry soap


INSTRUCTIONS:

STEP 1

Using a fine grater, citrus zester or blender, pulverize a 1/2 BAR OF SOAP as fine as possible.

Step 1 Slice soap into small pieces and blend in blender.

I like to slice the soap into smaller pieces and then add to the blender.

Sliced soap in blender before blended

Blend for about 30 seconds. The finer it is the better it will dissolve (even in cold water).

Soap after being blended

Only process 1 cup at a time as it will be easier for your blender. Also it makes sense to do this in a cool room or on a cool day as the soap will be soft and sticky if it is too warm.

STEP 2

Add 1 CUP OF WASHING SODA and 1 CUP OF BORAX to your blender and blend to fine powder

Add washing soda and borax

STEP 3

Add 1/2 CUP OF OXICLEAN OR OTHER OXYGEN POWDER CLEANER and mix with a spoon
(do not blend the Oxygen powder in a blender as it is already fine and it will make nasty dust)

Add OxiClean or other power oxygen cleaner

STEP 4

CELEBRATE…YOU ARE DONE! Makes about 5 Cups (1250ml) per batch.

Use 1/16 cup (30ml) (1 tablespoon) per load.

powder he laundry detergent


The Cost of Powder Homemade Laundry Soap/Detergent for HE Machines

1 Cup (250ml) of Washing Soda – $1.08
(based on 55oz or 3kg for $5.95)

1 Cup (250 ml) of Borax - $1.22
(based on 76oz or 2kg available for $5.49)

1/2 Cup (125ml) OxiClean – $0.44
(based on 10lbs or 4.6kg available for $8.97)

1/2 Bar Laundry Soap – $1.40
(based on one full bar bought for $2.79)

TOTAL COST = $4.14 PER BATCH

EACH BATCH IS GOOD FOR 40 LOADS

PER LOAD COST = 10.4 CENTS


TIPS WHEN USING HOMEMADE DETERGENT FOR HE WASHERS

  • Your homemade soap/detergent can either be added to the drum/tub or the regular tray of most HE washing machines.
  • You need to careful though because some front loading HE washers have specific instructions that say you should not add detergent the drum/tub. We are not sure why but it is best to follow the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you have hard water simply add more washing soda to your recipe. As washing soda is a water softener, a little extra makes your washing machine work much better if your water is full of minerals.
  • If your clothes are particularly dirty (you have kids who play in the mud or your spouse is a mechanic) add more soap to your recipe. We have doubled the normal amount with no problems at all. I would be hesitant to use more than double, as you may get more suds/foam than desired.

Enjoy your new laundry soap!

Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tania Kothera April 16, 2014 at 12:35 am

I have followed this recipe for dry soap to a T…. we just bought a new LG HE washer and I did a load of darks with the Normal/Cotton setting… The Fels Naptha soap didn’t dissolve and was stuck to some of the clothing. This washer uses very little water and I’m wondering if you can do without the Fels Naptha soap all together. I would prefer not to make the liquid… sounds like a big mess to me. Suggestions? I hate to go back to buying detergent from the store.

Reply

Gaylynn March 13, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Does this powder need to be stored in an airtight container? I usually keep my powder in a glass canister with a glass lid and no airtight seal.

Reply

Jody Graham March 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Hi,
We store ours in a mason jar that isn’t necessarily airtight. If you live in a dry part of the world I don’t think it matters what you store it in. However if you have a lot a humidity in your home or cottage, the soap will tend to clump into hard pieces. Even if it gets hard you can simply shake the jar and make it loose again. Have a great day…

Reply

Lanie Haugen November 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm

In Step 5 you have 81/2 liters of water. In other parts of the recipe, you have it measured in cups. Would that be 48 cups of water? Or are you saying 8……1/2 liters of water? Just a little confused.

Reply

vapingpoint September 29, 2013 at 10:30 am

This recipe is not a “detergent”(as in man-made manipulated molecules) is it? I am trying to find/make a NON DETERGENT laundry soap! Here your recipe is called a “detergent”. I am hoping it is not.

Reply

Jody Graham October 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

Hi,
Thank you for your comment. I didn’t really know the difference between detergent and soap when I wrote this article. According to your definition I would think all soaps are detergents. Our recipe uses bar laundry soap (man made), Borax (naturally occurring), baking soda (naturally occurring), washing soda (naturally occurring) and oxygen cleaner/peroxide (naturally occurring). Some of the items I just mentioned do occur in nature but the store brands were likely man made. It is hard to get hung up on man made vs. naturally occurring. Cyanide and chlorine are both available in nature but I wouldn’t wash my clothes in them necessarily.

Sorry I can’t give you a better answer. All I can speak for is that we use the powder version and we love it. It cleans our four children’s clothing really well without giving any of us rashes or skin troubles. Half of us have very sensitive skin and would have horrible rashes if we dared use Tide or anything like it…Jody

Reply

zapperoli September 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Can u use peroxide intead of oxyclean especially if your making the liquid soap?

Reply

Jody Graham September 16, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Thanks so much for your comment. If you look close you will see there is no oxygen cleaner in the liquid HE detergent. Only the powder soap requires OxiClean.
However, I would definitely add peroxide to the liquid recipe if you need a detergent that is a little stronger. Blood, for example is cleaned very well with peroxide. Most organic stains (grass, blood, tomato juice) respond really well to peroxide. Hope this helps and have a great day!!!

Reply

Brenda September 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm

For powder HE detergent, your ingredient list says “1/2 cup” of oxy, but your directions say “1 cup” of oxy. Which is correct? Thank you.

Reply

Jody Graham September 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Sorry about that. It should be 1/2 cup of Oxygen cleaner. I have corrected the page. Thank you for pointing that out and enjoy the powder laundry detergent. It really is amazing.

Reply

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