Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent for HE Washers
You should be able to make a full batch from start to finish in about 15 minutes. A full batch is good for about 40 loads so you should only have to make it once a month or so. It is a small sacrifice to know you are not putting nasty things like sodium lauryl sulfate on your family’s skin.
*ALL OF THE ITEMS USED IN THIS RECIPE ARE NOT HARMFUL TO YOUR CLOTHES WASHER, SEPTIC SYSTEM AND FAMILY MEMBER’S SKIN UNLESS SOMEONE HAS AN UNUSUAL SENSITIVITY.
*IT HAS LITTLE TO NO SMELL AND THE SMELL DEPENDS ON WHICH BAR OF SOAP YOU CHOOSE. SUNLIGHT SEEMS TO BE THE STRONGEST SMELLING AND LIKELY WOULD CAUSE THE MOST SKIN PROBLEMS ALTHOUGH MANY OF OUR FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SKIN AND HAVE NO ISSUES EVEN WITH THE SUNLIGHT BARS OF SOAP.
If someone has a great fabric softener recipe (that is natural and good for folks with sensitive skin) and is willing to share PLEASE do so by leaving a comment below. We live in an area where we can only use a clothesline 6 months of the year. Nice smelling laundry would be a nice bonus for us and our readers, especially in the cold winter months.
And now the recipe…
1 Cup (250ml) of Washing Soda or Baking 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.
How do I make my own washing soda?
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.
In fact you can make your own washing soda by heating baking soda in an oven.
Simply spread out the required amount of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 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 washing soda or sodium carbonate.
1 Cup (250 ml) of Borax
Don’t like Borax? Don’t use it! It’s main function is to make the ph of your detergent in the 9.5 to 10 range as that seems to be the best for stain removal. We have made batches without borax and have noticed no difference in performance.
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 commonly 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.
1 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 Cup Oxygen Cleaner Powder
Oxygen 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.
Using a fine grater, grate 1 BAR OF SOAP as fine as possible and add to blender or mixer but DO NOT BLEND OR MIX.
If you have a multi sided grater use the grater with the smallest holes. The finer the soap is the better as it will mix in your mixer/blender and the better it will dissolve in cold water. Don’t use the citrus zester as it will clog and just drive you crazy.
Graters are very cheap and it makes sense to go out and buy one (with tiny holes) that you only use for your new HE laundry soap.
It makes sense to do the grating in a cool room or on a cool day as the soap will be soft and sticky if it is too warm.
Add 1 CUP OF WASHING SODA and 1 CUP OF BORAX (if you want) to your blender/mixer and blend to a fine powder.
Add 1 CUP OF OXICLEAN (or other oxygen powder) 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)
Dump your new laundry detergent into a 1 liter mason jar and shake a bit.
CELEBRATE…YOU ARE DONE!
Makes about 5 Cups (1250ml) per batch.
Use 1/16 cup (30ml) (1 tablespoon) per load.
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 Cup (125ml) OxiClean – $0.88
(based on 10lbs or 4.6kg available for $8.97)
1 Bar Laundry Soap – $2.79
(based on one full bar bought for $2.79)
TOTAL COST = $5.97 PER BATCH
EACH BATCH IS GOOD FOR ABOUT 40 LOADS
PER LOAD COST = 15 CENTS ($0.15)
TIPS WHEN USING POWDERED 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. 99% of the time the manufacturer recommends the tray.
- 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 of bar soap with no problems at all. I would be hesitant to use more than double, as you may get more suds/foam than desired. Another trick is to add a tablespoon of vinegar to your detergent just before you start the wash cycle. It will foam up like crazy but seems to work a miracle with certain stains.
- Speaking of vinegar, until someone gives us a better idea, you can put vinegar in the fabric softener compartment to remove smells like urine if you have children or others who wet their beds. It makes a HUGE difference.
Enjoy your new laundry soap!
And PLEASE leave a comment below!!!!!