laundry detergent recipe

Homemade laundry detergent recipe!

For those witches who are on a budget and want to save a LOT of money on laundry detergent, and also want to personalize their laundry scents and ingredients, this is for you!

I decided to start making my own laundry detergent two years ago when I got into college and couldn’t believe how much money I was dumping into laundry soap. So I looked up how to make it myself, and couldn’t believe how cheap and easy it was. For about $10-15, I could make myself a HUGE amount of detergent. To put it into perspective how much money you’ll save, I bought my supplies for it two years ago and still haven’t run out! I highly recommend this for college witches or witches on a budget.

I wanted to share this with you all, and I’d love to hear how you guys decide to make yours!

Recipe to Make 2 Gallons of Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent:

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (both can be found in most grocery stores, such as Meijer or Walmart)
  • 1 bar of soap, any kind you’d like!
  • Optional: an essential oil of your choice 

Materials:

  • The largest pot you have
  • Something to stir with
  • Cheese grater 
  • Two empty gallon containers (milk jugs work great for this)

How to Make: 

1. Grate your one bar of soap with your cheese grater. Personally, this is my favorite part! Its always so pretty. 

2. Fill up one of your gallon jugs with water, and pour into your pot. Turn the heat on high. You could also add infused water, moon water, snow water, etc. 

3. Pour your grated soap into the pot and stir until the soap is completely dissolved. This might take a few minutes!

4. Add the 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Washing Soda and continue to stir until all ingredients are dissolved. If you have any other ingredients you would like to add, such as herbs or other laundry-safe substances, this is where I would do it. 

5. Bring the mixture to a boil. Be warned though, watch this closely! Turn off heat as soon as you see the mixture boiling and starting to rise. I’ve walked away from this before and came back to a overflowing mess due to the bubbles that start forming. If this starts to happen, turn off the heat and blow on it.

6. Make sure the heat is turned off and fill up a gallon jug with cold water. Add the cold water to the pot and stir well (clockwise for the witches in the northern hemisphere!). If you have an essential oil you would like to add, allow the detergent to cool slightly and then you can add 15-20 drops, or more if you’d like a stronger smell. 

Your detergent should be bubbly and smell wonderful at this point! 

7. Allow the detergent to cool enough so that if you spill it, it won’t burn you. Then carefully spoon or funnel the detergent into your 2 one-gallon containers. If you spill any on your skin, rinse it off with water as soon as you’re done, especially if you’re someone with sensitive skin. 

Allow up to 24 hours for your detergent to thicken completely. It will be thick upon first use once it has cooled, but if you can’t pour it easily, you can stick the end of a wooden spoon into the container to break it up a little. Shake well before each use and you should be good to go!

To Use: 

Pour between ½ - 1 cup of detergent into each load. Sometimes for extra dirty loads I just pour in as much as I want. It’s so cheap to make I never worry about using too much! 

I really hope that everyone finds this as amazing as I do! I love this wonderful stuff. I really enjoy adding some witchy element into my laundry. 

Blessed be, my loves!

So Laundry Discourse Exists

Because I promised I’d tell this story last night.

Lately, I’ve looked into making my own laundry detergent because finding laundry stuff that both contains no animal products and isn’t tested on animals in small town Indiana is an exercise in frustration and I don’t have the stamina for it.  One of my first acts in 2017 was to Google image search “homemade laundry detergent” because a lot of people put theirs in these cute jars and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

This is how I discovered that homemade laundry detergent is a CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE.

And not even for the reasons you’d think, like people being all “I’m not going to sit down and GRATE BARS OF SOAP to save money” or whatever.  No, this is a matter of SCIENCE.

What it comes down to is there’s this thing called “stripping” your laundry, which, from what I can gather, used to be a thing to get rid of mineral buildup on fabric from very hard water, but now mostly exists to give new moms using cloth diapers one more thing to worry about.

(Incidentally, I have also learned that CLOTH DIAPER DISCOURSE is a booming industry with many websites devoted to telling you while you’re sopping up your child’s filth ALL WRONG.)

How stripping laundry works is you take your clean laundry and dump it in the washing machine or bathtub or what have you.  Then fill the container halfway with hot water, and add your mineral removal solution.  You can either buy this solution or make your own using Borax, washing soda, and Calgon.

Borax, washing soda, and Calgon.  Remember that for later.

So then you let the clothes soak for about four hours, stirring every forty-five minutes or so, and the water gets all murky and horrific with all the evil you’re stripping out of the fabric, and then you take the clothes and run them through a wash cycle in your machine using only water, which, if hard water was your problem in the first place, seems really counter-intuitive.

ANYWAY so somewhere along the line people using cloth diapers decided that the diapers weren’t as white and didn’t absorb as much after repeated uses, and then was the result of detergent buildup on the clothing (I’d have figured it was the result of, you know, repeated use wearing things out, but I’m an idiot who doesn’t know anything about parenting).  So if you truly want your cloth diapers to be clean and your baby’s skin to be protected from harsh detergent chemicals, you have to strip your cloth diapers!  Because why not add one more battle to the Mommeigh Wars to stress women out?

(Incidentally, my sister and I lived through our cloth diapers never being “stripped.”  Of course, I also lived through having mine dried on a clothesline outdoors despite being allergic to every outdoor thing ever, so yeah.)

‘But Lauralot,’ you may be thinking, ‘what do horrible commercial chemicals have to do with homemade laundry detergent?’  Thank you for providing that segue!

So homemade laundry detergent has become a thing recently, probably as a combination of the recession, doomsday preppers, and Pinterest, and then some people decided they didn’t like homemade laundry detergents, and judging from the tone of various websites I’ve seen (there are WEBSITES devoted to this), some of the ones who don’t like it have made it a crusade to tell you why it’s the devil and will probably make your washing machine break and your family die.

So if you “strip” your laundry washed in homemade detergent, the water looks gross!  I mean, it looks gross if you do it with commercial detergent too, but shut up, this is clearly because homemade detergent is SCIENTIFICALLY INCAPABLE OF CLEANING CLOTHING.

Why is that, you may ask?  Well I found a long blog post that explained it scientifically in that when people make homemade laundry detergent, that the active cleaning ingredient is grated soap, and soap is completely different from detergent because detergent has surfacants that let it clean your clothes without sticking to them, but soap surfacants don’t work that way for some reason I wasn’t paying attention to and the other things in homemade detergent just soften water and can’t possibly clean the horrible evil soap residue from your clothing so your clothes are FILTHY WITH SOAP AND MINERALS, LOOK AT THE STRIPPING PICTURES, SEE THE TRUTH.

At this point because it was like one in the morning and everything was funny to me, I hopped on over to Discord to ask @nicrosil, who works with pool chemicals, about all this, because pool chemicals and laundry chemicals actually have a lot in common.

So anyway, @nicrosil explained that homemade detergent typically uses castille soap, with the active ingredient of lye (sodium hydroxide), which has a high pH.  The Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) and washing soda (sodium carbonate) used in the stripping solution also have high pHs.  So regardless of any preexisting carbonate buffers in the water, when you add all those things together, you end up with a solution with a high pH, and as the pH increases, water solubility decreases.  So things that normally dissolve in water don’t, and you end up seeing a bunch of crap you wouldn’t otherwise, because that’s how chemical solutions work, and not necessarily because ALL FILTH ALL THE TIME.

(Also I notice that in every picture of stripped laundry, the murk in the water is always MUCH darker with colored laundry than with white, so I’m wondering if some of this isn’t just trace amounts of dye leaking out into the water).

But this is the part that was really funny to me, because ninety percent of homemade laundry detergent recipes I’ve seen only consist of three ingredients, those being castille soap, Borax, and washing soda.  BORAX AND WASHING SODA.  The two water softening agents you can’t possibly trust to wash away the soap, unless you’re using them to strip the laundry post-wash, and then for some reason it’s fine?

Now in fairness, the comments of the big long post about the evils of homemade detergent went into some thing about why soap surfacants are completely different from detergent surfacants and why Borax and washing soda work in stripping but not in homemade detergent but halfway through, the post turned into an advertisement for some eco company’s detergent with a suspicious lack of any stripping pictures following washes in this commercial detergent, so I lost interest and also it was about 1:30 in the morning and I was tired.

So yeah.  That’s how I started 2017, by learning about LAUNDRY SOAP DISCOURSE and the effort women will go to in order to make other women feel like crap about their homemaking skills.  It was really funny to me last night, so I sure hope it holds up for anyone reading this in the day.  And if not, my apologies.