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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent

by Tonya

Have you made your own laundry detergent yet? I decided to try it for the first time this weekend. The recipe found all over the internet seems pretty standard:

2 cups grated soap, either Ivory, Zote, or Fels Naptha
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
2 Tbsp baking soda (optional, for extra odor removal)

I wash a lot of clothes in cold water, so I need to make sure the detergent will dissolve easily. To do so, it's recommended that instead of grating, you chop up the soap and then grind it in a food processor. 

But I found another, much more fun idea. It sounds a little crazy, but worth a try!

This probably ONLY WORKS WITH IVORY SOAP, so please don't put any other soap in your microwave! 

Place a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave and heat it up for 60 - 90 seconds. It will turn into something amazing: a huge blob of soap. It looks like taffy, but it feels totally different. It's like thick paper that got wet, and then dried out. 

I didn't put it on a plate or anything, so a little soap was stuck on the microwave's plate. It washed off really easily with water and a little scrubbing. 

Here's my soap-blob before smashing.

After smashing it, you get a big pile of Ivory dust, so you don't have to get out your food processor. Just put it in a big bucket or other container and break it up with your hands or a spoon. It is easy to pulverize. Then put it back on the pan to take a photo - oh, you might be able to skip that step. It's quite dusty, so I do recommend a big bucket so you don't inhale the soap dust or get dust all over the room. 

Stir it together with the borax and washing soda (and baking soda, if you want to add it). 

Transfer it to the final container, and add a scoop. Use about 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup per load, depending on how soiled the clothes are. 

So, how well did it work? I have a front-load washer. I washed baby clothes with lots of food smooshed on them, and wash cloths that were used to clean up after a 1-year old and a 3-year old ate breakfast. I washed on the cold setting, and everything came out clean! The laundry smells clean, yet not at all like Ivory. So far, I'm pleased. Next time I will probably double or triple the recipe since my container has a lot more room. It may be worth mixing it up in the portions listed above, since I have heard that it becomes more difficult to mix as you increase the quantity of ingredients. It also becomes harder to tell if it's well-mixed, since all the ingredients look the same. If you use pink Zote, you can tell if the soap is thoroughly incorporated, since the pink is so visible, but you can't do the microwave + smash shortcut. 

An extra tip for those who want to grate their soap: unwrap it and let it dry out for a week or so before grating. This makes it less likely to stick and gum up your grater.

Have you tried this? Do you have any tips or tweaks for us?