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Saturday, June 15, 2013

DIY Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Thank you again, Pinterest, for tapping into another weird obsession I have: laundry.  The first time I ever attempted to do laundry at home, I complete flooded the basement. (No one told me that the tub had to be in the utility sink! Why was it even out?) Anyway, I kept at it.  For years in college, I mixed my whites and colors.  I also shrunk numerous shirts. I really didn't care much at that point.  I finally got the hang of it after I graduated and realized that I loved doing laundry. When I bought my house, I researched the perfect washer and dryer combo. I wanted a steamer washer but it was out of my price range. I ended up getting a nice water saving high efficiency front loader and dryer. The guy at Best Buy told me that the washer would pay for itself in energy and water savings over time.  As I come from a family of "drippers" [hence the adult bibs that I will write a future post about], I had a lot of stains to tackle.  I've tried many different formulas to get out stains. Some worked, some did not. I realized that I had to know the origin of the stain. Was it an oil? Dirt, blood, make-up?  I finally found that Oxy Clean was my best friend. I made a paste out of it with water and sprayed some Shout on it.  Using a nail brush and letting this sit for a few days helped.  When someone had a tough stain, they gave me the garment.
 I knew that laundry was my passion when my friend Kim asked me to get out ink on one of her white dining room chairs.  Her toddler had used her chair cushion as a canvas with a blank ink pen.  I brought my scrub brush, Shout spray, and oxy clean over during a pool party. With a small crowd of onlookers,  I made "my" paste and gently scrubbed out the ink. My reputation was sealed!
 I found a website with another person obsessed with laundry via Pinterest.  What?!? She made her own laundry soap! I never thought about it. I only used Gain original scent. I also only used Gain dryer sheets.  I also experimented with Oxy Clean, Borax, and bluing for white whites. My mother often would comment, "Your grandmother used to use borax." Or "Oh, your grandmother used to use bluing."  I knew I wasn't reinventing the wheel just 'rediscovering" it. However, I love the scent of Gain.  Yet I am trying to save money and Gain is not cheap. 
.What is Laundry Bluing?
I experimented with a few different recipes online. Here's the one I used: 
*4 cups water
*2 cups bar soap (such as Fels Naptha or Ivory)
*2 cups Borax
*2 cups Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer is most common)
Boil water in a huge pot.  Add borax and washing soda to the boiling water. Mix. I did wear heavy latex gloves as the super washing soda can be caustic (or burn the skin.) I did not wear splash goggles as I normally would when making soap with lye.  I used Fels Naptha bars. However, I tried cutting and grating it but it was really hard. I ended up throwing some chunks in thinking that they would melt. They didn't!  I did add a few drops of lavender essential oil.  However, I really couldn't smell it over the sharp smell of the Fels Naptha.
For my next batch, I chopped and used a food processor. Much easier.  Stir and cook the mixture.  I let it cool a little and then I poured it into an empty plastic container.
I really had to shake it but it still seemed to "set up" toward the top. I flipped the container in a bucket but it never really blended. I waited 24 hours and then used the detergent in my HE washer.  I added some extra water and shook the mixture up again.  I probably added about a cup of the more watered down version. Since my clothes really weren't that dirty, I also use the "quick" cycle of my machine.  The clothes came out clean.  For a dirty load of baby clothes, I would probably use more detergent on a full cycle.
Here's a link to The Dugger's recipe.  If I made the liquid one again, I might try this next.
Here's a no-grate recipe that uses Dawn instead of Fels Naptha:
No cook recipe with Ivory soap:
Keep this mixture away from children and pets.  The poison number for the U.S. is 1-800-222-1222.  I also plan to get some Mr. Yuck stickers.
You can also add oxy clean (one of the ingredients in it is Super Washing Soda) or baking soda. I've seen a few recipes that also include vinegar.  
There are a lot of other websites out there that will break down the cost of this.  I finally found Super Washing Soda at Walmart. It was less than $2.50 for a box. However, it took me three trips as they would not on the shelf the first two times I went. You can go to the Walmart website and actually get the number to ask an associate to help you find this item.  Fels Naptha is about $1 a bar. Strangely, I had used it before as a stain treatment so I already had some. I also had my 20 Mule Team borax handy.  This is a must for natural cleaning.  I used to add a small scoop of Oxy Clean and borax to each load. 
See next post on the dry laundry detergent recipe: