Creating Homemade Detergent

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Home Improvement

Making detergent from commonly found household items is simple and easy. Anastasiia Krivenok / Getty Images

With so many laundry detergents on the market, it’s easy to be swayed by fancy packaging, advertising and promises. However, it’s possible to create a comparable detergent using basic ingredients found in your own home.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ a bar of soap
  • ½ a cup of washing soda
  • ½ a cup of borax
  • A 4-gallon (15-liter) empty bucket
  • Scented essential oil (optional)

Here are the steps:

  1. Collect your ingredients. Most ordinary bars of soap, washing soda, and borax will suffice.
  2. Grate or break the soap into small pieces and place in a saucepan.
  3. Add 6 cups of hot water and stir over medium heat until the soap melts and dissolves into the water.
  4. Fill the bucket with about 1 gallon (4 liters) and 10 cups of steaming hot water.
  5. Combine the melted soap solution, ½ a cup of washing soda, and ½ a cup of borax into the bucket of water.
  6. Thoroughly stir the mixture until all the powder liquefies.
  7. Seal the bucket and allow the mixture to cool overnight. The mixture will thicken into a watery gel.
  8. Dispense your homemade liquid into an old, empty laundry detergent bottle for ease of use.
  9. Use roughly ½ a cup of detergent with each laundry load. Shake the bottle before use [source: Lehmans].
  10. Add 10 drops of essential oil to each laundry load. This not only adds a subtle fragrance to your laundry but also fights stains and acts as a fabric softener [source: The Real Essentials].

If you’re not interested in making your own laundry detergent but still want to reduce the use of chemical-laden products, consider:

  • Vinegar. Adding vinegar to your washing machine during the final rinse helps eliminate any soap residue left on your clothing.
  • Baking soda. Substitute your commercial fabric softener with baking soda. If you add baking soda to your washing machine at the beginning of the load, you may reduce the amount of chlorine bleach used [source: MSU].

FAQ

1. What ingredients do I need to make detergent at home?

To make detergent at home, you will need a few basic ingredients: washing soda, borax, bar soap, and essential oils (optional). You can find washing soda and borax at most grocery stores or online. For the bar soap, you can use any kind of natural soap, such as castile soap or homemade soap. Essential oils can be added for fragrance, but they are not necessary.

2. How do I make detergent from these ingredients?

The process of making detergent at home is quite simple. First, grate the bar soap using a cheese grater. Then, mix the grated soap with equal parts washing soda and borax. Add a few drops of essential oils if desired. Store the mixture in an airtight container. To use, simply add a tablespoon or two to your washing machine.

3. Is homemade detergent safe for my clothes?

Homemade detergent is generally safe for your clothes, but it is important to note that it may not work as well as store-bought detergent. Some people have reported that homemade detergent can leave a residue on clothes or cause colors to fade. It is also important to use the correct amount of detergent, as too much can cause buildup.

4. Can I use homemade detergent in a high-efficiency washing machine?

Yes, homemade detergent can be used in a high-efficiency washing machine. However, it is important to use a low-sudsing recipe, as high-sudsing recipes can cause problems in these machines. Be sure to check your washing machine manual for specific instructions.

5. How much money can I save by making my own detergent?

The amount of money you can save by making your own detergent will depend on the cost of ingredients in your area. However, in general, homemade detergent is much cheaper than store-bought detergent. You can expect to save anywhere from 50% to 90% on the cost of detergent by making it yourself.

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