Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent Review

Last year I read about making your own laundry detergent. I was skeptical. Why? Mostly because a lot of people swore by it (like I said, I'm a skeptic). Also, with all the recipes for homemade laundry detergent one can find on the web, they are all very different. Some are for the liquid form, others are for the powder form. While the ingredients are all pretty much the same (Borax, Fels Naptha soap, and Washing Soda), the ratios are quite different. Google it. You'll see.

I had never heard of Borax, Washing Soda, or Fels Naptha soap previous to my looking into homemade laundry detergent. As skeptical as I am, I'm also agonizingly curious, so I had to go ahead and making some laundry detergent. Upon buying these ingredients, I took a look at each product label.
  • Borax is a naturally occurring mineral compound that can be used as a laundry detergent booster, an alternative to color-safe bleach, and great multipurpose cleaner and deodorizer.
  • Washing Soda a.k.a soda ash, is sodium carbonate and is also consider a laundry booster and multipurpose cleaner.
  • Fels Naptha is a nice stain remover in the form of a bar.
My Experience
I choose to try the powered laundry detergent because making the liquid stuff just looked too laborious. The powdered stuff is just a matter of stirring our three ingredients together. Some say to use a tablespoon per load of laundry and others say to use 2 tablespoons per load (What to do???). For the record, I used one Tablespoon per load.

I used this homemade powder stuff for about 5 months. I can't say it cleaned my clothes better than the stuff I was using before. (I think it was Wisk.) Nearly every time I put the tiny Tablespoon into the washer, I had my doubts. I had read that the Borax label recommended half a cup in each load of laundry if using it as a booster. The washing soda also recommended a modest 1/4 cup amount for laundry booster. And here I was, using it as part of a detergent, barely using a couple teaspoons... (Anyway, I still pretreated all soiled clothing with my stain remover that I love.) Like I said, no real difference in cleaning my clothes.

I did, however, notice a difference in my washing machine: a greyish waxy film, making a ring at the water level. Yuck. That, I'm pretty sure was from using the Fels Naptha Soap. After all, one of soap's main ingredients is oil. I cleaned the waxy film and went back to my regular detergent, with a few changes. I'll talk about what changes I made in my next post. Suspense, I know.


  1. I too used the powder and wasn't impressed. I have a friend who said she has a great liquid version. I may try it and let you know how I feel about it.

  2. I like soap nuts. Have to catch them on sale, but they're just so fun to use!

  3. You know, I've read about soap nuts and have been curious about them. If I ever try them, I'll have to do an experiment and compare it to my regular detergent...


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