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Make Your Own Laundry Products

November 11, 2012

Hamilton helping with the laundry

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“After the ecstasy, the laundry.”  I’d say that famous zen saying also holds for agony.

Yes, the laundry always awaits.

So, after the stress of planning for hurricane Sandy and a nor’easter that blew in days later, and a case of swollen thumbs and elbow tendinitis that came from a day of overzealous firewood-stacking, I turned to the laundry. (I’ll forego weighing in on whether the local, state, and national elections caused ecstasy or agony in my household.)

Ecstasy or agony, laundry is a metaphor for everything about daily living that demands attention, and so also becomes part of a spiritual practice.

In this case, it meant turning my attention to making new batches of homemade laundry detergent and oxygen bleach, both of them cheap, easy, effective, and non-toxic to humans and the environment.

Homemade detergent

Ten minutes of time and a few pennies worth of ingredients makes two gallons of excellent laundry detergent. Here’s how I do it:

I heat a gallon of water in my stainless-steel stock pot and add about a third of a bar of grated goat-milk soap, stirring the mixture until the soap melts.  (You can use any hard soap for this recipe; I use the biggest holes on a cheese grater)

Then I add half a cup each of washing soda and borax, and continue stirring until the powders dissolve.

Finally, I add another gallon of hot water, stir the whole thing, and let it sit until the mixture cools. The end result: a lumpy gel that I funnel into a few recycled plastic detergent containers.

Because it’s lumpy, I shake my homemade mix well before measuring out ½ cup per load of wash. My lumpy gel works as well as any purchased detergent I’ve used.

I use unscented soap, because many scents in personal-case and laundry products make me sneeze, or even give me headaches. But if you like scented laundry, use nice-smelling soap or add a couple of drops of an essential oil to the pot while the mixture is still warm.

Homemade oxygen (non-chlorinated) bleach

This is a cinch to make, and it not only works well on most fabric stains, but you can also use it to clean just about everything--even as a gentle disinfecting wash for fruits and vegetables.

Here’s how I make it: I mix equal parts of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and baking soda with two parts of hot water and shake well, then funnel it into a light-excluding bottle to maintain the stain-fighting power of the peroxide. That’s it!

Although my homemade product doesn’t have the same disinfecting power as some commercial liquid oxygen bleaches (i.e., for disinfecting cloth diapers), I find it works equally well as a stain-remover.

Be forewarned: It doesn’t spray the way commercial liquid oxygen bleaches do, because the baking soda settles. I just shake it well and squirt or sprinkle it onto stains, or add add half a cup to the wash water.

Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, eats weeds, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.


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Great comments, all! I've

By Margaret Boyles

Great comments, all! I've also used the dry mixtures, but found they tend to cake in my wash if I'm not careful.

I don't think you have to worry about precise measurements in any of these homemade products. Half and half washing soda and borax with an equal amount of grated hard soap should do the trick.

And Woodfarm is right; the peroxide does degrade quickly when mixed with water or exposed to light. Guess I'll start mixing my stain remover just before I treat the wash I'm about to do.

I have been making this for

By Jorj Walt

I have been making this for almost a year. I add a little baking soda as well as the washing soda to brighten the wash. I also add more water to thin it some and keep it in gallon milk jugs. Usually I make 4 gallons with this recipe.

peroxide degrade rapidly, so

By Woodfarm

peroxide degrade rapidly, so make only as much as you need that day. The oxygen in peroxide boils off, even in a bottle.

I've made my own soap for

By Rusti

I've made my own soap for over a year now. I mix up the dry ingredients and do not put water with it. I usually make a double batch and keep it in a gallon jug. Two tablespoons per load. Boarx, Baking soda, Washing soda, and Fels Naphta (grated). It's wonderful.

Wondering if you could give

By Sabdu

Wondering if you could give me the amounts of the ingredients to put into the dry mixture recipe.

i was wondering where you get

By rsmcguire

i was wondering where you get the directions for making this soap. How much of each ingredient do we use?

Ill have to try this recipe.

By Jenae

Ill have to try this recipe. I have a dry laundry soap recipe on my site below


Just google homemade dry

By EmKay

Just google homemade dry laundry soap and you'll find several websites with recipes for dry laundry soap.

I like the idea of a 'dry'

By Karen Sirridge

I like the idea of a 'dry' product..takes up less room..and less mess..Thanks..I think I need to try this..

what's the trick to mixing

By TresF

what's the trick to mixing peroxide with baking soda?

Is washing soda the same as

By Eli's Mimi

Is washing soda the same as baking soda? I've never heard of washing soda. Where can I buy some?

I heard that Baking Soda

By DeEtta

I heard that Baking Soda fades your clothes. Washing Soda has soap it in. I tasted it. Yuck.

You can buy washing soda in

By TresF

You can buy washing soda in the laundry section at the grocery.

No, washing soda is not the

By Deborah Holman

No, washing soda is not the same as baking soda. One can find washing soda at Walmart next to the Borax.

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