The Great Laundry Detergent Experiment of 2012


No! That’s not coffee in that can. It’s enviro-friendly, easy-to-make laundry soap!

I started cloth diapering a while back and, upon reading the numerous steps that some germ-conscious mamas take to get their baby’s bums pristinely clean, I learned that laundry soap is bad for the environment. It’s also expensive (I already knew that. I’m lazy, not oblivious) and it destroys cotton diapers.  By extension, I guess that it destroys most cotton anything over time.  We’ve already established that I am lazy. And sort of broke. So I found myself in a quandary…

There are special laundry soaps out there that are better for the environment and better for our cotton-covered bums.  Not so much better for the wallet, though.

An approximate cost breakdown of some “standard” detergents:

Tide 2X = $.20

Tide Ultra = $.17

Arm & Hammer = $.14

And some “green” detergents:

Allen’s Naturally = $.31

7th generation = $.21

ecos = $.14

Most days I do 1 load of laundry. Well, I wash and dry 1 load of laundry.  About once a week I get around to folding it and putting it away.  That means that  I’m spending $50-75 a year on laundry soap.  I COULD be spending that money on dinner at the Olive Garden with my oh-so-handsome hippie hubby!  What’s a modern girl to do?  Turn to the internet of course!

There are a LOT of recipes out there for detergent. Some are supposed to be extra-super-color-brightening-stain-fighting fabulous.  There are sweet-scented liquids. I found a powdered one that was cheap and easy.  It is good for the environment. It is reasonably gentle for tiny tushies.  It is a lazy hippie mama’s dream come true!  I altered it a little because I like Ivory soap better than the kind they used.

1 bar of ivory soap grated up on your cheese grater’s tiniest setting (this also makes for the cleanest cheese grater in the universe)

1 cup of borax

1 cup of washing soda

Mix ’em all up on an old coffee can or other container with a lid, use 2 TBSP per load and…. voila! You’ve saved the earth, your favorite cotton clothes, and a bit of cash all at once.  How much cash, you ask?  Well… by my math this recipe costs me about $.03 per load, or about $11 per year so I’ve earned one nice, kid-free dinner out.  It took less than 10 minutes to make and my 7-year-old, the aspiring chemist, did pretty much everything.  I’m told that, for especially nasty dirt, an extra shot of the borax straight into the machine and/or a scoop of oxy-clean will give the needed boost.  I haven’t tried that yet.  I have also read that, since this is a very lo-suds soap it is safe for front load washers.

I’ve used my creation for about a week now and our clothes are as stain-free as ever and not a single person has mentioned a horrible smell so we must be clean (but probably wrinkled since I haven’t folded lately).  If you try it, let me know what you think!


5 responses »

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