There are tons of blogs and pins and web posts about DIY laundry detergent. Some of them even go as far as calculating the cost of for you. I’m not going to give you a recipe or even tell you how it adds up vs the leading brand of detergent, I’m simply giving you my experience with it. When I first started our laundry recipe, we had ran out of our laundry detergent, All Baby. I really like ALL baby but it is not sold every where. With my first born, I went out and bought Dreft, thinking it was the only baby detergent on the market. Soon I discovered that I couldn’t stand the scent of Dreft. Plus Elijah had eczema and I couldn’t decide if it was the Dreft (it wasnt but I did not find that out until a little later). I then found ALL Baby on Sale at Babies R Us. It was a huge jug that lasted us over 8 months. It could have been because I did not go as many places and hubby dry cleaned most of his attire so I did not wash as much. Laundry was minimum then. I continued to use ALL Baby but stopped being able to find the large containers at Babies R Us and Walmart only had the smallest size. Sooo after baby number two, there was more laundry to do, I found myself emptying the laundry bottle quite quickly. I looked up several different recipes for laundry detergent and decided to go with the simplest one: Borax, Super Washing Soda and Ivory soap.
I only made a small batch to make sure this was actually going to work for us. I was excited to wash the first load. Whaaat?? Excited to wash laundry? Yup! However, I was so disappointed to find that the load did not smell so great. I mean it really did not smell like much. I guess I had been conditioned to the that fresh baby smell with the ALL. I thought they would at least smell a little like the ivory soap. I did a second batch and added more detergent thinking that perhaps the first time I just did not add enough. And…nope they still had no smell. Well, they had a smell it just did not smell clean? So I checked some more blogs and some more recipes. This time I added baking soda and oxy clean. The smell was better but it still seemed like this recipe could be better.
I decided to start over. This time I picked up some Zote soap from my local 99 cent store. The Zote was only 59 cents! Sweet! I used 1 bar of Zote, 2 cups of Borax, 2 Cups of Baking Soda, 2 Cups of Super Washing Soda and decided to add the Oxy clean as I washed. I put all the ingredients in an old formula container. The scoop from the formula container was about a tablespoon so I used that too. Using 2 tablespoons for a small load and 3 for a large load. The clothes smelled much better and they felt clean. They did not smell anything like the Zote soap which I did like. I wanted a little scent though. I tried adding Lavender essential oil to the wash. The clothes smelled great but after drying them, the scent was gone. I also made my own wool felt dryer balls and added the essential oil to the balls. Again there was no scent on the clothes after drying.
My friend asked me if all this was really worth it. She asked me why on Earth I would make my own dryer balls after I was the one who showed her to just ball up aluminum foil and add it to the dryer with the clothes. And then I started to wonder, gosh was this really worth it? Financially, yes, it makes perfect sense to make your own laundry detergent. You spend a little up front but it lasts you a long time. If you want freshly fragrant laundry, then you will need to add the fabric softener crystals. I was trying to avoid this because I did not like any of the scents that I smelled not even the Dreft brand. So I figured the detergent by itself would be fine. In the end our clothes are clean, our ingredients are safe (well I know that there is that whole debate about Borax but seriously my grandmother used it and I think it is fine).
However knowing all this, I still just was not satisfied with this homemade detergent stuff. Something was missing. Perhaps our water softener was throwing a few things off and I needed to keep trying and adjusting the mix. I asked my hubby what he thought. He said,”they [the clothes] seem to be missing that light, laundry smell.” I asked him this after I caught him sniffing his freshly washed shirt. After we ran out of my third batch of detergent ( I made them in small batches for the sake of finding the right recipe), I was no longer on my summer vacation. My time was limited and I was too tired every night and too busy with the family activities on the weekend to make a new batch. When you started searching your drawers for underwear and then realize you haven’t done laundry because you have not made any detergent, well, then reality hits you. I then said to myself, ” I should make some detergent soon. Shucks, Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I got myself to the nearest Walmart and picked up my All Baby.
Bottom line: homemade laundry is great if you have the time to make it, if not get what works for you and yours. Have you made your own laundry detergent? How did it work out for you?