Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

I am so, so very picky about how my laundry smells and how I wash it. It has taken a while, and quite the journey through mainstream detergents (I used the free and clear varieties there), to organic/natural ones, to now just making it myself. People don't really realize that clean laundry should smell just that-clean. Mainstream cleaners use so much unnecessary stuff to perfume the laundry, then you add the softeners (anyone heard of vinegar?) and the softeners sheets, and it is intense! I cannot stand to wear clothes or really even be around them, if they have been washed conventionally anymore. It hurts my nose. Clean is that fresh smell when there is an absence of other smells that were previously in the fabric-an easy smell to find when washing things like your husband's work clothes or dirty diapers.

The formula I like to use for my clothes is from here. Very easy. I use their actual brand of laundry soap bars for the soap I use on diapers as it uses less oils in it, thus giving me less to rinse out of the diaper, thus cleaner diaper. I am less picky for our day to day stuff. I use whatever natural/locally made soap I find. It is actually great for the ends of soap. I can grate them up and toss them in and not, instead, get them caught in my hair while shampooing. Like I mentioned before, if you think you need a rinse or softener, just put vinegar in the same slot you would put regular stuff, but not just in with the soap. This negates the effects of the oils in the soap, which help with the cleaning action. It has to come in its own time. We dry our laundry on a line as much as possible, though with the rain here lately, the dryer has seen a little more action. I also have an indoor rack I use, but with the amount of laundry we've had from some basement water/lightning fire issues, it hasn't been enough. Drying outside adds another hint of fresh to the clothes, as well as softening if it is nice and breezy out.
Here is the basic laundry soap recipe...you can add essential oils or just use a soap with them if you like for added hints of fragrance.

Handmade Herbal Laundry Detergent
approx 4 oz. grated soap (comes out to about a standard sized bar)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
1 cup baking soda 
essential oils (optional) 

Combine all ingredients in a widemouth container with a lid. (I use a recycled ice cream bucket). Add essential oils as desired (but they are not necessary). Use 1 tbsp to 1/4 cup per load of laundry.
Notes on ingredients: You can use any kind of soap - non-superfatted handmade soaps are wonderful! I just grate mine with a cheesegrater. Washing soda can be difficult to find in some areas of the world, I understand - usually it is found in the laundry detergent aisle of a supermarket. If you cannot find it, ask a store manager to order it for you. This recipe is VERY inexpensive and I have found it to work really well! 

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