Thanks to Pinterest.com I've been introduced to a recipe from "Why Not Sew" for homemade liquid laundry detergent. I've always been interested in making some but it always seem more convenient to buy it from the grocery store. 64 loads worth of detergent for 14.99...not too bad when you do the math, or so I thought. Turns out you can buy all the ingredients to make over 500 loads worth of detergent for 6 dollars. I've been told this stuff works better, smells great, perfect for sensitive skin, works for HE washers, and safe for septic systems. So, I am giving it the old college try. And all three of these ingredients were side by side by side on the shelf at Walmart. Where the bleach is found.
UPDATE: June 2012- I'm STILL using this detergent. I LOVE IT! In my opinion it works better than the store-bought, easy to make, smells great, and so cheap that I've even made it and donated it to the local shelters! It's also great on my 2 year old's sensitive skin and her eczema isn't irritated by this detergent at all! I haven't bought detergent since I started making this. =)
Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
1 cup Borax
1 cup Super Washing Soda
1/2 bar any soap (I used Fels-Naptha, which is a laundry stain-remover soap)
2 gallons water
A big pot (one that will hold 2 gallons of water (or near that))
A cheese grater
2 empty milk jugs or any empty containers that will hold 2 gallons of detergent amongst them
Grate your soap of choice into your pot.
Add one gallon of water, heat until the soap dissolves.
Add the cup of Borax and the cup of Super Washing Powder, stir, it will start to thicken. She says to bring it to a boil but I didn't. I heated it through until it started to get really thick and turned the heat off.
Once it's thickened, add one gallon of cold water and stir. (I cut it kinda close there). Or if it's easier for you, fill each plastic bottle halfway with cold water instead of adding it to the pot, then using a funnel, add the soap mixture on top, leaving 1-2 inches from the top of the lid to give it room to move when you shake the detergent loose after it's cooled.
Using a funnel and a large cup, pour the detergent into the empty containers, leaving a 2 inch gap between the detergent and the top of the bottle. Let cool, it will thicken more as it does. Once it cools and thickens, you will have to shake it vigorously to loosen the gel and make it easy to pour. She recommends 1/2 cup per load of laundry. And if you notice, you have a TON of Borax and Washing Soda left, all you need to buy each time you want to make some more, is a half a bar of soap.
I'll be putting this stuff to the test tomorrow.
I'd also suggest that if you intend on making your own (or making some for Christmas gifts or House Warming parties) you might want to invest in dedicated utensils. I don't think it will hurt anything this one time, but grab a grater just for soap, and pick up a pot at Goodwill, specifically for this use. I used my Gumbo pot for this test-run and washed it really good afterwards. =)