I do a lot of laundry. Laundry detergent can get expensive, as any mother will know. When Matthew joined the family, and cloth diapering started, I started to think about even more ways that we could save a little money here and there. This got me looking into all sorts of alternative routes for everyday staples. Detergent was one I found I could spend less on. For about $10 a year, I can make us enough laundry detergent to last through all the regular laundry, and the cloth diapers too! The money we spent on detergent can now go towards other things, (and don't you know there are a lot of other things!).
This laundry detergent recipe can be found in many places around the web. You only need three simple ingredients that can be found on Amazon for about $10, or at your local hardware store. I order mine on Amazon just to save me having to drag the children into the hardware store! :) Oh, and you need a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.
You need Borax, Washing Soda (NOT baking soda, it won't work), and a bar of Fels Naptha. Grate the whole bar of Fels Naptha.
Measure out 1 Cup of Washing Soda, and 1/2 cup of Borax.
Put four cups of water into a medium size pot and heat it up, but not to boiling. Leave it at a medium heat and add your grated soap. Stir consistently to get all the little pieces melted.
Meanwhile, fill your 5 gallon bucket about half way with hot tap water.
Once all the soap is melted you can add it, and the Borax and Washing soda, to your five gallon bucket.
This is where I pause to chase down the now-naked baby. His latest thrill is stripping down and dancing through the house.
Duke lets him know he's in trouble and he better sit still so I can put his dipe back on.
Once baby is redressed, stir all the ingredients together in the bucket until all the powder has dissolved. I like to use a long handled skimmer to get any little bits out that might not have melted all the way in the pot.
Fill the bucket almost to the top with warm tap water. I like to use the skimmer to remove the excess foam as well. It's not necessary, but I do it anyway.
And there you go. Let the soap cool over night, and it will gel up. I add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil for a gentle scent once it has cooled over night.
To use the detergent, I use an old gallon juice jug with a lid. Fill the jug half way with detergent, and fill it almost to the top with water. Give it a good shake and let it sit overnight to gel again.
Use as you would regular laundry detergent. About 1/2 cup for top loading washers, and about 1/3 cup for front loaders. I have a front loader and simply use the little measuring cup that came with the washer to measure mine out.
On a side note, you can use white vinegar as a softner. Pour about 1/2 cup of vinegar in your front loader's softner dish. Or pour 3/4 cup into your top loader during the last rinse cycle, or into one of those softner balls that you throw in with your wash. Works great!