- It is incredibly inexpensive!
- I don't have to haul home heavy buckets or jugs from the store. Plus, it makes so much that I make it very rarely...like every 2 months. This makes it more convenient than driving to the store, buying detergent, and driving home!
- The supplies are compact/concentrated, so I can keep enough for a few batches in the laundry room and never have to worry about running out of detergent at an inopportune moment.
- It doesn't contain any optical brighteners or other ingredients that could interfere with my cloth diaper laundering. My version does have a small amount of fragrance (in the Fels Naptha), but much less than store-bought detergent.
- It really gets rid of odors well.
- It washes out extremely well, so I don't need to use fabric softeners.
Note on fabric softener:
I started thinking about ditching my fabric softener in college because it was one more thing to remember to take to the laundry, and one more thing to buy. I have never gone back. Here's why:
- I don't really care if two socks are static-ed together in the laundry, and everything feels soft after you wear it for 5 minutes anyway.
- Fabric softener decreases how well fabric absorbs water, so it is contraindicated for towels, wash-cloths, dish rags, cleaning rags, cloth diapers....anything you want to be absorbing water.
- The fragrance content of fabric softeners has been gradually increasing over the years, which makes me wonder if normal laundry detergents are getting worse at removing odors? Or we are just fragrance-obsessed in this country. Either way, if I want to smell like something all day, I'd rather pick the scent out myself, instead of just smelling like whatever was cheapest in the laundry aisle.
- Dipalmitoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate ? No thank you!
- If you really want to soften your fabrics, you can use 1/4 cup vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. It works just as well to soften and reduce static cling, plus it's insanely cheap and doesn't contain weird ingredients with names I can't pronounce.
Anyway! On to the laundry detergent!
- 1 bar Fels Naptha (This is a stain-fighter that is usually used for a pretreatment. I have only found it at City Market so far, which is the same as King Soopers or Kroger. I can't find it at Wal Mart, but our Wal Mart is extra-tiny, so maybe yours will carry it.)
- 2 cups Borax (Often called 20 Mule-Team Borax, available everywhere, I think)
- 2 cups Washing Soda (This is NOT Baking Soda, it is Sodium Carbonate, not Sodium Bicarbonate. I get this at City Market/King Soopers/Kroger, too, but I've heard it's also available at pool supply stores.)
- 2 gallons hot water, plus an extra few cups
- 1 large container to hold your liquid detergent. I got a big (4 gal?) plastic storage container that lives on top of my dryer. It's probably best if the container has a lid.
- Shred the Fels Naptha. I use my cheese grater. It takes about 2 minutes, and I'm not a fast grater. Note: if you do this, make sure you tell your family or rinse the grater immediately so they don't shred cheese with the soapy grater and put it on their nachos for lunch. This might possibly have happened in our home.
- Put the grated Fels Naptha in a saucepan with some water, and heat it very gently until the Fels Naptha is dissolved. Don't boil it. This takes 5 minutes or so.
- Put the hot mixture in your large container.
- Add dry ingredients and stir a little to break up any clumps (my Borax gets really clumpy.)
- Add 2 gallons hot water and stir again.
- You can use this right away if you stir it right before, but you can also leave it overnight, and then give it a good final stir in the morning. The consistency becomes kind of jello-y as it cools.
- I use about a 1/2 cup of detergent per load, but you may want to experiment with your own laundry.
- This detergent doesn't contain "sudsing" ingredients, so it will not get bubbly. The test of clean clothes is not whether the soap bubbles, but whether the clothes get clean and the water gets dirty! Because it doesn't suds up, this detergent can be used for HE washers, I think.
- Although this detergent removes dirt and odors incredibly well, I pretreat grease stains. It is not quite as phenomenal on them. But I usually had to pretreat them anyway with my old cheapo store-bought detergent, so I don't mind.
- I keep an old cleaning rag on the lid of my detergent container with a spatula on it that I can use to stir if necessary. The rag just keeps the goopy spatula from getting the container messy, and I can toss it in the wash whenever necessary.