As a lover of novelty and new experiences, I set forth to boldly assemble my own laundry detergent. C’est très facile, yo!
The resulting bucket o’ sweetly scented slime:
Some subjects just don’t make for riveting photos.
1. The revised recipe has better directions, and we all know that poor instructions are a tool of Satan. For example, the original recipe called for 1 box of washing powder and 1 box of Borax, despite the fact that you’ll only be using 1 or 1/2 cup of each ingredient. Shenanigans, I tell you!
2. Making your own detergent may or may not save money, depending on what you currently spend. However, this method does use fewer mysterious ingredients than most commercial brands and could benefit those with allergies or sensitive skin
3. None of the buckets sold at my Wal-Mart had lids despite the fact that many of them bore a warning label about small children drowning in buckets. I used a spare trash can (with a lid!) instead. You may be able to get buckets from a deli or farm supply
4. Fragrance-wise, your choice of soap doesn’t much matter, so feel free to use something cheap. My big sister says she sometimes gets bored with almost-unscented detergent and switches back to conventional brands. Some readers suggested adding essential oils, a pricey addition.
5. Dissolving your soap in the microwave is more energy-efficient than using the stove top. Shave the soap into a microwave-safe container of water, mind you; if you plunk a whole bar of soap in there, you’ll waste at least 30 minutes of energy AND feel like an idiot. Shave the soap, people.
6. You can also use your borax and washing powder to make dishwasher detergent. Score!
7. If you have ANY questions about the effectiveness or usefulness of this detergent, feel free to consult the original recipe’s 558 comments or the visual guide’s 299. They cover a lot of ground, from questions about HE washers and septic tanks to various opinions on the detergent’s cost and effectiveness
Only after buying my ingredients did it occur to me to research them. Washing soda seems to get a clean bill o’ eco-friendliness, and soaps vary. Borax, though…
Not the worst substance, but not the best. Still, it’s paid for and sitting in my kitchen. Therefore, I’ll keep using my pail of squishy white glop. Might tinker with the formula next time.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the ingredients for Seventh Generation’s powder laundry detergent. First ingredients? Washing soda and baking soda! No borax.
Next, I checked on Seventh Generation’s liquids, whose first ingredients are water and sodium lauryl sulfate. But is sodium lauryl sulfate bad news?
Bright Hub has a spiffy series about Green Laundry Detergents, part of which is devoted to the question Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate a Natural Surfactant? The sentence “Basically, a surfactant such as sodium lauryl sulfate affects your skin by partially dissolving the cell membranes of your skin cells” makes me wish I hadn’t used generic Cetaphil for so many years… (some good comments on that post, by the way!)