Homemade Laundry Detergent

As I just made a fresh batch of this today, I thought I'd share the laundry detergent recipe our family has been using for about a year now. The idea of mixing your own laundry detergent may seem odd to some, but since we have been doing it for awhile now, I can't imagine going back. It turns out to be simple, easy, and best of all: cheap. It requires only 4 ingredients in its simplest state. I know some people prefer liquid detergent to powdered for laundry. We already used powder so it wasn't a switch for us. If you really can't bear to change I know there are several different liquid detergent recipes available online you could try.

We have a front loading high efficiency washing machine, but this recipe works for top loaders too. If you have a top loader, I highly recommend putting the detergent in before adding your clothes and while the water is filling into the machine. This will help the detergent to be equally distributed in the water.

After scouring the internet for recipes, I ultimately decided on one from one of my favorite website/blogs: http://www.soulemama.com and have tweaked it only a little since then. We use this mixture for all of our clothing laundry, but not for cloth diaper wash. I still use a commercial detergent for that.

A couple things you should know: this recipe makes about 5 cups, and can be mixed up in a matter of minutes. The most time consuming part is grating the soap bars, and it is really important to have a fine enough grater for this step. I tried this recipe on a normal box grater on the smallest side, but the castile pieces were too large to properly mix with the rest of the mix and the large pieces got stuck in the machine's dispenser. If you are getting a microplane grater for the first time, look for one that grates in both directions in order to make your grating efforts more efficient! Lastly, this detergent is good for cleaning, but not excellent for stubborn stain removing. I suggest using spot-treatment on stains, either a little of an eco-friendly liquid such as Bioklean, or you can try vinegar (I LOVE vinegar for lots of cleaning purposes, but I don't tend to have success using it on clothing stains), and an hour or two in the sun is always another great ally in cleaning (even in winter). The only ingredient I have a hard time finding locally is Washing Soda/Soda Ash, so I end up purchasing that online. (If you have a local source, please let me know!)

Here's what I do:
1. Finely grate 1.5 - 2 bars of castile soap into a large bowl. This can be any kind of castile soap. As in Amanda Soule's recipe we tend to use Dr. Bronners - but we like to switch to different scents from time to time. If you prefer no smell, use unscented.
2. Add 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup baking soda, and 1 cup borax. Stir thoroughly.
3. You can stop here and put your detergent in an airtight container, or you can add essential oils of your choice if you so desire.
4. We use 2 Tablespoons per load. I usually shake the jar before using to be sure I get the best possible mixture of ingredients.

I am not sure how often I make this, I supposed it depends on how much laundry we are doing in any given month. But it seems that one batch lasts quite some time for our family of 3.