Kristin Moras

Hello.

 I'm Kristin, author of The Mulberry Patch. I write about living a slow, simple, and sustainable lifestyle amidst a fast paced modern world. 

Natural Laundry Care, Two Ways (H.E. Safe)

Natural Laundry Care, Two Ways (H.E. Safe)

When our family first started out on the path to simple living, the thought of homemade laundry soap never crossed our minds. In fact, when I first approached David with the idea of making our own household cleaners his response was "people can do that?"

Yes, people CAN do that and it's a lot easier than you might think. 

Natural Laundry Care, Two Ways (H.E. Safe) - homemade laundry soap

WHY HOMEMADE LAUNDRY DETERGENT/SOAP?

For us, there are two main reasons why we decided to start making our own laundry cleaners:

1. It's better for our health and the environment. - Ezra and I both have extremely sensitive skin. We need to avoid products containing synthetic fragrances, dyes, and skin irritating chemicals (sodium laureth sulfate, for example) otherwise we both end up broken out with red blotchy skin (yikes!). By eliminating irritants from our laundry soap, we are also helping protect the environment from water contamination from residual detergent chemicals in wastewater runoff.  

Up until we started making our own laundry soap, we were using a sensitive skin laundry detergent. It worked well, however it still contained 4 different synthetic surfactant-cleaning agents. It was a bit overkill actually. Unless we start covering ourselves in mud and grease on a daily basis, I think we'll be fine without so many chemicals performing the same function.   

2. It saves us money. - Before making our own laundry soap, we were spending about $11 for a 140 load bottle. Now we spend the same amount to make enough soap for approximately 300 loads. 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAUNDRY SOAP AND LAUNDRY DETERGENT

Before I get into ingredients and recipes, you should know there is a difference between laundry soap and laundry detergent. The dictionary definition of detergent is "any of a group of synthetic, organic, liquid or water-soluble cleaning agents that, unlike soap, are not prepared from fats and oils." Most store bought laundry detergents usually contain some proportion of synthetic ingredients. However, the laundry care recipes I'm writing about today exclude any synthetic ingredients by using one or more of the following four things:

  1. An all-natural fragrance free soap
  2. Borax (mule team variety) - a naturally occurring mineral
  3. Washing soda - similar to baking soda
  4. Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds - a detergent composed of naturally derived cleaning agents.

The result is a laundry detergent/soap that is...

  • Safe for sensitive skin
  • H.E. washer safe
  • More cost effective than store bought detergents
  • Free of any harsh or potentially toxic chemicals
  • Good for 100+ loads
  • Easy to make and use
  • Smells fantastic, naturally

HOMEMADE LAUNDRY SOAP RECIPE

Natural Laundry Care, Two Ways (H.E. Safe) - Homemade Laundry Soap

Ingredients:

  1. one 65 ounce box of Mule Team Borax - $3.97*
  2. one 55 ounce box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda - $3.97*
  3. one 3pk Kirk's Fragrance Free Coco Castile Soap Bars - $3.55**

*Costs are based off of Texas retail pricing

** You can use a fragranced castile soap to give a scent of choice to your laundry. We used the fragrance free one because it was most affordable.

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Measure out 3 cups of Mule Team Borax into a container of choice.
  2. Add 3 cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda to the Borax
  3. Grate all three bars of Kirk's Fragrance Free Coco Castile Soap and add to your Borax and washing soda mixture. 
  4. Close lid to your container and shake to combine.

Laundry Care Instructions:

If using a high efficiency (H.E.) washer, add one tablespoon for light loads or two tablespoons for super or extremely soiled loads. Otherwise, use 2 - 3 tablespoons for a regular washing machine.

WAIT, ISN'T BORAX TOXIC?

There is a lot of controversy on the safety of using Borax as a cleaning agent in the home. This is largely due to unclear or vague research + confusion about the difference between sodium tetraborate (Mule Team Borax) and its close cousin boric acid. Although Mule Team Borax is a salt of boric acid, the two are chemically different, making one safer to use than the other.

It's also important to note there are no chronic health effects expected from the use of Mule Team Borax. It only poses a risk if rubbed into the eyes, comes into direct undiluted contact with skin, or is ingested in a sizable quantity. It can be toxic if ingested by little ones, so if you make this laundry soap be sure to keep it and it's ingredients out of reach.

I strongly recommend doing your research before making any household or personal care products. Here are some great resources concerning the safety/danger of using Borax, if interested:

 

HOMEMADE LAUNDRY DETERGENT RECIPE (BORAX FREE)

If you have concerns about the safety of Borax, this homemade laundry detergent recipe is a great option. It is slightly more expensive to make (by $1 - $2), but is 99.9% safe for your health and the environment. 

Natural Laundry Care, Two Ways (H.E. Safe) - homemade laundry detergent

Ingredients:

  1. one 32 fluid ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner - $9.40*
  2. one 55 ounce box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda - $3.97*

*Costs are based off of Texas retail pricing.

Laundry Care Instructions:

If using a high efficiency (H.E.) washer, add one tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds with one tablespoon washing soda. Otherwise add two tablespoons of each for a regular washing machine. 

LAUNDRY SOAP VS. DETERGENT: WHICH IS BETTER?

Our family has used both of the above recipes with satisfactory results. The long term cost savings are roughly the same, with both being more affordable than store bought counterparts. However, our personal favorite is the laundry detergent using Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds. It has a wonderful, natural fragrance and is effective at cleaning our toddler's food stained clothes. Plus, we know that it is completely safe across the board with no doubts or hesitations. Although the Borax laundry soap version is still better than what you would buy at the store, we choose peace of mind for the extra $2 it costs to make. 

What about you? Have you ever tried making your own laundry cleaning products? 

P.S. Not into making your own laundry detergent/soap? Check out the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Safe Cleaning for a list of safe brands

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