April 9, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent isn't really that expensive for me. My boyfriend and I are responsible for only a couple loads of laundry a week, so it's not like it breaks the bank.

So I didn't decide to make my own laundry detergent to save money (even though, really, I don't have an excess of cash at the moment... perhaps I should be looking for ways cut costs). I wanted to make my own laundry detergent because I figured it'd boost my ego. I know there's a lot of 26-year-old women that make their own detergent, but I don't know any of them personally, so it makes me unique in my own community. I love feeling unique. (Who doesn't?)
I found a recipe from TLC's How Stuff Works. I chose to make the powdered detergent because there's something so Mad Men about it (anything to make me feel one step closer to Don Draper).

I bought the ingredients at my local grocery store and, wonder of wonders, they were all right in the laundry detergent aisle. Even the bars of soap! (Is it only my grocery store that puts laundry detergent and soap bars in the same aisle?)

I also had to buy a cheese grater to grate the soap bar but, alas, this wasn't in the magical ingredients aisle. I had to go to KMart to buy one (either there or Family Dollar, the only two stores in my town).

All in all, the ingredients and cheese grater cost me less than $15 bucks. According to the recipe, one prepared batch will last me for months and I still have enough ingredients to make multiple additional batches. Seems cost-effective to me (because since...I dunno...four paragraphs ago?... I started caring about it).

Here's how the whole shebang went down.

1. I gathered all the ingredients and perused the directions in the recipe. "Perused" might be exaggerating. With the directions being so short and simple, "skimming" may have been my only available way of reading such a bitty blurb.

2. Take your favorite soap (or a hypoallergenic bar like this Kirk's Original Coco Castile) and grate it with a cheese grater until you have two cups of grated soap. It's best to grate your soap into a plastic tupperware-type container that you can snap closed for an airtight seal.

This step took me about 20 minutes, but the first 5-10 minutes were pretty cautious and slow. I didn't realize until today that I'm a little afraid of cheese graters. But! I mastered that fear and was able to grate away at quite the pace towards the end. I used about 5 ounces of soap (one bar until the little nub couldn't be grated anymore and then a little bit of another bar).

This is by no means 2 cups; I just want you to be able to confirm that you're grating it properly. See?
3. Once you have two cups of grated soap, measure out one cup of Borax and one cup of washing soda.

4. Now that you've added the Borax and washing soda, snap the top onto your plastic container and give it a hearty shake. Your ingredients will get all nice and mixed up with each other.

5. It should look like this! Using two tablespoons of this powder should get those clothes clean. If you have a high-efficiency or front-loading washing machine, use only half (don't want those suds to get carried away).

Easy, right? If you give it a shot, please leave a comment and tell me how it went for you! 


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