Monday, July 6, 2015

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

I know there are hundreds of laundry detergent recipes out there, and most of them use the same basic ingredients. And mine really isn't that different. But mine is a tad stronger, and with a couple extra ingredients.

You see, my husband paints at work. I'm not talking painting walls with latex paint in which coveralls could shield his clothing from damage. I'm talking powder coating. They use these high-powered air brush guns to spray powder coat on metal parts. No matter how much protection he attempts to wear, he comes home covered in black paint, head to toe. This paint is also reactive with bleach and other chemicals, making homemade detergent even more necessary. But the paint isn't confined to his work clothes. Aside from everything he wears, right down to his socks covered by his boots, it gets in his skin. He comes home every night and immediately gets in the shower, thoroughly scrubbing the top layer of his flesh off. But it's not enough. Inevitably, when he gets out of the shower, there will still be paint trapped in his pores, eyes, nose, ears, eyebrows, and beard. So the paint ends up on the towel. Then he needs a wash rag (or two) to continue scrubbing his face before I'll let him come near my pretty white pillows. The paint and associated chemicals can be hard on the skin, but he is used to it. The children are not. Therefore, all his clothes must be washed separately and the washer cleaned and sanitized before another load can go in.
And did I mention our roommate works there as well, so he also comes home covered in paint?
I needed a stronger detergent, but no more chemicals.

I tend not to do things the conventional way, so exact measuring of the water doesn't really happen. I eyeball it.


1 Bar Zote (14oz) 
2 Cups Borax
2 Cups Washing Soda
2 Cups OxiClean
1 Cup Baking Soda
*1/2 to 1 Bottle Fragrance or Softener Bits

*This part is optional, but my husband has a thing about clothes smelling like SOMETHING, so my normal "clean" smelling detergent wasn't enough. I started adding essential oils or those in-wash scents. Just go with what you feel.

How To

1. Shred the soap. Melt it in the microwave. Cut it into chunks and pop it in the food processor. However you want to do it is fine. I just do it with a cheese grater. The smaller the pieces, the easier it melts. It's up to you how you get it that way.

2. Boil some water. Again, I'm not really precise with the water. It all evens out in the end. Once the water is hot, melt the soap. Or be lazy like me and put the soap in right away then bring the water to a boil. Just remember to stir often to keep it from sticking and burning, and to help it melt consistently.  If you are using the in-wash scent boosters, melt them in with your soap.

3. Mix your dry ingredients. I usually do this while the soap is melting. Grab a five gallon bucket, empty tote, whatever big container you have around. I'm using a 20 gallon tote, and I just eyeball where half would be to make 10 gallons of detergent.

4. Once the soap is liquid with no chunks, add it to your dry ingredients. Mix well for a minute before adding more water to ensure all the dry ingredients get incorporated.

5. Add more water and keep stirring. I do a combination of hot and cold water, do whatever you like. After I dump the melted soap, I just fill the pot with more water and put it back on the stove. The hotter the water the easier it is to mix everything and dissolve the powders. Again, I'm lazy. I attach a stirring rod to our cordless drill and just stand there a minute while it does all the hard work. Just keep it on a low speed to avoid a lot of splatters.

6. Let cool to thicken then divide into desired containers. Some people have limited space by the washer and choose to only fill one bottle at a time. So just keep the bucket in the laundry room and scoop from each it time. That doesn't work for me. I have these lovely plastic jugs** I fill with the detergent. Mine are gallon size, but you can get them in different sizes to fit your needs. I, of course, have mine labeled. I have a large shelf above my washer to stack up all my jugs. You can always hide extras in the garage and pull them out as needed.

And you're done! I do very large loads so I use about a cup per load. You can play around with it and see what works for you. I'm generally trying to get paint or urine-soaked clothing clean, so I need the full cup. You might be able to get by with less. Ten gallons may last some people a very long time, perhaps even a year. Not in my house. It lasts about 6 weeks at best. We do a lot of laundry. I buy all the ingredients in bulk on Amazon so they're always on hand and it saves me money. I spent probably $25 on all the ingredients, and could make this size batch about 6 times with enough ingredients left over to make a few homemade cleaners. That's 60 gallons of laundry detergent for just $25! And you could do it for less if you didn't add all the extra stuff. But I'm happy with that amount.

**If you would like to purchase the ingredients, the gallon jugs used, labels, or any other products I've shown, check out the amazon store to the right. -----> I try to add each product I use, and it shows only the products I've added. You may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere, but it will at least give you an idea of what I'm working with. Any time I show a product, I try to add it to the UNperfect Family Amazon Store so you can purchase it or compare it with local items. Many items you can find at the dollar store, and larger cities may have more local options. I prefer to shop from home.