Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 2013: Airing my laundry

Today is Earth Day!   And as a special day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment I decided to air my laundry in public!  GASP!  What did I say?  (just checking to see if you were paying attention.)  *giggles*

I was taught from a young age that airing your dirty laundry in public is inappropriate and just plain wrong.  Of course being a child who watched and helped her mother and grandmother hang clothes outside on the clothesline on washday I imagined it would be strange to hang dirty clothes outside anyway.  You need to wash them FIRST and then air them...when they are clean.

However, I am going to air my dirty laundry in public right now, but not as in the metaphor.  In a concerted effort to save money and to be kinder to the environment, about three weeks ago I decided to try making my own laundry detergent.  The Mister and I have been working on our household budget and looking for ways to save money.  With the price of laundry detergent being exhorbitant (did you know that in some stores they've actully put security locks on detergent to prevent shoplifting?!)  It is true.
So off I went on my search for the how-to of making laundry detergent.  What I discovered is, it couldn't be more simple! 

Homemade Laundry Soap Powder
All you need are three key ingredients:
  • 1 bar of shaved bar of laundry soap note: I used Linda Laundry Soap, but you'll also find other brands like Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha, Pure & Natural, or choose a handcrafted soap.
  • 1 - 76 ounce box of 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1 - 55 ounce box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

  1. First, find a plastic container with a lid to mix your soap powder in. I used a recycled gallon-size ice milk bucket, but anything you have on hand that has a lid is fine.
  2. Grate the bar of laundry soap as finely as possible into your container. You can do it in your food processor if you have a fine grating blade or do it by hand with a hand held grater. I did it by hand and it didn't take long at all.
  3. To the finely shaved bar of soap mix in 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax and 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.
  4. Mix these three ingredients together with an old wooden spoon or paint stirring stick.
THAT'S IT!  You've just made your first batch of Laundry Soap Powder!

So now that you've made your soap powder, how do you use it? First of all, and I didn't believe it when I first read it, but you aren't going to need more than 1 tablespoon or two. Yes! I said TABLESPOONS! I use 2 heaping tablespoons because my washer has a large tub/capacity and I'm a doubting Dora here. But that really is enough.

Put your soap powder mixture into your washer and let it fill with water.  While the washer is filling, clean the cat litter box, separate your laundry into darks, lights and white...multi-task for the few minutes it takes for your washing machine to fill with water.  It IS important to be sure that your soap powder is disolved before adding clothes.  I have read that sometimes if you just toss your clothes in and put the detergent on top that the soap powder doesn't fully dissolve. 

For heavily soiled clothing you can still pretreat and/or add a little more powder.  There is no problem using a little bleach if you are accustomed to using bleach with whites (especially dirty white sweatsocks that someone I know needs extra cleaning)!

PLEASE NOTE:  This is an important "please note" notice.  The laundry soap powder doesn't get sudzy.    That is a little disconcerting at first because you might equate clean with soapy/bubbles in your wash water.  Well...this doesn't.  But it DOES clean.

Now for the great cost cutting report!  This is INEXPENSIVE to make.  You are going to get about 8 or 9 recipes out of the box of Borax and about 13 recipes out of the box of washing soda.  AND, both of those ingredients are about $5.00 each (depending where you in Canada they are slightly more, but then so is the cost of commercial laundry detergent.)  And out of one small pail like the one I've made, you'll probably get two to three months from it before having to mix a new batch which then you'll only need a bar of laundry soap to grate and it is about $1.50.    I've read reports that this recipe costs less than $1.00 PER MONTH! Not load but MONTH!  Super savings, right?!?

Last thing most folks ask is "Where do I find Washing Soap, Borax and Washing Soda?"  All three of these are found in the laundry eisle of your grocery store, Walmart or whereever you buy your laundry products.    I had never noticed them before but sure enough, they are there.

Without sudsy water going into our rivers and streams as well as harsh chemicals and their effects on sensitive skin, this makes this homemade Laundry Soap a very environmentally friendly product that can be made inexpensively and very, very easily.
Happy Earth Day! I'd love to hear your tips for preserving the environment.

Until next time,


Shared at these parties:

Alderberry Hill  Make the scene Monday


Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson  (Share your cup Thursday #55) 



  1. Good for you! I have been making this for several years, but I use Ivory soap...I shred it, dissolve it in some hot water on the stove, then mix up the other ingredients. Smells nice! If you check Pinterest, you can also find dishwasher detergent (haven't tried that one yet) and spray wrinkle reducer like Downey (works great!). Have fun!

  2. Yes I have heard of stores having armed guards in certain isle including the laundry soap. Gasp! What is this world coming to. I do like this idea of making your own soap, thanks for all the info.

  3. Oh my gosh, can't believe they are guarding laundry soap. I really need to give this a whirl. I wish I had an outdoor clothes line to air my (dirty), I mean clean laundry. lol! Love that last photo. Just screams 'country'! Thanks for sharing with SYC. I will be pinning this. My sis just gave me a jar of homemade lotion. It is out of this world fabulous. I will be making some and doing a post soon.


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