sarah's own natural garden

updates from our lifestyle block – gardening, chickens, green cleaning and more

Liquid laundry detergent

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Here are a couple of recipes to make your own liquid laundry detergent.  We all vaguely know it’s cheaper and better for our waterways but will they actually clean clothes and can I be bothered?  These recipes are easy once you’ve bought what you need and have cleaned the kitchen bench off to make some room.

Originally I used borax in my detergent  but the jury seems to be out on whether it’s good or bad and what it’s impact on the waterways is so I started leaving it out (see recipe 2 below).

However, now we have a septic system where the waste water goes into the orchard so I’ve gone back to the borax recipe. Our NZ soils are very low in boron so I presume the small amount of borax (which contains boron) is beneficial in our case.

The detergent with borax in it seems to be a bit better on really dirty laundry.

Liquid laundry detergent (1):

Products

  • 1/2 bar soap (grated)
  • 3/4 cup washing soda
  • 50g borax
  • essential oils

Also needed

  • Plastic bottles – 8L
  • Pot for dissolving soap
  • At least 8L bucket or container for mixing
  • Grater, measuring cup, scales, stirrers

Make

Get 2 litres of water boiling while you grate up the half bar of soap.  (It’s probably quicker to use the jug).

Dissolve the grated soap in the boiling water on the stove.  (Look down to point **** to see what you can be doing while the soap is dissolving).  Turn the element down to a very low simmer once the soap has dissolved.  If the type of element you have retains heat you can turn it off at this point.

Add the 3/4 c washing soda. Stir it up gently until the liquid thickens – this only takes a few minutes and you’ll know what I mean when it happens.  Take it off the element now.

**** While the soap is dissolving on the stove get the bucket or container you’re using and add 1L of hot water (boiling if you’ve still got enough from your jug, otherwise tap hot will do) and stir in the borax until it’s mixed in.

Into the bucket/container stir in the hot soapy stuff from above.

Add another 4.5L of hot-warm water and stir well.  (The water doesn’t need to be boiling).

Pour into plastic bottles.

  • Don’t fill the bottles all the way to the top as you’ll need to be able to shake the mixture before using it.
  • It will froth up alot when you pour it into the bottles.
  • If the liquid is very hot at this point, let it sit for a bit before pouring into the bottles as it can warp the plastic.
  • You’ve got about 7.5 litres worth of detergent you need bottles for – use old plastic bottles rather than glass as you’ll need to squeeze out the stuff when you use it or shake it up if it sets too much in the bottle. Mine are some I got for beer making.
  • Leave the tops off to cool and in the morning add some essential oils for the laundry smell. This is totally your own preference – lavender, lemon, cinammon etc. Put in a dozen drops and there you are – ready to use.

Use

1/2 cup per load.  Shake well before use.

 

washing liquid

Liquid laundry detergent 2 (borax less)

Products

  • 1/2 bar of soap
  • 3/4 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • essential oils

Also needed

  • Plastic bottles – at least 8L
  • Pot for dissolving soap
  • At least 8L bucket or container for mixing
  • Grater, measuring cup, stirrers

Make

Get 2 litres of water boiling while you grate up the half bar of soap.  (It’s probably quicker to use the jug to boil the water).

Dissolve the grated soap in the boiling water on the stove.  (Look down to point **** to see what you can be doing while the soap is dissolving).  Turn the element down to a very low simmer once the soap has dissolved.  If the type of element you have retains heat you can turn it off at this point.

Add the 3/4 c washing soda. Stir it up gently until the liquid thickens – this only takes a few minutes and you’ll know what I mean when it happens.  Take it off the element now.

**** Meanwhile in a bucket big enough to take at least 8 litres of liquid add 1 litre of cold water and mix up the baking soda.  It won’t really dissolve then add 2litres of boiling water and dissolve it in that.

Into the bucket/container stir in the hot soapy stuff from above.

(Don’t be tempted to add the baking soda straight to the boiling soapy mixture or even just the boiling water – it will fizz everywhere!).

Add another 2.5L of hot water and mix it up.

Pour into plastic bottles.

  • Don’t fill the bottles all the way to the top as you’ll need to be able to shake the mixture before using it.
  • It will froth up alot when you pour it into the bottles.
  • If the liquid is very hot at this point, let it sit for a bit before pouring into the bottles as it can warp the plastic.
  • You’ve got about 7.5 litres worth of detergent you need bottles for – use old plastic bottles rather than glass as you’ll need to squeeze out the stuff when you use it or shake it up if it sets too much in the bottle. Mine are some I got for beer making.
  • Leave the tops off to cool and in the morning add some essential oils for the laundry smell. This is totally your own preference – lavender, lemon, cinammon etc. Put in a dozen drops and there you are – ready to use.

Use

1/2 cup per load.  Shake well before use

This will give you about 40 washes

Notes on the detergents

  • The liquid detergent (1) is based on Wendy Nissen’s plus others I’ve found online.  Wendyl has some great recipes and tips on her website.
  • The first time will probably take a while but after that it should take 20/25 minutes to make.
  • Buy an old pot, grater, measuring cup and stirring spoon and store them with your cleaning products and it will save you time.
  • I have used Sunlight, Knights Castille and various eco-soaps.  They all give varying degrees of thickness in the bottle but I haven’t found one to be better than the other.  Don’t be tempted to use the whole bar of soap for the above quantities – you will gain yourself a whole lot of dissolving and shaking the bottle time.
  • The cost of the detergent will mostly depend on what kind of soap you buy (as well as where you get your products from – a bulk store will be the cheapest).  7.5L will cost around $1.3 – $2.50 – so 3 – 6c per wash.   A quick look at my local supermarket has regular products at anywhere between 12 and 30c per wash.  It might not seem like much of a difference but if you do a wash a day that could be $18.25 per year (at 5c) compared to $65.70 (at 18c).   Again that might not seem like much of a difference but savings can be made for all cleaning and beauty products so it really starts to add up it you make your own.

 

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