Pros & Cons on Homemade Laundry Detergent

By Samantha Belyeu

Homemade laundry detergents may be liquid or powder, and they are made with several different combinations of ingredients. The most common ingredients are baking soda, washing soda, Epsom salts, castile soap (often marketed as laundry soap bars) and borax. The popularity of homemade laundry detergents is growing, but there are benefits and drawbacks to making laundry detergent in the home.

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Not all homemade laundry detergents are compatible with all washing machines.

Expense

Many store-bought laundry detergents are heavily marketed and have numerous additives to make them a "value-added" product; they're expensive, but the function they perform is still very basic and rarely worth the extra money. Homemade laundry detergents are often cheaper, since the basic ingredients needed to make detergent are not very expensive. Homemade laundry detergents may be more expensive if they are made with expensive fragrances or if stabilizers are added (as might be the case with liquid detergents).

Time and Effort

Making homemade laundry detergents can be very simple and relatively effortless. Some recipes just call for equal portions of washing soda and borax mixed together. Other recipes take more time, such as liquid recipes that require melting some of the soap ingredients and adding fragrances. However, the choice of how much effort lies with the person making the detergent, so the time and effort involved may be negligent or may be a con to using homemade detergents.

Washing Machines

Some washing machines require stable liquid laundry detergent. While there are recipes for liquid homemade detergents, these may not be stable enough to prevent chunks or portions of the detergent from thickening. This may cause clogging or other problems in the washing machine.

Ecology and Health

There is a growing concern over additives to many popular laundry detergents. Fragrances can cause allergic reactions, while other additives can cause respiratory problems or other discomforts for consumers and factory workers. Some additives take a very long time to biodegrade or cause harm to ecological systems during manufacture or after use. Homemade laundry detergents can be made with ecological ingredients, usually for less expense than big-name commercial laundry detergents.