Making homemade laundry detergent can seem daunting, but in fact, it's actually quite simple. Four ingredients are all you need. And knowing exactly what's going into your detergent is especially helpful if you have sensitive skin. Soap residue and artificial scents from commercial laundry detergents can lead to itchy, scratchy skin. Make your own DIY detergent with natural ingredients and clean your laundry without the irritation.
Things You'll Need
How to Make the Detergent
Step 1: Grate the Bar of Soap
First, finely grate the bar of soap. You can hand grate it but using a food processor makes the job a lot easier and you'll end up with smaller pieces that are easier to combine with other ingredients. One bar of soap makes about two cups of soap flakes.
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Dr. Bronner's unscented soap is a great option as fragrance can aggravate sensitive skin. If that's not a concern, feel free to use a scented version like lavender.
Step 2: Combine Ingredients
When the soap is finely grated, put it in a large bowl and add the super washing soda, baking soda, and citric acid. Stir to combine. Break up any clumps that form.
Washing soda is definitely your friend in making homemade detergent. The alkaline cleaner is stronger than baking soda, making it more effective in removing stains and softening water. Softening the water (lowering the pH level of water) helps the detergent work more effectively.
And, if you're using super washing soda, you don't need Borax, an ingredient than can sometimes cause irritation.
For sensitive skin, gentler ingredients like baking soda and citric acid also help break down and remove stains.
Step 3: Store in an Airtight Container
Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and stick a label on it. Store it away from moisture and high temps.
How to Use
Step 1: Start With One Tablespoon per Load of Laundry
When it's time to use the detergent, you might need to give it a quick stir to mix up the ingredients again and break up any clumps.
For high efficiency washing machines start by using one tablespoon of laundry detergent for a regular load of laundry. Add more if clothes aren't getting clean enough. For large loads or extra dirty clothes, start with two tablespoons.
Step 2: Use Vinegar as a Fabric Softener
Add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment. Vinegar is a cheap and effective way to get rid of soap residue that might be causing skin sensitivity.
If you have any concerns about how your skin will react to this homemade detergent, start by making a small test batch. Try it out on your clothes and see if it works for you before committing to the full recipe.