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20¢ a load or less: DIY laundry soap for the natural home

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If you’ve been to the supermarket lately, you’ll know that some things aren’t cheap, and you just can’t live without them…like laundry detergent. But is this really true, and do you need to pay more for a gallon of detergent than the gas that goes into your car? The truth is, you don’t. In fact, you can make your own equally effective laundry soap for pennies per load, avoid the harsh chemicals, scents and dyes, and even come out smelling like a rose (or your favorite essential oil).

Laundry soap is composed of a few basic compounds that interact with water to bind to dirt, pulling it out of whatever you’re washing. It’s such a simple process that ancient people were using soapwort (which has natural saponifiers in the plant) long before there was Tide and Woolite. It didn’t cost them a penny, and the most it might cost you 20 cents a load with this recipe.

You will need:

  • 2 parts washing soda (NOT baking soda)
  • 2 parts Borax (NOT boric acid)
  • 1 part plain bar soap (go for the non-moisturizing, unscented type. The harder the better)
  • A cheese grater
  • A container large enough to mix it all

Start by leaving your bar of soap in the freezer for a few hours; this will make it much easier to grate without getting sticky. Grate 1 part of your soap and set it aside. In the large container, mix the Borax and washing soda together, gradually adding your grated soap into the dry powder so it doesn’t clump together. Store the whole batch in a dry container. Use about ¼ cup per load.

This recipe can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your weekly washing. It’s safe for septic systems, HE washers, your family, and your wallet. You can even scent it with a few drops of your favorite essential oils.

Most importantly, it’s devoid of the numerous chemicals used in laundry detergent that cause endocrine disruption in the body. If you have allergies or sensitivities, this might be the best laundry detergent you ever use.

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