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Making your own laundry detergent: A clean sweep for savings and the environment

name brand detergents costly on many counts
name brand detergents costly on many counts
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One of my first steps when going frugal included the benefit of going greener with my laundry. It was a recipe for homemade laundry detergent. Now having a construction worker and two preteen boys in the home involves having a lot of dirt and grime to deal with. Up to this point Tide was the only detergent that could handle it, and a good pretreatment was still often necessary. So, trying something new had to be done while other detergent was left, just in case. The homemade detergent worked surprisingly well. So a larger batch was made, making a couple adjustments to amounts, and it’s now all that is used.

It is very simple to make, much cheaper, and environmentally friendly. A large batch, approximately equivalent to a large box of name brand, costs about a third. All of the ingredients are available at Wal-Mart. Here’s the recipe for a large batch:

2 ½ bars of Fels-Naptha soap, shredded

4 Cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not the detergent)

4 cups 20 Mule Team Borax

Shred the soap fine with a cheese grater. The finer it’s shredded the easier it dissolves. Blend it all together in a large bowl then store in an air tight container. Use the same amount per load as with any other detergent. For added dirt fighting some generic oxy cleaner can be added; for extra freshness regular baking soda can also be added.

An added bonus to this is that expensive pretreatment products like oxy sticks, etc can be replaced by the other ½ bar of the laundry soap for extra savings. Simply wet the spot, rub some soap on it, and brush it in with an old toothbrush, then toss it in the wash. Another bonus is there are no harsh chemicals in any of the ingredients, so it’s safer for, and less drying to sensitive skin.

After using it for almost a year it seems to be safe for he front load washers and most all fabrics, as well as reducing the odors in the washer, apparently caused by detergent build up due to chemicals. So until next time, happy saving!

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