Saturday, April 13, 2013

Homemade Laundry and Dishwasher Detergent

My homemade laundry detergent
If you're interested in scaling back on the number of cleaning products you buy for household cleaning, you can buy Washing Soda, Borax, and Soap and combine those in different ways to do a lot of  your  regular household cleaning.  The  Down to Earth blog has all sorts of information on how to simplify your cleaning processes.  You should read all of her posts about cleaning, cleaning products, etc. 

You've probably seen pictures or descriptions of people making home made laundry detergent on Pinterest or blogs.  I first started making home made laundry detergent a few years ago.  I've read about how economical it is, but I've never done the math.  Marc is skeptical of "home made" stuff so I do continue to buy detergent but I still like to have home made on hand too.  I find that it cleans as well as the detergent I normally buy (Purex), at least as far as I can tell, but I am sure if you did a scientific experiment and compared it to say Tide it would not do as well.  But then again I don't buy Tide, I just don't want to spend that kind of money on laundry soap.

Some recipes call for Zote soap and some call for Fels Naptha. Up until recently I couldn't find Zote, but now Wal-Mart carries it.  They stock the two soaps, the Washing Soda and the Borax together.  Apparently enough people are asking for these items that they're regularly stocking them.  The last time I made a batch I used Dr. Bronner's soap cause it was half price, and I don't think it worked nearly as well as the Fels Naptha. 

There are several recipes out there, but I just use one bar of soap (grated finely), 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of washing soda, mixed well.
Only a few items are needed to make laundry detergent
You can use a regular hand grater and grate the soap by hand but watch your knuckles!  I've mentioned before that I use the Kitchen Aid mixer as much as possible.  I use the Roto-Slicer attachment with the smallest grater drum to grate the soap.  This is the same drum I use to grate cheese by the way.  The one I have was my Mom's and it's pretty old - around 30 years maybe and has an aluminum housing.  The newer ones are plastic which I'm sure won't last as long.  The drums that fit inside are stainless steel. It takes just a few seconds to finely grate the soap.  I can't imagine how long it would take by hand. 

The Roto-Slicer Attachment which gets a lot of use!

Soap being finely grated
After the soap is grated, I add the Washing Soda and Borax, and then put the mixing paddle on and mix it all up then it's done.  Washing the utensils is easy obviously.  I like to make a double recipe as long as I'm at it.

Mixing it up
The  Hillbilly Housewife Blog has a good liquid detergent recipe.  The first time I made it I doubled the recipe (if one is good, two is better, right?) and ended up with like 10 gallons of detergent and not enough containers to keep it all!  I used all the empty detergent bottles I'd saved, but I still had to keep the remainder in a 5 gallon bucket.  Liquid is convenient in one sense - the ingredients are already pre-dissolved.

To alleviate this storage issue, I just make the powdered version now.  There are a lot of recipes out there with a lot of good information, such as The Family Homestead.  You supposedly only use a tablespoon per load, but I use about 1/8 of a cup in a extra large load.  I always place the powder in the washer first and start the water to dissolve the detergent before I put in the laundry. 

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Not long ago I ran out of diswasher detergent and remembered seeing something on Pinterest for a home made version.  I do buy the more expensive Cascade cause I don't want to have to rinse my dishes.  I just want to put them in and have them come out clean.  So when I was out of detergent and didn't want to rush out to the store, I made up a batch of home made just to play with and see if it worked.  You can find recipes here and here.

Fruit Fresh is Citric Acid.  I suppose not everyone has this in their pantry but I do.  If I didn't I probably wouldn't rush out to get it just to make home made dishwasher detergent. 

As I mentioned, I usually do not rinse dishes but I do scrape off solid stuff.  I use the normal setting most of the time and set it to pre-heat the water so it's hot.  I have a builder-grade dishwasher, not a nicer expensive one like the last house.  I don't have a water softener here either.  I do use a rinse aid since I don't have a water softener.  Since I had all the ingredients on hand in order to make up a batch I am happy enough with the way it works.  I don't think it works quite as well as the Cascade gel that I use, but certainly works as well as the average powdered detergent out there.  I didn't do any price comparisons to see if I saved any money. 

It is nice to know that if I run out of a cleaning product I can make up a batch of whatever I need by having just a few basic items on hand.

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