Friday, April 23, 2010

My Earth Day Contribution

A few weeks ago, I made my own laundry soap.  I had wanted to make it for a couple of years while but thought it was going to be this tedious task.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and how little time it took.  And the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store!

I have been aware for some time about the harmful chemicals in laundry detergent, thus sparking my interest in making my own.  Not to mention all the money I would be saving.

It wasn't until I read an article in Prevention magazine that I got myself in gear and followed through with my good intentions.  Here's a portion of the article:

Researchers at the University of Washington analyzed a popular detergent and found that it emitted 13 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), five of which are regulated as toxic or hazardous by the EPA. "Often, laundry products can contain hazardous chemicals such as neurotoxins and carcinogens," says study author Anne Steinemann, PhD, professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs at the university. "Exposure to them can cause migraine headaches and asthma attacks." 

Just Google "chemicals in laundry detergent" and you can find dozens of articles that will make you want to go back to boiling clothes in a big pot over an open fire while stirring them with a stick. 

Or not.

At any rate, you'll probably think I'm not so crazy after all for making my own detergent!  You might even want to make your own.  There are many different recipes you can use but here's how I did it!

Homemade Laundry Soap
1/3 bar Heavy Duty Laundry Bar Soap  (I had Fels-Naptha, but Ivory would work too)
1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
2 gallons water

Grate 1/3 to 1/2 bar of soap.  Add to 6 cups of water in a large pan.

Heat until soap dissolves.  While waiting for soap to dissolve, heat 4 cups of water in microwave.  Add washing soda and Borax to dissolved soap mixture.

Add the 4 cups of hot water to the bucket you will store the soap in.  Add contents of pan to the bucket.  Stir.  Add 1 gallon + 6 cups of water to the bucket.  Let it sit for 24 hours.
You can also add 1/2 bottle of essential oil if you prefer a fragrance.  I didn't have any oil this time but have recently ordered some lavender oil I plan on using next time.

Here's what my detergent looked like right after I made it.  I just used a five gallon paint bucket from Home Depot.

After it sits overnight, it will turn into kindof a goopy gel so I just stir it up before I use it.  I use a little less than 1/2 a cup per load.  And my load of laundry is all the way to the top of the machine.  I don't mess around with wasted space in the washing machine!

I was impressed with how well the detergent cleaned our clothes.  And we know how to get dirty around here!  Sometimes I can only see the whites of their eyes amidst all the grime!  I honestly couldn't tell a difference from the commercial stuff.

I will most definitely be making my own soap from here on!  It gives me great satisfaction to know I am saving money and reducing chemical exposure to my family. 

If you'd rather not bother with making your own but would love to buy someone else's homemade soap, check out HopeSuds-Do Laundry. Save Orphans. Andrew and Lora have five children and are hoping to adopt a child from Uganda.  They are selling their homemade powdered laundry detergent and using the money to help fund the adoption!  What an inspirational and worthy cause!

1 comment:

  1. I may have to give this a try someday! But, you know me I LOVE my Gain. But I don't want to be washing the kids clothes in carcenigens.(I know I spelled that wrong.)