Monday, August 8, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent, a.k.a. At Least I Don't Have to Beat My Clothes Against Rocks In the Creek

I'm no ecological purist, but I do try to be responsible.  If Beep ever asks me what I did to try to preserve her planet, I want to be able to say I did what I could.

Even if I live in Texas, where disposable everything, virtually nonexistent recycling, and not-in-my-backyard mentality seems to rule. 

[stepping off soapbox]

I don't like the looks of the ingredients on some labels, particularly products my family has had allergic reactions to.  That's what got me thinking about making our baby wipes.  They turned out seriously easy and seriously cheap.  Even though I made them with standard baby shampoo, which could be greener, I already feel better about it.

Last weekend I was mulling over that success and thinking about Cabbage's allergy to some laundry detergents.  So I thought it wouldn't hurt to look into making laundry detergent for my sensitive-skinned family.  Looking at the ingredients on a box of detergent is mystifying.  I can't even pronounce- much less comprehend- those labels.  Thanks for nothing, Organic Chemistry!

Plus, it's pricey.  And I'd rather spend my money on horse treats.

So after a little searching, I ran across this site with some great info.  I followed the basic recipe there, but used Ivory soap.  Everything used in this recipe was already in my grocery store; the baking soda was in a huge box in the spice aisle, and super washing soda and Borax were in the laundry aisle.   

DIY Laundry Detergent
1c baking soda
1c Arm & Hammer super washing soda
1c Borax
1.5 bars of soap, your choice

Grate the soap with a cheese grater, mix with other ingredients, and store in an airtight container.  Use 2-4 heaping tablespoons per load.

Notice the simple ingredients, and the cost of this is just cents per load... Super cheap!

The Acid Test
Welcome to my world, where there's always a ridiculous amount of seriously dirty laundry waiting.  I live with horses, a cowboy, and a toddler.  The scenery is good, but the laundry is not pretty.

So far, the homemade detergent has been working great on our human laundry.  Clothes come out clean and crisp, even with toddler food smears and cowboy mud.  Check!  Even better, no allergic reactions.  Double check!

But.  Can it handle horse laundry?  I hereby call a laundry cage match.

Take this saddle pad.  Grody.  I apologize for subjecting you to this, but it's my life.

I ran it through once, along with a scoop of Oxi-Clean (which I always added to horse laundry when using store-bought detergents, so this is apples to apples).

Better, but not good.

Ran it through again- same homemade detergent, same Oxi-Clean.

The photo doesn't show it very well, but this was better again.

Far from perfect, but to be fair, I haven't seen this pad WHITE in a while.  I deemed it acceptable and slung it over the fence to dry.

**UPDATE:  Since the photo above doesn't give a good look at the post-wash saddle pad, here's a look at it when it dried.  Much better!

Thankyouverymuch.  End of update.**

Although the homemade detergent didn't work any miracles, it was fine.  And like I said, on our "normal" laundry- which is still tougher than many people's everyday dirt- it's been working just as well as the store-bought detergents.

So here I am, living in the south with horses, deer, a baby on my hip, and a bullrider in my house.  Makin' my own laundry soap.  No, my house does not have wheels.

What's that I hear?  Dueling banjos?

Beep, if you're reading this someday in the distant future, I hope you believe I'm making small choices to decrease our footprint and make us a little healthier.  Although this detergent may not be perfectly green and zero impact, I believe it's a heckuva lot better for our planet.  Which, by the way, I consider yours more than mine.

But wait!  There's more!
For another site featuring green cleaning and laundry, visit Kath Eats Real Food.  And P.S., I hope someday my house is as neat and organized as hers.... 

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