Posted on 21. June 2011

Back to Basics: Making your own laundry detergent

There are tons of recipes out there on making your own detergent.  Many do-it-yourself recipes include less than 5 ingredients but for my imperfect self I need SIMPLE!  What about ONE ingredient?  Sign me up for that!  The secret is Soap Nuts.

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Soap nuts are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree. They contain saponin, a natural cleaner. They are simply harvested, de-seeded, and then dried in the sun. It is hypo-allergenic, brightens colors, and contains a natural fabric softener!  -Passionate Homemaking

It is so easy!  I place roughly 15 soap nuts in a pot with about 6 cups water.  Bring to a boil then simmer until cool.  Once it has cooled I pull out the soap nuts and place in my compost pile.  I then pour the apple juice looking liquid into ice cube trays and freeze (it is all natural so it won’t keep at room temperature).  Once frozen I place all my cubes in a freezer bag.  When it is laundry time I use 1 to two cubes per load of laundry (depending on load size). 

My laundry detergent:

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Why bother?

  1. Cost:  Depending on what commercial cleaner you normally use, it is only a fraction of the cost to make your own. 

    - All’s Small and Mighty 3x Concentrate for HE washers: $8.49 for 32 loads. ($0.265 per load)

    - ECOS Laundry Detergent, Ultra Concentrated Fabric Softener: $9.49 for 26 loads ($0.367 per load)

    - Tide’s 2x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $14.99 for 32 loads ($0.468 per load!)

    - Dreft’s 2x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $31.99 for 110 loads ($0.290 per load)

    Soap Nuts: $0.07 to $.12 cents a load!  When you buy in bulk you get a better deal.  Great time to split an order with a friend.

  2. Better for you: Almost every detergent on the market includes sodium lauryl sulfate, Parabens, and other ingredients you don’t really want near your skin,  and eventually in our water system.  Just like many other things the jury is still out on whether these items are carcinogens, but I say why risk it? 
  3. Getting it REALLY CLEAN: Most commercial detergents leave perfumes, brighteners, and/or fabric softeners on your clothes to cover up the fact that the detergent really didn’t clean anything.
  4. Less Waste: Making your own detergent means buying less packaging, which means you have less waste.  Recycling is good but avoiding buying the (eventual) trash is even better. 

I highly recommend NaturOli Soap Nuts. They have a very high quality of soap nut that come de-seeded...which is important.  And I have yet to find a better price.

Soap nuts do not have any fragrance and if you are like me and love the smell of fresh laundry, I suggest adding a  few drops of  Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap in lavender.  Nothing smells better than  all natural and frugal clean laundry!

Bonus: Dr. Bronner’s soap can be used for a number of house hold uses too!

I love to hear your comments. Have you ever made your own laundry detergent?  Do you make any other household products?

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