We go through a lot of laundry… I mean, a lot.
I have 3 very active sons, a husband who wears 3 different outfits a day (yes, I mean it… he works a dirty job!), and I’m constantly covered in spit up or food handprints. So our little of 5 can easily go through one load of laundry each day.
(And did I mention we cloth diaper 2 sons? That’s another load of laundry every other day!)
Once I came up with an amazing laundry routine that helps me stay on top of laundry, I had to come up with a way to save money and cut down on waste. I ditched the fabric softener and dryer sheets and got some fantastic dryer balls.
Oh my word, I love them! They fluff my towels and dry everything so quickly. If you’ve never tried wool dryer balls, you need to. They’re totally worth the investment (a whole $18 for dryer balls that could last a normal family almost 4 years… compare that to the $5 a month or more in dryer sheets), not to mention they’re organic wool, so no chemicals! Win-win for frugal and hippie!
So even before I started changing up my dryer game, I looked into making my own detergent.
The liquid detergents looked really intricate and I just didn’t have the time, patience or the space to keep it. Plus the powder looked so easy! So really-easy-powder it was!
Pinterest had a million different laundry detergent recipes that everyone claimed were “the best.” But they all had a few ingredients that were consistent: washing soda, borax, fels naptha soap, baking soda, OxiClean, and essential oil (can be omitted if you’re a scent-free detergent person).
With my one box of washing soda, one box borax, Costco-sized bag of baking soda, 1 big tub of OxiClean, 2 bars of fels naphtha soap, and my tea tree oil, I’ve made enough detergent that, as of October 2015, I haven’t needed to buy any more materials since, wait for it, NOVEMBER 2014. The materials cost right around $20.
Yes, that’s correct: I wash clothes for my family of 5, plus cloth diapers, for $20 annually.
Here’s my so-easy-my-kids-help-make-it laundry recipe:
- 2 c. each: washing soda, borax
- 1 c. OxiClean
- 1 bar fels naptha soap – cut it up then put it in a food processor until it’s tiny little pieces, or you can grate it by hand on a cheese grater.
- 1/2 c. baking soda
- Tea tree essential oil (Tea tree oil is a disinfectant. I add a drop or 2 per load of laundry, but not into the recipe itself.)
- A large, airtight container to store your detergent
Once your bar of soap is all crumbly, add everything together in a big air tight container that you’ll use for storage, and shake like crazy until everything looks nice and even.
Use 1 tbs. with each wash and you’re done!
This recipe is HE safe (since it has low suds), and you can omit the Borax for sensitive skin.
My cloth diaper recipe is very similar:
- 1 c. washing soda
- 1 c. OxiClean
- 1 c. baking soda
Soap can cause build up in the liners so the fels naptha can’t be used in the cloth diaper recipe. And my sons have sensitive skin, so we skipped the borax after a nasty rash. (You can read more about how exactly we cloth diaper here!)
Things to have on-hand for any hippie laundry detergent:
Super stink clothes? Musty towels? Add 1 c. to your laundry and the stink will be gone. Plus, some people say it makes towels fluffier!
Never buy bleach again. This is literally incredible. It’ll get any stain out fast, and I mean it. Captain America cut his leg and decided to rub the blood on my couch (lovely, right). I sprayed hydrogen peroxide on it and it disappeared.
I know you probably have this one, but I never knew about it until I started making my own detergent! This stuff is really great. It really down help get your clothes super clean and not dingy looking.
So there you have it! I still haven’t spent anything this year on my laundry supplies, and I might even make it a full year until I need to buy anything else!
I hope this works well for you, too! My life is so much easier without worrying about spending $20 or more a month on laundry detergent and dryer sheets!
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