Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

When my five sisters and I were little, we used to have Slave Saturday. My mom would print cleaning lists off her computer for each of us. They would get taped to the counter and we couldn't go anywhere or do anything until our list was done. And my mom meant it. I think my mom's best quality as a mother was her consistency. When she said something, she meant it. Grounded for an entire summer because I didn't get a 3.4 GPA? Yep, she ain't lyin'. But confession, Mom, that was the summer I lifeguarded at Seven Peaks Water Park. Not all of those double shifts were spent lifeguarding. They were spent riding water slides with hot boy lifeguards. Mothers of teenage girls, don't let your daughters be lifeguards. Boy lifeguards are hot and nothing but trouble with a dark tan.

Besides Slave Saturday, my mom also washed her hands of our laundry when we turned 10. And I can't blame her. Kids stink. I know I will be doing that once my boys start getting stinky. That could be sooner than 10 because my 4 year old is already getting smelly.

My mom made this and I was skeptical, but I tried it. Would it irritate the boy's skin? Would it dull colors? Would it clean well enough? That's a no, no and yes. This stuff works. And it works well. The dirtiest thing I have washed with it? Van's jacket completely covered in old, crusted-on refried beans. After washing, not a trace.

The ingredients aren't complicated or hard to find. Although you might have to make an extra stop at a Latin market to get Zote soap. But it is inexpensive. I went to the trouble to price this whole thing out for you. For 16 pounds of laundry soup, you are looking at $25.90.

3 7 oz bars Zote bar soap, pink or white, grated (can do in a food processor)
4 lb 12 oz box Borax
55 oz box Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
55 oz box Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
56 oz bucket Oxiclean

Combine all ingredients in a 5 gallon bucket. Mix well. Use 1/4 cup for a regular sized washing load.

Yields 263 oz or 16.4 lbs laundry detergent.

Rookie's Notes: If you happen to have an empty detergent box, put this homemade stuff in it. Or just use a 5 gallon bucket.

Here are a few other not-food, homemade stuff I have on this here blog ("Now this here's a tree!" Name that movie):
Homemade, Washable Finger Paint
Homemade Whipped Brown Sugar Body Scrub
Jell-O Playdough


cat+tadd said...

Bless you for sharing that little tidbit of your mischievous teenage years.

AzĂșcar said...

I'd be interested to know if this would work on front-loaders.

rookie cookie said...

I use a front loader and it works just great.

Amanda said...

do you just put the detergent in the base of the tub, instead of the detergent dispenser?

Sweet Pea Chef said...

Christmas Vacation? Right? One of my all-time favorites and most easily quoted movies.

So...what is Zote? Just wondering...

katers said...

You can also use Fels-Naptha soap, (found in the laundry aisle at the grocery store) and I've even heard of people using plain ivory. But I think Fels-Naptha and Zote have more stain-fighting power.

Also, TOTALLY safe for HE machines because it's no suds. Just put it in the dispenser like you normally do.

Also, I'm pretty sure that oxi-clean and washing soda are chemically the same thing, so maybe you could use all washing soda if it's cheaper? My recipe doesn't call for anything but the washing soda, borax and fels naptha and it still cleans great.

modern myrtle said...

I have made and used a liquid version very similar to this for the last two years or so. I am hooked! I love the smell of zote, and the whole thing is so inexpensive. I don't think I'll ever go back to buying detergent in the store again. I think I may try your "dry" version next time though to shake things up a bit. Thanks for sharing!

rookie cookie said...

To answer a few questions:
@amanda - I use the detergent dispenser with this soap and it works fine.

@katers - Washing soda is MUCH cheaper than Oxiclean. So try it- it might work without the Oxiclean.

@sweetpea - Zote is a big bar of detergent. Like others have said, it smells lovely. It's very gentle and cleans well- like Fels.

Sparks said...

I say you just buy the stuff.

Erika @ Oops! I Craft My Pants! said...

It works without the Oxy Clean.
My friend is the one who added the oxyclean part to the recipe (on her blog, she was afraid of the rest not cleaning well enough) then I copied her and posted it on my blog, too. I'm guessing that's where the recipe your mom used came from.

I looove this recipe. It works so well.

Frieda said...

O.k....your post and the following comments have sold me. I have a front loader and was concerned about the he capability, but after reading the comments, guess there's no suds. I cannot stand the concentrated liquid detergent, as it doesn't come out of the measuring cup and dries into a gummy little puddle...ughh. Please, tell me where to buy the Zote...I live in Utah.

Rae Lynne said...

I like you just a little bit more now that I know you make your own laundry soap like I do. You're just gettin cooler and cooler all the time!

I use the fels-naptha like Katers. My recipe has Borax & washing soda mixed with water. Works great!

Did y'all know that you can use 1/2 cup of white vinegar as opposed to fabric softener? The smell is only faint and then goes away completely after drying. Very effective and low cost.

Jessica said...

I think this is really cool, but I've got to say that Megan's comment really made me laugh. Although I would love to say I would try this, I'll just keep buying detergent. I'm lazy and all about paying others to do something I don't want to do.

Sparks said...

Atta girl, Jessica. I knew I liked you.

And the maids come tomorrow.

Jessica said...

oh, I'm so jealous of the maids. It just weirds me out to have someone in my house when I'm not there.

rookie cookie said...

You think you would feel weird about someone being your house when you aren't there- but the first time you walk in the door after having the maids come- you will never be the same. During my last pregnancy, I paid for a lady to come in and clean. I was never the same. It is so nice to have a clean house and you didn't lift a finger except to write the check.

Sparks said...

Don't even need to write a check with auto-pay.

I am supremely lazy.

Rae Lynne said...

Funny story: I once worked for Merry Maids in California (until I was sexually harassed by another female employee) and saw some pretty nasty stuff in my day. This one older creepy guy would always leave out nudey magazines and other such paraphernalia when we'd clean his apartment. Maybe that was more gross than funny... Oh well.

Sparks said...

Rae Lynne, I promise we hide all the nudie mags and copious amounts of sex toys we have before Merry Maids come. We even pick up the used condoms generally scattered thought the house.

It's the little things that really count.

Becky said...

I've been using my homemade detergent for about 6 months now and I love it. I've made both the dry and the liquid. I've had trouble with the dry--- the FelsNaptha does not dissolve very well. I did put it in the food processor yet it still doesn't dissolve all the way. I haven't tried the Zote soap, maybe I'll give it a try. I like the liquid but it is a bit of pain to mix up.