A 2008 study found that of all the top selling laundry detergent brands contained at least one ingredient considered hazardous under federal law. Due to “trade secrets”, none of these ingredients are required to be listed on the label . Another win for the Consumer Product Safety Commission!
So I started my journey a little over a month ago to find the perfect laundry detergent recipe. The one magical recipe that was natural, cheap, but also... actually cleaned things. I was going to shut down the internet with my recipe. All Pintrest-er’s would bow down. I would achieve what chemists could not! I was probably too zealous. lol
To start, I tried a few popular “all natural” recipes I found online. They were terrible. None of them passed the smell check. My husband’s shirts smelt like BO and his underwear smelt like balls. Sorry honey, but essential oils are no match for man sweat, so you can just stop sipping that kool-aid.
Next, I decided to look at what was in name brand detergents…and start eliminating when I deemed unnecessary or find healthier alternatives. Albeit being VERY hard to find an actual list, I did find the types of ingredients and omg. Almost every one contained synthetic detergents, phenols, brighteners, bleach and phosphates, which are of carcinogens, endocrine disrupters and incredible toxic to the environment. And since all laundry detergents leave a residue on clothing which can be absorbed by our skin or inhaled…I was like…”Holy shit, I’m not using any of that.
Then I was like…use your brain…”What do you need? Something that cleans, softens, and doesn’t leave build up. Ok cool. Then I scoured the internet and did some good old fashioned trial and error. This recipe also works for cloth diapers and wipes!!!
HERE IS MY RECIPE:
2 cup - Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
2 cup - 20 Mule Team Borax
1 cup - OxiCean
Glass Container - 1 Gallon or higher
NOTE: This is 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts borax and 1 part oxiclean. So you can just do some simple math if you want to make a massive batch like I did. No matter how big of a batch you make ONLY use 1 tbsp per load. [2 tbsp if it's a big load] When it comes to laundry, it's chemistry...so more is not better. More can lead to build up.
Why did you choose Washing Soda, Borax and Oxiclean?
1. Washing Soda is Sodium Carbonate - Na2CO3 [2 parts Sodium(Na), Carbon(C), 3 parts Oxygen(O)]
Here’s why it works. Sodium binds with Calcium and Magnesium deposits in your water forming a solid, which can be rinsed off…acting as an au natural fabric softener. Another reason it’s great for detergents is because the ph level is 11 (very alkaline and erosive), which is great for degreasing and removing stains. The only thing to note is that it MUST be dissolved to be effective. If it isn’t dissolved, it can create more build up.
You CAN use baking soda instead of washing soda, but if you have hard water like me…I wouldn’t recommend it. Baking Soda is NaHCO3, which as you can see is only half as much sodium, ergo not as soft clothes. Also, baking soda’s ph is 9.5…so not as awesome at dissolving grease and stains, but still good. Baking soda is easier to come by. Most retail stores got hip to the DIY boom using Washing Soda and have taken it off their shelves. That's right...Target no longer carries it. I was only able to find it at Ace Hardware [for $3.29].
Borax is Sodium Borate (Na2B4O7·10H2O)
Borax is not boric acid. So don’t freak out over anything you might read on the internet telling you to steer clear. Borax is sodium, boron, oxygen and water. Boron is a trace mineral found in many of the foods you eat every day like apples, oranges, avocado, chickpeas. I won’t go into all the actual health benefits of it, but feel free to read here. That’s not to say you should go out and ingest it, because you absolutely should not. It has been known to kill ants and roaches so there is some toxicity...if you're an ant. Considering the small amount being used per wash…I found this to be the best alternative to all the petroleum-based chemicals present in conventional detergents. The ph level is 9.5 and it’s a great cleansing agent. When Borax interacts with water, it turns water molecules into hydrogen peroxide…which bubbles and cleans! [This is sold at Target for $4.09
It's pretty much Washing Soda + Hydrogen Peroxide. When the hydrogen peroxide mixes with water, it breaks down into oxygen and water, forming tiny soda-esque bubbles. That's how it bleaches and cleans.
One could say that all three of these is redundant, but I think its a great combo. It does what it’s supposed to do…clean clothes and eliminate odors. Now your clothes won’t smell like “morning spring” or “summer rain”, because you won’t find any phenols in this recipe. [Phenols are endocrine disrupters which alter parts of the endocrine system (including the pancreas, testes, ovaries, and thyroid gland, among others). Endocrine disruption can cause adverse neurological, developmental, immune, and reproductive effects, including cancer]. So your laundry will smell like…NOTHING… but at least it won’t smell like balls!
Note: This is also sold at Target. I got a 7.22 lb bag for $9.99
STEP 1 - COMBO YOUR INGREDIENTS
STEP 2 - MIX WELL
STEP 3 - POUR INTO GLASS CONTAINER
STEP 4 - TIE A FANCY BOW ON IT AND ATTACH 1 TBSP MEASURING SPOON
Savings: (I bought in bulk to optimize savings)
3 Boxes Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 oz each) - $3.29 x 3 = $9.87
2 Boxes 20 Mule Team Borax (76 oz each) - $4.09 x 2 = $8.18
1 Large Tub of OxiCean - (115.5 oz) - $9.99
Use 152oz + 152oz + 76oz = 380 oz
This $28.04 recipe will make 380 oz... (roughly 760 loads)...which averages out to 4 cents a load! On top of that you'll have 13 oz leftover of washing soda and 39.5 oz of oxiclean for your next batch! To compare I was paying $18.99 for Gain, which gave me 102 loads...roughly 19 cents a load. But forget the money because ridding my house of the toxins was priceless!
Pro Tip: If you're wanting add a bit of scent to your clothes, here's what I did. I bought these great wool balls off Amazon and added a few drops of lavender essential oil to them. You throw them in the dryer with each load (4 for small loads, 6 for large loads) and wala. The great thing about using wool balls is that they are natural dryer sheets. They get out the wrinkles and stop static cling….OH and cut my drying time down by 30 minutes! I shit you not. Get yo self sum wool balls!