Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Anthony and Benjamin have eczema. Anthony's was totally out of control about 4 months ago - his knees, arms, behind his ears...it was terrible. He was scratching until he bled, even in his sleep. Steroid creams, Eucerin, wraps - none of it was working to get rid of the eczema. It would control a flare-up, but there was no getting rid of it completely.

A fellow liver mom suggested that I try making my own laundry detergent. I had previously been using the most pure and gentle dye-free detergents I could find, but it was still not working. So I got the recipe from her for homemade detergent and tried it out. I was amazed. After about a month, his eczema was so much better. Of course, around the time that his eczema got better, we learned that Anthony is likely lactose intolerant. Switching to lactose-free milk got rid of the last bits of eczema, and life has been so much better.

Whether the store-bought detergent was a partial culprit, we'll never know. Because this homemade stuff is SO CHEAP and SO AWESOME. I figured out today that the cost per load is approximately 0.018 cents per LOAD...and a batch of the detergent (at a cost of $1.25 per BATCH) lasts me about a month.

So I'm going to share this recipe because I love it, and don't want to keep this a secret! Let me know if you make it - and what you think!

One thing I learned - if it looks wrong, it's probably right!

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

6 C tap water
1 bar of soap (homemade, or something gentle and pure)
3/4 C Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
3/4 C Borax Laundry Powder
4 cups hot water (not boiling)
1 gallon + 6 C tap water

3-4 gallon bucket with a lid

Grate the bar of soap into a large pot. Add 6 cups of water and heat it until the soap melts. Be sure to melt the soap ALL THE WAY. Add the washing soda and Borax and stir until it is dissolved. Don't let it boil! Remove from heat once powders are completely mixed in. At this point, the mixture in the pot will look a little thick, but still be very "liquidy".

Pour 4 C hot water into the bucket. Add soap mixture and stir until blended. Add 1 gallon + 6 C water to the bucket and stir some more.

Let it sit for 24 hours while it gels. After 24 hours, it will look like snot according to my sons. I use a potato masher to break it up into a liquid again. It does settle, so it will need to be stirred before each use.

Use about 1/2 C per load of laundry. I use a bit less, but in my HE washer, there is a max fill line, and it takes a little less than 1/2 C to get to that point. My clothes are always clean - even my older son's school shirts that always come home with lunch stains on them!


jen ward said...

My 2 sons plus myself have eczema and I have a hard time controlling it. I wanted to know what type of bar soap you use. I make homemade detergent also but use the fels naptha bar. I wanted to know if their is a better bar I can use for our sensitive skin?

Laurie said...


I use Dove or Ivory white - whichever is cheaper or is on sale. I usually can get one or the other for super-cheap if I have a coupon and wait for a sale.

My boys can use either of those soaps in their bath without it exacerbating their eczema, so I figure it's good for the laundry detergent, too!

I do use the fels naptha bar for stains, though. I wet the stain and rub the bar into the stain, and it removes it really well! It even worked for a grease stain that I didn't realize was on one of my husband's shirts...and I had already washed and dried the shirt!

Best of luck to you!

Vanessa Smyers said...

Thank you so much for this

Anonymous said...

Hello Laurie,

I've got a friend who is getting me on the Borax thing! I'm excited to save, as we have several family members. Will glycerine soaps work? Dial glycerine soaps seem to be the only commercial soaps that work on my family's skin.

Becca Wood said...

Both my boys have eczema what soap works best?

Laurie said...

I've used Dove or Ivory; now I use a homemade soap from www.504p.com. This is my cousin's business, and the soaps are amazing. Using these in the bath and in the laundry has made such a difference in my boys' skin!