I've been cookin' up my own "homemade" laundry and dishwasher detergent for a couple months now. I wanted to give it a good try before posting about it, so I could tell you how it's working out.
As for the laundry soap (a dry powder), I love it. I thought for certain I'd be missing that "spring fresh" scent that I usually get from my store-bought Tide or Era. And, I was also a little hesitant about switching from liquid to a powder...especially with the HE machine we have. But it's working out great...with one minor glitch I'm still working on...and that's dull-looking whites. The soap recipe I use (and I'm going to say it's the Fels Naptha bar soap) leaves a simple "clean" scent that I'm in love with. There's not been any residue in my washer, nor any musty smell to the laundry since switching (some of you with HE machines might know where I'm coming from when I mention that.) But still, not completely satisfied with the whites. Does anyone else out there use homemade detergent? or have any advice on an adjustment to my recipe, or add-in for washing whites to make them brighter? I always add bleach when washing whites (and eliminate the Vinegar rinse cycle on those loads now)...that part hasn't changed. Would love some tips here...
I discovered this recipe from Em over at Modern Cottage where there are plenty of comments/Q&A's to get your mind racing...
Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder
1 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, grated (with a cheese grater...kids love this job!)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
¼ cup OxyClean (optional)
Mix all (may appear clumpy). Use 1 Tbsp for light load, 2 Tbsp heavily soiled or large load
For those in this area, all of the ingredients are available here at our local IGA, and quite inexpensive. I also found everything but the Fels Naptha at our nearby Walmart. It seems that local "hometown" grocers are more like to carry them, or if you ask...order the ingredients for you.
In liew of fabric softener:
I use simply 1/4 cup white vinegar. (though not in the white load when I'm using bleach.)
No, it doesn't leave a vinegar smell, but if you're worried, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a different scent. I haven't felt the need to bother. The vinegar softens, helps to rinse residual soap, and even sets in colors to prevent fading. It's a good thing. I haven't missed my Downy one bit!
In the dishwasher, I used some of these same ingredients already purchased to mix up this recipe:
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
½ cup Borax
½ cup Washing Soda
¼ cup Kosher Salt
¼ cup Citric Acid, food grade
Mix/shake well. Use 1 level Tbsp per wash cycle.
plain White vinegar in the rinse cycle (instead of jet dry)
The course kosher salt helps to knock off the stuck on foods, and the citric acid is apparently to help prevent the residue left behind on glasses. Warning...once you mix this stuff...the citric acid causes major clumping. I made a double batch right away that turned into one solid chunk in the jar...had to chisel it out, breaking the jar, and causing much-o frustration. But once I chiseled it apart, it hasn't reclumped since. Weird. Now I keep it in plasticware. Again, I'm loving the results. We don't have fine glass or china...so I can't speak for how that turns out, but we do get baked on foods, and some nasty gunk on our plastic dishes which cleans up beautifully!!
(I found the citric acid in the canning section of our local IGA...make sure it's food grade, this was for canning tomatoes.)
My initial reasons for trying this was financial...I thought I could save a few cents for all the laundry/dishes we seem to do around here. And, I'm sure I'm saving a few cents. In hindsight though, I love that I'm doing something "cleaner" (and by that I mean...less harsh chemicals) for my family. It's easy to mix up with ingredients I plan to keep on hand, and I'm amazed at how much I like it. There are a million other uses for the Washing Soda, and Borax and Fels Naptha too...of which I'm sure I'll be tinkering around with since it's here and available. I'll let you know what I come up with.