Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’ve used a wide variety of detergents in my day.  Before we started cloth diapering, it didn’t really matter what detergent we used. I purchased whatever was cheapest.

When we started cloth diapering, I went on a whole new quest to find a detergent that worked well.  If you’ve ever washed cloth diapers, you know that there is a whole science to the process and one process doesn’t work for everyone.  It’s a trial and error sort of thing based upon the diapers you have, the hardness of water you have, the washer you have, etc. I’ve tried so many different “diaper approved” laundry detergents (Rockin green, Ruby Moon, Country Save, Tide, etc).  With many, I used exclusively on the diapers because they were a little pricey for my every day laundry. I then tried Country Save and started using on all laundry because I was all out of my “regular” detergent. I liked it but again, I’m trying to minimize our lives and save as much money as I can.

I constantly see on pinterest how cheap making detergent can be.  The problem with homemade laundry detergent is that not all of them can be used with cloth diapers. In my research, I stumbled across this blog and her woes with homemade laundry detergent and was determined not to go down that road.

The biggest ingredient that is no good for the cloth diapers is the soap. It can create build up on your diapers. It’s a little difficult to find a recipe that doesn’t use soap!

In my quest, I wasn’t really sure I was willing to sacrifice my diapers, nor the cleanliness of my other laundry in order to use just one laundry detergent.  With our daughter nearly potty trained (we only use diapers at night), I didn’t want to worry too much about my cloth diapers at this point.  I guess in 5 months when our next little one is due, I’ll probably need to revisit the topic.

I have just made my first batch of detergent.  I was eager to try it out. So I placed my sheets in the wash to see how it did.

Regular Laundry Recipelaundry detergent

  • 1 bar of soap (Zote, Castile, or Fels-Naptha are most highly recommended)- I saw one recipe that used liquid soap. If you want to try that, here is the link 
  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (some say you can used baking soda instead but others disagree. You can decide)
  • 1/2 cup of Oxygen Cleaner (Optional) (use Sun Oxygen Cleaner if possible- the more I’ve read, I would use Sun only, or another brand that only has Sodium Precarbonate and Sodium Carbonate. Otherwise, I would make without the oxygen cleaner. My first run at making laundry detergent, I skipped this entire ingredient because it wasn’t easy for me to find and many recipes exclude it.  I figure if I can make a decent cleaning laundry detergent without an additional ingredient, it only makes it cheaper for me!)
  • 1.5 tablespoons of essential oil (optional-on my first run, I only used a teaspoon which seemed like a lot. I could smell it on my clothes before I put it in the dryer but didn’t smell it once it was finished)

Grate the bar of soap. (I’ve seen some say to cut it up a bit and then place in the food processor). Then mix all the ingredients together. If you add the essential oil, it may get a little clumpy. Mix it in quickly and as you add the oil to avoid this.  Putting it in the food processor will eliminate any  clumpiness if you get any.  When I grated it (which really went pretty quickly. I was dreading it but it wasn’t too bad.), I ended up with large chunks of soap.  So I placed all of it in my food processor and blended it down. I think that’s probably the most ideal to get a smooth detergent. 

Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. 

As much as I love using oils and products, I’m looking for a cheap recipe.  I ran across this recipe and thought it looked interesting but feel the cost might be more than what I want.  So if you’re looking for just a natural recipe and want to give this one a try, I’d recommend trying it.  It uses the a cleaning concentrate. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

I found a few recipes that are supposedly safe for cloth diapers. I’ll list them below but I can’t attest to their success.  Another note, in my research I discovered that many claim that powdered detergents work more effectively on cloth diapers than using liquid.  Not sure if that’s a fact but something to consider.

Cloth Diaper Recipe #1

  • 3 Tablespoons Borax
  • 3 Tablespoons Washing Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Dawn Dish soap (the blue original kind!)
  • 4 cups of boiling water

Mix all ingredients till dissolved and then add approximately 12 cups of cold water. Use about 1/2 to 1 cup to each load.

Dawn dish soap is great for stripping cloth diapers. Just not sure it would be a good detergent to use with every wash.

Cloth Diaper Recipe #2

  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Washing Soda
  • 2 cups Oxygen Cleaner (I’ve read advantages of Sun Oxygen Cleaner over others)

Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.

When I attempt to do my cloth diapers, I may make both of the above and use the #2 recipe more frequently and use the #1 occasionally to provide some stripping.  I originally wrote this out as I was trying to come up with how I was going to make it. After a bit more research, there is much controversy regarding the use of a product such as OxiClean on your diapers.  From the research I found, Sun is truly the best.  Unfortunately, the most common place people find it are Dollar General (we don’t have here) and Wal-Mart (I couldn’t find it in our wal-marts). Looks like I might be ordering online or just purchasing cloth diaper safe detergent!

My daughter struggled with candida for a long time when she was a baby.  I used many different essential oils to make creams for her diaper rash that were cloth diaper safe. I would often place a drop or 2 in my wet bag or diaper pail as well.  I would most likely place a drop of lavender or melaleuca in my wash on each load.

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