The list of nasties in commercial laundry products is eye-watering, literally. Carcinogens, petrochemicals, optical brighteners are just some of the known offenders with other listed generic ingredients like ‘fragrance’ which can cover up a multitude of sins. But do you realize how simple it is to make your own laundry liquids and powders?
Take a step back and think about it. Natural laundry products are a huge tick for the planet and will provide you with the reassurance that your family’s linen is not being washed in harsh and toxic chemicals. They are also far more economic – these scented powders, liquids and fabric softeners all cost a lot of money and that’s before we get onto the toxic processes used to create them and the plastic they are all wrapped in. Making your own natural laundry liquids will be doing everyone a favor.
It was probably the age of convenience and mass production that took women away from the traditional home recipes but if you have never tried to make your own laundry products, you may not be aware just how easy it is.
Homemade laundry powder
You will need three principal ingredients:-
- Washing Soda – this is pretty similar to baking soda although there is a difference. Washing soda is actually Sodium Carbonate (baking soda is Sodium Bicarbonate) and already present in many commercial laundry products, the problem with the latter, however, is all the other chemicals. Washing soda is coarser and less fine than baking soda. Washing soda is a natural cleaner and a powerful water softener so your linen will feel lovely when it is washed without the need to use commercial fabric softeners
- Borax – Borax is also known as Sodium Borate and is a mineral salt. Aim for powdered borax which consists of soft, white almost colorless crystals that will dissolve easily in water. Borax works to keep soap dispersed throughout the load during the washing cycle so there are no soap residues left on your clothing but it only works well on hotter wash cycles. If you don’t want to use borax then just double the quantity of washing soda
- Natural soap – in tablet form. For added scent, you can use one which is fragranced with essential oils like 100% coconut oil soap
Rather surprisingly, these products are fairly easy to buy in your local supermarket. You can often find washing soda and borax packaged in environmentally friendly cardboard and sitting rather unfashionably on the bottom shelf in the laundry aisle.
Grate the soap tablet by hand or using a grater attachment on a kitchen blender, grate to a fine powder. Add this to 250ml each of borax and washing soda or 500ml of the soda if you don’t want to use borax. Each wash load will need one to two tablespoons. This recipe produces amazing results even on cold water washes so don’t be tempted to turn the dial up because you think you won’t get the same cleaning results as with a commercial product. Store in an airtight container.
Homemade laundry liquid
As a variation on a theme, try this recipe with hot water to make a laundry liquid. The hot water helps the borax to dissolve. Add to hot water the following ingredients:-
- 1 cup of borax
- 1 cup of washing soda
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1-2 bars of grated natural soap
- Between 10-20 drops of essential oil for fragrance.
Lavender is lovely for bed linen and some people use tea tree oil for tougher washes like sports clothing or work clothes with its clean, sharp fragrance and anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties. Essential oils disperse through the wash in a much more natural way and don’t leave that harsh, over-fragranced clinging scent residue on clothing that commercial products tend to.
If you live in a hard water area, you might want to investigate fitting a water softener as this will help your natural laundry products to be more efficient and also allow you to wash tough challenges at cooler temperatures.
Other handy natural products for the home laundry
- Lemon Essential Oil – this is really helpful for shifting stubborn stains and cutting through grease. Just dab a few drops onto the stain before you wash. At a push, fresh lemon juice will also do the trick
- Vinegar – half or a full cup of vinegar can be added to the rinse cycle, Vinegar re-sets the pH of the laundry to a more skin-friendly level – natural laundry detergent can be very alkaline and this could irritate sensitive skin. Vinegar will also help dissolve surplus detergent. Use non-GMO white vinegar
- Powdered Oxygen Bleach – this must be totally pure and without fillers and is used to brighten whites. It sounds toxic but is actually powdered hydrogen peroxide which is non-toxic. It may be described as pure sodium percarbonate so look out for this at 99% pure – the other 1% is moisture
Many people are switching to natural laundry liquids and powders due to growing concerns about what they put on their skin and also the continuing harm commercial products have on the environment. Natural laundry products are completely biodegradable. Don’t be fooled by all the supposed readymade ‘eco-friendly’ options, some of these also contain undisclosed proprietary ingredients and are not as clean and green as they seem. If you want to know what goes into your laundry liquid or powder, then make it yourself.
References and Further Reading
Homemade Borax Free Laundry Detergent: Read more…
The toxic dangers of ordinary laundry detergent: Read more…
How to make your own laundry detergent and save the planet: Read more…
Homemade laundry detergent recipe: Read more…
How to fragrance your laundry naturally with essential oils: Read more…