Homemade Borax-Free Laundry Detergent with price and product comparisons.

Laundry detergentLaundry detergent plays a very large role in daily life.  With 3 active, free-range kids I am doing laundry daily and I require a good soap that will remove dirt and stains effectively.

Commercial laundry detergent, however, contains many irritating, and potentially toxic ingredients.  One of the best-working, most common detergents available is TIDE and even the “free and clear” variety still contains dangerous chemicals that aren’t labelled.  Lori at Groovy Green Livin is leading a campaign to convince TIDE to remove these toxins from their “safe” products.

…it turns out that Tide Free & Gentle® isn’t so gentle. A report recently released by Women’s Voices for Earth, Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products?found high levels of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane in the detergent. 1,4-dioxane doesn’t appear on the product label or on the product website, so consumers have no way of knowing it’s even there.

This is especially concerning, because Tide Free & Gentle® is marketed to moms as a healthier choice for their children’s laundry. Infants and children are more vulnerable to chemical exposures, because their immune, neurological, and hormone systems are still developing.

1,4-dioxane is a known cancer-causing chemical, and has been linked in animal studies to increased risk of breast cancer.

These days I feel more and more like I can’t trust ANY company to tell me the truth about the ingredients in their products, and so I have been searching for a safe, homemade laundry soap recipe where I will at least know what is in the product.  I found many recipes that used borax, but am uncomfortable with borax ever since reading that borax, though natural, is toxic in large amounts, can be a skin irritant, and may not be as safe as people originally thought.

My search then changed to a borax-free recipe search.  I came across a few, but while searching I also came across some ingredients that will aid in the cleaning process.  By combining a number of recipes and adding ingredients I came up with my own recipe.

Brand Comparison:
I tested my recipe by badly staining 3 pieces of clean white cotton with ketchup, blueberry jam, olive oil and dirt.

I labelled each one and let the stains set for 24 hours.  Then I washed each piece separately in my front loading HE washing machine on “heavy duty” cycle.  I washed one with original TIDE, with an assortment of clean rags.  I washed the second one with SOAP NUTS, same setting, same rags.  And finally, I washed the third one with my own laundry soap recipe on the same setting and with the same rags.  My results demonstrated that the SOAP NUTS did not clean very well in comparison ot the other 2 cleaners.

TIDE appeared to remove a bit more of the ketchup but my detergent appeared to remove the blueberry jam stain better.  Both appeared to remove the dirt and oil equally well.  While I wasn’t expecting it, I was thrilled to find that my soap was actually competing on a level with TIDE without the dangerous chemicals!  The laundry washed with my soap smelled fresh, clean and fragrance-free.

Cost Comparison
Tide Free and Clear costs $8.99 for 40 loads ($0.22 per load) at my local London Drugs and grocery stores.  My recipe, according to my calculations with prices based on where I purchase my ingredients (some ingredients could likely be cheaper elsewhere) is $2.24 – $4.47 for 25 loads ($0.09 to $0.18 per load). The range is based on whether or not you use 1 or 2 tbsp. per load.

Cost comparison based on the following prices:
5 lb. citric acid $20
5lb. baking soda $11.75
5 lb. coarse salt $15
5 lb. washing soda $5.
Pure glycerin bar soap: $2

Purpose for ingredients:
glycerin soap: cleanser
washing soda: cleanser and water softener
baking soda: stain remover and odor remover
citric acid: water softener and color brightener
coarse salt: color stabilizer (helps prevent fading) and fabric softener.

Citric acid, coarse sea salt and baking soda can be purchased in bulk at Mountain Rose Herbs. Alternatively you can often find citric acid at home brewing stores or health stores.

Recipe for Borax-Free Laundry Detergent:


1 bar glycerin soap, grated finely
1 c. washing soda
1/2 c. baking soda
1/2 c. citric acid
1/4 c. coarse salt


  1. Finely grate 1 bar of pure, unscented glycerine soap
  2. Add last 4 ingredients
  3. Mix thoroughly
  4. Place a desiccant in jar to prevent clumping.
  5. Store in airtight container
  6. Add 1-2 tbsp. detergent to machine for clean, safe, fresh laundry!

I was thrilled to discover that I can make a safe, borax-free laundry detergent that cleans clothes very well.  Although somewhat cheaper than TIDE, my main satisfaction lies in the ingredients.  I KNOW what the ingredients are and I trust them to be safe to use on my family’s clothing.


      • You must use a desiccant with this detergent to prevent clumping.  Learn how to make them yourself here.
      • Can these be used on cloth diapers?  I don’t know.  Some people say that a soap of any kind will cause diapers to eventually repel liquid.  You can try it if you wish, and please let me know what conclusion you arrive at!  So what is in your detergent that is actually cleaning your diapers?  That’s just it!  We don’t know!  With this recipe you know exactly what ingredients are being used.
      • Use 1 tbsp. for small load, and 2 tbsp. for large load.


How to make a simple desiccant to keep products dry.

Some homemade cleaning products such as laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent need a desiccant to keep them from clumping together.  A desiccant is a little package containing something that is drier than the container it is placed in.  The desiccant absorbs the moisture that is in the container, keeping the intended product drier and less clumpy.

I made a simple desiccant by using powdered white clay.  Put 2 tbsp. in a thin, child’s sock (or the end of a pair of pantihose) and tie a knot at the end.  Place inside airtight container.  Replace as needed.  Alternatively, you can purchase silica at craft stores, and use the same way.  You can also use cheesecloth, place clay or silica in the middle, and tie the ends together to form a little pouch.


Before You DIY: Are your Essential Oils Phototoxic?

As we approach the summer season and the weather warms up we naturally gravitate outdoors and into the sunshine.  We have been pretty well trained to slap on the sunscreen when we are in the sunshine, especially during the heat of the day.  I have been using a safer sunscreen for years now to avoid unsafe chemicals used in many commercial sunscreens. This last year I have been making more of my own body products and the next one on the list will be homemade sunscreen.  I have recently come across some important information regarding homemade (and even commerical) body products and essential oils.

We are wrong to assume that all essential oils are safe no matter what.  Many are widely available, however, and if used for the wrong purpose or at the wrong time could create potentially dangerous situations.

Phototoxicity, or photosensitization, is a reaction that occurs when an agent (in our case essential oil) reacts to the UV in sunlight.  This can cause increased skin sensitivity and an elevated risk of sunburn, skin damage and potentially, skin cancer.  The agent can be applied topically or can be ingested.  It is important to stay our of the sun for at least 12 hours after applying or ingesting the agent.

While making homemade lotions, sunscreens, massage oils and lip balms make sure the essential oils you use are not phototoxic.  Make sure any commercial ones you might use aren’t either.

Many citrus essential oils are photosensitive, as well as Angelica and Bergamot.  For a more complete list head to Jo’s Health Corner: Avoid These Essential Oils if You Are Going To Be In The Sun.  Read the labels on your essential oils and make sure your dilute them appropriately before use.

If you are looking for high quality essential oils check out Mountain Rose Herbs.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways #28.

Homemade Immune-boosting “Tea” Recipe for fighting Colds and Flu.

I am a firm believer in the health benefits of good food, in getting your vitamins from your diet, and in boosting your immune system naturally, without supplements.  We are fortunate to have easy access to a variety of healthy food, and many of them are high in antioxidants, vitamins and antibacterial properties.  I have combined a few of them to create an immune-boosting tea that tastes so good you will want it every day, not just when you feel like you are getting sick!  With the help of this beverage I have fought off numerous colds that were showing ominous symptoms.

Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties.  When steamed and inhaled, it helps open up the nasal cavities so you can breathe better.

Honey is naturally antibacterial, and also has antioxidant properties. When added to a drink, honey can help soothe sore throats and dry coughs.

Cinnamon also has antibacterial properties, and has been used as a pain killer.

Blueberries are high in vitamin C which is beneficial in fighting colds, and is high in antioxidants.

Lemons are high in vitamin C.

If you feel as if you are coming down with a cold or flu, make your self a cup of this fruity tea, drink it up and get to bed!

1 inch of ginger root
1/2 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen, or 1/4 c. dehydrated.
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. honey

Directions for making tea:

Peel an inch of ginger root, and bring to a boil with one cup of water.  Add blueberries.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain into a mug.
Add boiling water to ginger/blueberry juice to equal one mug full.
Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and honey.
Sit back and enjoy!

Ginger root and blueberries can be kept and reboiled once for a second batch of equally potent tea.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 27.



Mother’s Day Giveaway: TreePeople Tree Dedication

This Mother’s Day stop and think about what you are going to give your mother.  Is it something she really needs?  Is it something useful?  Does it help others in any way?  How special is it?  Chances are you will be giving her a token gift that demonstrates your love for her.  She will love it, use it, and eventually it will end up in some form, in the landfill.

Unless you give her something that continues to grow.  Something that gives back to others.  Something that helps beautify and cleanse our earth for many years to come.  That’s right, a tree.  I agree, your mother probably doesn’t have room in her yard for another plant, much less another tree.  But there are places that DO need trees, and there is a way that you can give your mother a very special tree: a tree dedicated to her, that will be planted in a needy part of Los Angeles.  This tree will help create cooler city temperatures, cleaner air, replentished ground water supplies and a safer, more beautiful city.

TreePeople is “an environmental nonprofit that unites the power of trees, people and technology to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles. Simply put, our work is about helping nature heal our cities”.  Founded in 1973 and with more than 9000 volunteers, TreePeople has a fantastic mission

“to inspire the people of LA to take personal responsibility of the urban forest– educating, training and supporting them as they plant and care for trees and improve the neighbourhoods in which they work, live and play.”

TreePeople offers, among other things, forestry and environmental education programs.  They offer special events such as benefit concerts and family fairs that demonstrate simple changes to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle.  TreePeople has a vision to create a functioning community forest in every neighbourhood in LA.   And as a part of their actions, they offer everyone the opportunity to dedicate a tree to someone they love.

TreePeople has available a variety of cards to choose from, including Mother’s Day, All Occasion and Newborn cards.  For a $25 donation you choose your card, dedicate it to someone special, and TreePeople will mail it out within 1-2 business days.

A Tree Dedication is a simple, meaningful Mother’s Day gift that will add beauty to our planet, improve air quality, provide homes for other living things, and help restore Southern California’s vital forest land.

For a list of FAQs please click here.



As per usual, we base our reviews on a specific set of standards.
Kid/Parent Appeal: 4/4
Eco Appeal: Charitable/Non-profit  4/4
Functionality: 4/4
Age Appeal: 4/4
Fair Trade/Sustainable: Charitable/Non-profit 4/4

For a chance to win a Tree Dedication and card, please tell me something special about the mother figure in your life.  Tell me why you would like to dedicate a tree to her.  I will randomly select an entrant from the comments below on Sunday, May 6th at 9pm. PST.

Contest Deadlines: The winner will be drawn based on a number selected by random.org, at 9 pm PST on Sunday, May 6th, 2012.  The winner will be announced on this blog within 24 hours of the contest ending.  I will announce that a winner has been selected on facebook and twitter.  If the winner does not contact me within 24 hours I will select another winner.  Please enter an email (not shown) when you leave a comment so I have a way of getting in touch with you.

I have chosen to write a review for this non profit organization because I believe in their cause and would like to share it with others.  I did not receive compensation for writing this article.  They are kindly offering a tree dedication to a random reader who follows the above directions and enters the giveaway.

We write reviews based on a specific criteria.  Click here to see the criteria. Click here to see our blog and review disclaimer.