Laundry 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.
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.
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
- Finely grate 1 bar of pure, unscented glycerine soap
- Add last 4 ingredients
- Mix thoroughly
- Place a desiccant in jar to prevent clumping.
- Store in airtight container
- 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.