I’ve been meaning to replace my store boughten (as they say in the South) laundry detergent with a homemade version for a long time. I finally got ‘er done! I also found a way to replace my dryer sheets for when I use the dryer. So, here’s our report on homemade laundry soap and dryer sheets.
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How to Make Homemade Laundry Soap
There are lots of tutorials on this on the web, but here are just a few:
- Five Little Homesteaders
- Not So Modern has a borax free version
- Off Grid Homestead has a soap nut article if you’re ready to dump detergent altogether
I decided on powdered detergent because it was so much simpler and I can find what I need for it at my local grocery store. If it was going to be complicated, I simply wasn’t going to have time for it.
I bought Fels Naptha bar soap to use in this recipe. It’s a so-so Castille soap (a fancy phrase for an olive oil based soap), but I will definitely be using my homemade stuff once I get my booty in gear and make a few more batches. (NOTE – I finally did make some soap just for this detergent because the Naptha caused allergic reaction in several of us. Plus, its stinky!)
Steps to Make Homemade Laundry Soap
The first step is to mix the washing soda and the borax in a big bowl – watch out for loose washing dust floating up your nostrils!
Then we grated the bar of soap with a regular cheese grater.
The Homemade Laundry Soap Proportions
To mix up our homemade laundry detergent we used:
- one box of washing soda,
- one box of of borax
- one bar of grated soap – I may up it to two bars but so far this mix cleans clothing really well.
It also seems to be cleaning my #%@^&#$ HE washing machine which constantly stinks if I don’t run vinegar through it all the time. When I use this mix, it doesn’t smell.
So, see, learning to make homemade laundry soap and dryer sheets can lead to all kinds of other important discoveries!
Vinegar Fabric Softener
On the topic, of vinegar though, it makes a groovy fabric softener, fyi.
You can also make a simple herbal vinegar to add to your wash by:
- soaking citrus rinds, mint and/or lavender in a solution of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 filtered water.I usually just fill a quart jar with the liquid and herbs – I’m not very scientific about it.
- Strain the herbs out after about a week and you’ll have a great herbal vinegar to clean up your clothes and your machine. Sometimes I’ll just drop in some peppermint essential oil, too, if I’m feeling saucy.
Making Dryer “Sheets”
The next thing on my list was to replace my dryer sheets – those things just scream nasty toxins. I’m a fiber geek and so when I ran into a post on how to make wool dryer balls, I was intrigued!
Dryer Ball Tutorials:
- From Crunchy Betty, here’s how to make wool dryer balls.
- Here’s another one from Urban Overalls
- And one that uses socks and dried beans from Modern Vintage Housewives.
So, they’re not technically dryer sheets, you make dryer balls – whatever, they work great!
The kids and I made four in about an hour, including felting/washing time, using the various instuctive posts above. To make them and the laundry smell fresh and clean, I add some of my awesome new fragrance oil from The Sage directly to the ball.
I think I’ll make some more balls because it seems to work best with two to four in each load. I want to have a lot on hand because I’m too lazy to go digging through my clean laundry piles to find them.
For more ideas on dryer sheets, here are 5 Natural Dryer Sheet Alternatives from All Natural Mothering.
If you’re just feeling overwhelmed in general by the laundry that never seems to disappear no matter how many loads you know you’ve done, you may want to check out Angi Schneider’s E-book, Taming the Laundry Monster.
Now that I’ve learned how to make homemade laundry soap and dryer sheets, my big laundry goal for this summer is to get an outdoor clothesline set up. So many projects, so little time…
Update on the Homemade Laundry Soap
Several people have asked how I liked the homemade laundry soap and dryer balls and if they really work. So, here’s the update!
- Yes, the homemade laundry soap works, even on my cloth diapers! The original recipe called for the castile soap Fels Naptha which ended up giving DH a rash so the last batch I made had a handmade goat milk soap in it. We all seem to be doing just fine after the switch and, to be honest, that Fels scent was really strong and it’s not the best soap out there ingredient-wise.
- I made a batch of this old fashioned lye soap recipe to use in the homemade laundry detergent after the goat milk soap ran out. The recipe is from Frugally Sustainable and it isn’t super-fatted like most bathing soaps. Being fatty is a fine quality in a bath soap, not so much in a laundry soap. This recipe creates a soap that doesn’t leave a residue, therefore it cleans a little bit better.
- I’ve been pleased with the results from the detergent, especially with my &*%%*$ HE washing machine which is always stinky no matter how we clean it out. I usually throw in a bit of white vinegar along with my detergent as a fabric softener/extra cleaner. I should also mention that I’m still using Resolve to treat stains. My next project will be to mix up some sort of homemade concoction for stain treatment, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. The world should just be happy that I remember to brush my teeth most days.
Do Dryer Balls Really Work?
As for the dryer balls – those things are very cool!
Like I mentioned above, I add a bit of my awesome fragrance oils from The Sage to a ball now and then to scent the laundry with great results. The balls do just as well as dryer sheets but with no chemicals. AND I’m not throwing anything away.
The balls struggle with synthetic fibers and static just as much as dryer sheets do but nothing could hope to conquer those things. Items like fleece blankets which are made of polyester still get static. Polyester is annoying on many levels.
One of my balls made with yarn and not just fleece came loose but I just re-felted it and it was fine.
So, there you go! Let me know if you have something to add or a better way of doing it – I’m always happy to learn!