medium_6904116977Laundry day may never be fun, but making homemade laundry detergent can help you feel good about yourself as you clean your clothes, sheets and towels. Yes, it takes a bit more effort than buying detergent from the store, but the benefits make it worthwhile.

Why go homemade? With the average family doing 400 loads of laundry a year, washing your clothes is expensive enough without forking over more money to detergent companies. And many commercial soaps, like Tide, have toxic chemicals that could increase your risk of cancer. Once your laundry is done, those chemicals go right back into the environment, and may pollute lakes and streams. Buying “green” detergent is better than buying Tide, but it will still cost more than the DIY-version.

To save even more money (and create less waste), only use detergent when your clothes are extra dirty. Even Seventh Generation co-founder Jeffrey Hollender says that modern washing machines provide enough agitation to clean most fabrics without the help of soaps.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Ingredients:

  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 bar organic castille soap (any scent)
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1/4 cup sea salt

Directions:

Grate the bar of soap, and mix all ingredients together. That’s it! You only need a tablespoon or two per load, so this detergent should last a while. Some DIY-ers also like to put lavender oil in their detergent, but I prefer my clothes to be scent-free when I put them on.

I want to add some thoughts on fabric softeners. They’re expensive, unnecessary and full of toxic chemicals. I skip them, but I’ve read that some people add some vinegar to the rinse cycle and it does the job.

Is it Safe to Use Borax?

If you Googled “how to make laundry soap” to get here, you’ve probably stumbled on a slew of recipes that use borax. But according to the Environmental Working Group, borax is a skin irritant, so it’s not the best choice if you have sensitive skin.

Much worse, borax may act as a hormone disruptor. Men exposed to boric-acid — a relative of borax — in fertilizer factories are more likely to have low sperm counts and reduced sex drive. To be on the safe side, I’d just stay away from borax.