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Homemade Laundry Soap/Detergent Questions

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure if this is the best place to put this, but hopefully I can get some answers! I've tried searching the forums, and have found a few threads, but nothing really recent or with many answers.

 

I've been looking in to homemade laundry soap (the powder kind, as the gel kind seems ridiculously messy to make/use). Most of the recipes I've found have been something along the lines of 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 bar of soap (usually Ivory or Fels Naptha is recommended), grated, then use 1-2 Tbsp per wash load.

 

So, questions:

 

-I've also heard of people adding baking soda to the wash to help with odors - can I incorporate this into my detergent mixture? Or should I add it separately? In either case, how much should I add?

 

-Some people talk about using vinegar or apple cider vinegar as a fabric softener - how much would I use? Can I put this in my Downy ball? Does it work with this type of detergent? Is it okay to use with cloth diapers, or should it be avoided, like other fabric softeners?

 

-Will this detergent work well for cloth diapers?

 

-Can I use this on my baby clothes? I worry about making them scratchy or fading them or giving the baby a rash. Which is probably silly if I plan to use it on my own laundry, but I guess I'm just looking for reassurance.

 

-What about semi-delicates? Like nice shirts or bras or whatever? Or should I go with Woolite?

 

-What kind of soaps have you used successfully in recipes like this, and why did you choose that type?

 

TIA for any answers!

post #2 of 6
Baking soda can be added, I've read it should be equal to the washing soda. Personally, I dislike Borax, but I'm well beyond the baby stage. Vinegar cuts the soap, but only if it is a plant based soap, like a castile soap. I'm not sure about Fels Naptha or Ivory. I've never used a Downy ball, but does your washer have a fabric softener dispenser?
post #3 of 6

I've used Kirk's castile soap and liked it.  I wouldn't add baking soda.  I think it is just a much weaker version of washing soda. 

 

I've never used vinegar as a fabric softener, but although I am skeptical about its effectiveness I'm pretty sure it shouldn't leave a residue on diapers like a regular softener would.  No familiarity with the downy ball, either...

 

It's been ages since I did cloth diapers and I didn't make my detergent then, but I remember that I eventually started just running them through the full wash twice, once with detergent and once without (like super-rinsing) and was finally happy with the results.

 

I made my own laundry soap for a couple of years.  I thought it was good though not great at getting things clean.  Though this is also true of purchased detergents...   

post #4 of 6

Washing soda does not have as high of a ph as baking soda, so this is why it is used to make homemade laundry detergent.  While baking soda is known for reducing odors, its high alkalinity can reduce the life of your clothes by literally eating the material.  I personally would not use baking soda instead of washing soda.  They are not the same thing.

http://www.naturesgardencandles.com

post #5 of 6

-I've also heard of people adding baking soda to the wash to help with odors - can I incorporate this into my detergent mixture? Or should I add it separately? In either case, how much should I add?

 

I wouldn't add baking soda either. 

 

-Some people talk about using vinegar or apple cider vinegar as a fabric softener - how much would I use? Can I put this in my Downy ball? Does it work with this type of detergent? Is it okay to use with cloth diapers, or should it be avoided, like other fabric softeners?

 

I think you can put it in a downy ball.  I just fill up my liquid fabric softener dispenser in my FL washing machine.  In my older TL, I would fill an old liquid detergent cup and throw it in.  I don't think it really matters how much you use, honestly.

 

-Will this detergent work well for cloth diapers? 

 

I'm not sure, I think the soap would cause build up so I personally wouldn't use it.  I use a separate detergent for my diapers.

 

-Can I use this on my baby clothes? I worry about making them scratchy or fading them or giving the baby a rash. Which is probably silly if I plan to use it on my own laundry, but I guess I'm just looking for reassurance.

 

I have never noticed scratchiness or fading at all.  Our clothes don't feel any different than they do when I use liquid detergent like Gain.  I don't think it would cause a rash any more than any other detergent.

 

-What about semi-delicates? Like nice shirts or bras or whatever? Or should I go with Woolite?

 

I use it on everything.  *shrug*

 

-What kind of soaps have you used successfully in recipes like this, and why did you choose that type?

 

I use Fels Naptha b/c that is what I can find.  I'd like to try using Mrs Meyers soap one time, but I can't find it anywhere.  I've also heart that Zote is really good. 

 

One suggestion that I do have, no matter what soap you use, is to take the packaging off and leave the soap set out for a week before grating it.  It will take some forethought, of course, but it helps a TON!  The soap is drier that way, so it will grate easier and not get gunked up in the grater.  I then leave the grated soap sit in a bowl for a few days before I put all the ingredients into a food processor to turn it into a fine powder like a regular dry detergent. 

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input! I was just about to bump this thread to see if I could get more thoughts on the matter. I actually just mixed up my first batch last night. I wish I had remembered the leaving-the-soap-unwrapped tip (I read it somewhere else, too). It didn't gunk up the grater too much, but I think it might have worked a little better if it were harder. My first batch of washing is now in the dryer! I think I may pop over to the cloth diapering forum and ask diaper-specific questions there.

 

I am still curious about other soap options, because I'm not really wild about the smell of Ivory. I've read not to use a beauty bar, like Dove, but does anyone have any more specific information about what types of soaps/ingredients are good/bad for this purpose?

 

Oh, and for those unfamiliar with the Downy ball - it basically is just a plastic ball with a rubber stopper that is opened by centrifugation when the washer spins. My machine does have a fabric softener dispenser, but I have no idea if it works. My family never used fabric softener, so I'm not all that familiar with it. I only discovered it as an adult living in Europe, where I learned that fabric softener makes an AMAZING difference in the wrinklyness/stiffness of line-dried clothes.

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