Lauren Mueller

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Well, I always think "oh I can just jump on the computer, a blog post shouldn't take thattt long!". And then it always does really take that long! Ha! So today, I really should be doing my laundry (that hasn't been getting done because I was out of laundry detergent, hence this post...), so I am giving myself 15 minutes to get this post done! LET'S GO :)...

Long story short, I have tried at least 4 laundry soap recipes. Some without any cleaning ingredients but baking soda, some with lots of ingredients, and I finally found one recipe that meets my "natural/mostly chemical free" standards, as well as my "actually gets my clothes clean" standard!

One I tried didn't get my clothes clean enough, even though I wanted so badly for it to work because it was SO chemical free! The next one I tried had Fels Naptha soap, which after some skin irritations, I decided to research, and found out this one has some toxicity levels as well!

GEEEEEEZE, it seems that everything these days has some chemicals thrown in there... in Fels Naptha they actually hide it under the ingredient wording of "other cleansing ingredients". Okkkk... so what exactly are those ingredients? I have read TONS of blog posts/websites discussing how many people have contacted the Dial company regarding the ingredients of their Fels Naptha soap and they do not reply. But if you check out the "Material Safety Data Sheet MSDS" from the National Institute of Health ( ), you can see that under "Chronic Health Effects" it states that "Repeated or prolonged exposure to high concentrations has resulted in upper respiratory tract irritation, central and peripheral nervous system effects, and possibly hematopoetic, liver and kidney effects" and also describes later how exposure in the air to this can affect the nervous system, and any exposure can cause eye, skin, and throat irritation. The perfumes and colorants listed in the ingredient list are also a problem, probably containing some type of "petrochemical" base.

In my house we try to stay far away from petrochemicals. What is a petrochemical? Basic definition from Wikipedia is - "A petrochemical is derived from raw materials of petroleum or natural gas origin", and these are PROVEN to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing)! *Ironic fact - while researching petrochemicals I found that one is actually called "napthalene"... hmmmm, napthalene, Fels Naptha soap.... coincidence :)?

Anyways! On to the good stuff (It has SOOO been longer than 15 minutes :)). This recipe comes from my good old Mom's kitchen! Yay, thanks Mom! She modified it a little to substitute for Fels Naptha. She also recommends making this homemade liquid gel versus the homemade powdered form of laundry detergent, simply for the fact that it is WAYYYYY cheaper! This one costs you literally about 2 CENTS per load, yes CENTS!

Ok, to get started - go grab a 5 gallon bucket and lid from your local hardware store. I got mine for about $3 total at my local Menard's, and this will add a little to your initial "cents per load" cost, but you can reuse it everytime you make the detergent, therefore it SO pays for itself!


Fill that 5 gallon bucket of yours half full with water as hot as your faucet lets you get it!

Grate a bar of castile soap (we have talked about this before in the liquid form, which I recommend for most homemade things of this nature, but when it comes to the laundry detergent, USE THE BAR! It is wayyy cheaper to use a bar of this stuff which costs between $1-$2, than to have to use a few BOTTLES worth of the liquid stuff. With the grated bar, you are basically going to dilute it back down to liquid form with water). *I grated it with my kitchen stand alone cheese grater, worked great, only took a minute!

Mix that grated bar of soap with 4 cups of hot water in a pot. Heat and stir over high heat until the soap is melted. (2-4 minutes)

Dump that pot mixture into the 5 gallon bucket.


-1 cup washing soda (you can buy this at your grocery store on the laundry detergent aisle, looks like a big baking soda box)

-1/2 cup borax (found in same spot as the washing soda)

Stir everything in the bucket, fill up the rest of the way with hot water, stick that lid on good and tight, and let it sit for 24 hours!

Open it up 24 hours later, stir it up, and it should be a good chunky gel-type liquid.

You're done! This 5 gallon bucket's worth of detergent should last you at least a year! And those boxes of washing soda and borax will last a while too, and you can use 'em to clean other stuff (just not dishes, as far as the borax goes... it's not good to ingest!).

I use about a 1/2 cup in my top loading washer, and I also fill up my laundry softener ball (or if you have a front loader, you can fill up the fabric softener compartment) with white vinegar, which I've kind of mentioned before as being a GREAT disinfectant, deodorizer, cleanser, and SOFTENER (I promise, no smell! Don't be scared you will LOVE it! I actually am loooving when I am doing stuff in my kitchen and smell the white vinegar as the laundry goes into rinse cycle! Ha yes I am a little crazy ;)!)

I like to have more soap rather than less, but if you don't mind having a little less, you could go with what my mom (and others) recommend which is that you really only need about 1/4 cup of this per load.

One more little side note- Do not put essential oils in your detergent, as it breaks down the fibers in your clothes. I keep old wash cloths near the dryer and sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil (or whatever oil you choose) on that clean washcloth, and throw it in the dryer with my clothes! Yum!

Happy Laundering :)... I am off to actually do some real laundry now with that amazing detergent!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Homemade Dishwashing Soap

So. I never post on here. I know. As we all know, when you have little kids (even when you don't!), there are neverrr enough hours in the day to get it all done! I feel like the older my kids get, the easier THEY get, but the BIGGER the messes they make get... it's a never ending cycle :), but I love being a stay at home mom! And I decided within the past year that for my house, part of being a stay at home mom meant more researching the stuff we are putting on and in our bodies, and figuring out some alternatives. Hence this blog, and this post!
Now I have to say, I cannot claim all of this info as purely my own! I have some great blogs I love to get info from, such as and . As well as some great friends who are my sounding boards and information gurus :). So with that said, know that some of these recipes to follow are from or adapted from these blogs, but maybe from some other random places too!

First let's talk about dish detergent. Along with food we put into our mouths, we are also putting into our mouths the stuff that piggybacks onto your food from the dishes you just washed in that dishwasher with the dish detergent full of bleach. EW. I am guilty of this, obviously for my whole life up until now. I mean it's normal... you wash your dishes with dish detergent. Let's take a look at the two ingredients in my generic dishwashing gel...sodium silicate - proven to be a skin irritant, "Repeated exposure of sodium silicate to the lungs can lead to frequent bronchial infections and chronic respiratory issues", "Sodium silicate is corrosive and can cause serious damage to mucous membranes if ingested", and chlorine bleach - "Yet as useful as organochlorines are, it's also a fact that they are the single most hazardous classes of compounds ever created. Scientists have found that exposure to organochlorines can create a wide variety of health problems including cancer, hormonal disruption, reproductive and developmental disorders, neurological problems, immune system dysfunction, and other serious conditions. Complicating this problem is the fact that organochlorines can often cause these effects at levels hundreds of thousands of times lower than the levels required by most other poisons. Some organochlorines, like dioxins, are so hazardous that they affect human health at levels measured in parts per trillion, an amount equivalent to a single drop in a train of tank cars 10 miles long.". I mean come on! WE ARE EATING THAT CRAP OFF OF OUR DISHES!

SO :)! Now that I told you why I hate regular dish detergent, let's talk about three alternatives that I love and that I think are all almost evenly effective on cleansing my dishes!

1: Dr Bronner's Castile Soap Mix (an amaaazing, completely natural, non sudsing, "soap", made out of all natural oils).

-1/2 cup liquid castile soap (for my Fort Wayne friends - you can find this at the Scott's on Dupont. Or Trader Joe's in Indy for WAY cheaper for a larger bottle!)
-1/2 cup water
-1 tsp fresh lemon juice (bottled if you do not have fresh)
-a few drops of tea tree extract (also a great Trader Joe's buy!)
-1/2 cup white vinegar

Super easy to store this in a clear squirt bottle, which are usually only a buck at Walmart. And, you only need 2 Tablespoons per load!!! We really don't need to fill those big soap compartments in our dishwasher, I promise!!

*Note: Dr Bronner's is non sudsing. Which is good! It doesn't have the sodium laureth sulfates and other chemicals that are only there to make our soaps look sudsy! Just start retraining your brain it doesn't have to be sudsy to be clean :)!! And do NOT use regular liquid soap in place of Dr Bronners or your dishwasher will overflow!

*Note #2 :): white vinegar is a GREAT all natural deodorizing, disinfecting, water softening, cleansing agent, and it truly leaves no smell when dried! the uses of vinegar needs a whole post all in its own!

I LOVE Dr Bronner's and use it EVERY.WHERE. for EVERY.THING. I knew that this would work great when I found the recipe and it did! Sparkly, clean dishes! This is my favorite!!

2: Dishwasher Soap With Borax. The safety of Borax is still up in the air for me... it's not "bad" for you neccessarily, but in large, ingested doses, it can be dangerous, because once it is INSIDE your body, it can react and change into a more dangerous substance. So, I use Borax for clothes, since it is safe for skin, more than I do for dish detergent. This recipe does have a small amount and is DEFINITELY safer than store bought though, so here it is!

-3 Tbs Baking soda
-1 Tbs Borax
-2 drops of Lemon Essential Oil (for scent)

Use in dishwasher

3: Trader Joe's "Environmentally Sound Automatic Dishwashing Detergent", which is phosphate-free, chlorine-free, and fragrance and dye free! The main ingredient is sodium carbonate (baking soda!) But this is my last choice, as it does contain a TINY amount of sodium silicate, discussed above!

Well! At the beginning of my post I thought this would be full of all the different products I make and use in my home, but it turns out that is WAYYYY too much info for one post :). More soon, rather than later, I promise :).

But for today - go make yourself some healthy, dishwashing soap, and know that your kids aren't ingesting poison when they eat that yummy dinner you made 'em ;)!