DIY Detergent

Thanks to a super mild winter, our school was lucky enough to get an extra day for Memorial Day weekend, so I was home this Tuesday, a pretty eventful day. It just happened to be Beardslee’s “birthday” (ie the day he came into our lives) and we had our first tornado watch/warning of the year. Exciting stuff!

So, what’ve I been up to today? Laundry. Fun stuff, I know, but it involved finally making some (hopefully) eco-friendly, mild detergent for baby items. I’m not sure whether the oxy-detergent (you know the kind…mine was more of a generic brand, and I’ll keep an eye out for a still-cheaper version) is completely natural and I’ve read mixed reviews on Borax (which IS labeled “all natural”), but it should still be gentler than most detergents. And you know how I feel about soaps that provide us with natural options – like my vinegar/baking soda shampoo alternative (which I still use regularly – occasionally using a semi-eco-friendly shampoo if I’m in a hurry).

After chatting with my #1 go-to advice-giver (next to…y’know…Google), my mother, I felt comfortable not using Dreft on the baby clothes, blankies, etc that I’ve been lucky enough to receive (either as new gifts or as very welcome hand-me-downs). So, with only slight hesitation, I went forth making the stuff.

It was an easy process. I just mixed a cup of each of the following together in a French air-tight container (we bought from The Christmas Tree Shoppe for quite the deal!): Borax, washing soda (NOT BAKING SODA) and an “oxy” (or “oxi”) detergent. After reading recipes and reviews online, this combination seemed successful, along with the very important direction of using just one or two tablespoons of the stuff in your cycle. (I’m also considering, if necessary, an extra rinse cycle; if only we had an Energy Star washer that had features that you could simply *set* to do such things. 😉 But, again, we’re terribly lucky to have a hand-me-down washer and dryer, so beggars can’t be choosers.) Oh, and while I read that white vinegar can be added in the rinse cycle, sheer laziness dictated that I’d throw a splash in with the wash. And, with all detergents, it’s a better idea to let the machine run a bit so the detergent dissolves before adding clothes…just a lil’ trick.

DIY Detergent - image  on
DIY Detergent - image  on

And, guess what! The loads came out fine!! I haven’t finished all the baby stuff (still have all the clothes to do; that’s a tad more daunting task given tag-snipping and the sheer amount of items), but with how the sheets and blankies and burp cloths and so on came out, I’m happy with it! Of course, I’ll update y’all with how things continue, and how the baby’s skin eventually reacts. (If they’re anything like Daddy or Mommy, they may have sensitive skin…although I consider all baby skin to be “sensitive.” :-))

By the way, I’m going to continue using my “usual” liquid detergent on our own clothes until we run out, but try to continue using this method for the baby items (and, yes, probably even cloth diapers…just don’t tell the company I purchase from ;-)) and eventually switch over completely for all our laundry needs. Given how far a tablespoon or two go, I’d say that this is a very cost-effective washing method (although the “oxy” detergent ain’t cheap-cheap…which is why I’d like to keep an eye out for it in different stores; we bought the smaller container for a couple bucks rather than a huge one, but given how much smaller the package is compared to the Borax and soda, it doesn’t feel as cost-effective), and by throwing in some vinegar, things stay soft and fresh-smelling as well as uber-clean.

So, whatchya think? Am I crazy for not using Dreft? Do you think I should’ve done the Borax/shaved soap/washing soda boiled-into-a-liquid-method? Do you have a brand that you wouldn’t give up for the world? Do share!

One thought on “DIY Detergent”

  1. I never used Dreft – it actually has a lot of perfumes and additives. The recipe you referenced is the one I use for my diapers, but for our clothes I use 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup Fels Naptha soap that I shred with a cheese grater. You can use Ivory or Zote soap also (basically any soap without lotions.) I've been using it for a couple years and it's worked great! I wash in cold water (usually) and I don't dissolve the powder in the water first. I haven't had any issues. For my diapers I do a cold rinse, then add detergent (the Oxy-Clean one – about 1 tablespoon.) I then run a hot wash followed by 2 cold rinses. I hang dry my dipes on a drying rack in winter and on the clothesline in the summer. If you can hang them in the sun it kills bacteria and bleaches out stains. I buy the generic Oxy-Clean stuff (I think it's called Sun Oxygen Cleaner or something) at the Dollar Store or Dollar General. I use vinegar as a fabric softener (when I use anything) and I occasionally soak my dipes in a vinegar/water mix if they get a real strong ammonia smell. The vinegar breaks down the ammonia salts and flushes them out.

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