Monday, August 29, 2011

DIY Detergent Earth!

This is will be my 2nd batch of homemade laundry detergent aka DIY Detergent Earth! I call it DIY Detergent Earth because it sounds like an important mission and because it is! I did a lot of reading and poking about natural websites and products to find exactly what I thought would work for my family. I never used anything special for Avery except for when I washed her newborn clothes sans tags coming straight off the shelf. I didn't really even think twice about my laundry detergent until I started using vinegar in my fabric softener dispenser instead of dryer sheets (not recyclable or biodegradable). I found this blog from Bonzai aphrodite. I already used baking soda in my laundry for a boost and vinegar so I figured I would give it a shot!

My 1st attempt at making Detergent Earth was a disaster!! I waited too long in between mixing the items and didn't stir like she suggested and ended up with natural concrete. No. Lie. After spending about 10 minutes banging my empty coconut oil bucket on the steps out back the hardened concoction finally started to crack. So what's a girl to do? Try it again, right away. Immediately I began again, mixing and stirring, mixing and stirring, and stirring and mixing. To pass the stirring time I hiked up my pants and sat outside on the steps to soak up some Vitamin D! After I finally saw this goop turn into the 'cake-y' sponge Bonzai Aphrodite wrote of I kept stirring 5 more minutes just to be safe! 

My husband was skeptical but that was almost 3 weeks ago and I am just now making a new batch today. It has lasted several loads, the laundry comes out wonderfully clean and smelling heavenly! There were a couple of loads that my faith in Detergent Earth shuddered so instead of fretting I just added some extra Borax to the water and once again this earth friendly product became mom friendly as well!

As Bonzai's blog states Detergent Earth is literally 5 ingredients! FIVE!!!
Here is her explanation of them (*me):

  • White Vinegar – Vinegar is simply acetic acid: diluted, mild, and edible, but acid nonetheless.  As such, it will dissolve dirt, mildew, mineral build-up, and soap scum.  Vinegar is something of a wonder cleanser, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of it around here in the near future.  Available everywhere.  (* I got 4 gallons for 2.99$ at Costco!!)
  • Baking Soda – Baking soda is another amazing all-purpose cleaner, but it’s also an excellent deodorizer.  As well, it softens water and helps to maintain neutral pH so that detergent can work more efficiently.  It keeps your colored clothes from fading and also gets whites brighter.  Available everywhere, but check the bulk bins at your local co-op.  (*I did go to Costco and get a 13 lbs bag of Baking Soda for ... 4.99$!) 
  • Washing Soda – Baking soda’s kickbutt cousin.  Washing soda is much more alkaline and cuts oils like a pro, so it’s great in the laundry.  It also helps to deodorize, but fighting grease and stains is the primary purpose.  Look for it in the drug store or supermarket, in with the laundry and cleaning supplies.  (*I had to go to three different stores to find this, but now that I know where to get it, the shopping will be easy! Arm & Hammer makes the one I bought and a whole box was 2.99$)
  • Borax – Borax is awesome!  It’s a natural stain remover and an excellent alternative to bleach, because it’s an anti-fungal/anti-mold and all-around disinfectant.  Coupled with regular soap, it greatly increases cleaning power. Look for it in the drug store or supermarket, in with the laundry and cleaning supplies.  (*Found this in the regular laundry isle at SaveMart)
  • Castile Soap – ‘Castile’ isn’t a brand, but a type of soap: one that is made using only vegetable oils (as opposed to most soaps which render from animal fat).  So not only is it vegan and cruelty-free, but it’s much easier on the environment as well.  Castile soap is a superior gentle cleanser, and quickly biodegrades.  I use Dr. Bronner’s lavender scented soap, and I absolutely adore it.  Available at most ‘natural’ stores, and many Trader Joe’s. (*I was lucky enough to actually HAVE the same soap she did so I used Dr. Bronner's Lavender soap as well!) 

Here is a picture of everything but the castile soap. I use an empty coconut 
oil bucket to mix and store my Detergent Earth!

1 1/4 cups white vinegar
1 cup baking soda
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
Mix in a large, non-metal bowl. I re-used (and decorated!) my previous soap tub, which worked great.  Start with the vinegar and continuously stir as you add each powder.  Try to stir out and break up any clumps.  Finish with the liquid soap.  It will seem wet, like a thick paste, but keep stirring and it will begin to flake and crumble into a moist ‘powdered detergent’.  KEEP STIRRING! If you quit too early, you’ll find a very hard mass the next time you go to use it. So use them biceps and stir it to completion. You’ll end up with a sort of soft clumpy cake-y ‘loaf’, that will easily crumble off for use.
If you use plain non-scented castile soap, you may add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
Store in a lidded container and use about 1/4 cup per load.

(* Because the overwhelming power of Lavender has consumed and calmed me this whole pregnancy I added MORE Lavender scent to it with 100% Lavender Essential Oil!!) 

I also grabbed some eco-friendly natural fabric softener with lavender  essential oil in it to put in my fabric softener dispenser since the laundry detergent has vinegar in it. I truly have loved making and using my own detergent and highly recommend it to anyone looking to not only save some money in the end, but also do a little part in making this planet safer for your family and each other! I just recently discovered a new idea via Pinterest where you make your own long lasting dryer sheet! You soak a towel (like a baby burp cloth) in your favorite fabric softener, let it dry, then use it for up to 40 loads of drying clothes! Because we still have babies and baby clothes everywhere I know I would have to personalize the dryer towel so we wouldn't put it up. That adventure is a step that I am comfortable holding off of because I am truly happy with the results I have seen in the past 3 weeks! Now if my husband wants the ritual of the dryer sheet then that's a whole other post...


  1. Great post Des! As soon as I settle in the new place I'll be using your tutorial. My Mom and Sis just made 10 gallons from another recipe but if we run out while we are there I'll make this then and let you know how it went.

  2. Thanks my friend!! I look forward to Keeping Up with The Steele's via crafty and loudly written blog posts!!