I have been thinking about a return to haomemade laundry soap for awhile. I used to make a "liquid" form when the kids were younger and in diapers and I had lots of laundry to do, because I needed to squeeze wvery penny until it shrieked for mercy. Eventually I got lazy though when our income improved I started buying laundry detergents again. I know! I'm an idiot!! I didn't realise that with all the unknown ingredients store bought detergents contain, even those marked phosphate free, I was not doing the environment any favours or my family's health either.
I found simple POWDERED versions of laundry soap online and I will share here what I am going to do from now on. Using equal amounts of the following:
Pure Soap Flakes : take bars of pure soap and grate them..voila ..soap flakes. Try to choose a soap that doesn't use petroleum products. In the past I used bath sized bars of Ivory and really liked the clean smell of our laundry and it was the least expensive soap I could find. Dial, Dove, etc are not PURE soaps. I have no idea whether Ivory contains petroleum based ingredients or not.
Borax: disinfects, deodorizes, helps with stains, softens water...Google it.
Washing Soda:(Sodium CARBONATE...not baking soda) deodorises, softens water, helps with stains.
As always when handling anything caustic, care should be taken to avoid skin contact and inhalation.
Grate the soap by hand or with the grating blade in a food processor. Then in the food processor (if you have one), using the chopping blade, mix all 3 ingredients together until its a fine powder. Be careful not to breathe in any when you open the processor. Store in an airtight container. Amount to use will vary with the hardness of your water so the range is 1 Tbsp to 1/2 cup per wash load. With my front loading HE I will start with 2 Tbsp. This laundry product doesn't suds up so don't keep adding more and more looking for suds. The plus side to this feature is that it will take less water to rinse. I usually use TWO rinses and still can here that crackly soapy noise in my clothes. Obviously I use too much.
Mixing some of this with water can be used as a stain pretreat but using a bar of soap would be pretty easy and effective as well. I swear by The Soap Works laundry bar for stains. http://puresoapworks.com/laundrybar.htm I cut/break the bar and store the unsused pieces in a wee paper sack, keeping one bit out for use. This way the whole bar doesn't get all wet and nasty and wasted. One bar lasts a LONG time this way.
Based on my costs for ingredients and using 2 Tbsp of powder per load, I can make a 25-30 load batch of laundry powder for approxiamately $2.28 plus tax, or .078 cents per load in my front loading washer. Thats pretty good in my books. I decided to start with 2 Tbsp (or 30 grams) per large load and see how the cleaning was, then cut it back until I cannot cut it back anymore and still have clean clothes. The less I use the more value is added to the batch(Can you imagine 60 loads for $2.28???)
Costs: 24 127 gram bars of Ivory Soap (I broke down because of the smell): $10.99
1 3 KG box of Washing Soda: $6.49
1 2 KG box of Borax: $5.49
I grated two bars of soap (254 grams) with the finer blade of my food processor, and then powdered it up with the other ingredients (254 grams of each) until it wasn't going to powder anymore. Because of the soap its a bit of a cakey powder. It reminded me of Ivory Snow that my mom used to buy (smell and texture) I measured everything by weight because its both more accurate and was easier since I have a digital kitchen scale.
I did a load of laundry late this afternoon with the homemade powder and I must say it did fine. No strong fragrance, one rinse, the clothes seemed clean...so far so good. With the ingredients I have on hand, I am ready for months of laundry.