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How Homemade Laundry Detergent Saves Money and the Planet

My adult daughter,  knowing I’m both a tree hugger and a penny pincher, got me on to homemade laundry detergent a few years ago, putting it in a decorative recycled container, and gave it a fancy home-made label using a Cricut.  I absolutely love it! I’ll never go back to buying brand laundry detergent again. After educating myself on the scary stats I’m sharing with you today, I also make sure my loads of laundry are as full and efficient as can be.  Keep reading to learn the benefits, and for the money saving, earth saving recipes at the end. (Spoiler Alert! I’m not going to give you just one recipe, I’m going to give you three!) 

Here are 3 compelling reasons to justify switching to homemade laundry detergents.

1) Environmental Reasons: It’s so much better for our water systems to use nontoxic products when doing our laundry. According to the National Park Service Website, environmental protection advocates, most residential washing machines use about 41 gallons of water per load.  The average American family washes about 300 loads of laundry per year which means the environmental impacts from water use, energy use and hazardous chemicals really add up.

A 2011 study found that scented liquid laundry detergents and dryer sheets contain hazardous chemicals and emit volatile organic compounds 

 ( VOC’s) two of which are classified as carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency.  

2) Health Reasons: It’s better for our health.  All the ingredients in these homemade versions are non toxic which means it’s better for our skin and our lungs.  Most commercial laundry soaps use dioxane ( a synthetic oil based carcinogen ) as a filler, according to and Exova, an independent, third party laboratory.  

Fillers are used as a binding agent for water and to add bulk to the box or bottle of detergent, making you think you are getting a better deal at the grocery store.  Fillers can account for up to 45% of your detergent.  Bigger is not always better.  Some other common fillers in your laundry are Gluten to thicken and extend products, alcohol, decreases the detergents freezing point and increases solubility, limestone, and chalk.  These work with the phosphates to increase suds, perfumes and colors are used to mask the smell of the chemicals used and to make it look pretty. 

Fillers get ground down into a very sand-like consistency.  They get stuck in your clothes and grind together ( with washing and wear) thereby  lessening the life of your clothes and fading them.  After just 10 washes, clothes, towels and blankets gain about 2% of their weight in detergent residue ( fillers and chemicals) and are constantly being absorbed into your skin.

3) Economical Reasons:  According to, homemade laundry soaps are so much cheaper since you use less.  Soap flakes, borax and washing soda crystals are generally cheaper than regular detergent.  With just one bar of Fels Napa soap, a cup of borax and a cup of washing soda crystals, you can make enough for 20 loads of laundry.  You will use less, about 2 tbsps per load since you’re not paying for useless fillers that commercial laundry products use as mentioned above.

Have I convinced you yet?  If so, here is a link and some simple recipes or techniques for you to try: 

My favorite dry laundry powder detergent recipe is from the Happy Money Save Website. Click the link to take a look!

Bonus Recipes/Techniques, as promised:

My favorite Non Toxic Fabric Softener Recipe:

2 cups of vinegar

2 cups of water

2 tbsp vegetable glycerine

10-12 drops of your favorite scented, good quality  essential oil ( optional) 

For each load of laundry, I fill a Downy Ball about ¼ full, or up to the Xlarge load line and just toss it in with the wash cycle. 

My favorite RoundUp alternative to weed killing technique:

As an alternative to using RoundUp, which is banned in many countries for it’s hazardous chemicals known to cause birth defects; you can try vinegar, corn gluten, pelargonic acid (a naturally occurring fatty acid), or clove- or citrus-oil sprays. All that said, you might find yourself more satisfied with two labor-intensive solutions: hand weeding or “flame weeding” with a propane torch designed for gardening.

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