1 bar of grated bar soap
1 cup of washing soda
1 cup of borax
20 drops of essential oils of choice. I used a citrus and tea tree oils.
1/2 cup vinegar
Grate the soap using a hand grater or food processor. Carefully mix with the washing soda and borax. Add essential oils and stir. Store in an airtight glass jar. Repurpose a scoop and use approximately 2 rounded Tablespoons per load. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine.
Giving plastic the boot is hard enough, but plastic-free and palm oil-free when it comes to certain household cleaners put me in a pickle.
Actually, wait. Back up. Most of that stuff does not/will not/cannot/ain’t gonna/no way/no how list ingredients on their magical proprietary blend of suspicious chemicals.
But don’t they just work so well??? Whaaaaah.
My warehouse-sized box of detergent was rapidly dwindling and I was dragging my feet about what to do to clean my laundry. It was a great excuse to ignore those pesky piles, actually.
Muddy clothes, potty training accidents, and ceviche fishy fish prep with dining for 9 unplugged quickly snapped me back to reality as those napkins quickly became odiferous.
What were my options:
- Continue with my cardboard brick of mystery powder. It does come in cardboard after all. But even if the ingredients were transparent and actually nontoxic, the packaging still comes with that strip of plastic for tearing open the lid and a cracked and utterly useless plastic scoop.
- Bulk laundry soap is available at a natural foods store, but it is so off the beaten path for me that it just didn’t seem practical to keep up with pace of our laundry needs. It also wasn’t the most effective in getting clothes clean. So even if I could make the drive worth it and get over mediocre efficacy, the ingredients aren’t listed and can’t really rule out palm oil. Lame.
- A plastic jug isn’t really an “option.” It’s plastic and therefore off the table completely.
- Make my own.
Fortunately, I’m a late bloomer when it comes to blogging and this subject is not unchartered territory to other mommies before me considering the same consequences of household products and packaging on their family and the environment. They all said that it was cheap, easy, and effective. Having made my own, I now agree.
Most recipes called for Castile soap, and the most ubiquitous natural brand in most of the blogs contains palm oil. Doh! Ultimately, I used the recipe I found on wellnessmama.com. but with a different bar soap.
Here are my notes.
I used this recipe in my HE washer without any issue whatsoever.
Soap: I don’t get paid to endorse this brand or anything, but I looked through every damn bar of soap at the grocery and hardware store and THIS was the only bar soap without palm oil not wrapped in plastic I could find. $2.19 a bar wasn’t a dealbreaker for me, so I picked it up a few. After I tried it a few times, I went back and bought all I could. To grate it, I used my food processor and it was super fast. Bottom line: grate a bar of soap.
Washing Soda: NOT to be confused with baking soda because it kicks much more of a cleaning punch because the pH is higher. You can buy it in a cardboard box, or you can oh so easily make your own from baking soda in a big batch and have it on hand for other household concoctions and cleaning duties. When my plastic bag of baking soda runs out, I plan to buy it in bulk and make my own washing soda.
Borax: a naturally occurring mineral. Arsenic is also “natural” and its not good for you so I poked around a couple of sites about its safety and decided borax is okay for use in our household. Comes in a cardboard box. They also have a borax museum in Death Valley National Park!!
Essential oils: I happened to have on hand an essential oil blend with the antiseptic properties of citrus and melaluca (tea tree). I dripped some in for a refreshing scent to please tantalize and delight my senses. These are optional, but lots of fun to experiment with!
So how does it work? I was excited to answer this question and experimented with a few loads. I was also very skeptical! I don’t know what I was expecting when I opened the door to my washer… there weren’t any singing angels. But my clothes were clean, smelled fresh, and didn’t irritate anyone’s skin. I personally sniffed each and every cloth napkin that was used during ceviche night. I cross my heart there was not a whiff of fishy fish. It was… the same!
Better than the bulk stuff, less questionable than warehouse-purchased, economical, plastic and palm-oil free.
What’s in your washer??