With the cold weather and low inside humidity at my house, my kids and wife have been having a problem with dry skin. If you have sensitive skin like my duaghters do and need to know what goes into your laundry detergent, now you can make your own. Costs are low and the process takes no more than 15 minutes.
Don't mix any of the ingredients with ammonia derivatives (surfactants) or chlorine. Always use appropriate eye protection, a mask, and gloves if necessary. In addition, do not eat the detergent, poke it in your eye, or stick it up your nose. Any substance can be harmful if handled inappropriately.
Most homemade detergent recipes recommend the use of washing soda (available in grocery stores or from pool cleaning companies), but baking soda will work in a pinch. If you wish to substitute your favorite bar soap for Fels-Naptha laundry soap, use a full bar instead of 1/3 bar.
This first recipe is one I have made and enjoy. $3.50 buys enough ingredients to make 2 full batches. Use 1/2 cup to cup per load depending on level of dirtiness. Each batch yields 16 cups.
1 gallon hot water
1/2 bar finely grated Fels-Naptha soap
1 cup baking soda
Grate soap into a saucepan and add enough hot water to cover it. Stir frequently on medium low heat until all the soap is melted. Meanwhile, heat 1 gallon of water in a larger pot (do not boil). Add melted soap and mix thoroughly. Finally, add the baking soda and stir it in well. Allow mixture to cool before pouring into storage container. Keep container sealed and stir contents before each use.
For extra cleaning power, you can follow the directions above using the following ingredients:
1 gallon water
1/3 bar finely grated Fels-Naptha soap
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax
If you prefer a dry detergent, you can use this recipe:
Powdered Laundry Detergent
2 cups finely grated Fels-Naptha soap
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
Mix these ingredients well and store in an airtight plastic container away from heat. Use 1-2 tablespoons per full load.
1. All these detergents work fine in cold water, so save the hot cycle for soiled cloth diapers and other materials that need to be sterilized.
2. Contrary to what your mother taught you, neither your clothes washer nor the earth itself will cease to spin if you do not separate light and dark clothing. Once excess dye has been removed from dark cotton clothing by the first few washings, it is safe to mix colors. However, I still tell the kids to separate the reds. There's only so many pair of pink underwear I want in the house and none of them should be mine.
3. Try using vinegar in a Downy ball or add 1/4 cup during the rinse cycle as a natural fabric softener (just don't use vinegar and bleach in the same load).
4. You can fill a square of flannel with the fragrant herb of your choice (lavender works well) and sew it shut. Pop this in the dryer to add your favorite scent.