DIY Laundry Powder

So easy, so cheap

 

Making my own laundry powder stemmed from my baby’s eczema. The GP recommended Lux Flakes, which I used for a while. However, I do So. Much. Laundry. And the $7/box Lux Flakes was adding up, not to mention I didn’t like the strong synthetic fragrance smell. (If you’re intrigued about synthetic fragrances, I highly recommend Stink on Netflix.) Surely that wasn’t good for the broken, red, weeping skin?

So I investigated making my own. Most recipes on the web use borax. Do you know what borax is? A naturally-occurring mineral that’s found in a lot of cleaning products. Does that mean it’s good for us? Well, studies have shown it can cause skin irritations, disrupt hormones (and reduce ovulation in women), organ damage and even death. So I’d say a big fat NO.
Why would you put that on you or your child? (And don’t get me started on kids making slime with this stuff. Wha-what?)

washpowder1

A little more hunting and trialing led me to love the following recipe:

3 Bars of Soap*
6 c. Washing Soda**
4 drops of Eucalyptus oil***

*I am always looking for soap with as few ingredients as possible. If you can find it, buy it and use that. I’ve been using this one from Eco Store, which has a few more ingredients in it than I’d really prefer. I buy them on special at the grocery store—three bars for $5.

**I buy washing soda, a.k.a. sodium carbonate, at my local Bin Inn, where it’s $3.90/kg. If you can only find washing crystals, buy those and whiz in food processor to a fine powder.

***Eucalyptus has been shown to have antibacterial properties. But swap for any essential oil you like—lemon is a nice option. Or skip it all together. 

STEPS

  1. Grate the soap in a food processor.
  2. Tip it into an ice cream tub (or your eventual storage container), put in the S-blade attachment. 
  3. Add washing powder, grated soap and oil. Whiz until well combined.

To use it, I add a heaped tablespoonful (yep, that’s enough) into a mug, then top with boiling water. Start the laundry load and let the water soak the clothes before adding the mugful. Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment.

And guess what? This little hack costs $8 for a batch (that I store in an old Tip Top tub) and lasts me months.

washpowder2Potential Troubleshooting:

- Sometimes there are dirt-like smudges left on the clothes if I don’t let the powder fully dissolve in the boiling water first. I had the same problem with Lux Flakes. You can let the laundry powder dissolve for hours if you want—it gets almost slime like. Just stir to loosen, or add a little more boiling water. And for the smudged clothes, pop them back in the washing machine for an end-of-cycle rinse and they come out clean.

- If there are stains on the clothes, I spray the stain with white vinegar and let it sit for a bit, then add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the wash after the initial wash cycle.

- I use Persil Sensitive for my husband’s overalls and farm clothes. When I was using Lux Flakes, it was recommended to do a non-Lux wash every three to four washes to avoid buildup in the machine. I haven’t had an experience of build-up using my DIY powder, but it’s something to keep in mind.

If you’d like to read the scientific studies concerning the above claims regarding borax, please see here:

Is Borax Safe?

NIH: Borax Toxicity

NIH: Effects of borax on immune cell proliferation and sister chromatid exchange in human chromosomes

NIH: Borax and Boric Acid