How to make your own laundry products

  • By Jennifer Forker Associated Press
  • Friday, March 7, 2014 9:07am
  • Life

It’s convenient to pick up some laundry detergent at the store, but it’s not difficult to create your own.

Soap and water are a time-tested duo against dirt and germs, and homemade cleaners can carry away grime without added chemicals or perfumes.

All it takes are a few, simple ingredients to make laundry detergent — liquid or powder — and fabric softener. Then cut down on drying time and static cling by tumbling wet clothes with homemade dryer balls.

Faith Goguen Rodgers’ switch to homemade cleaners began a few years ago after she used a commercial-brand cleaner on the bathtub.

“I’d cleaned it, and then I really didn’t want to get in it. The bleach smell and feel — it didn’t feel good,” she said.

“Then when I had kids, it didn’t make sense at all. It feels a lot safer knowing what’s in my cleaners.”

Rodgers is an herbalist with three young children who creates all the cleaners she uses in her Lafayette, Colo., home — even the toothpaste. While the health piece is “really big” for her, she’s also motivated by cost.

“You save a ton of money making your own,” she said, especially if you buy ingredients in bulk.

Homemade cleaners, particularly laundry soap, lack much odor, but a pretty scent can be added with essential oils. This lifts the laundry-detergent-making project up a notch, adding some olfactory fun.

“You and your family can get creative and come up with your own signature laundry scent,” Rodgers writes on The Little Herbal blog, where she posts her natural cleaning recipes. “Our laundry comes out clean and smelling fresh.”

Her favorite combinations of essential oils for laundry detergent include lemon and eucalyptus, orange and geranium, and grapefruit and lavender.

Sherri Griffin’s foray into homemade laundry soap began when she got a rash and wanted something gentler than store-bought laundry detergent.

She started researching alternatives, and recommends checking out what’s in commercially made products on the Environmental Working Group’s website.

An Orlando, Fla., nurse, Griffin started a blog, Overthrow Martha, to educate people about natural cleaners. Besides sharing a fabric softener recipe, she recommends simple-to-make dryer balls. Dryer balls decrease drying time, eliminate static cling and decrease wrinkles, she says. Essential oils can be added to them every few loads to softly scent clothes.

“I often hear that people can’t give up the fresh smell they get from using dryer sheets, but what people don’t understand is that smell comes from chemicals,” Griffin said.

Karyn Siegel-Maier shares laundry and other “green” cleaning formulas in “The Naturally Clean Home” (Storey, 2008). The publisher recently posted her recipes for liquid and powder laundry detergent at its blog, Inside Storey, to “sanitize, soften and scent clothes and linens — naturally.”

Here are some recipes from these experts.

Rodgers’ homemade powder laundry detergent

  • 3 cups washing soda (similar to baking soda; look for it near laundry products at the supermarket)
  • 3 cups borax
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 bar of castile (olive oil-based) soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap
  • Pure, organic essential oils (optional)

Grate the bar of soap into a small bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the washing soda, borax and baking soda. Mix well to get rid of clumps. Add the essential oils, if desired. Mix them into the powder well to avoid clumping.

Add the grated soap and mix ingredients together.

Store detergent in a half-gallon mason jar or other well-sealed container. Use 2 to 4 heaping tablespoons per load of laundry.

Basic laundry liquid formula

  • 2¼ cups liquid castile soap
  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin
  • ¾ cup water
  • 10-15 drops essential oil of your choice (or skip the essential oils by using a scented liquid castile soap)

Combine all the ingredients in a plastic container or squirt bottle. Shake once or twice before adding to the wash. Use ¼ cup per average load; ½ cup for extra large or heavily soiled loads.

From Siegel-Maier’s “The Naturally Clean Home”

Griffin’s natural laundry fabric softener

  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • ¼ cup rubbing alcohol
  • 20 drops of essential oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake. Add to the fabric softener dispenser of washing machine.

Griffin’s wool dryer balls

  • 100 percent wool yarn
  • Pantyhose
  • Essential oil (optional)

Wrap wool yarn around two or three fingers at least a dozen times, then make a bow by wrapping yarn tightly around middle of wrapped yarn. Bring the two sides together and continue wrapping tightly in different directions to make a small ball the size of a lemon. Repeat to make several balls.

Push the wool balls into one pantyhose leg, knotting the pantyhose between each ball so they don’t touch. Run through the washer with a load of towels on hot cycle, then toss into dryer on hot. Once dry, remove from pantyhose. Each ball should appear “felted” — the wool fibers tightly adhered. Snip any loose strands.

To use: scent balls with essential oil, if desired (it’ll last a few loads).

Toss at least 2 balls into dryer with wet laundry.

More in Life

Shrimp and grits, rendered healthful and Italian? We’re in.

This recipe features a sauce made with olive oil, tomatoes and herbs instead of cheese and cream.

UFO at Paine Field playground was left by an artist — not aliens

The flying saucer at community park in Everett is a cosmic attraction.

Chef James Abbott makes Buck’s peanut butter pie at Buck’s American Cafe in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fur & Feathers: 4 lovable dogs need homes

Meet Lola, Sadie, Scooter and Chance

Sweet baking tips: How to rescue brown sugar that’s turned hard

Soften the rock solid stuff, then try this recipe for chocolate chunk cookies with sea salt.

Valentina Bogdanova, 74, loves working in the gardens that nearly surround the Bakerview Apartments, where she has lived for 20 years. The units are among 16 affordable and subsidized properties leased to seniors by the Everett Housing Authority. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
As real estate booms, those with fixed-incomes need help

When senior citizens get housing, they are able to ‘age in place.’

Visiting Germany’s Lutherland, birthplace of Reformation

The sights include the church where the first Protestant service took place in 1521.

Can you top ‘Hamilton’? Author Ron Chernow is about to find out

The notable writer’s latest book, published Oct. 10, is a lengthy biography on Ulysses S. Grant.

Try this tailgate snack: Sticky wings with honey and Sriracha

Forget the typical Buffalo flavor: Shake up game-day Sunday with this Asian-style chicken recipe.

Most Read