Saturday, June 15, 2013

I’ve Changed Up the Laundry Soap

I’ve made our laundry soap for awhile now, in my ongoing quest to remove detergents from our home (not as easy as one might assume). I just used the standard recipe that everyone uses, but recently I’ve been reading more and more articles that troubled me about borax. So I experimented with this recipe that removes borax, and who knew? Works just as well.

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Their recipe specifically mentions Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. This is, indeed, a safe choice. To avoid detergents, ingredients must be read, because most bar soap contains detergents. I can’t find any in the regular grocery aisle without them.

That said, one of the most fun things about homemade laundry soap is the delicious smell of the laundry room, and Dr. Bronner only has a few scent options. We already use his citrus orange scent for dishwashing. Our local health food store has shelves of delicious choices, so it keeps laundry fun to continuously switch up. There is no scent to the laundry when it emerges from the dryer, so after being very careful back when I started making laundry soap to not choose anything too “girly”, now I can just go wild :-).

Really safe brands if you’re not sure about detergent ingredients are Dr. Bronner, Zum, Sappo Hill, and South of France. Zum has super-fun combinations but comes in a non-standard size (as does South of France). Here are some Zum scents that we’ve found nummy: Citrus-Mint, Anise-Lavender, and Lime-Basil. Check out the whole delicious line-up here (I’m not affiliated in any way, just love the smell of their safe soaps!) Zum actually sells a liquid laundry detergent that is safe but definitely far more expensive per load than homemade soap, and you miss the fun of an ever-changing laundry room scent!

Since the linked recipe is specific to Dr. B’s bar soap, here is the recipe for any soap:

5 ounces detergent-free bar soap
9 ounces Washing Soda
4 ounces Baking Soda

Step by step:
If your bar soap is not a 5 ounce bar, begin grating the bar onto a cutting board, guessing at 5 ounces. When you start to narrow in, put a 4 cup measuring cup on your scale, set to ounces, and tare it out. Dump in the grated soap and grate to hit 5 ounces. Put the soap into food processor bowl fitted with blade and re-tare scale. Measure out the Washing Soda and Baking Soda and add these to food processor. Process until powdery and dump into your container.

I like a lidded container because this does need shaking – the sodas tend to sift to the bottom over time. But between loads, we like to leave the lid off and have lovely smells wafting out from the laundry room!
This is the amount that this recipe makes, seen in a 1 gallon glass jar (and smelling like pomegranate acai this time!):

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It’s what we happened to have in bar soap today, but for a larger family, doubling the batch works better. One tablespoon is all that’s called for per load, and it’s safe for HE washers. If you don’t have a food processor, that’s fine. You might want to take a knife to your grated soap before mixing the ingredients together, though. In my neck of the woods, food processors are common at thrift stores, and I might be tempted to pick one up just for this purpose.

I was thinking I’d like to do some posts on the recipes we use here to avoid detergents. Some items we’re still working out. I am refining our allergic-child body butter recipe every time I make it, for example, seeking something that works to soothe their skin (wow, there are a ton of essential oil recommendations floating around the internet, and some of them have caused real flares at our house). It’s been one of those things that I just kept postponing for whatever reason, but it’s been fun to experiment and I’ll share as we find success.

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