DIY Laundry Detergent and Dishwasher Tablets

When it comes to household chores, I’ve become a pro at multitasking and getting 3+ things done at one time. Hopefully that skill will carry over into parenthood in the future 😉 Anyway, it’s not uncommon for laundry to be in the washer, dishes in the dishwasher, and animals eating dinner all while I am vacuuming up the dirt that comes with having five pets. Completing these household chores not only takes time, but also money. You know the phrase time is money? Story. Of. My. Life.

I got hooked onto making my own laundry detergent when I was in graduate school and started learning about the horrible toxins in (most) conventional laundry detergents; see this article from Mother Earth Living for more information. My mom and I made our first batch and I have doing it ever since. True, it does take some time (I can usually make one batch in about a half hour or so), but that one batch will last 4-6 months depending how many loads we need to do that week. Not only do I know exactly what is being put on my clothes that I wear daily, but it’s also a lot more cost effective to make your own detergent. Although I cannot give exact figures because it’s hard for me to say how many uses I get out of one batch, I can assure you it’s more than 64 than is what I’d get in a standard bottle. Plus, you buy the ingredients and then you’re set for at least two or three more batches. I just bought washing soda for the first time in a year! Below is the recipe I swear by, and it does the job just fine. We do, however, add OxoBrite to white loads for extra cleaning power. (Credit to Wellness Mama for this fantastic recipe).

  • 1 bar of grated bar soap (I use Kirk’s Coconut Castile soap)
  • 1 cup of washing soda (can be found on Amazon or at Walmart)
  • 1 cup of borax (or additional washing soda)
  • 15-20 drops essential oil of your choice (OPTIONAL)

First, I grate the bar of soap, which is definitely the most time consuming part of the process. Be careful to not cut your fingers while grating…I’ve done it and can clearly state the pain is worse than a paper cut, and those are brutal. Mix the washing soda and borax (or additional washing soda) in with the bar soap (if you’re prone to dry skin or have sensitive skin in general, I’d recommend wearing gloves for this process) and then add the essential oils if you choose to use them. Mix again and then add to a glass jar or container of your choice. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. I have used this detergent 100’s of times in our washer (that unfortunately is not HE) and it works well in both cold and hot water. It works great for my mom in her HE washer as well. This works great on my husband’s colored dress shirts, but I can’t vouch for its performance on yellow rings around the collar of a white button-down since neither of us ever wear them.

If making your own detergent isn’t for you but you still want some more natural options, this guide by the Environmental Working Group is a great starting point.

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In addition to my own laundry detergent, I tried making dishwasher tablets for the first time. To put it bluntly, I was SO impressed. I used a recipe found on One Good Thing by Jillee and will definitely make it again.

  • 2 cups Washing soda or Baking soda (cuts grease; I used washing soda)
  • 2 cups Borax (natural cleaner and disinfectant)
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt or Epsom salt (reduces the effects of hard water; I used Epsom Salt)
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (added cleaning power, liquid to help bind the ingredients)
  • 15-20 drops of Lemon essential oil (added cleaning power, antibacterial properties, smells good!)

Making these were so simple. All the ingredients are mixed in a bowl and then stuffed pack into cheap ice cube trays from Walmart. Let them sit in the sun for 24 hours until they get hard and then put them in a container of your choice. I add a splash of distilled white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher simply for extra cleaning power in our crazy hard water, and my dishes have been spotless.

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If you choose to make your own detergent or dishwasher tablets, I hope you have the same success I do. I will never go back to store-bought detergent if I don’t have to!

 

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