I am totally going to embarrass my husband by sharing this. He thinks it makes us sound like the weird homeschooling family. I think it's totally cheap and simple!
When I discovered coupons, I built up a pretty good stockpile of Tide. That worked well on our diapers, so I stuck with it. Then I began reading about people who made their own detergent. It seemed really cheap and easier than stalking sales and coupons. I decided once the stockpile ran out, I would give it a try, and that time came recently.
So far, I have had really great results. It didn't cost much at all for the supplies to get started (around $8.50 with lots of left overs of everything except the bar soap), but I did have to do a little searching. Since it's working out so well, I thought I'd share the recipe I use with you as well as the basics of my wash routine.
1 bar Kirk's Castile Soap
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 cup Oxy Clean or other oxygen bleach
1. Grate the bar of soap or cut it into chunks and run through your food processor. I don't have a processor, so I grated. It was pretty easy. This is just one of several soaps you'll see in recipes, and I found it locally at Cracker Barrel because Harris Teeter was all out.
2. Mix everything together and store in an air tight container. See how easy that was?
3. Use 1-2 Tbsp. for smaller loads and 3-4 for larger or really icky loads. I have read that some people use 1 for smaller and 2 for larger, but it just seems to work better for me if I use 3, and I don't know what a small load is around here. We don't have those.
I store mine in a plastic Zip-Loc container, but any plastic storage container with a lid would work. You could use a jar with a lid. I found that an old formula scoop holds 1 Tbsp, so that's what I use to measure it out, and I just keep it right in the container.
I haven't used fabric softener in a long time because it isn't good for diapers, and I just quit using it on everything else when I ran out. I kept reading about people putting white vinegar in during the rinse cycle. I don't know about you, but I never know when that is because my washer is up stairs in our semi-finished attic space. My washer does have a nifty little softener dispenser, so I figure that must work the same way.
I pour about 1/2 cup of vinegar in there when I start the load. I store that in a mason jar because it gives me enough for several loads upstairs, and I can easily use the markings to see how much to pour in.
I found that the clothes don't really smell like much of anything with this detergent. If I feel the need for a scent, then I just use one of our old fabric wipes with several drops of essential oil in the dryer. I throw it right in with everything else, and that gives the laundry a nice scent. I tried sweet orange oil with this load, but it didn't give me very much scent. Lavender definitely works better.
While I was reading about homemade detergent, I came across a bunch of variations on liquid and powder recipes. Lauren at Mama's Laundry Talk is hosting a blog party all about homemade detergent recipes today. Head on over and take a peek at some of the other recipes that frugal families use.