There is much discussion online about the toxicity of commercial laundry detergent – and after some research, while my son was still in cloth diapers and developing rashes, I decided to make the switch to a homemade recipe – some of the commercially available “less toxic” alternatives still have some major chemical offenders in them, or at the very least, are super expensive, and usually contain a scent of some kind.
For a thorough discussion of the toxicity of many household products, especially laundry detergent, see this article. Since this guy breaks it down like nobody’s business, rather than discussing the dangers of commercial detergent, and dryer sheets, I am instead going to give you a safe, easy alternative – proven gentle for even my little guy’s tush.
What you need (click on “Sourcing Ingredients” in the page header for links in regards to where to buy these if you have trouble finding them, or click the affiliate links below):
*Disclaimer: There is some controversy as to the relative safety of Borax – I fall on the side of it being safe enough for my family, and definitely much safer than the alternatives in commercial detergent. However, you may choose to do some research first. I have found this article to be amazingly helpful.
So all you are going to need to do is combine your ingredients (I use an old big honey tub – some relatively large plastic or glass container that can live in your laundry room is best!) at the following ratio:
For very sensitive skin, or very dark colours: 2 parts baking soda, 1 part washing soda, 1 part soap flakes. Stir or shake well to evenly distribute. About 3 tbsp per average load – but experiment with quantity if you find it is not enough / or too much (ie. there is residue on your clothes).
For tougher jobs, and lighter colours: (Read: construction clothes, stinky sports gear, tough stains / dirt). Combine 4 parts washing soda, 2 parts soap flakes, 1 part borax. Again, combine and mix well to distribute the ingredients. Three tbsp per load or so. The vinegar rinse, as described below, is especially helpful for these tough jobs.
Add a tablespoon of borax* to a load if you want some extra whitening power and are using the sensitive skin recipe. Add 1/4 cup vinegar to your rinse cycle (when the water is full) if you want to completely strip any residue at all from the clothes. Vinegar also acts as a natural fabric softener / anti-static agent. It won’t leave a scent – if it does, you’ve added too much. You can even add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice to the rinse cycle if you would like a mild scent to your clothes. I add tea tree when dealing with a particularly nasty load (read: poop or puke).
IMPORTANT: DO NOT add the vinegar to your wash cycle, or it will neutralize the cleaning ingredients.
*If someone still develops a sensitivity, remove the borax.
And there you have it! I hope your laundry washing days are a lot less toxic. And dryer sheets? I find I don’t need them at all with this detergent, and the vinegar rinse. Still, if you find things still come out a bit clingy – see this link to make your own felted dryer balls!