I purposefully saved this one for toward the end of the series because I LOVE the changes that natural living has made to my laundry routine.
(Guys, I am well aware that this is possibly the lamest sentence I have ever typed on this blog. I AM AWARE.)
But still. Making my own laundry detergent was my first foray into this strange world and I still remember vividly making that first batch and then examining my clothes out of the washer – looking at them, smelling them..and realizing that it WORKED!
I felt like a goddamn wizard!
And that’s what started it all. I had never even thought about the possibility that someone could just make laundry detergent…it seemed so complex that there was a reason we outsourced the job to Tide and Sunlight. And once I realized that it wasn’t complex, it didn’t have to be complex, everything changed.
It began with that laundry detergent and now I make my own shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, body lotion, cleaning products, I mean my GOD! Be careful. Laundry detergent is a gateway drug.
Here we go!
What to Phase Out: Fabric softener and dryer sheets. Get RID of them, y’all! Fabric softener is unnecessary, dryer sheets coat your clothing in chemically-perfumed animal fat. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Skip them altogether and you’ll be just fine, I promise. Use the money you save for a fancy grown-up drink. Totally worth it.
What to Bring In: Plain old white vinegar is a great substitute for fabric softener if you think you need it, a cup or so per wash. 100% wool dryer balls are a fantastic alternative to dryer sheets, without all the weird chemical compounds. This is a great comprehensive tutorial about how to make them, and they’d be a great craft for older kids! If you aren’t crafty, Etsy has a ton of these for sale, and your local Farmer’s Market or health food store might have some as well!
I’ve had mine for years now, and I love them. I sometimes add a few drops of lavender or bergamot directly to the balls if I am machine-drying something, and they add a delicate scent that is just sublime.
Recipe: Laundry detergent! Of course! This is so simple, and if you can operate a cheese grater, you’ve got this in the BAG.
1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s bar soap
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
1 cup Baking Soda (optional)
Alright, the first step is also the more onerous: grate the soap. If you have a food processor with a grater attachment you are set, if not, it’s a great thing to do in the backyard while watching kids play, or while binging on Netflix. Use the finer side of your grater and it will make it easier for the soap to dissolve in cold water washes.
(It’s not absolutely necessary to use Dr. Bronner’s, you could also use any natural soap, or even something like Sunlight bar soap if you’re more into the cost savings than the environmental aspect. I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s for years so that’s what I typically recommend. )
Add the grated soap to 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax and 1 cup baking soda (the baking soda is optional. I find it helps stretch the detergent further if you add it, and can help with clothes that have stronger odours, like dog towels for example.)
Mix well and voila! You’re done! Use 1-2 Tbsp per load. It’s safe for front loader and high efficiency machines and now you too can feel like a goddamn WIZARD!
Extra Credit: Install a clothesline or use a drying rack. Everyone who knows me in real life avoids the hell out of me in the spring-summer months because basically all I do is wax poetic about the joys of a clothesline. The ritual! The smells! The crisp feeling of line-dried sheets! The neighbour boys perving on your dainties! I mean I know I’m a broken record, but I ask you, what’s not to love??
Look at this business!
I rest my case.
Clothesline kits are available at hardware store for between $20-$40 depending on what length you need, and you can find a decent drying rack for around $20-$30 (DON’T cheap out on a drying rack. It will be flimsy and unstable and drive you MAD! I have this one from the almighty IKEA and it is fabulous and folds down flat for easy storage during the summer months when I use my clothesline)
How’s the series going for you? Any questions? Feedback? We only have ONE more week! I’m going to tack on a post at the end with a source list for anyone wanting to find green sources for all things you can’t make, like toothbrushes, sandals, etc.