Homemade HE laundry detergent was my first do-it-yourself cleaning product experiment. HE detergent is expensive, and making it myself saves money each month with the amount of laundry we do in our house.
Previously, I used a 5-gallon bucket to store each batch of HE laundry detergent. However I realize this is not possible for many people, from those like my youngest daughter living in small quarters to my elderly mother who can no longer lift heavy objects.
I decided to use a little old fashioned mathematics to figure out how to accomplish my favorite, economical, earth-friendly homemade HE laundry detergent in normal, grocery store size bottles.
I’m so excited about figuring this out, how to gain warehouse-store savings without buying hernia-size containers, that I plan on giving these as Laundry Gift Sets at baby and wedding showers.
Homemade HE Laundry Detergent
- Fels Naptha Soap (~5.5 ounces)
- 1 ½ cups of Borax
- 1 ½ cups of Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
- Stainless steel grater
- Large empty container (1 gallon)
- Use a medium saucepan to heat 2 cups of tap water. Adding a little extra won’t hurt.
- Grate the bar of Fels Naptha Soap and divide it into 5 equal groups. A digital food scale is very helpful on this step.
- Add 1 portion (~1.1 oz.) of the grated soap into the boiling water on the stove. Stir occasionally until it is completely dissolved. It’ll only take a minute or so.
- Measure 1 1/2 cups each of the Borax and the Washing Soda into a large bowl; stir until well mixed.
- Measure the powdered mixture into 5 equal portions and store each in snack size plastic bags. Add one portion of this powder mixture into the pot of now soapy hot water; stir well for about a minute.
- Let this detergent concentrate cool just enough to not melt your plastic jug. Pour it into a one-gallon container. If you’re worried it’s too hot, add a touch of tepid water.
- Add enough hot water from the tap to reach half-way.
- Make sure your container has a well fitting screw-on lid and shake the jug like your ridding your body of pent up aggression. The HE laundry detergent solution needs to be 100% mixed. It won’t take more than a couple of minutes.
- Let this jug sit all day, or overnight. It will be extremely thick and look like a blob; that’s good in this case.
- Once the processing time is over, shake the jug for another couple of minutes.
- Fill the remainder of the jug with hot tap water. Shake for another minute and you’re done.
It doesn’t hurt to give the jug a little shake before each use. It takes about ¼ cup to do a very large load of really dirty laundry; there is no need to add any more water to the mixture.
Remember this is high efficiency (HE) laundry detergent so don’t worry that you don’t see suds filling the window of your machine.
Congrats, You’ve just made a gallon of laundry detergent that cost around 4 cents per load.
You can find Kathy writing at On the Home Stretch.
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