Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Made You Something!!!

Update: My friend has calculated the cost and it's $.08 per load. Eight cents! Sweet! (I vacuum at least that much in pennies every week... I suspect I'll regret that one day.)

This is one of the many times that I have more month than money. Tomorrow is payday (hooray!) and boy howdy am I looking forward to payday. Earlier this week we started to run out of stuff, like we do, all the time, and this time I ran out of laundry detergent. I did not run out of laundry. I can't think of a non-apocalyptic reason why I would ever run out of laundry, it multiplies like rabbits, I swear the laundry in this house is sentient, it hides behind doors and under beds waiting to surprise me after I think I grabbed all of it. Tricksie laundry.

Anyway, I used to make my own laundry powder and I stopped, for no good reason other than it's easier to buy it. I have all of the stuff to make it I just didn't do it... but desperate times call for detergent making so I thought I share the recipe with you. NOT JUST ANY RECIPE, but a cute one that I designed which you can print out along with a label to put on the jar. Follow the link to print out your own Lemony Laundry Powder recipe and label.  Here's the label, below.

Cute huh?

So here's the recipe and some stuff you should know when you make it.

Lemony Laundry Powder (Formerly Sayward's Homemade Laundry Detergent)

1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup baking soda
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
15 drops lemon essential oil 

Mix all in a big, non-reactive bowl. (AKA NOT Metal). It will need to dry in the bowl overnight. It is a moist, lumpy powder when it's finished.
Use 2 Tbsp per normal load and ¼ c for extra dirty loads.

Here's the bad news. This mixture will likely seize up on you and turn into a block. It is possible that the seizing could be avoided if you were to stir it until it begins to dry. I never do that so it always turns into a block on me. To undo that, run it through a food processor, scrape it with a spoon, mash it with a potato masher or break it up with your fingers. I'll admit this aspect is kind of a pain in the neck but it's worth it.

Why is it worth it? Three reasons. First, the initial ingredients are cheap, (unless you buy Dr. Bonner's castile soap but even then you get a lot of bang for your buck) and they make TONS of powder. Your cost per load is pennies, literally. Second, this stuff cleans better than anything on the shelf and it is very gentle on your clothes. Third, it's easy on the environment and on the skin. You can use it for babies clothes and for people with sensitive skin. I have a child with excema who can't have anything harsh but he is fine with this.

Here are some sources:

Lemon essential oil - Rose Mountain Herbs 
Castile soap for $6.00 - $8.00 for 32 oz.
Washing soda can be found at Hannafords if you're in New England and hardware stores.
Borax is at hardware and grocery stores as well.

Get the big boxes and a large vinegar because you can make everything you need to clean your house from these items.

So, here's my jar of Lemony Laundry Powder, complete with label.


Enjoy & see you tomorrow!


  1. I love my Sayward's Laundry Soap. Mine didn't seize up yesterday, and I used just under the proper amount for the washing soda, and just over the right amount for the vinegar. So I didn't process it, but it's not the lovely fluffy texture now. I want to make a lavender version one of these days. Lemon sounds lovely.

  2. Super cute label! I might just stick in on a bottle of Tide since adding MORE steps to my laundry process is currently unthinkable. :)

  3. I thought you might like it. It's Catalina-inspired, do you see it?

  4. Would it work to form them into "servings" and let them dry? The just pop one into the washer?

  5. That's a really good idea! I've never tried it but if you do please let us know how it works!

  6. Will this work for HE front-load washers? I am excited to try it. Thanks for the awesome idea.

  7. You're welcome, my pleasure!

    I just did a little research and it seems that suds are the problem with using a regular commercial detergent with a HE front load washer. The homemade powder has very low suds.

    IF you tried it, I would suggest starting with just a teaspoon. The Castile soap is the only thing that would create suds and it doesn't really make much at all. I don't want you to ruin your nice washing machine though, so I'd start very slowly.

    If you do try it please report!

    May your clothes be clean and your washer safe :-) H

  8. thanks for the recipe...looking forward or giving it a go.

    A few questions...based on the recipe & photo you showed...what size/amount does the the finished product yield? 1/2 lb, 1lb or...?

    what's the scent level? I LOVE the smell of fresh clean clothes (maybe cause I'm a life-long commercial detergent user..IDK)

    You mention it can seize up, does it dry out? Should I use it up by a certain time frame?

    thanks again in advance!

  9. Hi Demi Goddess! Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you, I've had two sick kids. Oy!

    OK, yield... hmmm.... I would have to say about four cups, ish. I have never actually measured. I'll do that the next time I make it up and then I can tell you exactly.

    The scent level - it smells lovely in the jar but your clothes don't smell lemony they just smell clean. They smell cleaner than commercial detergents. I have a kid with sensitive skin so I always use unscented commercial detergent. Clothes smell cleaner with the home-made.

    It does dry out, mostly, it makes a very slightly moist powder. The last time I made it I kept stirring it for a looooong time and it didn't seize. I just had the thought to try it in the Kitchen-Aid mixer on low and save myself the arm workout.

    Time frame - I have always used it up pretty quickly, we make a whole lot of laundry. The only thought I have is that the lemon oil might go rancid but that could take a long, long time. Everything else in it would be fine, probably for years!

    I hope you like it and I hope that helps!



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