In my quest for decreasing my family’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, and reducing our expenditure on cleaning products, I have tested a few different homemade washing powders and liquids.
The homemade clothes washing liquid I am using at the moment is very cost effective. It takes just minutes to make when you have the ingredients ready. I am quite happy with the quality of the wash it does. My clothes are free from smells, and there is no soap residue afterwards. Kid-stains do need an extra application of a natural bar soap for removal, but that is not too hard to do!
Homemade clothes washing liquid – as easy as 1-2-3!
You can find the recipe here. It’s really easy to remember! As long as you can count to three – three tablespoons each of 3 ingredients. I add 3 different essential oils for a total of 30 drops. Put them in a 3 litre glass jar. Fill up with warm water and you are done! You might even do it in 3 minutes! And it will probably last you 3 weeks, depending on how often you wash!
How to find the ingredients for homemade clothes washing liquid
Here is how I source the ingredients in South Africa:
1. Liquid castile soap. I use this in place of the dishwashing liquid in the original recipe. I buy Pure Simple Liquid Castile soap from Faithful to Nature. You can also grate a bar of castile soap or any natural/homemade oil soap, add 400ml hot water (for a 200g bar) and let it dissolve. Alternatively, you can use whatever liquid soap you prefer!
2. Washing soda. This is bicarbonate of soda (bicarb/ baking soda) that has been baked for an hour in the oven – it changes the colour, chemical structure and consistency slightly. I spread 3 cups on a baking sheet and bake at 100’C. It stores fine in a glass jar afterwards without clumping. You can make as much as you like at once, as long as it fits in a thin-ish layer in your oven.
3. Borax. It used to be easier to find in the shops, but it is no longer popular as some people think it is hazardous. As far as I can see from the research any risk seems to be largely theoretical. As compared with other known harmful chemicals that I find in conventional cleaning products, I am happy to use it. I bought it in bulk once (5kg 5 years ago) and am still using it! I bought it online here.
4. My favourite essential oils to use are tea tree, orange, and lemon. This combination is antibacterial, degreasing, and smells great!
(I once tried adding oxy-bleach to the mixture. The result was that it overflowed everywhere. I don’t know that it improved the efficacy of the liquid. My advice would be to add it separately if you want to use it in your washing routine)
How to use homemade clothes washing liquid
I use about a cup of liquid in my 6 litre top loader, half a cup in my hand-washing. You can test it out and see how much works for you. As it costs so little to make you can really use as much as you need. I rather err on using too much than too little! Making this really cut a chunk out of my household budget. I hope it can help you too!