Well folks, I've decided to delve into the art of laundry soap making. I've done quite a bit of research to find out about cruelty-free and environmentally-friendly products. It sure helps to have a "chemically knowledgeable" consultant at home. No, I don't mean Emerson.
Here's the scoop:
No, really, here's the scoop:
If you've been thinking about making your own laundry detergent to save money, limit the chemicals you use, and/or save the environment, hopefully this'll help. I calculated that you can spend less than $0.06 per load of laundry and depending on how many loads of laundry you do in your home and how much you usually spend on detergent, save roughly 20 bucks a year. (That was my guesstimate for a family of four, doing an average of three loads per week.)
What you need:
Sodium carbonate (soda ash)
The vegan way (about the ingredients):
Sun Oxygen Cleaner= sodium carbonate (soda ash)
I spent the most time researching this product. Straight up soda ash is easy to find, if you don't mind purchasing from Arm and Hammer...I do. I checked a few other options including purchasing it online, but decided against it when shipping charges were factored in. DocDufresne found a brand, Jacquard, sold at craft stores used for tie-dying. I thought this could be a good route. A small company; probably doesn't test, right? Wrong! Then I started thinking about things that contain sodium carbonate, like Oxiclean. When owned only be Orange Glo, Oxiclean was not tested on animals. Now it's owned by Church and Dwight and if it isn't tested on animals, I didn't find a label. Then I stumbled upon Sun Products and oh my goodness, yay! This entire company is cruelty-free!!! And guess what? If after this blog post you're not motivated to save money by making your own laundry detergent, that's okay! Sun Products include All, Snuggle, Wisk, and more! Doc checked the ingredients in All for eco-friendliness and while many of them are vague, he said there wasn't anything that alarmed him. Sun is super cheap and apparently is effective.
20-Mule Team Borax is a natural product that has been around for over 100 years. The company did not test on animals. However, it is now owned by the Dial Corporation, which does. I contemplated over the Borax issue. Basically, I came up with the following argument, which leaves me settled, but I certainly would prefer supporting a completely animal-friendly company. I likened purchasing a cruelty-free product (i.e. one not tested on animals) from a company that has purchased the product and DOES test to ordering a vegan meal from a restaurant that serves meat. Number one: It's not totally feasible to eat ONLY at vegan restaurants. Number two: Perhaps you're promoting the company's usage of vegan options and are therefore influencing their product focus.
With that being said, Tom's of Maine Toothpaste? Love the stuff. The company's now owned by Colgate. Do I totally dismiss the product? No, but I don't know when the last time I bought it was. TJ's fennel toothpaste is where it's at anyway.
In my research I found several recipes for laundry soap that mentioned a soap called "Fels Naptha." Further research discovered this soap contains pig fat- yuck! According to this laundry recipe, you can use any bar soap. I think Dr. Bronner's is a fine choice and I'll probably switch up the soaps I use. I actually plan to purchase essential/ fragrance oils to add to my laundry soap, but I thought I would try it with a strong-smelling bar soap first. To me, the way a detergent leaves my clothes smelling is just as important as how well it cleans.
$5 (+ $0.40 tax) for 6 lbs of Sun Oxygen Cleaner
$4.34 (on Amazon- I already had some on hand, so I had to look up the $) for 76 oz of 20-Mule Team Borax**
$0.99 for 1 bar Chandrika soap
A container of Sun Oxygen Cleaner will yield approximately 9 cups ($0.60 per cup)
A box of Borax will yield approximately seven cups ($0.62 per cup)
Make a batch of detergent by mixing 1 cup Oxygen Cleaner, 1 cup Borax, and 1 grated bar of soap. This yields about 2.5 cups of laundry detergent. My sources say this should be enough for 36 loads of laundry**.
= 6 cents per load!!!!
The detergent worked really well and my clothes came out smelling fresh and like Chandrika! However, I don't know how worth it it is to make laundry soap myself.
Bottom line: This detergent is great if you can find all these ingredients super cheap, especially the soap. It would also make great gifts since you can customize the scent based on the recipient. I'll probably continue to use it intermittently with others.
**I guess I use A LOT more detergent than others do, but I like the smell to stick to my clothes. I also load the machine up pretty full. I estimate this amount will actually yield 16 extra large loads for me.
I still love Method. I wish their Water Lilly detergent would come back.
I could keep going with this post, but I'll stop here. Questions? I might know the answer. I did A LOT of research.