Homemade laundry detergent for your washing machine

As well as cutting down on chemicals in my personal care routine, I barely use any commercially-prepared cleaning products. White vinegar and baking soda are my friends! My son’s easy to clean highchair gets wiped down with a vinegar and water mix, as do the work surfaces and windows (although admittedly I haven’t quite perfected the no-streak window yet…). The bathroom comes up sparkling using a mixture of castile soap, baking soda and a few drops of lemon essential oil. A 1/4 cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar fizz away blockages in slow-draining plug holes.

My favourite homemade cleaning product is my laundry detergent. It’s another recipe from from the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider of the blog Simple Mom.

Here’s what you need:

  • two parts soap flakes
  • one part washing soda
  • one part borax (or borax substitute)
  • a few drops of essential oil if desired

Mix them all together, store in a suitable lidded container and use one or two tablespoons in your washing machine. I’ve read that it’s not a good idea to use soap flakes in the detergent drawer as they can block the pipes, so I use one of those plastic dispenser ball things that you put into the drum. If I’m washing whites I often put a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda into the detergent drawer to give it all a boost.

I never use fabric conditioner – a good glug of white vinegar in the conditioner compartment does the trick nicely, as well as keeping the machine’s inner workings nice and clean. Any lingering vinegar smell disappears when the washing is dry.

My son has eczema and sensitive skin and this combination doesn’t irritate him at all.

The only time I use shop-bought laundry detergent is if our clothing is really dirty or if the whites need a bit of extra sparkle. I think most of the time our clothes don’t get dirty enough to need anything stronger that what I make. I’m still using disposable nappies on my son but once I bite the bullet and switch to cloth I will have to see how my homemade version fares.