Homemade Laundry Detergent

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Dearest Sultana,

I think I have mentioned before that laundry is the one house chore that I enjoy (to a certain degree). I’m not saying that I’m particularly good at it. Sometimes I miss a bit of tissue and the whole load has specks of tissue on it, often I miss some stains. I’m not overly fussed of the results, as long as they are clean and fresh at the end. A little bit of stain is not going to ruin my day.

May and I both suffer from eczema. Her eczema was really pretty bad about 2 years ago. It affected her sleeping and it was heartbreaking to see all those angry scratches on her little body. We’ve been to see the doctor of course and had allergy tests done. We’ve been to see a chinese doctor. I wasn’t sure what else to do. I myself have seen all sorts of specialists when I first had severe eczema, and none of it has really helped so in a way I had been through all of this before and the results didn’t persuade me to put May through the same thing.

So being at my wits ends, I decided to look around the internet and one thing that keeps coming up is that the chemicals in our modern lives is one of the major triggers for eczema. That’s when I decided to start looking for more natural alternatives to a lot of the chemicals that we used on a daily basis at home.

One of my favourite natural products manufacturers is Ecostore. I like that they’re affordable, as natural as possible and they smell really good. I have to admit, it’s the good smells that really sold the products to me. It’s not that strong smell you get with a lot of other products (in shampoos, soaps, detergent) but a natural smell, like a freshly squeezed lemon or grapefruit. I use all their products on my girls when they were babies, and still do (and it smells so good!). And I use their laundry detergent on my husbands dirty work clothes (he’s a sheetmetal engineer and handles grease and all that comes with it regularly, his clothes really do get filthy).

On the girls’ and my own clothes, I use my home made laundry liquid. At the time I was looking into a more natural lifestyle, I came across this book by Wendyl Nissen:

A home companion

It is full of her hilarious account into living a more sustainable life and it also had lots of great tips and recipes. One of which is the laundry liquid recipe. That recipe and many many more are all available on her website.
Here’s the recipe for her laundry detergent:

½ bar (60g) Castile, vegetable-based or Sunlight soap, grated (I use Ecostore’s soap)
1.5 litres of water
½ cup washing soda (I get this from Bin Inn)
50g or 1/4 cup borax (I get this from Bin Inn)
1 litre hot water
Place soap in a saucepan with the first quantity of water and heat on low until soap is dissolved. Stir in washing soda and borax. Stir for a few minutes until thickened and remove from heat. (If you’re using Castile or vegetable-based soap it won’t thicken straight away, but don’t worry, it will overnight in the bottles). Add 1 litre of hot water to a bucket. Add soap mixture and mix well. Fill bucket with another 5 litres of hot water and mix well. Pour into old milk bottles or other containers and set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens. Use ½ cup of mixture per load. It is easy to squeeze from the bottles as it is quite gluggy.
Tip: Add about 20 drops lavender oil at the end before pouring into the bottles for a nice fragrance, or try eucalyptus oil, which is great for woollens.

See, the ingredients are so few and simple and I’m telling you, it really cleans well (though not well enough for my husbands filthy work clothes). And you get about 6 litres of detergent for less than $5!!! It lasts me about half a year and I wash about twice a week. The only drawback, is that there is no fragrance to this detergent, I know it says add drops of natural oils, but I can’t smell any of it no matter how much I pour in. I don’t think of that as a drawback though. I like that there’s no overpowering smell on my laundry, it only smells of clean and sunshine.

Two years on, May still has eczema but it is mostly under control. I don’t know if it’s because we have consciously tried to limit the chemicals in our life or she’s just grown out of it. We still use steroid creams as soon as we see a hint of a flare up and that does really help a lot.

I am still using Wendyl Nissen’s liquid laundry detergent, I’m so grateful for her generosity in making the recipe available. I have to admit I can no longer stand the smell of artificial fragrance in commercial detergents.

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2 responses »

  1. This book sounds like a gem. I came across Ecostore products this summer staying at a B & B down in Devon of a lovely lady who helped to set up the local nature reserve and centre back in the 1950’s. Lovely lady. I look forward to your tips. If you would like to contribute on my new ‘true stories’ blog I’d love to hear from you. all the best Diana

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