I've been making my own laundry soap for over a month now and have been pleasantly surprised by how eco- and budget-friendly it has been! It cleans well, too! I have not had any trouble getting out stains...just toss in the dirties and start the engine. I have also been using distilled white vinegar for my fabric softener.
I use unscented, all-natural Castile Soap in my laundry soap. The most dramatic change for me was the lack of the "clean" smell of the freshly laundered clothes. It still boggles my mind that the laundry smells like nothing right when it is pulled from the dryer. In our world where literally everything is scented, or expected to be, it is hard for me to describe freshly laundered clothes as not having a scent. If it doesn't smell clean, how do I know that it is clean?? Well, it doesn't smell dirty and the spaghetti sauce on the white dinner napkin is gone.
My two most favorite scents are the desert rain and the smell of clean laundry. The "clean cotton" smell has largely been my choice of aroma for candles, body wash, you name it. Oh, how my nose has been deceived. The desert rain smell I love so much is actually the oils from the creosote bush that is excreted into the air when the bush becomes wet. Thank you, Barabara Kingsolver. The clean cotton smell is anyone's guess...a concoction of some manufacturer. My newest goal is to attempt at creating a similar scent with a combination of essential oils.
The recipe for my homemade laundry soap follows. I purchase my Castile Soap from Mabel White. If you miss scents like I do, then choose from one of her many scented varieties (Fresh Cut Grass anyone?), or create your own. I know many people also use Dr. Bronner's castile soap. To be honest, the only reason I chose Mable White over Dr. Bronner's is because she answered my question much quicker (the same evening, in fact) than Dr. Bronner's website did (several weeks later). I am happy to report that castile soap is safe for use in HE washers!
Homemade Laundry Soap
To your gallon-size container, add 1 c. distilled white vinegar. Dissolve 1/3 c. salt and 1 c. baking soda in water on a low heat setting, stirring constantly. This won't dissolve entirely - just get it to uniformly cloudy and then add it to your container. Fill the rest of the way with water to make 1 gallon of laundry soap. Add essential oils (optional) to your nose's liking.
- This laundry soap mixture will need to be mixed well prior to each use so choose your container with this in mind. A clean, gallon milk jug works well.
- For spot treatments, apply a small amount of castile soap directly onto the stain and rub. Wash as normal. (I have not yet needed to do this...regular laundering has removed all stains.)
- I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but I know this is much cheaper than what you can buy in the store. For Mabel's Miracle, it is $32 for a half-gallon of castile soap. I use 1 c. of this to make 1 gallon of laundry soap that lasts me about a month (~5-6 loads per week). The remaining ingredients are available at a nominal cost.