If you're trying to incorporate greener, eco-friendly practices at home, you'll find that a good majority of them are also more cost effective, and you don't have to spend time and petrol running to the supermarket as often. When laundry day comes around, you can have the satisfaction of knowing you're protecting your family, the environment and your bank balance by making your own washing powder.
Reasons to do it
Making your own washing powder has benefits for the environment and your family's health. Commercial detergents have harmful chemicals in them that affect air quality, and don't forget that all those substances go down your drain. Indirect harm occurs in the production of plastic detergent containers and shipping of the detergent. Your family's health is affected as well. Detergents usually contain toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin and lower the air quality in your home. Homemade washing powders use nontoxic ingredients, which are actually cheaper as well. Homemade detergent can cost as little as one-quarter of the price of commercial detergents, so it's an effective way to save some funds.
Liquid vs. powder
You'll find that a great deal of washing powder recipes are actually liquid soap recipes. Liquid soap allows you to add essential oils, but many liquid recipes involve using a stove, and the powder ones involve simply mixing key ingredients together. You can make a basic powder detergent by mixing 2 parts grated soap, 1 part washing soda and 1 part borax substitute. Mix them well, and store them in an airtight container. You need only 2 tbsp of powder per load.
Using bar soap
Most washing powder recipes use bar soap. This method takes just a bit of time, since you have to shave or scrape the bar soap, but it cleans well and leaves your clothes with a refreshing scent. Choose your favourite soap bar to start with, and grate it with a cheese grater, or chunk it with a knife, then place the chunks in a food processor for a finer powder. Add this to your washing powder recipe.
Beyond basic washing powder
While it's preferable to add essential oils to liquid washing powders, you can still add several drops to a powdered recipe, so long as you mix it in well. Look for all-natural scented soap bars to add stronger scent. Also, washing powder isn't the only laundry product you can make at home. Make a homemade bleach substitute using 237 ml (1 cup) of peroxide, 2.844 litres (12 cups) of water and 59 ml (1/4 cup) of fresh lemon or grapefruit juice. Mix well, store in a labelled jug and use 474 ml (2 cups) per load of laundry. For a homemade fabric softener, mix 125 g (1 cup) baking soda with 237 ml (1 cup) of water. Slowly add 1.422 litres (6 cups) of white vinegar, then add 1.896 litres (8 cups) of water, then several drops of your favourite essential oil. Transfer the softener into airtight containers.