Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Detergent Review

If you would have told me that I would be making my own detergent 2 years ago, I would have laughed in your face.

Recently, I got my hands on a great book about toxins in the home. The book is called, The Naturally Clean Home. I'm sure there are others out there that are similar, but I happen to stumble across this one first.

The book focuses in primarily on the cleaners we use everyday when it comes to maintaining our homes. I had no idea some of the stuff was that bad! Some of the stats and information in the book will shock you. But, don't take my word for it. Check it out yourself.

I have found this book to be an excellent tool especially for a newbie like me. I didn't even own an essential oil last week so I was basically starting from scratch. The author does an incredible job explaining things and has tons of recipes to offer. I like that a lot of her recipes are scented and she helps you create the smells that you are trying to achieve. A lot of the recipes online don't have essential oils added to them. I can't wait to try out more. I did make my floor cleaner a few days ago also, but more on "Swiffer goes wild" in another post.

I've heard that making your own detergent can save you lots of money. Although I think it will save you some if you are used to buying the expensive high-dollar stuff (I wasn't), my reason for making the detergent stemmed more from the idea of knowing what exactly is in this white powder that I use daily in my home.

Honestly, I dreaded the whole thing. DREADED! I was completely out of detergent and was not letting myself go out and just buy some more without trying this out first. I was committed to the idea of making my own.

I knew that I wasn't willing to settle on a few things. The first being the all-important smell. I am a huge 'sniffer'. I love good smelling detergent or anything for that matter. You name it, I probably sniff it. My husband laughs at me all of the time because I usually sniff my fork before I bite into my food.......almost every time I take a bite! Weird.......I know. You get the drift. Smell is important to me and I wanted my stuff to smell good.

The other thing that I wasn't willing to settle on was the clean factor. I wanted my clothes to come out of the wash stain free and bright white. Thus, the importance of detergent to begin with. But, you and I both know that not all detergent is created equal and some clean better than others.

The last thing I wasn't willing to do is spend a whole day making detergent. I was prepared for it to take more time than just picking it up off the shelf and sticking it in my basket, but I wasn't willing for it to take hours or even an hour for that matter. I doubled the recipe below and it took me all but 20 minutes. I really don't think it would take longer than 30 to make a ton! I started off small because I didn't want to make a batch of detergent big enough for 1ooo loads of clothes and totally hate it. Kaylyn had fun helping me make it too which is also the beauty of using non-toxic cleaners. Your kiddos can clean with you!

I must say that after my first day of laundry I was sold on making my own detergent. It exceeded my expectations. I wanted to try it out first for a week before passing the information along to you guys and gals.

The first thing I loved about making my own, was creating the smell that I wanted. I did this by experimenting with some essential oils. I love woodsy citrus smells so I scented mine with sweet orange oil (which also helps remove stains and brighten laundry) and patchouli (for all of you hippies out there). The smell is totally different than store bought detergent so don't be expecting that. I wanted to live in my laundry room that day it smelled pleasant and naturally good. I really can't describe it other than 'fresh'.

I didn't pre-treat a load of my girls' clothes on purpose because I wanted to put the detergent to the test. The clothes came out perfectly and stain-free. I felt like my whites were even brighter than if I were to have used OxyClean on them. And trust me when I say that I was a firm believer in 1/4 of a scoop of OxyClean in every load.

My giant mason jar came in handy to store the detergent in my laundry room. I got this jar as a gift from Aunt Debbie and Uncle Durward and finally found the perfect thing to put in it. I LOVE cute jars and containers. It really makes doing laundry even funner to me. How silly is that, right?

I really think you will like it and enjoy the cool smells you come up with. Not to mention the satisfaction you will feel in knowing that you made some stuff that is not only good for the environment (the water waste coming out of your washing machine has to go somewhere, right?), but also good for your family too.

Here is the recipe I used. I sort of combined a few to fit my needs. There are tons of recipes online if you looked it up. Okay, so enough of me talking. Go make you some detergent and give it a try.

*If you have experience with this as well and have some more tips to offer to us newbies, feel free. I'd love to hear what you have to say!*

Powder Laundry Detergent (Lynsey-Style)

This will do approximately 12-20 loads depending upon how soiled clothes are.

2 cups washing soda (found on the detergent isle at grocery store)
2 cups of scented baking soda (by scented, this means mix 5-8 drops of essential oil of your choice with the baking soda first and stir really good)
1 bar of grated Ivory soap (use your food processor- will look like feta cheese)
1 cup of Borax (use this if you have hard water especially)

Mix all together really well and store in a container. Use 1/2 cup for an average size load.

Lavender-scented Fabric Softener
(from The Naturally Clean House)

I used lavender for my fabric softener, but again you can choose your own smell.

1 gallon of vinegar
20 drops of lavender

Add lavender right into the container and shake. You've got instant fabric softener. Add this to the rinse cycle in your washing machine.

Lynsey Tip: I will be using the Downey ball that dispenses it while the washing machine is washing to clothes so I don't have to remember to add it in.

Dryer Sheets

Here is a quick tip for dryer sheets for you. Take a scrap piece of fabric (I used baby washcloths) and add 3-5 drops of essential oils on the fabric and throw it in the dryer with your clothes. Be careful not to use too much or it might put oil spots on your clothes.


shauna maness said...

that is soo cool lyns! i am inspired!
(i don't think i can get all that jazz in germany... but i'm gonna try! where did you get your oils?

Kramer said...


Who knew we would care about these things considering we never thought about them a year ago. I will say that I really enjoy putting on my work clothes each morning with this good smelling stuff. Especially long sleeves because I keep smelling the cuffs. Thanks so much babe for looking after us and going the extra mile to do these things. We love you so much and appreciate you. Happy 27th B-Day. Your the best.

Jason,KK,Laney Rae.

QuiltedSimple said...

We must've been thinking along the same lines - I just posted last night about my homemade bar soap and laundry soap, although me making ours stems from my daughter's horrendous eczema (she would get so bad she would have bleeding oozing sores on her legs). I make the liquid, which is fabulous at getting the kids clothes stain free. I'll have to try the dry detergent. I also have to make her bar soap, as there is something she is allergic to in any laundry detergent/soap. I just wish I could use fragrance oils, but I'm too afraid with her eczema. It's addicting to make your own - now I have to go find the book you mention!!!

Hendrick Family said...

How cool! I'm doing this.

Where on earth do you get essential oils?


Hendrick Family said...

Does it come out looking like powder? As in, is it dry?


The Kenley Family said...


This feels so weird posting to your blog because I know you don't know me. :) My name is Jenny Kenley and I live in Bryan, Texas. I stumbled on your blog and read it daily...I love it! I'm wondering a couple of things...1) do you and your husband sell your vegetables? I have the hardest time finding locally grown produce for my family and 2) do you take pictures for others? I'd love to talk with you about setting up a photo session for my family, but am not sure how to do that...my email is jennykenley@hotmail.com or you can find me at thekenleyfamily.blogspot.com.

shauna maness said...

awwww... i thought about your birthday today!! happy bday!
and... i went to the store to see if they had the goods- they don't have they have the borax and the baking soda... but not the third thing! rats!!

Hendrick Family said...

Sorry to do this on your blog, Lynsey...but any time I hear about eczema, having been there with Hayden I ALWAYS have to tell people about Reliv.

Two other friends of ours, Ashley and Christina will both tell you how Reliv helped their kid's eczema too.

It really does work. So, I have no idea who you are, Kris, but please try Reliv! I would love to talk to you about this. Seeing your child suffer in pain is AWFUL! I praise God for that stuff. It helped Hayden incredibly and it's all natural and so good for their little bodies as well.



The Kramer Family said...

Shauna.....that stinks! Was it the borax or the ivory soap that you can't find? You don't have to even use the borax. It's optional. And you can also substitute Ivory soap for Castille Soap and put it in the food processor. I bet you could find a cool soap place around there.

Heather, thanks for sharing about the Reliv. That IS such good stuff! The detergent is actually a powder. I'm a powder girl. But, there is also a recipe for liquid if you are interested in it. I buy my essential oils at the Health food Store in Brenham. The one in College Station has several to choose from also. You can buy them online as well, but I like being able to go and smell them.

Kris, I'm so glad you have found some detergent that is helping your little one. The book is a great resource as well because it has an essential oils chart in it and tells you what oils are good for what. There might be some that are soothing to eczema. You might have already looked into that. I've heard that German Chamomile is good for eczema added to bath water. It helps with the itchy skin.

Jenny! It is so nice to meet you. We are actually in the process of getting our Spring garden going. Our hope is to have enough produce for 10 families and do some sort of a membership where the families will get a basket of what is harvested that week. I will put your name on the list to send you some more info when we figure all of that out. I will e-mail you about the pictures. I'd love to talk to you more about this.

Thanks for the birthday comments too! Today is turning out to be not so great of a birthday for me. Laney Rae is throwing up and we had pigs escape and almost become roadkill. I was chasing them down by the highway in my bathrobe, towel on my head, and rubber boots! I had just got out of the shower when I noticed they were headed straight for the road. Jason is working at the FD today to needless to say I've had my hands full! I had to cancel my b-day lunch with my girlfriends....sniff, sniff. We were having Olive Garden....sniff, sniff.

QuiltedSimple said...

Heather - thanks so much for the info - I will definitely be looking into it. Her eczema is manageable with the homemade stuff, but every now and then we slip up. It's amazing how quick the eczema can take over a little one's body.

Lynsey - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I have so enjoyed reading your blog entries - your family is so precious - I check your blog every day hoping for more entires, and feel like I'm right there with you. Your pictures are awesome. I was laughing hysterically reading your comment about chasing your pigs this morning - we've gone through similar episodes here on our little farm (with cows, horses and neighborhood dogs). I can so relate to it all. Hope Laney Rae is feeling better and you have a good rest of the day!!

D.O. said...


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Lynsey girl. You are amazing. I am laughing as I imagine you doing all of this neat stuff. Remember when we would mix up a batch of unscented lotion and put the patchouli oil in? This word is crazy. It does not pronounce the way it is spelled. I hope that Laney Rae is feeling better. Some peppermint oil water might help.


Hendrick Family said...

I think you need to pick a new birthday date. This year, why don't you pretend you were born on February 27? We will pretend with you!


Connie said...

I'm glad you posted this b/c about 1 year ago I tried to go cold turkey and make all of my own cleaners....STUPID idea. My entire house smelled like vinegar (oops, left out the essential oils) and there was a disgusting baking soda gritty residue on just about everything I own. I gave up. I did not have a book to go by...just the web.

We are also more concerned with the toxins than with the cost (don't get me wrong....I won't be paying $50 for a bottle of detergent ever unless it has magic Harry Potter powers) and have since been trying some store bought environmentally friendly detergent...shewee stniky-poo.

I am going to start small and go step by step this time...starting with your detergent and softener.

One thing I did keep up during my go green and clean fiasco was to use straight vinegar in your dishwasher where you would put jet dry. Maybe the oils could work here too..not sure about that but I just endure the smell for a few minutes after I put the dishes up and then it's gone. It works great for preventing spotty dishes.

If you try anything else please keep posting!

Oh...I have read that Ivory soap is like a miracle stain remover and that it can be rubbed directly on sweaty armpit stains as a pre-treatment to remove them so grab an extra bar next time and you have a safe spot treater.

The Houstons said...

I am so tickled to know someone else has tried making laundry soap! My mom attempted it for the first time a few months ago, the liquid kind, and when she used it, she said it made her whole house smell like the perfume she used to make it smell good. Also, I remembered you telling me about your friend in Germany, you have to get me her contact info before I head over there in about 2 months! So good to read about what's going down back home in College Station. HUGS:)

The Kramer Family said...

Angie! Hey girly. This is too cool because Shauna (my cool German friend) commented here too. I believe she is the very first one. So, just click on her name and it will take you to her blog!

That would be neat if you guys ended up in the same place.


Carole said...

Hello and happy belated birthday!
Thanks for commenting on my blog. Yours looks like a fun place to peruse (when given a moment or two). I may just have to give your recipe for laundry detergent a try! Did you mean that I should dump the whole bottle of essential oil into the baking soda? or just a little bit of it? :)

The Kramer Family said...

Hi Carole! So sorry! That is a big ole' opps!

Yes, you use 8 drops of essential oil since it is very strong. I need to correct that or else that would be really expensive!


Rachel said...

Lynsey, I like the essential oils idea in the soap. I've been using Fels Naptha or Zote in my laundry detergent instead of Ivory, and they have a light smell, much less than Tide or something light that. I'm not a big smell person though, since I started making my own cleaners, I'm really sensitive to them unless it's essential oil, and even then, I have to tone it down some.

Anyway, I'm curious, what EO do you use in your laundry detergent?

Aldape family said...

Okay, I just made my own batch of detergent, and I have a little shortcut. I am not a big fan of using my food processor b/c it is difficult to clean, has too many pieces and is loud when your child is napping...anyhow you get my drift, so I used a cheese grater for the Ivory soap. It was so easy, it took me all of 30 sec. It grated the soap so fine, it was very easy to mix into all of the powder! Just tought I would share this tip! Oh and Bryan Walmart does not sell the washing soda, but I found it at HEB.
PS - I just went to check on my first load ( which were off white sheets) and they look and smell amazing!!

Brandi said...

i'm going to try this! my front loader says "use only he detergent," so i'm a little nervous. i googled that, and someone on some website said it works, b/c homemade detergent is low-sudsing. i'll let you know if my machine explodes or anything!
i've gotten more particular about cleaning products since getting our first-ever septic system. it's one thing when your waste water goes "somewhere" down the pipe; but quite another when it goes right out in your yard! i've been using mrs. meyer's and i'm happy with that, but it is very expensive. some of the other "eco" brands just didn't seem very effective. i'll be so excited if this works.

Sarah Shalley said...

lyns...if you don't have time to photograph the family that posted on here, let me know and i will email her. i have some time! love you!

Maass Family said...

I used the essential oil in my detergent and in my fabric softener/vinegar. I used 15 drops in the detergent and 30 in the vinegar. It smells great when the washing machine is going and when I pull the clothes out of the washer, but when I pull them from the dryer, there is no scent at all. That's the only "dissapointment" I faced. Should I be using more e.o. or do your clothes do the same thing?

Is the e.o. serving any purpose other than my sniffing pleasure?


mrsrachel said...

Lynsey, I have a quick question for you about the laundry detergent. Is it good to use for baby clothes? We're expecting our first in the summer, and I don't want to pay the extra $ for a different laundry soap for him. Also, have you read anything about essential oils and pregnancy? I know some of them can be dangerous, so I'm nervous to use any. Thanks!

The Kramer Family said...

This is great for baby clothes. I use the detergent for Laney Rae and would feel more than comfortable using it for a newborn. It is so mild and gentle.

As for essential oils, if you are talking about taking them orally, you do have to be careful in general. Some brands of essential oils are not medicinal grade which means you can't take them internally. The more expensive EOs are usually medicinal.

As for using products such as detergents and cleaners with essential oils being safe for pregnant women, I would think that it would be fine to use the common ones like lavender, lemon, lime, peppermint. I think that these would be much safer than using bleach or harsh chemical cleaners or detergents. It is always best to double check. I bet you could google it and see which ones were safe and weren't.

Congrats Rachel! I'm gathering that you are having a little boy! How fun~!