In my quest to save money on cleaners, I decided to try homemade laundry detergent and homemade dishwasher detergent. Now, a lot of people do this to be eco-friendly and such. I don't care so much about that, I care more about the money saving. (Let's be honest here...) The cool thing is that both detergents use similar ingredients; so while you may feel like you're spending a chunk to buy the main ingredients, they make A LOT of each. When it works out to just pennies per load, I'd say it's worth it!! And if you're not doing the loads and loads of laundry & dishes that I'm doing for five (almost six...eik!) of us, then it would last even longer! :)
Back when we lived in our apartment, I took my friend Camille's nudging and started making my own liquid laundry detergent. We really, really liked it! After we bought our house last May, my twins suddenly started vomiting and didn't stop for about a month. (Gross) Didn't have time to make detergent, it was easier to just buy it since I was constantly washing blankets, towels, clothes, pillows, etc. A month or so ago, I decided we would try again. I did some research and read in several places that powdered homemade detergent works better in HE machines, which we have now. It would also work great in a top loader and takes up a LOT less storage space than the liquid. I can't always find all of the ingredients at Wal-Mart but grocery stores (Harmons, Smiths/Kroger) usually have them. Here's my version of several recipes combined. ha
1 bar Fels-Naptha or Zote laundry soap, grated (prep a few days before - see instructions)
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda (not baking soda!)
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup OxiClean (I didn't use this the first time and thought it was still great)
To make the soap as small as possible (so it will dissolve better) I grated it, spread it out on a pan and set it on top of my fridge to dry out for a couple of days. Bonus - my kitchen smelled awesome! Once it's a bit dry, pulse it in the blender.
Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse in blender till well combined. DO NOT TAKE OFF THE LID YET! Let the mix sit for a few minutes until the dust dies down - just trust me on this one.
Put in an airtight container with a scoop. I usually stir or shake it up before I use it. Use 1-2 Tbsp per load in an HE machine, maybe a little more as needed in a top loader. **I should probably note that I usually pre-treat bad spots with Shout....even when I used Tide, I felt like I needed to do that. And I use Costco brand fabric softener.
There are lots of recipes floating around! Most all for several packets of lemonade mix....I think that's weird. And citric acid, the other option, isn't always easy to come by. Since we have hard water out here in Utah, I opted to use a can of Lemi Shine instead. Here's my version:
2 cups Arm & Hammer washing soda (not baking soda!)
2 cup Borax
1 cup kosher salt (not iodized, epsom, etc)
1 container Lemi Shine
Combine well and store in airtight container. I usually stir or shake it up before I use it. Use 1 Tbsp per load, up to 2 Tbsp if you have really hard water like us folks in Riverton, UT. If you have a pre-wash section of your dispenser, put a little of the 1-2 Tbsp in there.
As far as rinse aids, you have a couple of options there, too. I happened to have some Great Value brand 'Jet Dry' already that I've been using up. However, I've also used white vinegar...put about 1/2 cup in the bottom of the dishwasher before you start it up. Works like a charm!