Monday, March 1, 2010

A greener cleaner

Over the weekend I made some laundry detergent for the first time.  The relationship between laundry and chickens may seem like a strange one but knowing what goes into our eggs makes me want to know what goes into more and more of the things in our life. Making as many things as I can, from bread to yogurt to laundry detergent helps me to be more aware of the world we share with chickens.  

The original method I read for homemade laundry detergent recommended using washing soda (sodium carbonate) but after a little more research I found that oxiclean (sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate) was an acceptable substitute, which was fortunate since I was unable to find washing soda in any local stores but did have an unimaginably large amount of  oxiclean that I bought ages ago.
This is what I did. 

Using a cheese grater I grated one bar of Ivory soap and allowed it to dissolve in a quart of simmering water. Meanwhile, in a large storage tub (I think a five gallon bucket would have worked better but I didn't have one) I combined three gallons hot tap water, one cup oxiclean and one half cup borax and stirred until it was fully dissolved before adding the hot soapy water. Once everything was combined I put the whole container in the garage for twenty-four hours before using. It was so easy!

Eighteen hours and five loads of laundry later I feel very confident saying that it works. I washed a range of clothing, from dirty diapers, whites, toddler clothes, barn clothes, and dress clothes.  They all came out looking and smelling clean. Not like a spring meadow, but definitely clean. 

After some experimenting I have found that about three quarters of a cup (six ounces) works well for one of our average loads of laundry. We are pretty dirty people and you may find that less would work for you, it just depends on how large the load is and how soiled the clothes are.

I will not claim to have made any significant steps towards self sustainability, after all I still had to purchase the ingredients. I will claim a financial savings, a reduction of packaging, and perhaps most importantly, it made me excited about laundry. 


  1. I think the packaging is the biggest win here (of many). I'm more and more aware of just how much packing I throw away--it's everywhere, on everything! Could it make smaller batches?

  2. I totally agree about the packaging and yes about the batch size. I believe what I'll do next time is just reduce the water, resulting in a more concentrated detergent (as is so trendy these days). One could also just as easily reduce all the ingredients by half, thus keeping the proportions the same but making less of it.

  3. I have a friend who does lots of this kind of stuff. Here's her blog if you're interested:

  4. Awesome, thanks for sharing!

  5. Laurel, I love that you're doing this! I've read up on doing that too, as laundry detergent is pretty expensive in Korea. It'll be a hunt to pursue the ingredients, but I want to do it too! Plus, using your own laundry det. makes for usable grey water too.

  6. It does Sarah and that's one of the things that is a big bonus to us. Our washer drains directly into the yard (where our chickens often come to eat) so I feel much better knowing what is in that water!