Laundry soap…should I bother?

So my battle with laundry detergent began after I began using cloth diapers with my daughter. My eyes were opened to what they really contained. Once she was potty trained, our family was in the middle of moving cities, finding new jobs (and not finding them) which was very stressful. SO…  I resorted to the good ol’ standby of my favorite smelling Gain. I have never used fabric softener or dryer sheets…just the good old dryer balls.  While I loved the smell, I knew that it was not good for us or our clothing.

Once my head was on straight, I bought Claudia’s Choices detergent that is good for sensitive skin and cloth diapers as well as clothing. I recently was down to the last few scoops so I decided to being looking up laundry soap recipes…ones that were a bit more environmentally friendly as well as budget friendly. I would have kept using it but at $35/bucket I wanted to save money. I visited probably 50 sites with all varying recipes tweaking here or there. One recipe that I kept coming back to was from “how she does it“. I liked that it made a huge batch, that others were happy with it and that is mostly good products. I decided to make a half batch, just in case. I am glad I did because then I started researching Borax. Now…what you must know is that Borax and boric acid are different things.  Borax is the salt from boric acid (sodium borate) and is an alkaline mineral. It is naturally occurring in nature but even then it can be harmful and should be stored away from pets and animals. Borax is considered an effective, versatile and affordable eco friendly product when compared to petroleum based products. It must be handled carefully.

What I found was that the Skin Deep Database (which is not always reliable) lists it as a 5-6 moderate hazard…but the studies it is based on are hard to find. I am sure if it is ingested it would not be a good thing, however the MSDS(material data sheet) lists it as a hazard 1, same as baking soda and salt. I would not want to ingest it as the FDA banned it as a food additive. The debate seems to be ongoing and not close to being solved.  It is non-carcinogenic but a mild skin irritant and may potentially disrupt the reproductive system(however studies have not been done on humans). So…who knows.

Here was my original recipe, based on “how she does it” blog.

  •  ¼ box of Borax
  • ½ box of Washing Soda
  • 1/3 box of Lg. oxyclean
  • 1 bar of grated Dr. Bronners soap
  • 2 lbs of Baking Soda

Here is how I tweaked it to reduce borax content and adjust it for our very hard water and after I researched more about Borax.

  • ¼ box of Borax
  • 1 box of Washing Soda
  • 1/3 box of Lg. oxyclean
  • 2 bars of grated super fine Dr. Bronners soap
  • 2 lbs of Baking Soda

*you can add sent boosters in you like. They are not fabric softeners so they will not coat the clothing.

For both I use 1-2 T per load, a bit less if you have an HE washer.

One thing I have learned is that when using this in warm/hot temperatures with Borax, it is activated as hydrogen peroxide…a bleaching agent. I learned this the hard way after some of my colors and darks were fading. SO…as long as you wash colors and darks in cold, no issues! Apparently, oxyclean can also cause fading but I have not found that in the small amount in each scoop that it does.

For my next batch I will continue to tweak things…I will add another bar of soap and probably no borax or oxyclean. I will add a bit of oxy if I need it to my individual loads.


Hope you give it a try!



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