I've never really tried homemade or natural cleaning supplies. I'd heard for ages about the cleaning power of baking soda and the many uses of vinegar but never tried until after our plumbing issues last week. So I decided to give another few homemade solutions a try. Specifically laundry soap and dishwasher detergent. So far, I haven't been disappointed. They're really easy to make and appear to be doing a really good job. Another major plus? They both cost considerably less than manufactured versions.
1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap
1/2 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda - NOT BAKING SODA!
A 5 Gallon Bucket w/Lid (I used a trash can and rubber banded a bag over the top. Worked just fine.)
Enough jugs/bottles to hold the finished product
OPTIONAL: Essential Oil Drops for fragrance (It actually smells pretty good on it's own. I didn't add any fragrance to mine.)
First, grate the entire bar of the Fels-Naptha soap. Put in a pot with 4 cups of hot water and stir continuously over medium-low heat until all soap flakes have dissolved and melted. (about 10 minutes). It should be slightly foamy with no chunks or flakes found.
Next, fill a 5-gallon bucket half-full of hot water, then pour in the soap mixture. Add 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and 1/2 cup Borax and stir. (Use the end of your mop handle or something that will fit all the way to the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket to stir completely.) Fill the rest of the 5-gallon bucket with water until its full and stir again.
Cover and let it sit overnight.
When you open the top up the next day it should have gelled and thickened slightly. (Mine thickened a LOT.) Stir again and using a funnel, fill clean jugs HALF full with the soap mixture, fill the other HALF with water and SHAKE.
I only made a half recipes -- just cut my bar of soap in half -- and I ended up with three 2 liter bottles of ready to use laundry soap and another two 2 liters + one detergent bottle full of concentrate...
To use the soap first shake it up then add:
1/2 cups for a regular top-loading machine
1/4 cup for a front loading (HE) machine (Though I had heard/read different things about using it in a front loading machine. So do your research first!)
Dishwasher Detergent: (Sorry, no pictures for this one.)
2 cups borax
2 cups Super Washing Soda
1 cups kosher salt
15 packs of unsweetened lemonade powder. (I used a generic KoolAid. The solution needs the citric acid.)
Some sort of "rinse aid" -- I'm trying distilled white vinegar right now but Lemi Shine was suggested on another site. Your glasses/plastics will have that "cloudy" look without one.
In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together. Store in an airtight container. (Seriously...That's it!)
Use about a tablespoon per load.
As for the rinse aid, my dishwasher has a dispenser for it. I just filled it with vinegar. If you don't have one of those, I've read that you can just add a tablespoon directly to the dishwasher or if using Lemi Shine add a tablespoon to the detergent compartment.
Another disclaimer.... It is debated as to whether or not borax is "good" for the dishwasher, as it can build up in your plumbing. Dig a little deeper, and you will find that all commercial dishwashing detergents have a borax-like ingredient....they just also have a chemical to keep the plumbing clear. It is a good idea to every month or so use a regular detergent for just one cycle to clean out the buildup.
After trying these, I definitely want to try making some other homemade cleaning supplies.