Like many household cleaning products, conventional laundry detergents contain potentially harmful ingredients. Though way back in the day we used to clean our clothes with basic tallow soap and boiling water, nowadays popular products include synthetic materials, petroleum-based cleansers, light-reflecting chemicals and toxic solvents. The harsh dyes and chemicals are unnecessary and, well, concerning for both you and the environment. Luckily, manufacturers of natural laundry products report steadily growing sales over the last 10 years as brands like Seventh Generation have gained in popularity. “I think people have an increased awareness of the undesirable aspects of traditional cleaning products, just as they do with traditional farming,” says Martin Wolf, director of product quality and technology for the Burlington, Vt.-based manufacturer of a variety of natural laundry products.
For perspective, here are some of the ingredients in Tide. Do you want this stuff touching your clothes and skin?
• Sodium Carbonate
• Sodium Aluminosilicate
• Sodium Sulfate
• Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
• Alkyl Sulfate
• Sodium Percarbonate
• Sodium Polyacrylate
• Polyethylene Glycol 4000
• Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate
• Palmitic Acid
If you’re interested in learning how to make your own laundry products, you’re in luck! It’s an easy and inexpensive craft. While there is some variation in the makeup of DIY detergents, many follow these basic steps:
Each batch yields approximately 32 ounces (between 32-64 loads based on how many Tbsp used per load).
Thoroughly stir together for 5 minutes and enjoy the results! Use 1 tablespoon for regular loads, 2 for heavy loads.
On the next page, see five of our favorite homemade detergents currently being sold online and then let us know your favorite tips and tricks in the comments below!