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It's convenient to pick up laundry detergent and fabric softener at the store, but it's not difficult to create your own. All it takes are a few simple ingredients.
Then cut down on drying time and static cling by tumbling wet clothes with homemade dryer balls.
Faith Goguen Rodgers' switch to homemade cleaners began a few years ago after she used a commercial-brand cleaner on the bathtub.
"I'd cleaned it, and then I really didn't want to get in it. The bleach smell and feel: it didn't feel good," she says. "Then when I had kids, it didn't make sense at all. It feels a lot safer knowing what's in my cleaners."
Sherri Griffin's foray into homemade laundry soap began when she got a rash and wanted something gentler than store-bought laundry detergent. She started researching alternatives.
An Orlando, Fla., nurse, Griffin started a blog, Overthrow Martha, to educate people about natural cleaners. Besides sharing a fabric softener recipe, she recommends simple-to-make dryer balls. Karyn Siegel-Maier shares laundry and other "green" cleaning formulas in "The Naturally Clean Home" (Storey, 2008). The publisher recently posted her recipes for liquid and powder laundry detergent at its blog, Inside Storey.
Some recipes from these experts:
Rodgers' Homemade Laundry Detergent (powder)
3 cups washing soda (look for it near laundry products)
3 cups borax
1 cup baking soda
1 bar of castile (olive oil-based) soap, such as Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap
Pure, organic essential oils (optional)
Grate the bar of soap into a small bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the washing soda, borax and baking soda. Mix well to get rid of clumps. Add the essential oils, if desired. Mix them into the powder well to avoid clumping. Add the grated soap and mix ingredients together. Store detergent in a half-gallon mason jar or other well-sealed container. Use 2 to 4 heaping tablespoons per load of laundry.
Basic Laundry Liquid Formula from Siegel-Maier's book
21/4 cups liquid castile soap
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1 tablespoon glycerin
3/4 cup water
10 to 15 drops essential oil of your choice (or skip the essential oils by using a scented liquid castile soap)
Combine all ingredients in a plastic container or squirt bottle. Shake once or twice before adding to the wash. Use 1/4 cup per average load; 1/2 cup for extra large or heavily soiled loads.
Griffin's Natural Laundry Fabric Softener
3 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
20 drops of essential oil (optional)
Combine ingredients in a glass jar and shake. Add to the fabric softener dispenser of washing machine.
Griffin's Wool Dryer Balls
100 percent wool yarnPantyhose
Essential oil (optional)
Wrap wool yarn around two or three fingers at least a dozen times, then make a bow by wrapping yarn tightly around middle of wrapped yarn. Bring the two sides together and continue wrapping tightly in different directions to make a small ball the size of a lemon. Repeat to make several balls.
Push the wool balls into one pantyhose leg, knotting the pantyhose between each ball so they don't touch. Run through the washer with a load of towels on hot cycle, then toss into dryer on hot. Once dry, remove from pantyhose. Each ball should appear "felted" -- the wool fibers tightly adhered. Snip any loose strands.