I don’t always wash my clothes, but when I do, I like to use my own DIY Laundry Powder Less Plastic.
Given the recent research identifying synthetic lint particles as a component of marine micro-plastic debris, I’m being even more careful to wash our clothing with synthetic content only if it’s truly dirty, beyond what spot-cleaning can manage.
Even our cotton and wool clothing is going longer between washes, the happy result of the union between my lazy approach to housework and my desire to lower our water footprint. In this, at least, I’m not alone. Even Levi Strauss is urging people to wash their jeans less often – Apparently, some time in the freezer will freshen them up nicely. I haven’t tried that yet, but I do have room in my Freecycled chest freezer…
Still, there are times when a trip through the washing machine is in order. Life with young children, chickens, and dogs provides one with plenty of soiled clothing opportunities; there is no shortage of things wet, sticky, and stinky to step in or be smeared with.
Here is my plastic-free approach to laundry powder. This is concentrated; a full load in my top-loading washing machine needs 1 Tablespoon (maybe a scant 2 Tablespoons if things are horribly soiled). A single batch of this lasts me a couple of months, at least. I add white vinegar as a fabric softener and to reduce build-up of soap in the fabric and my washer. Several months into this experiment, our clothing, linens, and other washables are all turning out clean and fresh and ready for more, more, more wear. All of these ingredients are readily available in recyclable plastic-free packaging, and for less than the same amount of commercially made laundry detergent generally costs.
What you’ll need:
- Washing Soda
- Bar of Soap – Nothing beats Fels-Naptha for stain fighting, but it appears to have some petroleum-derived ingredients. Since breaking up with Fels-Naptha, I’ve been experimenting with Kirk’s Original Coco Castile and Dr Bronner’s Magic All-One Classic Fair Trade Bar Soap; they both seem to work without a lot of build-up.
- Large bowl for mixing – Glass or metal, so you can wash it clean of all residue.
- Large jar for storage, with a nice, tight lid.
What to do:
Grate your bar of soap into your large mixing bowl. I use the fine shred section of my grater to do this, since I want the soap to be as small as possible for the next step.
To the grated soap, add:
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Washing Soda
Stir or mix with your hands until everything is very well blended and mostly smooth, with the curls of grated soap broken down. I find that mixing this with my hands is just as good as using a food processor to blend it all together; a spoon just doesn’t work as well. I wear an old pair of rubber gloves to do this, for safety and my skin’s sake.
Spoon the finished mix into your large jar and keep the lid screwed on well between uses.
CAUTION: This is poisonous! Keep out of reach of children and anyone else who might want to taste some! Label the jar so that everyone who comes near your laundry area knows this is not at all edible.