Saturday, 13 September 2014

Making your own laundry detergent

Last year we removed the Hills Hoist & made this little kitchen garden in its place.
Brian built me another washing line that is more in keeping with the era of our 1911 built home.

The old cane wash basket & trolley purchased (cheaply) at a Garage Sale is just the icing on my wash line cake.

I started making our laundry detergent a couple of years ago. Not only do I save lots of dollars, I'm much happier about using the washing water on the garden.
In our dry state of South Australia we need to use all of our household water carefully and most people I know recycle some of their washing water onto their garden.
Like many people we used to bucket the water from the shower and washing machine, but realistically that isn't going to keep happening as we age and the buckets get too heavy for us.
So, one of the first things we did here when we started setting up the gardens was install a shut off valve on the water outlet pipe outside the house.
In our case the grey water from inside the house runs into a septic tank because we are outside the town drainage system.  It's still possible to install a shut off valve if you live within the town if your outside pipes are exposed above the ground.
Attaching a hose to this shut off valve we can divert the water from the bathroom and laundry onto various garden areas using gravity.
However, this water contains the residues of any detergents and substances used inside the house and can be detrimental to the soil and plants growing in it.  This is when I turned to making my own soaps and detergents.

                               Liquid Laundry Detergent
1 cup grated soap 
1/2 cup washing soda (Lectric Soda)
1/2 cup Borax
Melt in a stainless or enamel saucepan with 1.5 litres of water until dissolved .
Tip this mixture into a plastic bucket.
Add 8 litres of water & give it a stir.
Pour into large plastic bottles leaving a few centimetres at the top for shaking up when it gels.
2 litre vinegar bottles are perfect.
This will become quite a thick gel & needs shaking up to make it pourable.
Use approx 1/2 cup with each load of washing.
Suitable to use in both top or front loader machines.
It doesn't foam up but it gets the washing clean.

The recipe suggests either Lux Flakes or grated soap.  I use a cake of soap that I buy at the supermarket for a few dollars for a pack of five. Much cheaper than Lux and is just as effective. 
The easiest way of grating the soap is to get someone to grate it for you when they're sitting there having  cup of tea and watching you do all the work. 

Notice the space left empty in each bottle for easy shaking up of contents.

When using grey water on your garden it's best to alternate it with fresh water occasionally to avoid the salts building up in the soil. This gentle home made laundry detergent is much less toxic than the chemical laden commercial detergents. I've been watering our fruit trees and vegetable gardens with our grey water for years.

After a very wet winter we're not getting the Spring rains that we hoped for and the soil is drying out rapidly. The gravity fed grey watering system (a hose that I can move about) is trickling onto the vegetable gardens keeping things growing without costing us a cent in water bills. 

Brian has happily returned to work this week after seven weeks. His hip surgery was a great success and as we sat outside with our cups of tea this morning he explained his plans for redesigning the back garden. He's talking of building retaining walls and a pizza oven. Welcome back to the man I used to know Brian!!
The sun is shining and the garden beckons.
Thanks for dropping by and I hope you have a wonderfully productive weekend.


  1. Most interested in trying this for myself, thanks Sal for the instructions.

    1. Janine, after you've made it once you'll realise just how quick & easy it is to make. I've been known to whip up a batch during my lunch break. It's the grating of the soap that takes the most effort & time, hence the tip mentioned.


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