- 1 cup borax
- 1 cup washing soda
- 1 bar Fels-Naptha laundry soap
So I began by grating the Fels-Naptha. About halfway through I started to wonder about the decision to use this product since the smell was so overpowering. It occurred to me that I hadn't checked the label on the back of the soap. Why? I don't know. I always check labels. I guess my initial feeling was that this was supposed to be natural and safer so I didn't need to worry about it. After checking the label, I realized how misguided this thought was.
This is how it reads:
Ingredients: Cleaners, soil and stain removers, chelating agents, colorants, perfume
I hate it when companies do this. I think I have a right to know what is in a cleaning product. It doesn't help me feel better when I read the caution right below the ingredients which read:
Caution: Eye and Skin Irritant. Avoid contact with eyes and prolonged contact with skin.
So It was at this point I decided to do some investigating. I found the actual list of ingredients on the Fels-Naptha web site. Here they are:
Soap (sodium tallowate*, sodium cocoate* (or) sodium palmate kernelate*, and sodium palmate*), water, talc, cocnut acid*, palm acid*, tallow acid*, PEG-6 methyl ether, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium chloride, pentasodium pentetate and/or tetrasodium etidronate, titatium dioxide, fragrance, Acid Orange (CI 20170), Acid yellow 73 (ci43350)
Since I can't tell you what any of those ingredients are, I had to do some more searching. What I found was that a number of these ingredients are questionable, and they most definitely are not natural. (Although arsenic is natural so maybe that shouldn't be a litmus test for health) For example: Titatium dioxide is a known contaminate and is harmful to wildlife, Acid yellow 73 is banned for use in cosmetics and show to be potentially unsafe in a number of studies, and PEG-6 methyl ether is a skin irritant and there is a small amount of evidence that it may be linked to organ toxicity.
Overall, it's not so bad, but my feeling is if I'm going to go to all this trouble to make my own laundry soap, then I should feel like it's safe for my family. So I decided to toss the Fels-Naptha and purchased some castile bar soap. I got Dr. Bronner's All in One Hemp Rose Castile Soap. It smells so good! So I grated it up and combined it with the other two ingredients. I used it in my wash a few times but it only worked okay to be honest. A lot of my clothes were coming out stained and I didn't feel like they were getting as clean as I would like. One plus.. my clothes came out much softer.
Not to mention, I was a bit put off by using borax. I have avoided it for a long time because I am concerned about it being slightly toxic. It was one of the main reasons I took so long to make my own laundry soap. I use hydrogen peroxide in my all purpose cleaner instead of borax. I have tried many times over to research borax, but have found much of the information out there to be contradictory so to be on the safe side, I decided to look into ways of making laundry soap without it.
Most of what I found was simply the same recipe as above without the borax. So I thought I would give it a try, but as I was mixing my ingredients, on a whim, I decided to check the directions for using the washer soda. To my surprise, it said to add 1/2 a cup to loads to increase the effectiveness of your detergent. 1/2 a cup! I was using about a tablespoon a load. No wonder it didn't work well. So I adjusted my recipe as follows:
- 1 bar Castile soap
- 7 cups washing soda
- 1 bar Castile soap
- 7 cups washing soda or a whole 55oz box
- 1 cup borax
So here is my issue.... was it worth it? Did I save any money on this venture or am I better off going back to the ECO detergents?
So I did the math.
My laundry soap cost $3.59 for the soap, $3.29 for the box of washer soda and 4.79 for box of the borax which I used approximately $.50 worth. If I use the full 1/2 cup per load this comes out to... (drum roll)
Grand total: $7.38 or $.41 a load
Per load, this is how it compared to the Eco friendly detergents:
- 7th Generation liquid $16.00 for 66 loads or $.24 a load
- 7th Generation powder $15.00 for 70 loads or $.21 a load
- Method $15.50 for 50 loads or $.31 a load
- and Meyers $16.00 for 64 loads or $.25 a load
Wow! That's a big difference! Of course, most of us realize the number of loads represented on a box is usually inflated, listing the amounts or a "regular" or medium size load when I'm referring to a large load, but even so it's a big difference. From what I can tell both financially and time-wise, it just doesn't make any sense to make your own soap. Now, if you are dealing with allergies or just want to be absolutely sure of what's in your soap, then this could be a good alternative.
But for me, it just makes better sense to buy.
Next investigation... which laundry detergent works best! :)