DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

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vexed87
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DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by vexed87 » Thu May 21, 2015 3:06 pm

Does anyone have a good DIY laundry soap/detergent recipe for those of us in the UK/EU who can't get hold of Borax?

The reason I ask is Borax is banned for retail sale and in household cleaning products throughout the EU due to safety concerns. Why does the EU spoil all our fun as usual! I am aware of Borax substitutes but they are devilishly expensive at roughly £6/kg (before p&p). At this price generic brand washing machine soap becomes more cost effective...

I started a discussion here, but didn't want to derail the conversation too much hence starting my own thread on this topic. After my exchange with jennypenny it left me pondering...

I noticed that Borax (sodium borate) is used for its water softening properties. As is washing soda (sodium carbonate). So I'm wondering why the ERE wiki recipe calls for both? Water softeners compete with the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water and prevents them from bonding with the detergent (i.e. the soap) which in turn emulsify fats (body oils) and therefore break down stains and eliminates bad scents. Are there any chemistry buffs who understand why both water softeners might be required, or could we simply add more washing soda to compensate for the lack of Borax? This would make DIY laundry soap far more cost effective for those us with no access to Borax. Also, if possible it would make sense for others to avoid Borax following the potential for respiratory complications in children and pets.

I'm going to experiment with my own recipe, but in the mean time, has anyone get any ideas why both are used or have your own cost effective recipe?

jennypenny
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by jennypenny » Thu May 21, 2015 3:28 pm

I've also been looking at this today. That recipe on the wiki is mine, and apparently, I'm doing it wrong. :oops:

The borax isn't necessary. The washing soda will get the job done. Oxiclean can be substituted for the washing soda for extra bleaching power, or you can just add a little bleach and skip the oxiclean, too. I'm going to mix a new batch with just washing soda and soap. I'm not sure whether to keep the 2 cups to 1 bar ratio. I'll have to experiment. I'll save the oxiclean for pre-treating nasty stains and add bleach when necessary.

This new recipe will be even cheaper than my old one.

----------

A good article I found ... http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2012 ... undry.html

A good resource from that article ... US HHS Household Products Database

lilacorchid
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by lilacorchid » Thu May 21, 2015 9:25 pm

Why do they ban it? I can't keep my front load washer from smelling unless I use it. I even took the damn thing apart trying to get rid of the musty smell in the drum and on my clothes. As soon as I started using borax, the smell went away and I stopped wanting to toss my machine and go back to a top loader. (FTR, I left the door open 99% of the time when not using it and even tried those overpriced, smelly Tide washing machine cleaner powders.)

@vexed87 - I was looking at a front load washer/dryer like they use in the UK (if Corrie is based on real life, lol) and was wondering how they work. Do you guys wish you had room for a separate washer and dryer or are they good machines to use if space is at a premium?

vexed87
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by vexed87 » Fri May 22, 2015 2:42 am

@lilochild, There is evidence Borax ingestion causes reproductive disorders in humans (apologies, I previously stated respiratory!). Now obviously an adult wouldn't eat cleaning products (however it has been used as an additive to food in the past!) but your children or pets might be feeling a bit mischievous, this is most likely the reason it has been banned from retail sale.

I have experienced bad smells from my front loader drum on occasion, but this is easily cured by putting the machine through a hot cycle, i.e. 90C+, cleaning out the soap drawer and leaving the door open after to air it out. If you live in a hard water area you may have just had build up scum in your machine and the borax with it's water softening properties will have helped clear it away?

I had a combo washer/drier, they are a great space saving tool, but they tend to have less room for clothes so you have to do smaller batches. There may be better models now though. The combo machines tends to be less energy efficient than the dedicated units that specialise in each task. One thing I noticed about the combo too was the clothes came out with a really bad smell if you used the drier function... but it was in a rental property and I got the impression the previous tenants didn't take care of the machine as it was covered in mold/mildew when we moved in. :roll: I can still smell that stench now, it has put me off combo machines for life.

I live without a drier, my SO hates the fact that everything has to be line dried on a clothes horse indoors (we have no convenient area to line dry outdoors!). Towels in particular always go hard on the line so things might be changing on the combo drier front in the future, but I would draw the line at towel drying.

horsewoman
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by horsewoman » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:09 am

This is an old thread but since I just whipped up a 3-liter-batch of laundry soap I figured I can share my recipe here.

45 g soap (I use a plant based curd soap)
60 g soda (Natriumcarbonate, that's what it says on the German packaging)
3 Liters of water (boiling)
Tea tree essential oil (optional)

Grate the soap and mix it with the soda in a heat-resistant bowl/pot (I use my cheese grater, and a large cooking pot. Both go into the dishwasher afterwards). Pour the boiling water over it and stir with a whisk.
After it cooled down a little I add a few drops of tea tree oil, but you can leave that out or use any essential oil you like. Not too much though!

I use a funnel to fill it into wide-mouthed glasses. The liquid might turn into a jellylike substance (depending on your soap), so a bottle is not ideal.
Per load I scoop two small measuring spoons of regular laundry detergent directly into the washing machine, and add some white vinegar as a fabric softener.
I have been using this detergent for about 2 years now and I love it. It would take longer to go to the store to buy some, and I like that there is no fragrance in it. Artificial fragrances make my head ache, so this is way better. And oh so cheap!

For whites I add some mild bleach now and then because I noticed that things got a little grayish after a while without commercial detergent.

FrugalPatat
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by FrugalPatat » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:23 am

I considered making our own laundry 'soap'; but then I read somewhere that laundry detergent (from the store) is not 'soap'. Can anyone shed light on this? Is it not a problem to use 'soap' in a washing machine?

jacob
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by jacob » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:42 am

Soap is a combination of fat and lye. You can make it yourself and get a better product than what you'd buy. I used to consider DIY soap inefficient, but after seeing the difference in quality we, that is DW, now make our own. Once cured, you can technically eat soap (not recommended though) and while it causes diarrhea, you will live. (Insert usual disclaimer about being a responsible adult and not a soap eating moron).

Detergent on the other hand is a "better living through chemistry" containing multiple ingredients combined in industrial ways. If you eat detergent you might die. (Also see, Tide pod challenge). Chemically detergents can do things that soap can't. Ever notice how washing dishes seems to develop far fewer foamy bubbles than a few decades ago. This is because dish soap has been replaced with dish detergent. Hence the suggestion to rinse off the residue. This is not necessary with dish soap.

As for the laundry, laundry soap binds minerals to the clothes. This eventually renders clothes dull. Laundry detergent avoids that. If your clothes already have dull colors, like mine, it doesn't matter. Oh, and your laundry machine can eat both laundry soap and laundry detergent without dying.

horsewoman
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by horsewoman » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:52 am

Since our clothes are mostly in dull colors as well I can really not say if that is the case. OTOH I always use white vinegar additionally to my laundry soap and I think it washes out some of the residue? At least it does with my hair. When hair soap mixes with hard water you can get "chalk soap" (this is a German term literally translated, I have now idea if there is a term in English for that in the "no poo scene") - a greasy build up, which a vinegar rinse washes away.

Some people claim that putting vinegar in your washing machine will kill it, I cannot confirm this. My machine is really old but all rubber parts are still going strong, even after years of feeding it diluted essence of vinegar.

Making soap is one of the next skills on my "want to learn" list!

FRx
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by FRx » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:08 am

@jacob, do you have any instructions on your soap making process?

jacob
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Re: DIY Laundry Soap without Borax

Post by jacob » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:43 am

Nope, that's DW's department. As far as I understand, it's cold processed. See, e.g.
http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body- ... d-process/
https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/soap-makin ... cess-soap/
Currently, she's using buckets of lard from Walmart as a base. The first time we rendered our own lard by slow-cooking pork fat for 24+ hours. The lye used is essentially pure NaOH crystals (commonly found in the toilet drain cleaner department) dissolved in water. At some point, I need to try to make my own lye out of wood ashes instead. Also, instead of pH calculations or commercial indicators, one can make an indicator out of red cabbage.

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