Emptying the container of my typical laundry soap, it hit me home much waste is generated just in the laundry soap container itself. That lead to, homemade laundry detergent!
The average family of 4 persons in the United States of America performs eight to 10 loads of laundry each week. That means every 7-10 weeks each family adds at one laundry detergent container to their waste.
According to the latest census data published in February 2022 there are 83.6 million families in America. A family is defined as two or more people. So yes, the statics includes families of less than 4, but also include families of more than 4 so I think it all evens out in the end. That means America potentially generates an average of 527,874,286 of waste just in laundry detergent containers every 7-10 weeks. That’s 3,436,949,551 laundry detergent containers per year!!!
So what are the options if you want to reduce your waste?
No laundry While it sound nice, let’s just agree that wearing un-washed clothes in NOT a viable option.
Using eco friendly laundry detergent…. I’ve found even the eco-friendly laundry detergent companies put their liquid laundry detergent in plastic containers. Glass would be cost prohibitive to them, so that leaves them with plastic containers as their best option.
Laundry detergent strips… While these generate little waste and are eco-friendly, they didn’t work for me. I tried two different brands of laundry detergent strips, and didn’t care for either brand. In my opinion, they didn’t remove stains as well as my typical detergents.
The detergent strips also seemed to interfere with the seal of our front-loading washer. Possibly they left a film on the seal, causing the door to leak? I tried dissolving the strips in hot water before using, and that did not seem to change my results. Even with regular cleaning of the seal, the door leaked more frequently when using the laundry strips than when using my regular detergent.
The laundry strips are great for washing items by hand or easy to pack for vacation. So there are some definite pros to this option.
Homemade laundry detergent… Since the other options didn’t work for me, I looked at making my own laundry detergent. The ingredients come in cardboard and paper containers so they will break down in a landfill, can easily be recycled, shredded or burned. This seemed like the best option to me.
I modified a homemade laundry detergent recipe I found at DIY Natural. I used:
I choose to use Dr. Bronner’s lavender scented soap but there are several scents as well as unscented. For a less expensive option you can try Fels-naptha laundry soap bar or Ivory bar soap.
I choose not to put soap in my food processor, to avoid any possible lingering soap taste in the future, because I plan to make this my go to laundry detergent. I pour my detergent into an canning jar with measurements on it, add hot water and shake until mostly dissolved. This is just my personal preference, to make sure all the ingredients are dissolved and distributed evenly.
I have loved using this laundry detergent! I has been excellent at getting stains out. It’s gardening season so lots of grass stained knees. To test it out, I put a pair of my grass stained jeans in the washer UNTREATED. No pre-rinsing, no stain remover, not even some extra detergent directly on the stains. I was super impressed! The stain came out almost completely even in a cold wash! I really had to look to see it at all! With a second wash the grass stain came out completely!
Our clothes are clean, soft and we are generating less waste. This is a win on all fronts for me! As a bonus, I found a wonderful use for this Tupperware container from my childhood!
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Homemade laundry detergent recipe adapted from: https://www.diynatural.com/