Before we get into the how to make it, let's get a basic understanding of how laundry detergents work.
Surfactants are the muscle behind removing dirt and grime from your clothes. They are molecules with two tails, one that is attracted to water (hydrophillic), and one that is repelled by water and attracted to dirt (hydrophobic).
What happens is that the hydrophillic end grabs hold of a water molecule and flows around until it comes across a dirt molecule that it will cling to and pull into the solution.
There are also enzymes that help break down the harder stuff like oils, grasses, and blood etc.. and pull it into the solution as well.
There are a few things that can be done to improve the cleanliness of your clothes:
Raise your water temperature. Hotter water will more effectively penetrate dirt molecules. *
[NOTE: Unless your hot water is renewably sourced, washing your laundry in cold water can save over 95% of your total energy usage doing laundry. Over 99% if you use a $10 Eco Washing Machine.]
Raise your causticity. Adding a base will amplify the effectiveness of surfactants.
Soften your water. Hard water makes it harder for surfactants to do their job [they become attracted to the mineral calcium in the water as opposed to the dirt and do not work as well.
For heavy stains and spot cleaning I would suggest investing in a portable steam cleaner. They are absolutely wonderful tools that you can use all around the house.
Did you know that 80% of powdered laundry detergent is filler?
In a world where gas prices rule the economy, you would think that the manufacturers would want to reduce shipping costs and not ship all of that filler out...but they do.
Step 1: Sodium Carbonate? Tetraborate? What?
Some people prefer to add more Sodium Tetraborate, but roughly a:
5 ounces (140 grams) Sodium Carbonate to
7.5 ounces (200 grams) Sodium Tetraborate to
One shredded bar of Ivory Soap.
Works pretty well for most uses and with this formula you can stretch the most out of your detergent.
It works out to:
1 box Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (55oz)
1 box 20 Mule Team Borax (75oz)
10 bars of shredded Ivory soap
You probably want a 3 gallon tub to put it in.
Mix the detergent thoroughly by rolling it end over end in it's container.
Step 2: Laundry!
If you are looking for softer clothes without the use of commercial fabric softener, Vinegar helps pull out soap residue from clothes and soften them, NATURALLY.
If you are looking for an Eco-friendly single load washing machine and have an extra $10 you can build one yourself. Powered by human effort, and just as effective as a larger washing machine, It is the only way I do my laundry now, and I do it for the world...How green are you?