Sud Duds: Jury’s still out on DIY laundry detergent

Hello! Thanks for taking a break from your daily Grit and Grind (#GoGrizz #GrizzNation) to explore my most recent trip down the slippery slope that is zero waste living.

Also, free make up remover pads and homemade detergent to the person who can caption the title image. What the heck is going on there?

I made my own laundry detergent. I plopped my butt down on the couch last Sunday, binge watched the new season of UnReal, and grated bars of soap until The Bachelor looked like a down-right reasonable way to find love in our current dating culture. If you are unfamiliar with those shows (thank you, you are whats right about society) then I grated a ding-load of bar soap. Mixed it with 2x baking soda and voila! Laundry detergent.

Sounds like a lovely way to spend an evening doesn’t it? And wouldn’t it be nice if I told you that the story ends there; a picture perfect scene of a stereotypical 20-something doing her part for the environment while feasting on satirical pop culture shows? If only. Like most people I went to class with in college, as soon as I accomplished my task at hand, I immediately hopped online and tried to dismantle the logic of what I had just done.

I typed “DIY laundry detergent is stupid” into the google search engine (because thats what it is, its a search engine. It’s not a verb you crazy Gen Z-ers). This is who I am. I’m the kind of morbid person that feels an ounce of joy or success and instantly I want to debate myself on why I’m wrong. And I always win. That’s the beauty in questioning yourself. You’re always right. Anyway, turns out a lot of people on the internet have some serious beef with homemade laundry detergent. One word: surfactants.

What are Surfactants?

  • chemicals that are more soluble in hard water (richer in minerals)
  • Dissolving easier allows the detergent to penetrate stains with more success
  • They also lower the surface tension of water, allowing it to spread and penetrate the objects
  • With a low surface tension water molecules react better with the oil and grease in the stain

How do they work?

  • Hydrophilic atoms are attracted to both water and the stain
  • Movement of the soapy water pulls at the stain, eventually pulling it out
  • Using warm water melts the oil and grease in teh stain and quickens the process of remmoval

What’s up with bar soap?

  • build up. Yeah soap is great for cleaning non-porous materials. But when it comes to clothes, soap won’t cut it unless you’re willing to wash your clothes with a washboard and bucket. It just leaves behind too much residue in a washing machine.

So… Where are we now?

  1. Ditch homemade for some natural detergents: check out this website for DIY alternatives… aka store bought detergents
  2. Trial and error: I’m not quite ready to give up on my homemade laundry detergent. I live near DC which is most definitely a “hard water” area so I plan to try some variations of my detergent and see if I can solve the build up issue… You can check out my recipe and variations of it on this post.
  3. Mixed bag: save $$, make more effective detergents, and still see the benefits of store bought and homemade detrgents by mixing 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda and maybe a dash of vinegar into your store bought detergent.



3 Comments on “Sud Duds: Jury’s still out on DIY laundry detergent

  1. I JUST made my first batch of laundry soap this past weekend! I had a bad dream, woke up at six am.. and of course had to make laundry soap to take my mind off it (didn’t work) Grating a soap bar at 6am on a Sunday morning is not my ideal weekend.. but my laundry was done by 9!


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