Cleaning with kids: DIY laundry liquid


Many years ago, in a time before (I had) children, I experimented with making laundry powder. I followed a recommended recipe, and within six months, my second-hand cheaply-made washing machine bit the bullet and died. Terrified my attempt at alchemy had rendered it lifeless, I put the large jar of laundry powder into the bin and returned to store-bought products like a good consuming citizen.

Now that enough time has ensued for me to reconsider this harrowing experience (about eight years to be accurate), I’m guessing the “second-hand” and “cheaply-made” elements of that story had more to do with the machine’s demise.

Ready to roll up my sleeves and give it another shot, I decided this time to try out the recipe for laundry liquid in Rhonda Hetzel’s bestselling book, Down to Earth (also on her blog here). Surely, if this recipe annihilated washing machines, someone would have left a fuming review online? I felt confident we could trust our beloved Rhonda and set to work.

While my girls chomped down on a throw-together meal of beans on toast with a side of chopped apple (yep, even I can’t be bothered some times), I grated a bar of Sunlight soap.

Once the smallest family member was snoring in my king-sized, I began the task of melting soap flakes and water on the stovetop with a four-year-old (at a safe distance) by my side.

As an exercise in mathematics, she helped me measure the cups of washing soda and borax. When it came time to pour the cooled liquid into a variety of plastic and glass bottles, she took great seriousness in holding the funnel firmly in place.

Once bottled, we decided the only way to determine if our work had been worthwhile was to wash something. Luckily (?!), there’s never a shortage of laundry in a family home, and we cobbled together some towels.

After an hour and some serious scrutinizing and sniffing of the freshly laundered items, (yes, they smelled fresh from the added Eucalyptus oil and yes, they seemed clean): Charli and I determined a good job had to be done by all. The washing machine had also survived the ordeal and continues to persist, thankfully.

For less than $2 for 10L of laundry liquid, I’m thinking it was a worthwhile exercise and has the added benefit of providing a life-lesson in resourcefulness to my trusted sidekick.

4 thoughts on “Cleaning with kids: DIY laundry liquid”

  1. This has been on my to-do list for a while Nicole, so pleased you’ve had a go. My front loader (which I inherited with my home) has developed an aversion to washing powder so I’ve swapped to a liquid for now after always having been a top loading powder loving girl. What type of containers did you use and how many to store it in?

    1. I predominately use powder too, so it’s a nice change to liquid. I used whatever bottles I had on hand, which turned out to be a motley crew including a few old laundry liquid bottles I had saved, an old vinegar bottle, a milk bottle and some passata jars! Best of luck when you try out the recipe. It’s not at all hard. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I have been making a washing powder using bicarb/baking soda and borax for years. I had not thought of making a liquid using soap flakes as well that is such a good idea, I might just have to give it a go.

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