Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Laundry Detergent Without Borax

We've gone through our first batch of Home-made laundry detergent, and my experience is that it's quick to make, much cheaper than store-bought, and may just work. I say "may just work" because the diapers are sometimes totally clean, and sometimes they don't seem to be as clean as they were in Boston. But we don't have hot water hookup to our washing machine, so that could be the reason.

The challenge I faced when I arrived in Cape Town is that no-one seems to make their own washing soap here, so two of the three most common ingredients- washing soda and borax- were not freely available. Borax is only available in tiny, expensive quantities to kill/maim cockroaches (at least in the shops I checked) and washing soda is not available at all.

[Eventually, I found Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) at Kismet, the tiny hardware shop in Wynberg, and found that it's also available, more cheaply at Builder's Warehouse in Maitland (but not the one in Tokai).]

Without further ado, here's the recipe.

Washing soda- 1 cup
1 Bar of laundry soap (grated)
Melted in a pot with however much water you can fit comfortably in the pot- you want the soap to be able to dissolve well.

Once the soap is melted, you can mix in about 5-7L (2.5 gallons or so) of water. I learned that it's better to put the mixture directly into the containers you'll be using for storage, because the mixture is semi-solid after it sets and can be hard to relocate.

Wait overnight, and it'll be ready to use in the morning!


CB said...

Random tip - sodium carbonate is often sold in the pool section in huge bags as soda ash; just in case that might give you a cheaper brand/ closer selection! I'm not sure about borax, though...Thanks for the recipe; I'll give it a try!

Concrete Gardener said...

Cool! I've heard of soda ash and never knew it was the same as sodium carbonate (washing soda)! I looked in the pool sections of various shops, but didn't know to ask for soda ash.

That said, the builder's warehouse washing soda is pretty affordable, making the soap super super cheap overall.

Angel Muro said...

Thanks for this, I've heard and read a lot of negative things about borax... so to find a liquid detergent with out it is hard!

Angel Muro said...

Thanks for this recipe its hard to find a liquid recipe with out borax, I've heard/read a lot of bad things about borax!

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if you have found a place to buy borax in Cape Town since you posted this? :)

Dominique said...


Not sure where you live in CT but you can get a 500g tub of washing soda for under R30.

Unknown said...

Sorry to resurrect and old post here but just want to give some info and hope that someone sees it. I managed to find bulk Borax and Soda ash (washing soda) cheap in Cape Town:

Protea Chemicals - Cape Town
80 killarney ave
Tel 021-550-8100

You have to buy a 25kg bag though
Borax R319.20
Soda Ash R169.58

Will make the liquid detergent (works better on a cold wash and cost wise its cheaper) tonight and weigh the cup amounts to see how much I'll get from these bags, but from what i've looked at online it should be about 110 cups per bag.

From what i've seen on the liquid recipes : http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap.htm

You wil get 64 washes on half a cup of each. If I did my math right it should equate to about R8 (depending on how much you pay for the laundry bars) for 128 loads!!