The Truth about Homemade Detergents

homemade detergent

One of the latest internet fads related to the cleaning industry is the growing number of recipes for homemade detergent. The idea behind it seems to be that making your own detergent is cheaper and better for the environment, but that’s not necessarily the case. Some of these homemade detergents can even damage your clothing and while the ingredients may seem cheaper at first, that doesn’t take into account the time you spend making the cleaning product.

Homemade can still damage clothing

While it’s not a bad thing to be environmentally conscious, it’s a mistake to believe that “homemade” detergents are always better for the earth just because you make them yourself. Many of these homemade detergents contain similar chemicals found in manufactured detergents and other ingredients that can damage clothing.

Truth behind a popular common detergent recipe

One of the popular homemade detergent recipes calls for borax, which is a chemical compound of a salt of boric acid and a mineral. Other names for borax include disodium tetraborate, sodium tetraborate and sodium borate, all of which found more like chemistry elements than “natural” cleaning ingredients. Borax is also often used as an additive in cleaner and detergents used for kitchens and bathrooms to improve cleaning results.

Another ingredient in homemade detergents is Fels-Naptha, a trademarked pre-treating soap bar made by dial. Known as a skin irritant, this ingredient may clean clothing, but it’s not suitable for babies, children or anyone who has sensitive skin. Apparently, according to some recipes, any bar of soap will do. The final ingredient commonly used is “washing soda”, which is similar to baking soda and used to remove stains. You can make washing soda at home by cooking baking soda in your oven, but as chemicals can damage ovens, it’s best to purchase this ingredient from Arm & Hammer.

The final homemade detergent can be either liquid or powder, depending on the recipe you choose and you can use it in teaspoon increments. Although DIY research shows that the homemade detergent works, it’s not significantly better than any store bought brand and although “cheaper” to make, it takes more of your time than using store bought detergent. An important consideration when making homemade detergent is that it won’t contain the water softeners found in many large brand detergents, which means that if you have hard water, homemade detergent won’t work well for you.

The fundamental truth is that if you’re going to run to the store for borax, Fels-Naptha or other bar soap and washing soda, it’s just easier to purchase pre-made detergent and skip the chemistry experiment. There are several detergent products on the market designed to be more natural and environmentally-friendly as well as ideal for today’s high-efficiency washing machines. Why take a chance on staining or damaging your clothing by mixing ingredients at home that you can already find in precisely engineered store bought detergents?

You can still have clean clothes and be environmentally-friendly without going the homemade route. The EPA lists Embassy Cleaners as the only dry cleaner in Westchester County to use the EPA recognized environmentally friendly cleaning process of wet cleaning and we’ve been wet cleaning since 1995. Trust us with the safe, efficient and experience cleaning of all your clothing.


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