Thursday, 16 January 2014


Washing powder. No-one seems to get excited about it (except astronauts, of course, but they get excited about everything). While it's acceptable to squeal over hand-quilted gingham or sigh at the smell, or even just the thought, of home-baked bread, joy at clean laundry seems a little embarrassing. Pickling vegetables that you've had to lug back from the shops after spending 3 hours searching all over town for just the right artisanally-hued glass jars, or making ketchup from scratch - these are well-trodden routes to domestic bliss, apparently. Making your own washing powder - that's taking things a bit too far.

I can't imagine why.

No-one wants to be that person in the washing powder adverts, the one who appears to live for wash day, so she can show her love to her family by cleaning their clothes. That's just insane. But there's something very pleasant about really clean, fresh clothes and bedding. And something very unpleasant and demoralising about grey, manky washing.

After years of searching for a washing powder that didn't give me a rash and didn't smell of anything, that didn't have optical brighteners or bleach or enzymes in it, and trying smaller and smaller amounts of what I could find in the hope that perhaps I could just encourage the water to do the cleaning, I found this recipe. It takes a few minutes to throw together, it's cheap, it lasts for ages, and if you leave the washing to soak in it overnight, it really really cleans just about anything. I use this soap; you can buy it ready-grated, but if you want to get artisanal, you can grate it yourself. (You can buy it online here.) Or even make your own soap, if that's your thing (and it's really easy and almost as satisfying as baking bread).

My clothes look like new, they don't make me itch, and best of all, they don't smell like sick flowers.


c is for cape town said...

Right, you got me interested. Questions: did you make washing soda as per the technique she links to I.e. heating baking soda? Then mix washing soda, soap (love that website of tannies selling soap) and lemon essential oil?

Jesse said...

Yay! Glad you're interested - let me know if it works for you.

I bought washing soda (at Checkers - it's in the laundry section). Be sure to buy washing soda, not caustic soda, and shake the tub to make sure it hasn't crystallised, because it's quite a pain to crush those crystals to powder....

I sometimes use lemon oil, sometimes not. Mostly just soda and soap, and I dissolve it in a cup of hot water before I throw it into the machine.

Ruby in the Dust said...

Nothing wrong with making your own laundry soap! I make a liquid soap with sunlight soap (or you can use boerseep); it's very easy and like you say, doesn't smell gross or make us itch :)
Here's my recipe (have a look at the website, there's heaps of great ideas and recipes):