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DCL

As we note in the Detox Your Home feature, cleaning green is an important step toward better indoor air quality and reduced nasties leaving your home via the sewer drain. One way to be sure that your laundry detergent is part of your green cleaning plan is to make it yourself.

There are two options when it comes to mixing your own: liquid or powder. Liquid can be a little more versatile, since you can (carefully) add essential oils to give it a nice scent, but powder is easier to make, since you won't have to use the stove. Whichever way you go, you'll want to gather the following ingredients: your favorite (not too heavily-perfumed) bar soap, borax and washing soda. That last one-washing soda -is in the same family as baking soda. It has just been processed differently; it's sodium carbonate-two sodium atoms, a carbon atom, and three hydrogen atoms-whereas baking soda is sodium bicarbonate-the same ingredients, but with a hydrogen atom replacing one of the sodiums. It is much more caustic/alkaline, with a pH of 11, and while it doesn't give off harmful fumes, you do need to wear gloves. It is found in the laundry section of most supermarkets.

Liquid Detergent

1 quart water (boiling) 2 cups bar soap (grated) 2 cups borax 2 cups washing soda

1. Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.

2. Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the borax and washing soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.

3. Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.

4. Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Once it's cool, add 5 - 7 drops of your favorite essential oil per gallon. Stir the soap each time you use it (it will gel).

Powdered Detergent

2 cups finely grated soap 1 cup washing soda 1 cup borax

1. Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.

2. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

Care2 has more on the wonderous cleaning power of washing soda, and TipNut has a few more variations on the above recipes. Happy cleaning!

See also: Detox Your Home: In the Laundry Room

Difficulty level: Easy