A few years ago, I suppose right around the time I was pregnant with E, I decided it was time to switch away from store bought laundry detergent. I started experimenting with homemade laundry soaps, and had limited success, so I settled on Charlie's Soap, which is made locally and supposed to be excellent for cloth diapers. I used Charlie's for quite a while, then had some issues with "cloth diaper stink," so I started using a cloth diaper soap called Rockin' Green. I continued to have issues with stink (by the end, it was cloth diapers AND regular laundry), and kept blaming the laundry soaps, until we got hooked up to town water. At that point, all our stink issues disappeared. Apparently the well we were using was providing us with sub-par water!
At that point, I gave homemade soap another go, and it's been working great for our family for nearly two years. The recipe I use is pretty basic, and very popular - washing soda, borax, and grated castile soap.
Enter Pinterest. I follow a few crunchy mamas on Pinterest, and a few weeks ago a pin called "Borax free laundry soap" popped up. Then a few other Borax free recipes came through in the following weeks. Borax is a main staple of DIYers, so I needed to figure out why Borax was suddenly becoming an undesirable ingredient. Enter Google. Here's one article I found. Apparently Borax has the potential to disrupt the male reproductive system, causing low sperm count and something called testicular atrophy. There's some confusion about this out there. Borax is natural. There are two different chemicals that are both called borax, and one is safer than the other. Borax is only toxic in really high ingested doses. I live by the precautionary principle. If there's a safer and just as effective alternative, I'm going to use it. With two male reproductive systems in my house, I'll pass on the Borax.
The Borax free recipes just suggest substituting baking soda for Borax. I'm going to give it a try, since I'm completely out of laundry soap and I have a pile of laundry to catch up on. The recipe is fairly simple - one bar of laundry or castile soap (Fels Naptha is a common choice), grated. Use three parts washing and baking soda to one part soap. So if you have a cup of soap, mix in three cups each washing and baking soda. I use about 1 1/2 TBSP per load.