I feel like this could be a fairly divisive subject; I’m more than aware that I’m the only person I know that would want to make laundry detergent, from conkers or otherwise!
This autumn has seen a real shift in our family and one that I’m still working out how to juggle. We began home educating our daughters and this obviously takes up the majority of my time. I absolutely love getting to spend more time with my girls and it was definitely the best decision for us all. It does leave me wondering though when I’m supposed to have time to sew, or write, or contribute to our business…
Anyway, being autumn and my girls being very outdoorsy kind of people, we seem to collect natural treasures wherever we go. We have so many stones, sticks, pine cones, autumn leaves and of course conkers. The conkers are totally my fault; there’s a place near where I grew up that we called Conker Island and there are conkers in abundance. I took the girls weeks ago and we spent at least half an hour gathering up all the conkers we could find! We ended up with a carrier bag full.
Our original intention was to make some creatures using pipe cleaners, googly eyes and other crafty bits. Like so many good ideas we have, we didn’t get around to it. I felt bad that all of these conkers were going to start going off sitting in a bag and had a look at what we could do with them.
The answer? Laundry detergent! (Technically laundry soap). Yes, it sounds like the craziest hippy kind of thing to do, but that seems to be how we roll these days…
Why Use Homemade Laundry Detergent?
I guess the first thing you might ask me is, er… why? Laundry detergent isn’t expensive and is readily available. True, but you might be concerned about the amount of chemicals lurking in each bottle. You might want to go plastic-free. You might not enjoy the synthetic fragrances of detergents. You might (like me) just fancy giving it a go.
The results, as far as I read, are supposed to be akin to those achieved with soap nuts. Not the same as making detergent with soap flakes, which apparently aren’t so good for your clothes over time.
How To Make Laundry Detergent From Conkers
Give your conkers a rinse to get any dirt off them.
The conkers now need to be chopped up, smashed or grated into small pieces. I used the grating attachment on my food processor which whizzed through them in no time.
The pieces need to be soaked in boiling water; we used 1/2 a cup of conkers to every cup of water. We left ours for about an hour as we were busy doing something else. When we came back we had a yellow milky-looking liquid.
Strain the liquid into a bottle, and discard the conker pieces.
That’s it! Just give it a shake before using as it can separate and use about a 1/3 cup for each wash.
We’d gathered so many conkers that we made three bottles of laundry soap and the rest of the grated conkers were put into glass jars in the garage. I worked out that we’d managed to gather enough to make soap for 140 washes… not bad!
But Does It Work?
I’ve been using this, for every wash, for about two weeks now and here are my thoughts so far:
- It smells really nice and doesn’t make me sneeze like some laundry detergents
- Our clothes seem to be just as clean and soft.
- It doesn’t remove stains. At all.
- A third of a cup really is enough for a one load of washing.
- It doesn’t work for washing by hand or soaking.
At the moment I’m happy with the results, and can always use a bit of stain remover when needed. I think that I’ll keep on working my way through our supplies of this and might even try a different essential oil for the next batch I make up.
Is this something you’d try, or am I just becoming far too much of a hippy?!