Originally Posted by teresab
Over in the gardening forum they were talking about Fels-Naptha being toxic by using your clothes washing water on gardens.... OK..I started making my detergent by using Fels-Naptha, washing soda and borax. It saves money and I thought (?!?) was safer and better for my family. Is it better,worse or the same as going to the store and picking up a bottle of detergent there? And if it is worse...does anyone have a recipe that isn't toxic to my family and still get clothes clean? Thanks.
Toxic to your family and toxic to your garden are 2 different things!
Plants generally don't like soaps or detergents in their water. Some plants tolerate it better than others (just like some plants tolerate salty water), but overall they would do better without soapy/detergenty water. You may be able to use rinse water in your garden, but it really depends on how much soap you use.
As for your family, I wouldn't suggest that they either snack on fels-naptha bars or drink fels-naptha water, but they'll probably throw it up before they've even ingested a toxic amount. However washing your clothes with isn't a problem unless someone is allergic to the scent.
Actucally, the real culprit in your homemade detergent may actually be the Borax. Yup, Borax is "natural". It is a naturally occuring mineral - Sodium Borate Decahydrate that is mined in Death Valley among other places. Plants do need boron (borate/borax) as a trace mineral in their soil, but too much boron (borax) is toxic to plants. Eating borax can be toxic to animals - including humans, so don't use it around food and keep it out of the reach of kids & pets.
By the way, I know some folks consider washing machine water to be "grey" water, but you might want to check with your state. The State of Wisconsin says it is "black" water and should go through an approved waste water system.