Natural homemade detergent from ivy

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Detergent is a great invention to clean your clothes, of course we only want to use organic products. for example the soap nut imported from the Himalayas is a well-known one.

But there are a number of other alternatives and you don’t have to take a plane or even go to the store for them, because it probably just grows in your backyard.

About the ivy

Hedera, commonly called ivy grows almost everywhere, maybe even as a weed in your backyard. It is a winter hardy plant that also occurs in the southern parts of Sweden. It grows surprisingly well indoors on the windowsill, making it possible to keep the plant even more up north.

The leaves contain a naturally antibacterial substance called saponin. During World War two, the leaf was used by many housewives as an alternative to clean the laundry. 

Over the years, cheap mass production has replaced it with harsh detergents, causing the evergreen foliage to fade into obscurity.

When do I pick the leaves

To make a long story short. You can pick the leaves all year round. The older dark green leaves are best to use. These contain the most saponin, the active substance.

How do I use it

Tear or cut one or two hands full of ivy leaves into pieces to release the juices. Cook it in a large pan for about 10 minutes. Pour the hot mixture into your washtub and top it up with extra water if needed.

That’s all, you are ready to start scrubbing.

Make your laundry smell like flowers.

For rinsing your clothes ivy will do the job, but it doesn’t have any odor by itself. To give the laundry a wonderful fresh smell, you can boil a full tablespoon of (dried) lavender together with the ivy.

Or if you are as lucky as I am with the location you live in, simply hang it outside to give it an airy forest smell.

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