Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Make your Own Laundry Soap


I know this is all over the internet.  I avoided doing it myself because I couldn't find a definitive 1 right way to do it.  I moved around a lot in the last couple years and I figured it's just one more thing I don't have time for.  The fact is, I do.  It is not time consuming.  It's like making a batch of cookies once every couple months.

My friend, Sandi, who is amazing, blogged about this a long time ago and I studied it for a while and never did it.  At church a few months ago an awesome young mom, did a demonstration on how she makes hers... it sounded kind of yucky and I knew it could be done an easier way.

I looked into all of the methods and decided that Sandi's storage and implementation was the most convenient for me.  I didn't have to go buy a huge bucket with a secure lid so the kids would stay out of it and I wouldn't have a huge bucket of slime that separates into slime and super slime in my laundry room.  I decided old milk jugs were easier, so I could store in the cabinet above my washer.

FYI: this amount of ingredients will likely keep me supplied for a year: spent about $12.
I got the ingredients (pretty much all methods use the same basic 3 ingredients).  I made my first batch and I was determined that I would make it so it didn't separate (the most common complaint).  I enlisted the use of my Kitchen-aid to stir it for me.  I added ice-water slowly to cool it as it was being mixed.  It looked wonderful and then by the next week it separated.  I figured it must be the water content, so I made a super concentrated batch it was smooth and beautiful... it separated in a weeks time also, and it was too thick to poor easily from the jug.  I've decided that a little separation is fine and it cleans as well as the pre-made stuff at easily 1/10th the price.

Fels Naptha: approx    $1.00 (depends on where you buy)
20 Mule Team Borax  $6.00
Super Washing Soda   $4.00

With the amount of product you use to make 1 batch Sandi did the math and it comes to about 70 cents.  That makes 2 milk jugs of soap.  I use the same amount of soap that I did of the pre-made stuff.  That's around 1 cent/load.

1 Batch
1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 c. Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 c. Borax

Measure 6 cups of water in a large pot on the stove, turn unit on high. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax bring to a boil.

 While that's heating take your Fels Naptha chunk (just cut it off with a knife like a hard cheese) and either grate it with a grater or shave pieces of it off into the pot of hot water (grating is a little easier/faster and the pieces dissolve faster).  Add soap pieces to the pot.  Stir until dissolved.

Once you have a nice smooth soap soup use a funnel to pour the mixture into the 2 milk jugs (filling each about half full).  Then fill each jug mostly full with hot tap water (about 1 inch below cap).  You want room to shake the mixture.  If you use cold water it will make the soap set up into a gel.  Shake the jugs to dilute the soap with the added water.  It's best to keep the jugs nearby and shake them a few more times over the next few hours while they cool (so it doesn't separate into big chunks).

Wash all of your tools/pans with hot water and wipe them down with a wash cloth to remove any soap residue.

I use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of soap per load and I just give the jug a good shake each week before doing my laundry (because the soap will separate while it sits. (I figure running the cold soap in my blender might solve this issue but it would be kind of messy and time-consuming and I'd have to be sure my blender was thoroughly rinsed and cleaned afterward-if you try it, let me know!).

Now, go wash some laundry practically for free (isn't everything that's free a little more fun)!


So I just whipped up a batch of dry detergent.  I've finally used up all of my liquid... maybe 4 jugs.... not sure.  It is so much easier.  Here is the recipe I used

1 bar Fels Naptha grated (I used the small grater teeth and it crumbled to nearly powder)
1 1/2 c. Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 1/2 c. Borax
1 c. Salt (I used non-iodized table salt since I bought it for canning and have lots of extra)

The longest part was grating the soap for about 3-5min.  After that I just dumped the dry ingredients and stirred it up in an oxygen cleaner bucket.  You only use about 1-2 Tbsp. per load (I'm measuring on the high-end because I added the salt to mine).  I'll just use the tiny oxygen cleaner powder scoop it holds a little bit more than 2 Tbsps. for my extra lg. loads in my top-loading machine. 1/2 scoop for a small load.

With my whites and light colors: I also use generic oxygen cleaner powder and 1/2 cup of vinegar in the liquid bleach reservoir.  The vinegar is a natural fabric softener. This is the same routine I had with store bought laundry soaps too.

WHY ADD SALT?: With the liquid I've been using I don't feel my whites are as bright as they could be and I was searching around different recipes etc.  I think the problem may actually be the hard water we have in this area.  I read that many commercial detergents have a lot of salt in them which helps soften your water and helps grime etc. stay suspended in the water... They also said that's why sailors who washed in the sea were known for their clean white uniforms.  So I'm giving it a try.

I'll Let You all know how this is working for me in a few weeks.

I kept with that last detergent recipe for awhile... mostly because of the ease of making it.  Lately though, I've noticed that my whites are looking dingy.  I feel that the fels naptha leaves a bit of residue behind in the wash.  When I washed with cold sometimes I would see little specks of soap on my clothes that didn't dissolve and wash away (when moving from washer to dryer).  I researched and realized that....

1) my washing machine drum was filthy... it had a lot of dingy gray residue (soap scum) on it.  I found instructions on cleaning out my machine.  I followed the directions.  Sadly I've never cleaned my machine and it was probably long overdue. Then I ran a load of really hot water and whites.  They didn't come out super clean... I think there was still a little residue.  Next time I will add some rags or towels to the vinegar cycle or wash rags and towels in a hot load following the cleaning.  I will try to clean it 2 times a year now, or at least once/year.

2) Whenever I washed cold or even warm loads that I was getting a lot of soap scum build-up tinged gray from the dark fabric.  Then when I ran a hot load it was cleaning the machine a little with my whites (they were just becoming dirty rags cleaning the machine).  So no more dry fels naptha soap for me... go figure it takes a bit of effort to stir and dissolve the soap in boiling hot water...

3) Adding vinegar to the beginning of my wash cycle was counter productive.   Yes it did get rid of odors but I guess the soaps/sodas of the detergent are alkaline/basic and the vinegar is acidic.  The soap needs to be alkaline to clean the clothes.  Adding the vinegar with the detergent was cancelling it out.  I know I should have added the vinegar in the rinse cycle but I was too lazy to wait.  So I finally ordered myself a Downy ball on Amazon (since I don't have a fabric softener reservoir on my old machine).  I fill it with vinegar and toss it in at the beginning of each load... it was a $2 add-on purchase on Amazon.

So what am I doing now? 
I splurged and bought some Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap (in Almond scent.. which I'm in love with! although the scent doesn't stay on the clothes)... It's not as cheap as Fels Naptha but I don't have to boil water and grate soap at all.  It's still much cheaper than laundry detergent and the ingredients are more natural.  I got the 32 oz.  Bottle for $15.  And I only use 3/4 cup of soap for a 2 gallon batch of soap that compares to a 60 load jug of store-bought detergent.  So I can get 5 batches from 1 bottle or about $3 a batch plus maybe 50 cents for the 1/2 cup of washing soda and Borax.  I left out the essential oils because I don't have them and she says the scent doesn't stay on the clothes anyway.
I used a recipe at a

It seems really runny at first but after sitting overnight you get the same stringy soapy sludge as you do with the liquid fels naptha recipe.  I just give my jug a shake before each use (which is why it's good to put it in just 1 gallon jugs... 2 gallons is cumbersome to heft.)  Be sure to mix the soap in a bucket because I tried shaking it in a jug but the powdered ingredients clumped so I had to pour into a bucket (broke the chunks up in my hands and made sure they dissolved) then just pour back into the jugs.  I generally use a little more than 1/3 cup because I don't have an HE front loading machine and I usually run extra large loads.

My clothes are getting clean again with no waxy soap residue and my washing drum is staying clean.  I think I'll  be happy with this recipe for a long while.  I'll let you know if I make any changes.

Have fun washing your laundry....?  Well at least you can afford to wash all you want :o)


1 comment:

  1. I just whipped up a batch in my bathtub this morning! Totally the best way to go. Did all my measuring, diluting, pouring and didn't have to worry about splashing. Took maybe 10 min.


I love comments! Please share your thoughts.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...