A few years ago, purely out of curiosity, we decided to try this out. We’ve always heard that making laundry soap at home is cheaper, better for the environment, and real easy to do. Most of the recipes out there are very similar, we just started with the basics and have been fine tuning it for a few years now. Our recipe only takes about 20 minutes to get everything mixed. Afterwards, the mix takes about 24 hours to set up before you can use it.
Before you start, there is some planning. First, you need a container to hold your final mixture. For us, we used to buy powdered detergent in 5-gallon buckets so there was one laying around. I thought this would be the best route instead of taking a special trip to the hardware store to buy an unlabeled empty bucket. As an added bonus, the old scoop was still in the bucket!
This recipe fills about half the bucket. If you do like I did and make a double recipe, it gets a little hard to stir thoroughly and move without spilling. I have to make it in the kitchen and bring it upstairs to the laundry room.
I just did some quick math on the detergent alone to compare the store bought versus homemade. When we used to buy the cheapest powdered detergent we could find in our area, it worked out to be about $0.11 to $0.12 per load as compared to the homemade at $0.04. Thats about one-third the price for 20 minutes worth of work! It’s too bad that you can’t cut other bills by that ratio.
Materials & Ingredients:
– 1/2 Bar of Laundry Soap – We use 1/2 a bar of Fels-Naptha. Colgate works just as well, Ivory is popular. You can use any other bar of laundry soap that you wish.
– 1/2 Cup of Borax laundry booster – This comes in a box, we use the box that reads “20 Mule Team.”
– 1/2 Cup of Washing Soda – This also comes in a box, we go with the Arm & Hammer brand.
– 2 1/2 Gallon Bucket with a Lid – This is where we use the 5 gallon bucket from our old laundry detergent.
– Cooking Pot – It has to be large enough to hold about 8 cups of liquid with room to stir.
– Cheese Grater or Food Processor – We use the Food Processor to make quick work of shredding the bar of soap.
– Metal Spoon – Something large enough to stir the contents of the cooking pot comfortably.
– Measuring Cup – to measure out the powdered and liquid ingredients.
1 – Grate half of the Laundry soap bar into a bowl or plate. We grate the whole thing and store half in a Ziploc bag for the next batch.
2 – Heat 7 Cups of water in the cooking pot. Do not let it boil.
3 – Gradually add the grated bar of soap and stir until it is all dissolved.
4 – Add the Borax and keep stirring until dissolved.
5 – Add the Washing Soda, again, stirring until dissolved.
6 – Once dissolved, remove the pot from the heat.
7 – In your bucket, add 3 cups of hot tap water. This is like a half step to get the mixture ready for the cold water.
8 – Add the soap mixture from the pot to the bucket and stir until its thoroughly mixed.
9 – Add an additional 20 cups of cold water to the bucket. This is to help cool it down.
10 – Loosely place the lid on and let it sit for about 24 hours to let it slowly cool and set.
11 – Break it up with a spoon or your hand. I’ve even heard of people putting it through a blender to help liquify it.
What it will Look Like
It will not be pretty and resemble something like a giant bucket of slime or Jello mold. Use a spoon or your hand to break it up and mix it all together. It may be a little watery with globs of jell so make sure to thoroughly mix and get alittle of everything with each scoop you use. I’ve heard of some people running it through a blender to eliminate the globs.
Notes & Tips
– Use about a half of a cup for a large load of laundry. Use more if heavily soiled.
– If you find it hard to dissolve the soap in the pot, add a cup or two of water and reduce the water in the bucket by the same amount.
– For the bar of soap, we grate the whole bar, then put half into a Ziploc bag for the next batch.
– If you want to store it in old liquid detergent containers, just run it through a blender to make it thin enough.
– Since it has to sit over-night, you may want to have 2 buckets available for making laundry soap so you always have some ready.
– Think about getting a separate bucket just to keep the materials & ingredients together and ready to make soap, maybe even tape the recipe to the lid.
– Its also a great cleaner for the bath tub or shower when you need something to cut through grease.
– Instead of using a store bought fabric softener, try using distilled white vinegar. Half a cup per load will soften your clothes just as well and will even brighten colors. Not to mention the extra savings in laundry expenses – we buy the cheap vinegar at our local bulk discount / club store.