"For I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in You...You make it Beautiful Somehow"

Monday, April 16, 2012

Frugal and Simple Laundry Week: Homemade Laundry Soap

This week I am going to be sharing a bunch of new recipes and tips for that wonderful thing we all love to do...laundry.

Does any one else feel as though laundry just never ends? I can get all of our laundry washed up, folded, and put away, and magically three more loads appear. And we only have four people! Taking care of all that laundry can quickly become expensive and time consuming. After becoming frustrated with my old laundry care routine, I had been in search of more frugal and efficient ways to take care of our clothing. 

Today, I am going to share with you our recipe for frugal & simple homemade laundry soap

I had previously done coupons in order to cut cost on laundry soap. This was the one thing I seemed to be able to do well with coupons. Since I decided to forgo the coupon clipping, I knew I would have to find a new way save money on our laundry.

Thanks to Pinterest, my eyes had been opened to a whole new concept...

Make your own detergent.

I heard of a few people making their own before, but never gave it too much consideration. I figured it would be complicated, include a ton of ingredients that would be hard to find, and time consuming to make. Well, I was...wrong. wrong. and wrong again.

I originally found this recipe on The White Silk Purse. She gives wonderful detailed instructions on how to make both the liquid "paste" version and a dry version.

There are many recipes out there for making your own laundry detergent. So, when I chose the recipe I wanted to make it had to fall within these guidelines...
-It had to be simple to make.
-I had to be able to find the ingredients at my local store.
-It had to be easy to store.
-It had to be cost effective

So here is the recipe I finally settled on:

You will need 4 basic ingredients.
1. 2 Cups Borax
2. 2 Cups Super Washing Soda (Not baking soda)
3. 2 Bars Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
4. 6 Cups Hot Water

You will also need 5 quart sized canning jars to store your laundry detergent (I got 12 for $8 at Wal-Mart).

All three of the main ingredients you can find at Walmart in the laundry aisle. Easy to find at my local store...check!

Step 1: Place 6 Cups of water on the stove to heat. (You do not want it to boil, just get very, very hot)

Step 2: Grate your two bars of Fels-Naptha Soap. The finer the better. It will melt faster that way. 

Step 2: Add Fels-Naptha soap to hot water. Stir continuously for 15 minutes until all the soap has dissolved. It basically looks like the picture below...frothy and bubbly. (One thing Dana from the White Silk Purse mentions, is to not let it boil...it will make a mess.)

Step 3: Once soap has melted remove from heat and add in 2 cups of Borax and 2 cups of Super Washing Soda. Stir until it is all dissolved, 3-5 minutes.

Step 4: I did this step a little different than the original instructions. By accident. But I think it ended up being easier in the end. Pour the mixture equally into 4 quart sized canning jars. Easy to store? Check!

Dana (from The Silk White Purse) then adds water to fill up to the shoulders of the jar and mix together and let it set for 8 hours. This was the part where I had two screaming kids and got a bit distracted. I forgot to add the water. It set for 8 hours. I kept looking at the jars and thinking...'hmmm this just doesn't look right. Was I supposed to get smaller jars? I thought they were supposed to be full.' Nope. I just read it wrong. Like I said, it actually worked out better in my opinion. I let my jars set for the full 8 hours and then added the hot water and filled to the shoulders of the jar.

(here are my jars, waiting out the 8 hours. Forgot to add water, they were supposed to look full by now. Oops. Oh well.)

Step 5: For this step Dana explains how the soap separates and hardens on the top and you have to use a knife to break it back up. Mine did not do that. I am assuming since I forgot to add the water till after it set. Instead, I simply used a spoon to mix up the hot water and goopy mixture. Some parts were a little hard, but did not require a knife. I also did not worry about mixing the water and goop thoroughly, since they are put into a blender in the next step.

Step 6: Spoon the contents from one jar into a blender. Mix thoroughly on high until the goop becomes thick and creamy.  Spoon back into jar. Since the mixture has puffed up a bunch you should have some left over. I had enough to fill up 1/4 of a new jar. Continue process with other three jars. You should end up with about 1/4 extra from each jar giving you roughly 5 jars total in the end.

That is it! Simple to make? Check!

This was so very easy to make! A lot of other recipes require you to use the whole box of borax and super washing soda, a ton of water, and a five gallon bucket. That is too much heavy lifting for me. I love that this version fits into small jars that I can store above my washer!

Oh yah...and the really awesome thing about this laundry soap recipe...the cost!

It only takes 1 tablespoon of soap for a large load of laundry! For real! This stuff is a concentrated version so it packs a lot of cleaning power. One quart will clean about 64 loads of laundry. That means that one batch of laundry soap, 5 quarts, will last you about 320 loads!

Even better...it only cost 1.7 CENTS PER LOAD! Say what!!!!!!!!! Amazing, right?! I never thought I would be so excited about laundry soap. Hop on over to the White Silk Purse, and Dana does a break down  of the cost and about how much it would cost you to make enough for a year. Guess what...it is right around $20. Compare that cost to your favorite brand.

Cost effective? Check!

Okay, so it is pretty easy to make, easy to find the ingredients, easy to store, and is cheap; but do I really like how it works?

YES! I actually love it. Our clothes do not have a flower smell like what you may get with store brand detergent. But, the Fels-Naptha gives it a wonderful clean and fresh smell! I love the smell! As far a clean factor, I honestly can't even tell a difference between my homemade version and Tide. Seriously. It even works well in cold water.

So why not just give it a try? Next time you run out of the store brand detergent, opt for buying the supplies you will need and make it yourself!

Don't want to worry about cooking it, letting it set, ect? Try the powder version (also found on the link from the White Silk Purse above). Simply grate the fels-naptha soap bar, stick it in your food processor to make sure it is super fine (powdery). Then mix with borax and super washing soda. Store in container of your choice. This apparently only takes 2 teaspoons to do a large load. I might try this version next time. Not sure, I am pretty much in love with my laundry soap now.

Have you ever made your own laundry soap? Have a tried and true recipe you love? Share your experience below!

Come back tomorrow...I will be sharing my "homemade" dryer sheets!

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  1. Yes, I make a powder version of laundry soap that uses borax, washing soda, baking soda, and the soap. I have been doing it for about two months now and I love it. There are no "unknown' chemicals in my laundry soap which is great for my youngest son because he had serious ezcema and there was only one kind of detergent I could use that would not break his skin out and guess what: it contained baking soda! So, I decided to make my own using baking soda and save some money and I promise, it does work. Enjoy your laundry!

    1. My husband and son also struggle with eczema so this has been much better on their skin! How much baking soda do you add to your mix? I thought about adding that since I use it as a laundry additive occasionally any way.

    2. Baking soda does about the same thing as washing soda, it's just gentler and not quite as effective. A long time ago, I wrote about all the ingredients in homemade laundry detergent and what they do. If you're interested, you can see it here:

    3. Thank you Mrs. Mordecai! Awesome information, it is really great to know exactly why we use each of those ingredients!

  2. I also enjoy making laundry soap! Such effective and frugal results. Mine is rather gel-like when finished. I found you through Raising Homemakers. :)

  3. I have been making laundry soap for a while, but have had to use Ivory because I couldn't find the other soap. Lately I've had to go back to the store detergent because it seems the homemade soap was leaving white marks on my husbands clothes. I'm not sure what I've done wrong because when we first started using homemade, we didn't have that problem. Anyone else struggle with this problem? Any clues?

    1. hhmmm...do you use a liquid or powdered version? I know that if you do not grate the soap finely enough it will have a problem dissolving completely in the washer. That is why I went with the liquid/paste instead of powder. It is weird that it wasn't doing that to begin with though...I wonder if maybe the Ivory left residue in you washer over time that is now rubbing off on the clothes? I have used the steps from this site: http://www.somewhatsimple.com/how-to-clean-your-washing-machine/ to clean my machine before...it worked great. Maybe give that a try and see if it helps.

  4. Hi, Thanks for thr recipe. I have been using all homemade cleaners except for laundry soap. I will try your recipe and see how we like it. I would love it if you would share this on my blog hop. I hosted my first blog hop "The Gathering" yesterday @ MamalDiane.com Have a great afternoon. Diane

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! And I would love to share it on your blog hop :-) Thanks for stopping by and for following!

  5. Hi, I currently make the version with the 5 gal bucket etc. and it's a lot of work. I wanted to know if this recipe would work in a front loader with cold water? Thanks:)

    1. Yes ma'am it does :-) I originally found this recipe on the blog I mentioned above...if you check her comments section she confirms that it can be used in a front loader and with cold water. http://thewhitesilkpurse.blogspot.com/2010/10/laundry-soap.html
      I have a top loader but I always just use cold water. No problems whatsoever :-)

  6. Your post so informative as well as helpful for my Laundry Care Market Research and Development.

  7. Which stores carry the ingredients? I've never seen any of them around here!

    1. I always find mine at Wal-Mart in the same isle with the fabric softener and laundry soap.

  8. I made a half-batch of this in May and just finished it up this weekend... pretty impressive for my family of six! I have been making my own detergent for about three years now, but this is by far my favorite method out of the four or five different ways that I've tried for mixing the ingredients. I have also been using your "oxi-clean" and color safe "bleach" and LOVE them!!! Been giving the recipes to anyone who makes the mistake of mentioning laundry detergent to me! Thank you so much!

  9. What do you think about letting it sit for 8 hrs in a large pan and adding the water to the batch instead of each jar?

    1. I am sure it could work that way too. I have never measured how much water it was that I put into each individual jar so I am not positive now much water you would add to a big pot. If you could figure that out I am sure the concept would work the same. :-) Good luck!

  10. Will this work in an high effeciency front load washer?


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