Monday, January 16, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

This has been a long awaited post by many of my friends!  Today I mixed up some of my homemade laundry soap.  I got this recipe from a friend as a wedding gift, complete with all of the supplies.  (If you are wondering what to get someone who is about to get married, this is a very thoughtful/useful gift!)  This laundry soap lasts us several months, probably about 5-6 months, and it only costs $0.02 per load (depending on the type of soap you use.  This price is for the Fels-Naptha). I think everyone has a slightly different version of how to make homemade laundry soap.  I'm sure there are a bunch of ways, but this is how I make mine.  Here is what you will need!

You will need: 1 bar of soap (see of good soaps to use below), 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, about 4 gallons of water.  Not pictured: grater, pan, 5 gallon bucket, measuring cups.

This is Dr. Bonner's Peppermint soap.  I picked this up at Walgreen's since I was already in there.  This is the first time I will be trying this particular soap.  I usually use Fels-Naptha, which you can find at places like Ace Hardware, Home Depot, etc.   
I have also heard of people using Ivory soap or a brand called Zote.  It's really just whatever is your preference.  I can tell you that the Fels-Naptha smells sooooo good!  It almost has a fruity scent to me, fruity but very clean.  I really like it. 

The type of soap you choose will determine the consistency of your laundry soap (detergent).  After making this recipe with Dr. Bonner's soap, I found that the consistency is a little more watery than if you make it with the Fels-Naptha.  It all works the same though.  Either way you make it, it will turn out slightly clumpy.  Doesn't change how well it works though.  If the clumps bother you, give it a good stir.  Dr. Bonner's soap makes a less clumpy mixture than the Fels-Naptha soap.

In case you have never used Borax or Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and aren't sure what to look for, here is what it looks like.

Now we're ready to get started!  To set up, go ahead and put your pan on the stove and set it to medium heat.  Then go ahead and fill your 5 gallon bucket with 2 gallons of hot water.  You can use an old milk jug to measure.

To shred my soap, I used a grater attachment for my KitchenAid.  If you don't have a grater attachment, a regular grater will work just fine.  You want to have a fine shred so that the soap will melt quickly and evenly. 

This is how much soap it turns out to be when it's all grated.  This is very fine, if yours isn't as fine, it's ok.

Make sure your pan is nice and hot. 

Pour the grated soap into the pan and then pour in just enough water to cover it.  When you do this, it will clump like so.  That's ok.  Just continuously stir until the soap is completely melted.

After the soap is completed melted in the pain, pour it into the bucket. 

Then stir, stir, stir until it's as smooth as you can get it.

All stirred up.

You can see that it's bubbly at the top and that there are just a few clumps in it.  This is fine.

Lastly, add 2 more gallons of hot water and stir.  Put the lid on to store.  Make sure you keep the lid on it tight, otherwise the water will evaporate.  You will notice once it sits, the consistency may turn gel-like on the top.  That's fine, you can just stir it up.  Some recipes say you need to let it sit over night and then stir it the next day, others say you can use it right away.  I usually don't wait overnight and all is well.  

This recipe is a HUGE money saver at 0.02 cents/load. (This price is for the Fels-Naptha soap.)  For a regular load of clothes, use 1 cup of the laundry soap.  (For more heavily soiled loads you can use up to 2 cups.)  If you really wanna see how much you are saving, look at this price comparison borrowed from NaturallyThriftyMom.

Planet- 0.44 cents per load
Deft- 0.43cents per load
Seventh Generation- 0.36 cents per load
Tide Pure Essentials- 0.35 cents per load
Tide Free- 0.26 cents per load
Cheer- 0.25 cents per load
Gain- 0.23 cents per load
Homemade- 0.02 cents per load!!!!!!!!!!

So....if you do 30 loads per month (1 load per day), you will be spending .60 cents a month on homemade detergent compared to up to $13.20 if you use the other brands!  Putting that into perspective over the course of a year, you will spend $7.30 on homemade detergent, as opposed to $160.60 on the fancy stuff!  That is crazy!  I'm not sure why anyone would pay that much.  I hope this recipe was helpful and will save you lots of moolah this year.  Thanks for reading!


  1. So, have you ever done it without water? Powdered detergent? I use one bar Fels-Naptha, 2 cups each of Borax and Washing Soda, grate the soap and then put it all in the food processor. I use 1/8 cup per load of laundry. I have the old fashioned top load washer. I choose not to use any fragrance, as my kids are very sensitive skinned. I use a downy ball with 1/4 cup white vinegar as softner, eliminating the softener/dryer sheet costs.

  2. I will definitely be trying that next! It sounds pretty easy to do, and I have seen where a few people have tried a recipe similar to that and got great results. I have sensitive skin as well, so I understand how that goes with perfumes and dyes. That's a great idea for fabric softener. I usually use free and clear dryer sheets, but I would like to use something different (and cheaper). Thanks for your recipes and comment! :)


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