I have been reading about people making their own laundry soap for quite some time now and finally tried it in September. There are a lot of recipes and videos online for this and there are as many variations in the recipes as you can imagine. I can only tell you about my experience and what I used. There are a few things I would change about the way I did it, but overall, I’m very happy with the resulting product. Please note, this recipe is not for someone who is questioning if they’ll use it or not. This recipe makes a lot of soap and unless you’re serious about making the switch to homemade, I’d recommend using another recipe that makes less. You may wonder why I made such a large batch and my answer to that would be that after watching all the videos that I did on YouTube, I realized that I didn’t want to go through the process and end up with just a few bottles of detergent – I wanted enough to make it worth my while. This is what I ended up with:
That’s a lot of soap, huh? But, this picture doesn’t show what really happened, and that’s where my one-time experience with making it is going to benefit you. I actually ended up with almost double what you see in the picture above because of a mistake (on my part) in the making of the recipe. I keep saying that I did something wrong, but I haven’t explained just what it is that I did – I should have waited another day before filling the jugs, because it gelled up more and I had to water it down again, but we’ll make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you! If you decide to use my “recipe”, please be sure to read the entire post, as I will be making some notes at the bottom that are important for a good outcome.
I’ll list the ingredients below, followed by my method in a step-by-step manner. I’m doing it this way so that when you make it, you can just leave this web page open and follow along, while making your detergent.
Here is what I used:
- 2 bars of Ivory Soap, cut into tiny pieces
- 3 bars of Fels Naptha soap, cut into tiny pieces
- 4 cups Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
- 4 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
- 1/2 a container of Oxi-Clean powder
- Large pan of Boiling Water (I used my boil-bath canner)
- Old pan (to melt the soap in)
- Old measuring cups or containers (to transfer soap to buckets)
- Long-handled wooden spoon (a wire whisk is helpful, too!)
- 3 – Five gallon buckets (or containers, a large tote would also work)
- Many empty bottles! (start asking all your friends before making this)
The total cost for the products listed was around $15 and I still had some product leftover, so to say it’s cheaper to make your own laundry detergent is an understatement. The Fels Naptha soap, washing soda and borax are all found in the laundry aisle. I purchased mine at WalMart, but have noticed that my local grocery store carries the same products, at the same price. If all this seems overwhelming, don’t worry. It seemed that way to me and it ended up that it wasn’t as much work as I had thought it would be. It was well worth my time and I’ll do it again without hesitation.
- Place a large pan of water on stove to heat while doing the other things – this is to add to the buckets later. Once it comes to a boil, you can turn it down to lowest setting to keep it hot.
- Place your old pan (for soap) on the stove with about a quart of water in it. You want the water to be hot before you add the soap. (ask me how I know)
- Get out a cutting board and start cutting the soap. Most recipes will tell you to use a cheese grater, but I don’t have one. I thought that cutting it would be quicker than a grater, anyway. I made tiny slices through the soap, stacked it in piles and cut through 4-5 slices at once to get tiny pieces. A food processor would work, too.
- If your “soap pan” water is hot, add the soap a little at a time (as you’re cutting it up), stirring to mix in (make sure it is turned low once it’s hot). I used a metal whisk and that worked well to help the soap break up. You can add more hot water if you think it needs it, it’s not exact science and a little bit of water here and there won’t hurt anything.
- When you’re done cutting the soap and adding it to the pan of water, allow it to sit there on very low heat, stirring every once in a while. You don’t have to stand over it, stirring all the time. It works better if you allow it to sit in the hot water on very low heat.
- While the soap is melting in the hot water, lay out some newspapers on the floor and then put two buckets side by side.
- Open your washing soda, borax and oxi-clean so that they’re ready when you are.
When the soap is dissolved, the fun begins! We’re making what I consider “two batches”, so that is where the two buckets come in (we’ll talk about the 3rd in a moment).
Putting it all together:
- Pour half the soap into one bucket, the other half in the other bucket. This is how we’re going to do the whole batch, half of each thing going into each bucket. I just went left to right, back and forth.
- Pour two cups boiling water into each bucket and stir into the soap mixture.
- Start adding your borax, one cup at a time, stirring well in between and adding the boiling water as needed, to be able to stir easily. The mix will thicken as you’re stirring.
- Repeat the above step, only this time with the washing soda.
- Pour about 1/4 of container of oxi-clean in each bucket, then stir.
- Make sure everything is mixed well together.
- Finish filling your buckets (almost to the top) with boiling water. If you run out of boiling water, it’s okay to use hot tap water at this point.
- Stir one last time and cover your buckets. If you don’t have lids, just use anything you have to cover them.
- Let sit for 24 hours.
- After the 24 hours, stir the detergent (it will look strange) and dump some out of each bucket into that 3rd bucket we talked about. You want to have approximately the same amount in each of the three buckets.
- Again, you’re going to fill the buckets to near the top with hot water. Allow to sit overnight.
- In the morning, stir one last time.
- Fill your empty containers, but not to the top. I would suggest filling them about 2/3’s of the way, then if you want to water down the detergent further, you can do so.
Wah-lah! You have just made your own laundry detergent! Don’t you feel good about saving all that money?
Below are the notes I told you about earlier in the post:
- Please use boiling water where called for, there is a difference. Hot tap water will not dissolve the products well and you’ll end up doing a lot more stirring than you need to.
- At my local Family Dollar store, I found some Zote soap, which I will add in next time (it smells good, too). Some of the online videos/recipes called for this, if you didn’t want to use Fels Naptha. I couldn’t find it where I bought the rest of the ingredients, so I didn’t worry about it. But now that I’ve found it, I will at least try it.
- Fels Naptha soap is a good stain remover. I may use swap out the Ivory for Zote in my recipe next time, but I will always add that soap because of it’s ability to remove stains. Some people keep it near their machines to rub on stains before washing the load of laundry.
- As to the amount of detergent I use per load, I can’t help you out there. It will depend on whether you use a front or top loading machine, etc. I just pour some in, I’d estimate that it’s around 1/3 – 1/2 cup.
- How does it clean? I’ve washed my husbands jeans after he did some roofing – the jeans were black on the front – and it came out as much as it would for store-bought detergent. I had a mis-hap while canning tomatoes and had red tomato stains all over 3 of my good, new dishtowels. Washed as usual and it all came out.
- It doesn’t produce suds – suds do not equal clean! I know we’re all used to seeing suds to judge how much something will clean, but it’s not something you’ll see with homemade detergent. It will still clean your clothes.
- SHAKE the soap before each use!
I hope you liked this tutorial (or whatever it was, lol) and that it helps you to make your own homemade laundry soap. I know that I’ll never buy the commercial stuff again, as I’m very happy with what I made. I have a shelf in my cellar full of bottles of the stuff and it feels great to have it there, as well as to be saving the money I once spent on all of it.
Since this post ran longer than I expected, I’ll talk about my experience with homemade fabric softener next time. I’m sorry I didn’t get it all in here at once. I’ll try to get that post out by tomorrow, but I’ve been sleeping a lot the past few days and not feeling well at all. I’ll try to keep up with replies as they come in, but if I don’t get right back to you, you’ll know why. I look forward to your comments/questions and hope I’ve been of some help to you by sharing my experience.
- All the Housewives are Doing It (orchestradirectorswife.wordpress.com)
- 1 year of laundry = $30 [Plus, an all natural recipe!] (casualnatural.wordpress.com)
- What Started It All (31leaves.wordpress.com)
- How to Make Laundry Soap with My CP Soap! (battysblog.com)
- Making Your Own Laundry Detergent: Adventures in Being Frugal (simplelibertyblog.wordpress.com)