Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to: make homemade laundry detergent

Today's guest post comes from Hannah's sister, Emma.  I know that this isn't necessarily "food storage", but of course being prepared covers many aspects, including having enough laundry soap to get you through at least 3 months!  And as far as saving money goes, this looks like the way to go.

Homemade laundry detergent is cheap to make (it costs about 3 cents a load) and works really well. My mom warned me that it doesn't make suds or bubbles and some people thinks that means their clothes aren't clean. I didn't think it would bother me not to see bubbles but it really did at first! I kept thinking it wasn't working. But you'll get over it after a while. I bought a years supply of everything I need for about $15.
What you need: 
1 5.5 oz. bar Fels Naptha soap
2 cups washing soda
2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
Bucket with a lid
*you can find all of these items in the laundry soap aisle*
Grate the entire bar of Fels Naptha soap. This takes a while but it's worth it when it comes time to melt it.
You'll end up with something that looks like grated cheese.Pour the washing soda and borax into your bucket.Put the grated soap into a saucepan and cover with water.On medium/low heat, stirring, until the soap is completely melted. Do not boil.
Add to bucket with powders and add hot water...
...anywhere from 3-5 gallons worth.Stir and you're done! Cover with a lid and stir again the next day. The consistency is gelatinous or "goopy"- just give it a quick stir or just don't let it bother you :). Use 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load.

I hope this is useful to all of you! I know I've loved it. It's been a long time since I've bought laundry soap. It's also hypo-allergenic and fragrance free for babies. But if you like it scented, you can add a couple of drops of your favorite scent (like lavender) at the end.

Thanks, Emma!

Have any of you ever made your own laundry soap?  How did you like it?


Jennifer Sharpe said...

I make a dry version. 1 bar fels naptha soap, 1 cup borax, and one cup arm and hammer washing sodas. I use 2 table spoons per load. Works great, except it takes forever to grate the soap. I started cutting it into small pieces and putting in my cuisinart chopper. I think it ends up costing me about $2 for 40 loads. I found all of my supplies at Kroger. It was hard to get used to the lack of bubbles for me too, but I love it.

Anonymous said...

a girl in my ward uses this since her husband has been out of work for a while. her boys' sunday shirts have a yellowish gray cast to them, really noticeable unfortunately. but you are right, it does save a lot of $$.

Anonymous said...

After a few weeks of use, my husband developed a rash wherever his clothes touched him. It promptly went away when we washed clothes in our former detergent. (He's not allergic to anything else).

I hope we can find another cheap alternative that's easy to store (you can store six year's worth of ingredients for this recipe on a small shelf).

Anonymous said...

Yes- Borax is actually pretty harsh. It made me break out in a rash too. Anyone know a way to do this without Borax?
Also- can it be used for HE front loaders? do you need to adjust the amount used?

katharine said...

i use only 1/4 c. per load and it works great. also, you can add 1/4 c. white vinegar to the rinse cycle to help rinse out any residue if you are worried about that.

katharine said...

also, you can use ivory soap instead of other bar laundry soaps.

Michelle said...

Maybe it's the proportion? I saw this recipe:


• 4 cups of water.
• 1/3 bar of cheap soap, grated.
• 1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda).
• 1/2 cup of Borax (20 Mule Team).
• 5-gallon bucket for mixing.
• 3 gallons of water.

First, mix the grated soap in a saucepan with 4 cups of water, and heat on low until the soap is completely dissolved. Add hot water/soap mixture to 3 gallons of water in the 5-gallon bucket, stir in the washing soda and Borax, and continue stirring until thickened. Let the mix sit for 24 hours, and voila! Homemade laundry detergent.

Marie said...

I've been making my own for 2 years, using the "Duggar family recipe:" http://www.duggarfamily.com/recipes.html

Similar to the one posted here, but much more diluted - and only 1/2 c borax. After the full bucket sits over night, you stir & further dilute by filling old laundry soap dispensers only half-way with the goop, and the rest of the way with hot water. My family has sensitive skin & we haven't had a problem with this. Also, I use Kirk's Castile bar soap, rather than Fels Naptha. You can use any bar soap.

Marie said...

Also, I use only 1/4 c of the heavily diluted solution in my front-loader. It's very watery, but it works!

Courtney said...

I use this recipe except I don't melt the soap. If you open the fels naptha bar up and let it sit out for a few days, it gets really dry. It's much easier to grate that way. You can use a hand grater, but I cut it into chunks and throw it into my food processor or blender until it gets powdery. Then you mix it with the borax and washing soda and you have a powder detergent. It only takes 2 tbsp a load. I really like it and haven't had any issues with allergic reactions. You can use it in HE machines too, but I don't know the ratio. I have an old school machine.

ejemory said...

I used the powdered version in my he front loading machine all the time. My youngest has very sensitive skin (part of being a red-head) and he has had no problems with it. I use vinegar in my rinse. Every couple of months I soak white blouses and white dress shirts in Oxyclean because we sweat lots at our house! Haven't noticed anything looking gray at all.

Anonymous said...

I too put vinegar in the rinse, but if you still have a gray look to the whites, try liquid bluing in the rinse. The gray will disapear. You can find Mrs. Stewart's liquid bluing in the laundry section of many stores. A bottle lasts over a year.

Becky S. said...

Here's another alternative that is very inexpensive, lasts forever, and is very mild.
Orvis soap.
You can find it at livestock supply places, as it is used to bathe them.
It was recommended to me to wash my heirloom and handmade quilts.
Everyone in our family has issues with sensitivity to soaps, lotions, etc.
I use Orvis in the laundry, and no one has had a problem.
It's very concentrated, and as such, needs to be thoroughly stirred before each use.

Anonymous said...

I use this same recipe but include a 1/2 cup of oxyclean (costs only $1 per tub at walmart or dollar store) and it helps keep things nice and bright with no dulling or greying of the whites!

Anonymous said...

this detergent is not fragrance free. i switched from fragrance/ dye free store bought and the scent from the fragrance in fels naptha is so strong I can barely stand to be in laundry room when washing. after it dries it is not so bad, but I'm thinking that store bought is going to be better for my child with sensitive skin that homemade :(