Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

A few months ago I found myself in an in depth conversation with my best friend about laundry of all things, and was surprised to hear that she makes her own laundry detergent.  This tidbit of information intrigued me and after asking a few questions and looking it up online I was convinced it was worth a try.  You see, there are some things in life I hate buying..... laundry detergent is near the top of that list.  For a while I was buying the "cheap" stuff but it turns out that sometimes you actually get what you pay for and after a few months of sending my husband to work in shirts that looked better before I washed them, I caved and moved my game up a level buying a nicer brand.  This did the trick as far as our clothes were concerned but our wallet was another story.

There are two really great advantages to making your own laundry soap.  The first advantage is that the stuff actually works.  It gets the clothes just as clean as the leading detergents.  The second advantage is the savings.  The batch makes enough soap to complete 640 loads if you have a front loader that uses less soap, or 320 loads if you have a regular old machine like mine.  That means based on your machine, each load of laundry is either 1 cent or 3 cents a load!!!  (plus energy costs of course but I haven't found a way around that yet short of a stream and rock)  The most exciting part is you do not use all of the ingredients in one batch so the next time you need to mix up a new batch you will only spend about $1 on a bar of soap!   Math has never been my strong suite so I am not even going to attempt to calculate what percentage of a penny per load it will be on batch number two!  So whether you are convinced or nearly curious here are my step by step instructions on my frugal find:

Step 1:  You will need Borax, Washing Soda, a bar of Fels-Naptha, and a 5 gallon pail with a lid.  I found the 3 ingredients shown above at Walmart in the laundry aisle. (about $8 total)  Festival foods also carries these products. (about $9 total)  If you still can't find them check your local grocery store..  If you don't already own a 5 gallon pail, any hardware store will sell them.  (Found mine at Menards for just under $4)

Step 2:  Using a cheese grater, grate your bar of Fels-Neptha.  I used an electric grater but a hand held grater would work as well.

Step 3:  Combine 4 cups of warm water and your grated soap and melt over medium low heat.  Stir constantly about 10 minutes or  until soap is completely dissolved. 

Step 4:  Fill half of your bucket with warm water, stir in soap mixture, fill remaining bucket with water.  Stir until well mixed.   Add 1 cup of the baking soda and 1/2 cup of borax.  Mix.  Put cover on and let it sit overnight.
Step 5:  Your mixture will turn into gel overnight.  Stir breaking up gel until mostly smooth.  I ended up using my hands but another smart blogger recommended using a drill attachment made to stir paint.  Moral of the story, get creative. This was the "hardest" part of the process in my opinion.

Step 6:  Distribute soap.  Use old containers to distribute laundry soap.  Pour in 1/2 laundry soap, 1/2 added water.  Shake well.  If you don't have enough old containers milk jugs work well too.  I only had 2 on hand so I left the laundry soap in the pail and will make 2 at a time as needed. 
Step 7:  Add 1/4 cup of laundry soap in your high efficiency washer, or 1/2 cup in a regular machine.  Please note it will be noticeably thinner than the stuff you purchase in the store.  To test if this really works I stained 2 shirts with chocolate sauce and ketchup.
Step 8:  Clean clothes!  Can you tell which shirt I washed in name brand detergent vs. the homemade stuff???... (Disclaimer: I did not use any type of stain treatment on either shirt so obviously the stain did not come out of either shirt)  The winner is the shirt on the left washed in the homemade laundry soap.  I was happy.  Instructions adapted from I Can Teach My Child

**** UPDATE MARCH 2014:  Just ran out of my original batch of Homemade Laundry Soap.  I have used it consistently for the past 2 years and have loved it!  Did you catch the 2 year part!?!  It has lasted that long!!!   Mixed up a new batch and all I had to purchase again was the FELS-NAPTHA bar and my new batch turned out great!


  1. This was awesome! So awesome in fact that I want to give you a blog award! :) Check out my blog for details! Keep up the great frugal finding!

  2. It's one of the greatest tips for making home made laundry detergent.