Stocking Up On Laundry Soap
If you have a large family of small children and an active hubby, stocking up on dirty laundry is a breeze (or a whirlwind). However living in a small house and on a small budget, stocking up on quality laundry soap is not quite so easy. That is until I learned to make my own!
Normal, good quality laundry soap comes in these large boxes or bottles that require a scoop full at a time and cost an arm and leg. However, with a little elbow grease I can fit about 6 months of laundry soap in the space of 4 boxes of detergent, and at a FRACTION of the cost.
With my expansive laundry experience (3-4 loads every few days) I promise this is the best laundry soap out there! It’s also safe for sensitive skin, and all natural. I love mine so much, that I considered making it for Christmas gifts this year (haha..maybe next year).
DIY Laundry Soap
It really doesn’t take that much time or energy to make laundry soap. Although your arm may get a little tired of grating, if you sit down and make 6 months at a time like I do. Just think of the calories you’re burning! You will have to decide whether you want powder or liquid soap. If you have a HE (High Efficiency) Washer you’ll have to use the liquid (or so I‘m told, see that recipe below). But the powder will work fine in any other washer.
Ingredients for DIY Laundry Soap:
All these ingredients can be found in the laundry aisle at your local grocery store. This makes one quart jar of soap. Doesn’t sound like much, but it only takes 1 TBSP per a load (2 if it’s really dirty). I’m not kidding!
// 1 bar Fels-Naptha
// 1 c washing soda
// 1 c 20 Mule Team Borax
Step 1: Grate your bar of Fels-Naptha on the smallest size grater. I use my cheese grater. It doesn’t harm your food, and washes off really well – so no worries.
Step 2: (Optional) Run your grated soap through a food processor, if you have one, to make it more of a powder. I did mine in a blender for awhile, but if your soap isn’t really dry than it forms a new bar in the bottom of your blender (not cool). I quit after that and have never had a problem with the little curly flakes.
Step 3: Use a canning funnel to pour the flakes into your jar (really you could use any container you want).
Step 4: Add 1 cup washing soda and then put on your lid and shake well to mix it and fill in the gaps between flakes. If you don’t shake it you won’t fit all your ingredients into the jar.
Step 5: Add 1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax and then put on your lid and shake well to mix it and fill in the gaps between flakes.
Step 6: If you want, you can add any of the following optional ingredients, or just add them per load as needed. This may make it more than a quart depending on how well you shake it and if you’re using wide mouth jars.
- // 1 cup OxiClean (I did some research and found that these DIY Laundry Soap ingredients actually create a chemical reaction together that results in oxygen – making OxiClean basically pointless, but some people swear it makes a difference. I personally only add a little extra to my whites when I remember to).
- // 1 c Baking soda -this actually is very helpful for removing smells and boosts cleaning power, although it’s “abrasive” on the fibers. But honestly, it can’t be anymore abrasive than an 8 year boy on his clothes!
- // Add Essential oils for smell (another one that’s a personal preference as the smell is generally “washed out” making it rather pointless).
Step 7: Seal and store! As long as they are sealed (doesn’t have to be air tight canning sealed, just a tight lid), they last really well. If left open, they will clump a bit, but that’s normal for any powder especially in high humidity.
I have found 1 quart lasts a little under 1 month for my family. It decreases with each kid and as the kids age, which is generally when your laundry piles increase as well. Oh, the joys of motherhood!
For DIY Liquid Laundry Soap for HE Washers
Now that you have assembled all the needed ingredients here is the recipe:
1/2 bar Fels-Naptha
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax powder
~You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size~
Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups of water and heat it until the soap melts. Don’t stir so much that you get bubbles. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.
Let the soap sit, covered, for about 24 hours and it will gel. The next day take a big spoon or whisk and stir it up. I usually double this recipe and make four gallons. You use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load, depending on how soiled your clothes are. I have found that this is especially good at getting out stains if you pre-treat them before they go in the washer.
This recipe is modified, to suit my family, from a post I found at The Family Homestead
Fold with Pride
To top off that feeling of relief from finally conquering the most recent landslide of laundry, consider these helpful tips. For a fabric softener use white vinegar (also works well for hard water), and it’s great for anyone with sensitive skin. These laundry soaps are also OK for use with bleach. However if your whites aren’t getting as white as they used to be, try using the low heat setting on your dryer, as the heat can grey the fabric over time.
The kicker for white whites is really right out your back door. Good old sunshine is the best bleach in the world, so hang those whites on the line for a brighter white. Fold on – and rest assured that your laundry looks great, your wallet’s a little fatter, and you have more room in your laundry cabinet for other things.
I love to hang laundry to dry on the line. I love the crisp scent when they are done and saving money by not running the dryer. Kevin’s Quality Clothes Pins are made from reclaimed wood and they are bigger than most pins. I think they are beautiful. Don’t have a clothesline? They make easy to install ones for your shower or umbrella ones that hang off a post. Check out this post – 20 Awesome Uses for Clothespins.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is homemade laundry soap considered bad?
To be fair, homemade laundry detergent does have its downsides. For a start, unlike commercial detergent, the DIY recipe isn’t nearly as complex. Instead of being considered a detergent by industry standards, it’s considered a soap. While it does indeed allow the water to permeate fabrics more easily to reduce grime, it’s not as effective and can even stagnate in certain scenarios. If you have hard water, the soap particles will inevitably interact with the hard minerals and form a lot of lather that’s difficult to wash away properly. The reaction between soap and hardness minerals can also mess with your cleaning equipment. Just as it can lead to deposits on your clothes, it can cause a film to build up in your washing machine. Eventually, this film may cause mold and mildew to grow, so use sparingly.
Is it cheaper to make your own laundry detergent?
Yes, making your own laundry detergent at home is significantly cheaper when compared to commercial detergents. If you made your own laundry detergent for an entire year and did an average of one load of laundry per day, compared to using commercial brands. If you were to take the average cost of borax, vinegar, and other elements that can be used to craft some homemade laundry detergent, you would get a price of about $0.02 per washing load. Multiply that by the number of days in a year, and the total would be $7.30. Now, if you used Tide, the cost per wash load would be $0.21 and multiplied by the days in a year, the total would be $76.54.
Can I use vinegar instead of laundry detergent?
Yes, you can use vinegar quite easily to clean your laundry. Vinegar is an excellent substitute for laundry detergent — it’s inexpensive, effective, and earth-friendly. It can be used for a range of detergent needs, including as a bleach, deodorizer, and a fabric softener.
Thanks for sharing this at MAKE YOUR OWN HERBAL Monday. Seeing the detergent in jars makes me wonder why I haven’t stocked up with washing soap as a preparedness item in our home too! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂 Please join us this week as we focus on HOME DECORATION in our herbals. This would include instructions (and recipes or household tips) on how to make potpourri, room sprays, candles, herbal wreaths, create herbal sachets, pressed flower decorations, etc…. Home decoration DIY’s (such as repurposing and recycling projects for the home) and Misc. DIY’s would also be welcome! Have a wonderful week ~ JES
Deb Leonard says
I’ve been using DIY powdered laundry soap (ivory bar soap, borax, washing soda, baking soda) for a few years in my HE washing machine with absolutely no problem. I use about a tablespoon per load.
After I’ve made a batch, I unwrap 4 bars of soap to dry out for the next batch. I grate my dried-out bars of soap in the food processor and put in a large bowl. I switch from the grater to the blade. Add one cup grated soap, 1/2 cup each washing soda & borax, and 1/4 cup baking soda. (I used to add essential oils but don’t anymore because it was spotting the clothes) I process the batch and add it to my container. I continue with the rest of the bar soap for about 4 batches. Processing the grated soap with the rest gives a nice smooth powder.
Thanks for the tips Deb! I love how this recipe is so adaptable for everyone’s situation.
The way I’m reading this, you use 2 gallons of water ultimately. Some evaporates due to the melting process, but not a huge amount. Is this correct.
Yes RuthAnn, that’s it