Save Some Green While Going Green : Homemade Laundry Soap

by Heather Smith on January 9, 2011 · 21 comments

Laundry…

Not the most popular subject in the world, but it’s a necessity in life.

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My curiosity has been peaked quite some time when it comes to homemade laundry soap. Up until recently I had been a hard core super couponer and I never really felt the need to look into it further. Combining coupons and sales I was able to fill my laundry shelf with multiple jugs of detergent for pennies on the dollar. My last score was for Seventh Generation Baby Detergent (the photo is from one trip… I ended up with four times this amount!).

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My supply is dwindling and I haven’t been keeping up with coupons/sales in several months (hmmm, any idea where I am spending my extra time now? lol). I have decided I like using eco-friendly products. Not only are there environmental benefits, but the sensitive skin issues (like itching and breaking out) have been fewer and fewer since we started using Seventh Generation. Let’s not forget it saves you money, too! There are many benefits of homemade products.

So… I was on a mission. I have seen several “recipes” for laundry soap but they were for liquid. Although I prefer liquid, I didn’t look forward to brewing and trying to find a way to store it. I actually accidentally stumbled on this recipe for powdered and I was excited! Three ingredients and the author of the post said that it took him less than 5 minutes to make…. really? Can it be that easy?

SIMPLE & NATURAL INGREDIENTS

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I found washing soda at Wal-Mart, but ended up purchasing all these ingredients at my local grocery store in the laundry aisle (I am linking to Amazon, but if you can find it locally it is SO much cheaper):

RECIPE

Each batch yields approximately 32 ounces (between 32-64 loads based on how many Tbsp used per load).

LET’S MAKE LAUNDRY SOAP!

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Start with these ingredients (I made a double batch so I used 2 bars of Fels-Naptha).

I will be using a food processor. If you do not have one a simple cheese grater will work just as well!

You will also need a spoon, a bowl and a 1 cup measuring device.

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 Shave the bar of soap.

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This is what mine looked like when finished.

If you use a cheese grater your pieces will be smaller and probably finer.

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Add 1 cup Borax.

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Add 1 cup Super Washing Soda.

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At this point I put it back into the food processor and put the chopping blade in. I let the machine whirl for a minute or two until I was happy with the size of the soap pieces. My end product looked more like what is in the left bowl.

If you used a cheese grater your pieces may be a bit more chunky like the right bowl. That is okay! Just be sure to stir thoroughly.

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Here is the consistency of my final product. 

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My double batch will last several months as you only use 1 tablespoon per load (up to 2 scoops for heavily soiled loads)

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I chose to re-purpose an older container I had around the house. A single load will yield approximately 32 ounces and you can put that in a yogurt container etc. 

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I have enough Washing Soda and Borax left to make another double batch. Just think… around $10 and I have enough laundry soap for 256 loads… that’s months on end!

SOME INFO ON High Efficiency (HE) Front-Load Washers

This laundry soap is perfect to use in your HE Front-Load washers. No need for a “special soap”. Why? HE machines require low sudsing detergent because they use less water. This laundry soap is perfect for HE machines because the homemade detergent in this recipe is VERY low suds. Just make sure you use the recommended amount of detergent.

Don’t get sucked in. The HE label is just another way for the industry to trick us into buying “special soap” and to suck more money out of the consumers.

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Edited to answer a few questions!

I’ve been asked my thoughts on this laundry soap as far as cleaning ability etc. I have been using it a week now. I adore the smell of the Fels-Naptha as it spreads down the hallway when the container is opened. You can smell it during the first part of the wash cycle, but by the end the smell has gone. The end product (dry clothes) do not have a scent.

Someone asked about adding essential oil to the laundry water to have scented clothes. I have not done this, but I don’t see how a drop or two would hurt?

I am still using scented Snuggle in the dryer for the “smell”. That being said… when that (huge) supply runs out I will probably turn to a more natural method.

READER TIPS:

* I have read that this particular laundry soap will not fade your clothes as quickly as store bought. A reader did mention that her clothes seemed a little dingy after several washings. Her tip is to add 1/2 cup white vinegar when you would normally add fabric softener. It helps keep the dingies away AND she mentioned that it helped soften the clothes.

Recipe was taken from  DIYNatural.com

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Zombie Mom January 9, 2011 at 11:00 AM

This was great info thanks! Have you tried it yet? How well does it clean the clothes? I made homemade dishwasher detergent but it doesn’t clean the dishes all that well. I’ll be searching for a new recipe for that one :) Sometimes you have to tinker with the ingredients…

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2 Heather January 9, 2011 at 4:03 PM

I’ve used it for about a week and I really like it! The Fels Naptha has a nice smell to it (can smell it down the hall when someone puts it in the washer) but the end product (dry clothes) really have no smell. You can either use a perfumed fabric softener to get that “smell” or maybe add a drop of essential oil to the wash water (haven’t tried that though).

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3 Heather Link January 9, 2011 at 11:01 AM

I love this! I am going to give it a whirl next week, I as well have been slacking on my couponing and my stock pile of laundry soap is about finished. Do you think adding a drop or 2 of essential oils to it a smell would mess up the chemistry? We don’t have sensitive skin issues here (thank god) and like a light scent to our clothes.

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4 Heather January 9, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Hi Heather! I would think that a drop or two into the laundry water wouldn’t mess with it, but I haven’t tried. I mentioned above… the Fels Naptha has a perfume smell to it but you can’t smell it on the dry clothes. I still have a ton of Snuggle so I use that in the dryer to get “smelly” clothes.

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5 Lauren January 9, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Thank you for sharing this! When I first started reading this post, I assumed that you were going to use all the ingredients to make one batch. But because I would rather use something that works without all the other stuff they add to laundry products, I continued reading your post. So how happy and pleased was I when I realized just how economical this is? My goodness! This is the best recipe for homemade laundry detergent that I’ve come across and I intend to make my own. My family has sensitive skin and all the stuff they add is so drying to the skin. I would love to repost this on my my blog but I’m not sure how to. Thumbs up to you!

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6 Heather January 9, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Hi Lauren! Glad you liked it! I was so very pleased when I found the recipe, too. If you email me at ourkidsmom@gmail.com I can send you the html code if you will post it as a guest post. Just a thought! ;)

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7 Nicole B January 9, 2011 at 12:55 PM

thanks for posting this. I hope to hear a follow up on how you like using it (how well it gets out stains, etc.). I have been wanting to try to make my own laundry soap for awhile but haven’t been brave enough. I just might have to to it with this recipe, seems pretty simple. Thank you!

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8 Heather January 9, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Hi Nicole! I’ve used it for about a week now. I love the smell of the Fels-Naptha as it fills the air when the container is opened :O). By the end of the wash cycle I can’t smell anything though and there isn’t a scent on the dried clothes. As far as how it cleans, I think it’s doing a pretty good job! On tough stains I always use the original Dawn (blue) found at Walmart for $1 a container. I squirt that on, scrub for a second and toss it in. Dawn works great on all “natural” stains. I figured it was hardly any money out to try a recipe that could possibly save us a LOT of money! Let me know how it works for you!

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9 Alicia C. January 9, 2011 at 2:46 PM

I have made laundry soap for over a year using a similar recipe. I use Ivory soap because it’s just what I could find when I was at the store. I make liquid soap by adding boiling water to the dry ingredients once they’re mixed. This way I can add a little lavender oil (or whatever I’m in the mood for.) When I first started using the soap, I noticed my clothes got a little dingy after 6 or so washes. I fixed it by adding 1/2 c. white vinegar when you would normally addf abric softner. It makes the clothes soft, too!
*If you do end up making a liquid version, I will tell you that it will look like it came out wrong. It’ll be lumpy. When you let it sit for a while, it tends to separate, so you’ll need to keep it in a container that you can give a few good shakes to before using.

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10 Heather January 9, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Hi Alicia! Thanks for the vinegar tip! I have read that this soap won’t fade your clothes as badly as store bought detergent. What are your thoughts on that?

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11 Randi January 9, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Before I started couponing I made our laundry soap. It was more out of need for us, my husband has very, very sensitive skin. I used Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap instead of the Fels. I did try the Fels, and it worked well, I just needed no scent.
We are a family of 7, I made the liquid version of this (added boiling water to the dry mix, sometimes I added essential oils), I used a 5 gallon bucket and an old raquetball racket to stir it. I waited over night, stirred again and scooped into old liquid laundry containers. Give a little shake and pour. Worked like a charm. With 5 kids I see TONS of stains and this almost always worked. I used it to pretreat stains as well, just dumping some on the shirt before the wash.
The vinegar helps a ton, I put mine in a Downy ball since I have a top loader. It also helps to strip the old laundry detergent build up out of the clothes.
Seeing all your savings reminds me of why I used to make my own. Time to start grabbing those ingredients again!

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12 Kacie Lewis January 9, 2011 at 5:34 PM

I use the same products to make our laundry soap only I boil it with 4 cups water and make 5 gals of liquid detergent! It equals to 10 gals because it is double strength but it takes FOREVER to get the grated soap to dissolve! I add essential oils in my laundry soap.. about 15 drops per 2 gallons! It smells great and I love that I don’t pay $10 every other week for laundry soap anymore! One batch usually lasts us about 2 months! So 4soap bars at about $2 plus washing soda and borax (each box makes 4 batches) for a little over $7 is saving us around $200 a year! I will have to try your recipe, though! It looks much easier and stores more coveniently! Thanks!

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13 Sarah January 10, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Wow what a great idea!! Also, I think your blog is awesome and I awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award. Check it out!

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14 Stacy January 11, 2011 at 2:38 PM

I have been making my own laundry soap on and off for abot a year. I have heard that ouwant to watch using pdr becuase it can be hrd on your pipes have had no problem wihit but I have a friend who had to tea out all ter laundry drain becaueit was not draining an t turned out to be clogged with the laundry soap she had been making. I ususally us lquid an it fesn’t take much time either and I just store it in my old laundry containers or large juice containers to store it in. My favorite thingabout it is that your clothes don’t sour. They can sit in the washer and not sour and they can sit on the shelf or in a packer til next season and they still smell fresh!

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15 Dana R January 11, 2011 at 8:49 PM

Thank you for the recipe! I will be giving it a try and let you know how it goes :)

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16 Heather January 12, 2011 at 10:45 PM

You’re welcome! We’ve been using it for a week now and love it so far! I did go buy some white vinegar to put in the fabric softener section to avoid the dingies… but I love the smell it puts off before the rinse.

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17 Janet January 20, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Hello! I just made my soap yesterday. I do the same ingredients but I do the cook on the stove method for a gel type soap. It saves me tons of money and I do love the way it cleans. As far as fabric softener: I take a normal (generic) fabric softener, pour about 2 1/2 inches into the bottom of an empty softener bottle, and add white vinegar in until full. I use a normal amount (cap) for measuring. This gives me the smell I like but keeps it natural with the vinegar. It also saves me a lot of money. One fabric softener bottle can be used about 4x.

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18 Tanya August 9, 2012 at 9:20 AM

I use this recipe, but I also add in a 1/2 cup of oxygen bleach (here in Australia, it’s Napisan or similar). I’ve been using it for around 6 months now, and none of our clothes are smelly, dingy or otherwise, unless I have to rely on the dryer and not sunlight (I’m relying on the dryer at the moment, what with the snow).
I also use essential oil in it – a few teaspoons – and mix it very well. It doesn’t clump at all, and adds just a subtle scent since I use a scent free soap.

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19 Gina Brickell December 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Wow!! I didn’t know you could make your own laundry detergent, but guess it’s possible!! I have the front loading HE washer and think this would be a great alternative. I spend WAY too much money on laundry detergent. Seems like we go through laundry almost as if we had 15 people in the house instead of just 4!! It’s crazy and I bet this could save me a ton!!!

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20 terri tillman February 18, 2013 at 5:17 PM

i have been using homemade ‘liquid’ laundry soap for a few months now. i like that it is so darn cheap and easy to make. i made a batch that i turned into 10 gallons of soap. i like the way it has no smell. i dont like my clothes smelling like over perfumed laundry soap. i still use dryer sheets too but i dont like to. i do only use a half a sheet per load. i dont use them because of the smell but for the static. i have read that using vinegar in the rinse cycle will help with the static but i cant seem to ever remember to catch the washer when it is in rinse cycle. now that i know that vinegar helps with the ‘dingies’ i may have to get better at putting it in.

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