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Homemade Laundry Soap – easy!!

teacuppamela.png For several months I have been using ‘home-made’ laundry soap and have been very pleased with the results! In addition to the ease of making the soap, the dollar savings has been a great help to me/my family! This may sound terrible, but I’ve never attempted to be very thrifty in the laundry room. As a front-loader user and a Tide–Clorox–Spray’nWash–Oxi-Clean-Downey girl and mom of many, I’ve obviously bought large, washed large and $pent large. Now… after several months of still washing large but not spending large, it’d be pretty tough to go and spend $27. on a box of Tide and $12.00 on a bottle of Downey. Now, I’m spending less than 5 dollars for about 100 loads of wash. I still use hot-hot water & double rinse for white clothes and towels.

I still use the Spray ‘n Wash occasionally and the Oxi Clean, too, on occasion, but for the most part I am using only the home-made soap and Vinegar in the rinse dispenser for rinse aid and softening the fabric. I’m going to try a mix of hydrogen peroxide/lemon juice —or— when I can order some, I’d like to try sodium perborate for whitening the clothes w/o using Clorox bleach.

So, here’s a way of making home made laundry soap. And… by the way, I used Fels Naptha for the first 5 gallon pail, and I used lavender goat-milk soap the last time. I think I prefer the lavender soap and so I ordered lavender bar soap from Azure Standard to use in making my next bucketful of laundry-soap next week. Okay, so I started with these: an empty 5 gallon bucket, water, bar soap, washing soda & borax. I got the soap, washing soda and borax at Fred Meyer (you can find these in most grocery store’s laundry products department).

First, I grated a bar of Fels Naptha soap and covered that grated bar with water in a medium sauce pot – on low – on the stove. I stirred it until it completely melted.

soap making

Here’s what the grated soap looks like in the pan — and this is what is then covered with 4-6 cups of hot water and stirred until completely dissolved.

soap making - grated soap

Then I filled my bucket one fourth full of hot-hot water and 2 cups of Borax and 2 Cups of Washing Soda

soap making

… and then I whisked and whisked and whisked until the borax and soda were completely dissolved.

soap making whisking

…and when then I switched to my large-long handled potato masher and used that to incorporate the liquefied Fels Naptha or other bar of soap. It becomes quite gelatinous and thick after blending. I moved the half full bucket to our laundry area and then I filled it the rest of the way with hot water and continued to blend well.

I then snapped on a Gamma Seal lid – a very cool product – especially if you have arthritis and prying off bucket lids is hard. I have slowly switched all of our former lids to Gamma Seal lids (fits most 3.5-7 gallon buckets). The seems-permanent ‘ring’ is snapped on the bucket and the center of the lid spins off to open and on to tightly close the bucket. I use buckets for grains, cereals, honey, raw sugar, granola… and now, soap!

When my soap is finished, I fill a small 1 gallon rubbermaid bucket that sits on my washing machine. And the rest of the soap remains in the 5 gallon bucket for refills. I use about one HALF cup per load – and less than that on lightly soiled clothes – so, essentially there are 160 portions in a 5 gallon bucket. [I had the math wrong here originally — oops]

My 5-gallon bucket is now empty – ready for the next soap making in a few days. One more note… I add a dropper full of Essential Oil (honeysuckle, orange, lavender mixed in a little bottle) to each load’s rinse water – yep, right into the vinegar in the “fabric softener” dispenser.

And… voilà nice clean, sweet smelling clothes! Happy washing!!

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  • Rebecca

    Also, my soap didn’t gel, and it separates.

  • Rebecca

    I made some soap and used it on a warm white load yesterday! So exciting! However, I am terrified of using it on a load of black or dark laundry. I have always used woolite and cold water for my darks and delicates. I baby my clothes, but they last a long time! I would love to switch to the homemade detergent (and so would my mother), but neither of us wants to sacrifice a load of laundry to try it out. Also, the long term effects would not be readily apparent after one or two washings. I have spent HOURS over the course of many months trying to find info on homemade detergent effects on delicate dark laundry, with no avail. If anyone has washed a black, silk sweater in this detergent with good results, (no fading or wear of fabric) please let me know! If there is another formula for delicates that would be great too! Thanks!

  • Melodie —
    No, there aren’t all that many suds – but I am finding that it’s all working pretty nicely. I have a Maytag Neptune frontloader and run about 4-5 loads a day and the clothes seem to be coming out nice and clean. One thing I am having less success with is *muddy*muddy* clothes — so I am using spray ‘n wash first on these.

    Johnye ———– YES — I have been making the soap with the DrBronner’s Lavender soap.

    http://www.drbronner.com/DBMS/BAR.htm

    I am amazed at how this is all very satisfactory as far as cleaning and rinsing goes. So, I will be staying with this blend: The Washing Soda, Borax and Lavender Soap. I used the liquid for two buckets and grated bar for the bucket I made last night. I’ve probably been using 3/4 Cup per load. It’s been fine.

    blessings, pamela

  • Johnye

    Hi, I’m new to your site and was wondering if you did make the subsequent batches of laundry soap from the lavender soap, and if so, are you satisfied with that, or did you go back to the fels naptha? I had also seen suggestions of “Zote” for the soap base.

  • Pamela, Does this detergent not suds? I made it to the instuctions you gave, but I have no suds.
    Melodie

  • Carrie – I think the soap lasts for about 160 loads. So.. if you do 4 loads a day at 1/2 cup per load 5 days a week, you’ll have 2 months’ worth. That’s a pretty good bargain. Now… I won’t say that this is as good as Tide – I’m thinking of adding colour-safe bleach to my next bucket.

    But… it’s working pretty well.

    It sure was good to see you tonight! You’re a blessing to me!

  • Pamela,
    Thanks for this…I am almost out of my laundry soap and wanted to make my own….God’s providential timing…

    Can’t wait to try it…I will see if I can find a yummy looking soap…if not, I will look for one on my next Azure order!
    How long does a 5 gallon pail last you…I may have missed that in the post, so please forgive me if you wrote that…
    Love,
    C~

  • Thank you, Lanita! You’re very kind.

    Yes! Arthritis makes opening lids and jars very, very difficult! I love the simplicity of opening the buckets with the gamma seal lids – the thickness of the indented lid makes it very easy! They are pricey though… so that’s why I suggest replacing lids or buying buckets and lids a few at a time. You’re using them for the same things we do.
    God bless you & your family!! —ps

    All: Looking for buckets?? Restaurants and Bakeries are a great source for buckets — just ask if they might save and give you some of their plastic buckets – then order gamma-seal lids. Remember to specify the *colour* you want – otherwise you might end up with a colour you dislike for your use.

    ——-pamela

  • Pamela,
    I too have been making the homemade laundry soap since about the first of the year. I will have to try the honeysuckle, orange, lavender mix. I have tried the lavender and vanilla. I wouldn’t go back to the store bought soaps for anything. I also agree with the gamma lids, my wonderful DH told me to replace the other lids with the gammas. I am just beginning to get a little arthritis in my hands and am unable to open the other lids, so I was having my DD’s pry them open for me when we had to fill up our grain or bean buckets.

    PS I am glad you are back to writing. I have really missed your words of wisdom.

    Love,
    Lanita

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