Friday, September 18, 2009

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

I'm trying out some homemade laundry soap. Laundry soap is one of the items I was afraid I'd run out of on the 2 week no shopping experiment, so I thought it would be nice to be able to stock ingredients and make me some laundry soap whenever I needed it. Turns out it takes up a lot less space than standard laundry detergent, which is a bonus in our little house.

Here's the recipe:

1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap grated (approx. 1 Cup grated soap)
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

You might have to hunt for these ingredients, but they should be on the laundry aisle of your supermarket. Washing Soda is not the same as baking soda. Fels Naptha is a bar soap, but it's made for laundry. And borax is a laundry "booster", so even though you think they might be elsewhere in the store, they really should be on the laundry aisle. Check near the top or bottom shelves, and if all else fails, call your friend who bought the same stuff a while back at the same store. Okay, if you don't have a friend like that, just ask someone at the store. Here's what the ingredients look like so you kind of know what you're looking for. This is actually an older box of borax, the new box was shorter and fatter but with the same design.
I tripled the recipe. Why not just grate the whole bar of soap? And we do a lot of laundry anyway.

You could grate your soap in your food processor if you want--I just used a hand grater on the small side since I still have the scary dangerous food processor.

After you've got the soap grated (it should come to about 1 cup of grated soap per 1/3 bar of soap, so 3 cups for the whole bar), add your Washing Soda and Borax and mix it together. The whole triple recipe fit in a largish cheapo gladware-type container.

Now, here's the kicker. You only need to use 1-2 tablespoons of the soap per load. ?????? says me. Is that for real? Yep. We have super hard water here, so I've been using an old "crystal light" style cup from the 2 qt. mixes that holds about 2 tablespoons as my scoop. The stuff doesn't suds up in the machine, but the suds aren't what clean your clothes. It is not miracle laundry soap--if I don't pretreat the koolaid, grass, etc. it won't wash out--just like any other detergent. But it has worked well at general cleaning of the clothes. We have a bed wetter and it does get the pee smell out of the sheets and jammies we're always washing, so I know stuff is getting clean with it. The soap is pretty much unscented, so if you want your laundry to "smell," you can mix some regular powdered laundry detergent in to get the scent you like, or use dryer sheets.

It took all of about 10 minutes to mix it all up, it's seriously cheap compared to regular detergent, and it's EASY to store a bunch since you use so little when you wash. Can't beat that.


Chris W said...

ZOAT bar soap has a bit nicer scent than the FELS.To me, FELS has a kind-of medicinal smell. When we make the same stuff to use as a liquid, we mix 50/50 FELS and ZOAT. It cleans great and has a bit more pleasant scent.

matthiasj said...

Great post. You could probably add some scents (lavender) to make it smell good. How much did it cost you?

Kentucky Preppers Network

SciFiChick said...

I made my first batch of laundry soap about two months ago. I chose to do liquid as we only run cold water to the washer. Powder doesn't work so well in my machine.
I couldn't find any of the mentioned soaps in my lil town. I read somewhere that any bar soap could work...I used Ivory! I could be a commercial for DIY Laundry Soap! It does the job its supposed to do. For about a ten dollar bill I have enough soap to make countless 5 gallon buckets of liquid soap.
The savings are huge!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the picture of what everything looks like. That made it easy to find.

Leasmom said...

I need to make this soon. Thanks.

Angela said...

chris--thanks for the info on the soap! Fels Naptha does have a distinctive smell . . .

Matthiasj--Essential oils would probably work well! The bar of soap was 1.59, Washing soda 3.19/box, borax 4.59/box (and I live in expensiveville, so you may get better prices). I only used maybe a quarter of either boxed item, so the total cost for this batch of soap is about 3.50-4.00. I wish I had counted the number of loads I got from the beginning so I could accurately figure price per load . . . I'll take better notes next round!

SciFiChick--I looked at the liquid, but I'm too lazy (or maybe busy) to try it right now, and it does take up more space which is at a premium in our house, but good to know you can use good ol' ivory also! ;)

anon--glad to help! Those laundry aisles are confusing enough already!

Leasmom--give it a try! You might like it. :)

Yennigirl said...

I just found your blog and this is almost the soap I use. I use 2 bars of Fels Naptha, 1 bar ivory, 3 cups Washing Soda and 2 cups OxyClean. It makes enough for a few months. I also use double the amount - about a 1/4 cup since my kids get dirty so much. I think the Ivory gets out grease better. But yes, you still have to pretreat just like any other soap.

Bridget said...

I use a bar of sunlight soap since it's locally available. It imparts only a faint lemony scent, and doesn't cause my skin to react like scented laundry soaps do. I like making the liquid version of the soap. It gels when it sits on the shelf so I stir it up just before use since I use cold water for all my washing. Definitely pre-treat any stains, like grass or grease or ink/paints before washing. I will sometimes put vinegar into the wash too if something is pretty stinky.