Tuesday, February 24, 2009

make your own laundry soap

We're not just about cutesy crafts around here--we love making practical things, too. Making your own laundry soap is economical and earth-friendly (recycle your old laundry soap containers or milk jugs). And it's pretty darn easy!

We tried a couple different recipes and came up with our own version of liquid laundry soap. It works out to be about $2.50 (or less) for 5 gallons of detergent. Pretty sweet, eh?

Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe

What you'll need:

*Box of Borax Natural Laundry Boost (this can be found in the laundry soap aisle)
*Box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (baking soda will NOT work as a substitute)
*1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap, a stain removing laundry soap (ANY bar of soap like Ivory, Dove, et. will work, but we like the extra stain-fighting in this one)
*Scented oil of your choice (optional)
*Five gallon bucket
*Empty laundry detergent bottles or milk jugs

Instructions for 5-gallons of liquid detergent:

1. Grate your bar of soap with a cheese grater. Careful, the Fels-Naptha soap really looks like cheddar cheese--kids will want to eat it!


2. Put the grated soap in a sauce pan with 6 cups water. Heat soap and water until the soap melts.


3. Add 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup Borax and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.


4. Pour 1 gallon hot water into your 5-gallon bucket. Add your soap mixture and stir well. Add about 3 1/2 more gallons of hot water to the bucket and stir again. Add your scented oil now if you choose to. We used about 2 tsp. honeysuckle essential oil. Just add enough until it smells good to you.


5. Pour the liquid mixture into your empty bottles (you might want to try a funnel). Or, leave it in the 5-gallon bucket--it will just be a little more difficult to use. Let the mixture sit for about 24 hours. It will thicken almost to a gel.


6. Shake your bottle well before each use. Use 1/2 cup of detergent for large loads.

The Arm & Hammer Washing Soda was about $3 to $4, and the Borax about the same price. The Fels-Naptha bar ran us about $1.25. You will get about four 5-gallon buckets of laundry detergent from one box of each. With tax, we figure that works out to be about $2.50 for 5 gallons. Sweet! That could cover about 160 loads of wash! You can't get a better deal than that.

So you've just saved a ton on laundry detergent. How about an easy way to save on dryer sheets? Good Mama has an easy tutorial to make felted wool dryer balls that will take care of static cling in the dryer. Check out the ones we made. They were easy and fun--a great project for older kids to help out with! Now go tackle that mountain of laundry that's been waiting while you were making one of our "cutesy" crafts!

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47 Comments

47 Responses to “make your own laundry soap”

Laura said...

I am going to make my own laundry soap!! I can not believe how silly and excited this post just made me. :)Thanks!!

courtneyb said...

i'm gonna try that, so cool!

Annchan said...

Thanks for the post. I want to add something though, I have been making laundry soap for a little while but have been making the dry kind. Use the same ingredients but no water and put it all the the food processor. This makes the powder more fine and can just be added to the wash as-is. for those that don't want to bother with the boiling

Chelsea said...

thanks for the awesome information! question: will the pan you boil/melt everything in need to be a junk pan? meaning, will it ruin my good pans?

Lisita said...

This is seriously brillant! I never thought of every trying to make my own laundry soap and replacing dryer sheets. Thanks Little Birdies!

Little Birdie Secrets said...

Thanks Annchan for the tip. Yes, we tried the dry version too and liked it. It is a good alternative to all the boiling, etc. and easy to do.
Chelsea, we did not use our nice pots for this. I had to clean it a couple of times until I felt it was okay, but it really was only water and soap. Just in case, it is a good idea to save your nice pots for food and if you have one you don't mind messing up you can use that one. That's what we recommend :)

Jamie said...

Yay! A liquid detergent recipe! I have heard recipes for dry laundry soap but have always been partial to liquid so I have kept on buying expensive "green" brands. I can't wait to try this! I have made wool dryer balls and LOVE them!

Sara said...

I wish I could do this, but we bought a new fancy washer that has to have the HE kind.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Love this idea! Any idea if it is compatable with HE front loader washing machines?
Thanks!
Alyshia

Karli said...

I use your tips. A.L.O.T!!! And this one will be no different! Thanks so much.

pink green & southern said...

Do you think this is okay to use in a front loader in place of HE detergent?

Little Birdie Secrets said...

I am not sure about HE washers or front loaders. Tipnut.com has some information that you may find useful. Anyone else out there know? I would be careful about what you use because using detergent other than what is approved by your machine's manufacturer may void the warranty.
Some other things to know are that this detergent does not make a lot of suds. This is probably because the additives that cause lots of sudsing are not in it. It really does work and we use it on our clothes. Also, the laundry detergent will be a little gloopy/gel like and not smooth like commercial laundry detergent. That is okay and it will still work. If the consistency bothers you then you can just add more hot water when you make your batch.

lorchick said...

I'm really going to have to try this. I can only use fragrace-free soap because my mom has MCSD (multiple chemical sensitivity disorder) in a deathly, epipen-toting sort of way. This is waaaay less expensive than whatever I've been doing! I linked to this post from my blog. (like I do with every other post you girls do LOL)

SUGAMAMA'S CAFE' said...

I have not found such a step by step anywhere on line.. Thanks so much perfect!

The Cookie Girl said...

This sounds so fun! It might even make me enjoy doing laundry :)

Rose said...

Great tutorial. The pictures sure help. I have posted a link to it on my blog. Blessings!

shawna said...

I tried making my own dry laundry detergent but made the mistake of using baking soda instead of washing soda and ivory soap instead of castile soap and the color of my clothes seemed to have faded and my whites turned grey. Yikes! I think I will try again and hopefully have better luck.

michellejohnnie said...

Wow! Thanks! As I look for ways to cut cost, you post this and help me find one answer!

Andrea said...

I am using my first batch of homemade laundry soap right now! I learned about this a few weeks ago and used the powder recipe. The original instructions I used suggest you only need 1 Tbs for a small/medium load and 2 Tbs for a large load. Super economical! Somewhere in my searches I remember reading that people used this dry recipe in their front loaders, stating it works because of the fact it is a SOAP and not a detergent- which explain the lack of suds and the reason it should be safe in those machines. Hope this helps! Happy laundry everyone.

Angie said...

I'm gonna make my own soon too, but I use powdered soap... wish me luck :)

The Eadle Family said...

Wow, how cool is that?!?! I will have to try this someday!

Stacey said...

Love your blog, you have some wonderful ideas!

Stacey said...

Do you know what the actual amount of bar soap was used? I bought a different brand, which was cheaper, but the bar is 14.1 oz. The bar you used looks smaller. What was the amount of grated soap? So I can measure that way, maybe? Thanks!!

Little Birdie Secrets said...

The bar of Fels-Naptha was 5 1/2 oz. So you could try using about half of your bar for the same result.

Also, you can easily just mix the dry ingredients in this recipe and use 1-2 Tbsp. per load like someone mentioned. We just liked the liquid version better because the dry detergent didn't dissolve well in cold water. I didn't like having bits of soap on my clothing when it came out of the wash!

Stacy (S.E.W.Butterfly) said...

Thanks for the post. I will be making my own soon. Family of five - needs lots of laundry soap. Maybe add a fragrance.

Molly said...

Fantastic!

That Borax makes me think of my great aunt - she always had that in her laundry room!

Sarah said...

I had no idea you could make your own laundry soap for SO cheap! Great tutorial! Thanks!

Trying Traditional said...

I make a similar recipe but leave it dry as I have always used a powder detergent. With it being dry, I can tuck some sprigs of lavender down in it to scent it.

Also, you can use vinegar in your rinse cycle to help as a fabric softener/static preventer.

Annchan said...

http://frugalhacks.com/forum/money-saving-hacks-1/laundry-cents-1/
This forum mentions that it works in the front loading HE washers

Marcia said...

We have been using homemade detergent for about a year now. Love it! To make it easier to grate my soap, we put it in the freezer (especially if using Zote) and it grates finer...very nice especially if you are making the powder deteregent. We used the liquid for awhile, and now we are using powder...I like it better.

-Sydney- said...

When we bought our front loaders the guy gave us the whole spiel about HE soaps and why they are so important--he specifically mentioned that the sudsing additives in normal soap are what cause the problems with front loaders. Seems like if you don't have those additives it should be okay? But I want someone else to try it first and let me know ;)

Erin Cookmeyer said...

I want to make my own laundry soap, but I can't find all of the ingredients. I have only been able to find the borax. Can you tell me where you found all of your items? Thank you!

Abbie said...

Does it get too thick to pour out of a washed milk gallon container?

I found all the ingredients at my (really) small town grocery store. But Walmart didn't have them.

I like fragrance-free for all my laundry stuff - so does hubby - so we're excited about this!

msmuddy said...

or you could clean your clothes with NO detergent - try the BioWashball.

It leaves no residue on your clothes, your skin, the ecosystem.

Clothes come out clean, soft & smelling naturally clean - no detergent smell, or strong essential oil smell.

It costs $34 and lasts for 3 years or 1000 loads!!!! talk about saving money while going green....

Abbie said...

Made it. Using it. LOVE IT! Even my sceptic hubby is liking it just fin!

Anonymous said...

I've used the powder version of this (same ingredients, minus the water) for about a year now. I like it fine but it doesn't clean my messy kiddos clothes very well and leaves weird dark spots (almost like greasy italian dressing) on the colored clothes. We have hard water so that may be why. I've been wanting to try the liquid version and see if this still happens. Maybe if I try vinegar in the rinse cycle it will help too.

Anonymous said...

I have been making my own clothes soap for six months. Each batch turns out different, because of the different type of bar soap I find on sale. But, I just discovered, that the Washing Soda I was using, was really baking soda. The large size box of baking soda was in the laundry section at WalMart. I can not find washing soda where I live. Our clothes are coming out clean and look nice, my husband is a mechanic and wears coveralls and it gets all that grease out. So, I am not complaining, but I will still be looking for washing soda.

Chosen Mom said...

Is this "recipe" good for sensitive skin? My daughter has eczema and so we avoid fragrances and the like.

Anonymous said...

The homemade soap is totally awesome in a front loading washer!! it produces low bubbles and that's why those fancy washers need the "special soap".
we are going on year number 2 with homemade soap!!
It worked great on cloth diapers as well!

Anonymous said...

Yes the homemade works great in front loaders! Its the excess bubbles that the front loaders cannot handle, the homemade stuff is low bubbling and in 34 months has not effected out front loading he washer!!

Anonymous said...

I've been using home-made laundry soap for my large family for about a year now and love it. Seems to be much easier on sensitive skin than most detergents, yet cleans effectively. We can't get Fels-Naptha in Canada, but Sunlight bar soap works just as well.

Teresa McFayden said...

I made some this summer and thought it was great at first. But I don't think it cleans very well when it comes to light colors/whites, etc. I'm going back to Tide with Bleach!

Anonymous said...

I made some this Summer and liked it a lot at first. But our whites and lights are starting to look more gray...so I switched back to Tide with Bleach!
Teresa McFayden
http://teresamcfayden.typepad.com

mill04 said...

I don't remember how I stumbled upon your website but I am LOVING IT!!!! AND I am going to make my first batch of laundry soap next week and I am so excited LOL....it's funny how we get excited over making things 'green' if its better for my children i am all for it!!! thank you thank you !

laura said...

hi,

i finally got around to making my own laundry yesterday but today the mixture is still very much a liquid - it doesn't look like a gel mixture and doesn't appear to have thickened up at all.

I've just realised that I only used 3 1/2 oz of soap - I'm in the UK so I used Lava soap as that was recommended as an alternative to Fels.

Have I ruined the liquid by not using enough soap? Should I still try it out? Can I thicken it up or is it too late now?

Any help appreciated,
Laura

Jenna said...

I just made this!! I am so excited to save some money! I have a question. 1/2 a cup for each load.. is that for top load or front load? How much do I use for a front load machine?? Thanks so much!!!

Mary Lockwood said...

I'm on my third batch of this soap and absolutely love it. I'll never go back! I couldn't find washing soda locally so I searched all the boxes of laundry booster until I found one that listed washing soda (sodium carbonate) as the main ingredient. Wouldn't you know...Clorox 2 Stain Fighter! So, for all 3 batches I've used 1.5 cups of Clorox 2 instead of the washing soda. The rest of the ingredients stay the same as written in the recipe. I cannot believe how clean and fresh and bright the clothes are. Even old stains come out! Deodorant stains-gone! Thank you!!!

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