Friday, March 12, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

Today's post is a reprint from my old blog. (Some of you may recognize it! I made some slight edits.) I'm pleased to say that we are still making all our own laundry soap and it has worked fabulous! This recipe is for a dry soap mix because it works more efficiently with soft water and our HE washer. Let me know if any of you use it and how you like it!

In order to try and reduce some of my grocery costs, I'm giving this homemade laundry detergent recipe a try. Today, my seven year old helped me make a batch in about 15 minutes. 

The recipe I used was as follows:

1 1/2 cup Borax
1 1/2 cup Washing Soda
1 bar Zote Laundry Soap, grated (14.1 ounce bar)

Zote is a very mild product and contains fragrance which may or may not appeal to everyone. For a stronger soap, try Fels Naptha, however, if you wish to use Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, you will need to adjust the recipe to: 

1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, grated

Update (5/22/10): The Fels Naptha was much harder to grate and the dust from it kept getting into my lungs. Since it grated into a fine powder, it didn't need processing in my VitaMix. However, after a couple of weeks, it is still getting into my lungs each time I use it. Also, it is much stronger and only a very small amount is needed. I can't tell yet if it is dulling the whites as some have reported, but at least it seems to clean okay.

The recipe makes a powdered laundry detergent, which I prefer (See Tip Nut for more recipes including liquid versions). Since we have a Kenmore water softener, I stay away from liquid detergents that can cause soap and grease build up in my washer and dishwasher. Also, with a water softener, I use a LOT less detergent. I just pick up a bag of salt pellets at Costco or Home Depot and pour them in when we are running low.

Back to the recipe...  
Grate the soap using a hand grater or if you have a food processor, you can just grate this up in a second... 

Add your Borax and Washing Soda (try not to breathe in too much of the powdery stuff!)...

Mix it up (this is fun, especially since it is pink!)...

At this point, I wanted the soap to mix in better and to have a finer powder. I used my Vita-Mix, adding small batches to chop it up even better. The Vita-Mix cleaned up in a breeze...

The end results... A half gallon mason jar of detergent. We immediately gave it a try and the results are... well, the same as the store bought stuff. It works! Just not as many suds. But as difficult as it is for our brains to grasp, suds don't do the cleaning. I should tell you that I also have a front load HE washer. So apparently you can use this in any washer. 

Now for the cost breakdown. I purchased all three (Borax, Washing Soda, Laundry Soap) for $9.13. While I used all the Zote bar, I have plenty of the other two items left to make more detergent. I measured it all out and calculated that the batch in the jar cost me just $3.04 to make and if I use the little scoop you see in front, I can get 115 loads from this one jar. That's $.03 per load! Even if I double that for a really dirty load of laundry, it still is only six cents per load.  Compare that to Biokleen, a great environmentally safe detergent which sells for $6.99 for a 5 pound box that will clean about 50 loads (that is cheap for this product - it usually costs closer to $9.50). Let's just say for argument's sake that it will do 100 loads in my front load washer with a water softener. That would be about $.06 a load; nearly double the price. 

You may think that it isn't that much of a savings, but if you have a large family with plenty of laundry and you are looking to cut corners, this just may be one of several things you can do to start cutting back. I'm going to give a whirl for a while and see how it pans out. It certainly seems promising.

Update: Works great! I've been using this for almost a year now and only needed to make about 6 batches total!


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