Saturday, July 3, 2010

Making Your Own Laundry Soap

I am very picky about how much I spend on laundry detergent. I have found some pretty good deals since I started couponing, but I really am becoming a cheapskate about it! The reason I don't have to pay much for laundry soap is that I know how to make my own! All the ingredients can be found at Publix and/or Walmart. Pictured below are the ingredients you need to buy: Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda), Borax, and Fels Naptha soap. You will pay around $7 for all three, and you will get at least 2 or 3 batches of detergent. A second bar of soap will only run you $.99, and you'll have just about enough laundry detergent for a small family for months and months!Onion and watermelon not required. :)

You will also need a bucket to store your finished product. You can buy a large bucket, like for paint, for about $5 from Home Depot or Lowes. I am using a bucket my mom gave me; it's a cleaned out dog food bucket that came with a hinged, removable lid. It's the perfect size for a batch (or two) of detergent and has a handle to carry it easily.
Here's the recipe!

1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap, grated (I use my cheese grater, and it works perfectly.)
1/2 c. washing soda
1/2 c. Borax
Lots of water! (4 c. plus 6 c. plus a gallon plus 6 c.)

Put 4 cups of water in a microwaveable bowl into the microwave. Heat for a minute or so, until good and hot, then let it sit in the microwave to stay hot. In a large sauce pan or stock pot, heat 6 cups of water and the grated soap. Stir occasionally until the Fels Naptha is completely dissolved. Add the washing soda and Borax and stir until these are dissolved. Remove from the heat. Pour the 4 cups of water that have been staying hot in the microwave into your bucket. Add your soap mixture and stir well. Add a gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for 24 hours before use. It will gel, but not completely. It will have a liquidy/lumpy consistency. You may have to stir the soap up between uses. Use 1/2 cup per load.

Some notes:
*Some folks like to add more washing soda and Borax to their mix, up to 1 c. each.
*Since you use such a small amount of washing soda and Borax, you may be concerned about the effectiveness of them after the fourth or fifth batch. You might consider sharing the cost of these products with a friend. Have a soap make-a-thon! Make a quadruple batch and each take home a double. You'd only pay about $4 each, and you'd end up with months' worth of detergent!
*Some folks like to use 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha for each batch.
*Some families still add Oxy Clean to the wash. We do like this product and use it, especially with super dirty stuff, like work clothes. The detergent alone does a good job of cleaning everyday loads.
*You could add a few drops of essential oil to the mix for fragrance, but I love the smell of the Fels Naptha.
* I learned from my mom to stir the soap with the cup you use to measure. When you're ready for the detergent, just stick your whole hand/arm into the bucket with the measuring cup. Give the soap a good stir with your arm/hand/cup. When you pour the soap into the washer, let the washer water rinse your arm and hand.
*Have you seen the episode of 17 Kids and Counting (or were they up to 18 for this show?) where the girls made their own detergent? This recipe is very much like what the Duggars use. :)

I'd love to hear how the frugal, homemade detergent works for you!


  1. Love it. Going to try it. How is it working out for you?

  2. We love it. We do usually add oxy-clean, at least to the whites. For regular loads, not extremely soiled, it's perfect.