Monday, December 20, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

A few months ago, a friend of mine shared that she made her own laundry soap at home rather than buying manufactured detergent.  I thought she was crazy.  Detergent is not all that expensive.  Why would she go through the hassle of making soap herself?  Even when she said that the cost was about a penny a load, I was not convinced.  If I tried it, our clothes would perpetually smell like armpit.  Oh, and my colors would all fade away.

After doing my grocery challenge and participating in a Walgreens challenge for awhile, I decided I wanted to be a little more frugal...and a little more "Suzy Homemaker".  So...I bought the ingredients to make my own laundry soap.  They sat on the shelf for about 4 weeks.  Then I ran out of detergent (and excuses) and finally went through the crazy process of making my soap.  Much to my surprise, it only took about 15 minutes!  Why had I put it off so long?!

I got my recipe from  I use recipe #3 on that list, and all my presuppositions have been proven incorrect.  My family's clothes do not stink.  They smell fresh - though unscented.  Our colors are not fading any faster than with manufactured detergent.  And stains are still coming out of our laundry.  To sum it up:  The soap does its job!

Today I made batch #2 of my soap.  And I took pictures!  I want to walk you through the process so that you can see how easy it is!

Here are my ingedients, all purchased at Meijer in the laundry aisles for full price.
Washing Soda - $2.96 with tax
Borax - $3.63 with tax
Fels Naptha soap - $1.47 with tax

Step 1)  In a large pot, heat 6 cups of water.  Add 1/3 of the bar soap, grated, and stir until melted.  (I grate my soap with a cheese grater.  Works...grate!)  Then add 1/2  cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax.  Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.  (Below is my boiling bar soap.)
   *Note:  Be careful to stir, stir, stir - and watch your pot.  This can boil over quickly.

Step 2) In a 2-gallon clean pail, pour 4 cups of hot water and add the heated soap mixture.  Top pail with cold water and stir well.  (Below is my cooling soap, all water already added.)
*If you are not using a 2-gallon pail (like I was not...) this works out to adding 22 cups of cold water...or 1 gallon plus 6 cups... 

Step 3) Use 1/2 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).  Below is a picture of my soap, finished and ready to be used.  This picture is an attempt to show how it gels.  Yes, it is supposed ot look this way.
I put my soap in empty laundry detergent bottles and simply shake it up before each use.  My friend prefers to put hers in empty ice cream pails and stir it before each use.  Both systems work.

So what is the benefit of making your own soap?  As I mentioned before, a friend of mine makes hers for a penny a load.  I did not shop around for good deals on any of my ingredients, and today I figured out that each batch I make costs $1.19.  Each batch washes 64 loads, for a final cost of 1.86 cents per load.  That is pretty impressive when compared to Meijer's best deal this week:  Arm & Hammer liquid laundry detergent - 96 load bottle for $6.99.  This equals out to 7.28 cents per load.  Quite a savings - especially over a lifetime of use!

Have you ever made your own laundry soap?  What recipe do you use?  If you never have, do you think you might attempt it?


Jen said...

I make my own laundry soap. I have done it for about a year. This is the recipe I use :)

Elle Belles Bows said...

I definitely want to give it a try!! Kerri