April Home Projects - Homemade Laundry Soap!

by sarahmfry, June 10, 2011
Whereas the sprouted bread recipe may never become a staple around here, I believe that homeade laundry soap is here for GOOD!  Where have you BEEN the last 10 years of my homemaking career?
I guess I'd always thought it would take too long or not work well or maybe I just didn't give it much thought at all.  But I tried it, love it, and now my clothes are happy and my budget is happy!

It is unbelievably inexpensive to make.  My mother-in-law bought the ingredients, shared her first batch with me and got me started.  She found all of the ingredients at Rural King, and I think she said she got it all for under $10.00...and it is enough for multiple batches (I get about 7 gallons each batch)!  I'm almost ready to go back and restock, so I'll have a better idea of what the exact cost is then.  We have been splitting the batches since it makes so much.

Grate the bar and melt it on stove...

Stir it in a bucket with water and powdered ingredients...
Let it sit overnight

Pour into jugs and add water.  IT IS REALLY THAT SIMPLE!!

Here is the original recipe copied directly from Jo Walker Dahler.  I know there are lots of recipes out there, but I'm happy with this one for now!

Jo's Recipe:
"Tips for laundry soap: We use Fels-Napatha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2. Yields 10 gallons.

4 Cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup Washing Soda (this is not baking soda)
1/2 Cup Borax
(easier if you have a funnel on hand)

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.

Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well untill all powder is dissolved.

Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with the soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has co-led.
Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil

Yield:  Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

Top Load Machine-5/8 cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
Front Load Machine-1/4 cup per load (Approx 640 loads)

Tip:  I went to Walmart bakery and asked for a 5 gallon bucket. They just gave me one (their white icing comes in 5 gallon buckets. I had to wash it, but....who cares...it was free)

I think I get the fels-naptha from Marsh. The soda and borax, I think I got at Meijers. Walmart probably carries it too.

This is very easy to make. I just use milk jugs, juice jugs, whatever gallon jugs I could get with lids. Save up 10 before you start.
It really does gel, so when I make mine, I don't fill it to the top when I'm making it. As I open a new one. I shake it up well (or have
Craig do it for me) and want to have "head space" in the jug to shake with. Then I fill it to the top before I use the new jug."

A few of my own notes:  
  1. I do not get 10 gallons out of this.  Maybe I don't fill the 5-gallon bucket up enough.  
  2. I like my soap strong, and have a double load washing machine,  so I use 2 full cups per load and I love the results.  
  3. One batch I got mixed up and put the powdered ingredients in the pan when I melted the grated soap.  I was not as happy with the results...it seemed clumpier.  
  4. I love the smell!  Very fresh and soft and clean and natural.  And I have even stopped using liquid softener (more $$$ saved!).  
  5. Oh.....and I use my mother-in-law's big red (clean) oil funnel.  It really helps to have a big funnel opening when you pour the soap from the 5-gallon bucket into the tiny jug holes.  Don't push the funnel down in tight to the jug, or the air seal doesn't let the soap funnel through quickly.  Lift the funnel just slightly and use a butter knife if any thicker detergent gets stuck.  Definitely a two-person job!  My kids love it.

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