Saturday, April 11, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap

Laundry flapping in the breeze...Intoxicating! We'll sleep good tonight!

I've been making my own laundry soap for the past few years, and I can't even begin to guess how many hundreds of dollars I've saved by doing this. One batch of laundry soap lasts me six months or longer, and costs less than $5.00 to make. Here's my recipe for making 3.5 gallons of "liquid" laundry soap, and the only reason I'm using this quantity is, that's the size bucket/tub I have available. It's an old powdered laundry detergent bucket with a lid that just happens to hold 3.5 gallons. You can tweak this recipe to fill a 5-gallon, or whatever size bucket/container you have. Make sure you've got a tight fitting lid for it.

The ingredients you'll need to make your laundry soap

2 cups Borax
2 cups Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
2 bars of soap
essential oils of your choice--optional

Dissolve washing soda and Borax in a bucket with hot water

Step 1. Measure the washing soda and the Borax into the bucket, add about a gallon of HOT water and stir to dissolve the powders.

Grate the soap into a pot (first fill it with water)

Step 2. Grate two bars of your choice of soaps into a large pot that contains 8 cups of water. The smaller the particles you can grate the soap into, the better and faster it will dissolve. Heat and stir this until the soap dissolves. HINT: grate your soap ahead of time and gradually add this to the water while it's heating. If you add it all at once without stirring, it's likely to clump and NOT dissolve readily. Also, the harder, dryer type soaps dissolve better than moist soaps which tend to clump together once they're in the water. My method is to grate, stir, grate, stir, grate, stir....heat and stir until all soap is dissolved. The actual grating takes a bit of elbow grease! If you're adding essential oils, try to use an un-scented soap. You can use just about any bar soap you like, from regular body soaps to something like Fels-naptha laundry soap. Use whatever you feel good about using, health and environment-wise.

Heat and stir the water and grated soap until soap is dissolved

Step 3. Add dissolved soap mixture to the Borax/washing soda mixture and stir well.

Step 4. If you're adding essential oils or other scents, now's the time to add that. **See my note on my preference of scents!

Step 5. Fill container with HOT water and stir to blend all ingredients.

This will not remain a liquid, but will rather turn into something resembling gelatin. It will dissolve readily in your wash. I use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on the size of the load and how dirty everything is. This stuff will NOT suds, so don't keep adding more thinking soap suds will appear. They just won't. I've used homemade powdered laundry soaps in the past and they do a good job, however, any little bits of soap that don't dissolve in the wash and end up in the dryer (if you use one) will leave what looks like grease spots on your clothes, especially noticeable on dark clothes. Never a good thing! After figuring out what all those "grease spots" were from, I switched to making this "liquid" soap and haven't looked back.

** My ulitmate to-die-for scent is called "Cedarwood Mint". To the 3.5 gallon batch of soap I made yesterday (Saturday, April 11) I added 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of Cedarwood Mint fragrance oil from Scent Works. Look under their "fragrance oils" section and you'll find Cedarwood Mint listed there. Now, if I were a dog I'd be rolling in this stuff all the time. It's probably my favorite scent ever. The scent is hard to describe, but it's a very clean smell, and doesn't really smell strongly of cedar or mint, but is a beautiful marriage of the two, plus I think there's a hint of lavendar thrown in there perhaps.

I first encountered Cedarwood Mint when I was at a drugstore in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I was stopping to pick up a pre-op prescription for a hysterectomy I was to have done in the next day or two, and was having something of a pity party for myself when I saw a clearance rack filled with laundry soap called Cedarwood Mint by "The Thymes". I sniffed it and fell in love! I bought a bottle, even though it was prohibitive in price (even on sale!). I used it only occasionally because I didn't want to use it up. I later found out that it was a discontinued item, and was never able to find it again. However, my son, Jeremiah, found this fragrance oil from Scent Works and bought a bottle of it for me for Christmas, and the scent is spot on. Now I can make my own laundry soap for a mere fraction of what I spent on that first bottle.

And you know the stuff must smell good, because every time I walked by the washer yesterday while doing laundry, I had to open the lid and sniff to make sure it really did smell that good.

I washed our sheets and hung them out to dry on the line yesterday. It was a beautiful sunny, breezy day as you can see in the photo at the start of this entry.
Once the sheets were in off the clothesline and on our bed, I could smell that fresh sunshine smell and Cedarwood die for! We slept like babies last night!


  1. Hi Blaithin. Saw one of your comment of fastgrow the weeds, so came to see your blog.

    Question: do you have a front loader or a top loader? I just wonder if (how well) the "gelatinous" stuff would work in a front loader.

    Also - how long does it take you (apprx) to make a batch of soap?

    And I also see that you got my blog on yor blog roll. Thank you!!!

    I'll be back!

  2. Hi Sylvie!

    I have a top loader. I have no experience with front-loaders (other than using one to wash sheets/towels at the fire dept. I was employed at), but I think they need a low-sudsing soap/detergent?? I've heard from others that this type of homemade laundry soap does well.

    To make this batch of soap, I'm guessing I spent less than 1/2 hour, and that included taking the photos :-)

    I've enjoyed your blog greatly! Keep up the good work!

  3. this sounds fab. I'm going to try to make some. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  4. Veganessa, thanks for stopping by! You'll have to let me know how the soap making goes! It lasts a very long time because you have to use so little in each load. Soap choice that you shred up for the recipe is all yours, of course...I try to use "earth friendly" stuff, which is part of the reason I wanted to make my own in the first place. I'm toying with the idea of making those initial bars from scratch...wood ashes, coconut oil, etc. Sounds like fun!