Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Make: Laundry Detergent

My mom has been making her own laundry soap for years. I never really thought too much about it until I was an adult who actually had to pay for detergent. Don't get me wrong--I definitely did my share of laundry growing up, but I wasn't footing the bill! Even with my Sam's Club membership, the cost of detergent is steep. So last year I got the "recipe" from my mom and haven't looked back!

This is definitely the type of project that becomes more cost effective the more times you do it. That's because you will likely have to buy larger boxes of ingredients that can make several batches.

The first time I tried this, I made a double batch that lasted approximately 7-8 months! I do 2-3 loads of laundry per week, using one heaping tablespoon per load. I do have a big store-bought bottle to use whenever I am in between batches. I recommend you do the same.

Powder Detergent

You will need:
1 bar of Fels Naptha, grated
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda

Mix together thoroughly. That's it. Use 1 tablespoon per load.

Now, I'm not going to lie to you or pretend that it didn't take a while to grate that bar of soap. Just think of it an as opportunity to practice those meditation techniques you've been meaning to try. Another upside is that your kitchen will smell fantastic!

Some people report difficulty in finding the ingredients, however, I found them with no trouble at all at the nearby Walmart. Actually, they were all shelved right next to each other in the laundry aisle.

Prefer Liquid Detergents?

There is also a liquid version of homemade laundry detergent. I can't personally vouch for it, but my sister uses this technique. According to her, it takes "some time" but is definitely worth it and she plans to keep making it in the future. Although it involves many more steps, it yields far more detergent. Keeping that in mind, my sister notes that you want to ensure you will have enough storage space to house several large jugs (of the detergent).

You will need:
1/2 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
Fels Naptha Soap Bar, grated
5 gallon bucket with lid
10 (1-gallon) milk jugs or other containers with lids.

Put the soap shavings in a large pot with 4 cups of water. Heat on medium-low, stirring continuously until soap is dissolved (roughly 10 minutes). The texture may be foamy.

Fill the bucket halfway with very hot water. Add the soap mixture, washing soda, and borax. Stir thoroughly.

Add additional water, until bucket is completely full. Stir thoroughly. Cover and let sit overnight. The next day, the texture should be somewhat thicker; stir again.

Now you can funnel the detergent into the containers, but ONLY HALF-WAY. Fill the other half with water and give the jug (lid on!) a good shake.

Use approximately 1/4 cup per load.


So there you have it! An easy way to save loads of money while doing loads of laundry!

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  1. Megan - how much of the powder/liquid do you use per load? I make my own liquid detergent, but am interested in experimenting with some other recipes (since there are tons out there!)


  2. Hi Jessica! For the powder detergent I use one tablespoon. The liquid detergent varies a little, but roughly 1/4 cup. Thanks for asking, I will update my post with that information!

  3. Megan, I finally made this soap and I love it!