Make laundry soap at home! You can! It’s easy and frugal and doesn’t even take very long. The ingredients are simple and inexpensive–Borax, washing soda and/or baking soda, and any plain soap such as Ivory. Borax, washing soda, and baking soda are all natural laundry boosters that help remove soils, fight stains, and freshen laundry–basically, they are soap enhancers. You can find Borax and the laundry-size baking soda in the laundry aisle at the store, and many places you can also find washing soda there, too, but I had a hard time finding washing soda here. (Tip: If you live in this area–the only place I found that carried washing soda was Smith’s Food Fair in Big Chimney.)
You can find a number of laundry soap recipes (and soap bar suggestions) here. I tried Recipe #3, which includes one-third of a large bar of soap, 1/2 cup Borax, and 1/2 cup washing soda. I didn’t find that it was quite strong enough to suit me, and so with some experimentation, I came up with my own recipe. If you’re interested in making laundry soap, I suggest you do the same–try a recipe or two, then experiment and modify until you find the mixture that works for you. Try mine for starters if you like! I doubled the Borax in the original recipe and used a combination of washing soda and baking soda, as well as doubling the soap. (I didn’t want to double the washing soda since that might be too hard on fabrics. I can get the added cleaning power with the addition of the gentler baking soda.) This mixture makes over two gallons of detergent.
Update: I’ve also added instructions for making it as a concentrate, which is how I make it now.
How to make Homemade Laundry Soap:
1 regular (not large bath-size) bar of plain soap
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup baking soda
Grate the soap. (Soap grates easily.)
Heat 3 pints (6 cups) of water on the stove and add the grated soap. Stir occasionally, until the soap melts.
I use a pint jar and a quart jar for all the water measuring for this recipe as it’s faster than doing it one cup at a time.
Once the grated soap is melted, add 1 cup Borax, 1/2 cup washing soda, and 1/2 cup baking soda, stirring to dissolve.
I use a large pot, large enough to hold all the water I’ll need for my mixture so I don’t have to get a separate pail. If your pot isn’t large enough to hold over two gallons, you’ll have to transfer the mixture to a bucket at this point.
Note: If making as a concentrate (which takes up less storage space), add only 3 more cups of hot water. This will fit in a 39-ounce coffee can bucket, which is what I use.
If not making as a concentrate, proceed as follows:
Add one quart jar of very hot water to your soap mixture.
Stir well. Add six more quarts of cold water. (If you’d like to add some scent, now is the time. Add 10-15 drops. I don’t add scent–it’s no big deal to me and would increase the cost. I’m happy with my laundry simply smelling fresh.) Stir well again and ladle or scoop the mixture into your container(s). I’ve found that three large plastic coffee containers are exactly right to hold this recipe. They come with handy snap-on lids and one is just right to keep by the washer for daily use.
Use 1/2 cup per large load of laundry. Mixture may gel or clump as it sits, so stir before each use. (I keep a 1/2 cup scoop–in a plastic bowl to prevent mess–on top of my washer to measure out the detergent. I just stir it with the scoop before measuring it out.)
Note: If using the concentrate method, use about 3 tablespoons (a little less than 1/4 cup) per load.
Works for me! And it’s cheap. For the price of a couple of average size containers of store-bought laundry detergent, I can make gallons and gallons and gallons of homemade laundry detergent. (It’s better for the environment, too–no steady stream of containers to throw away.) It’s easier to stock up and store the Borax, washing soda, baking soda, and soap bars than cumbersome containers of store-bought detergent, and it only takes 15-20 minutes to whip up a new batch when needed.
I also now use homemade soap for my mix! Want to make your own homemade soap for your laundry mix? See my recipe for a homemade laundry bar.