Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kelsey's Homemade Laundry Soap

Kelsey's Homemade Laundry Soap

As some of you may know, things are a little tight around here as Trevor is pursuing his art, and fixing up the house, and maybe fixing up some vehicles.  Therefore, we are cutting out unnecessary expenses.  Like laundry detergent.  I made my last batch in late November, and it has lasted me until now.  Woohoo! 

Making your own laundry detergent is easy.  It's cheap, and you know exactly what is in it. 

To make your own laundry detergent you will need:
A 5 gallon bucket with a lid
1 bar of soap
1 cup of Washing Soda
1/2 - 1 cup of Borax
3 gallons of water (+ 6 cups)
essential oils or fragrance oils (optional)

You may now have many questions running through your mind. Such as "Where can I find a 5 gallon bucket with a lid?" "What kind of bar soap?"  "What is Borax?" "What is Washing Soda?" and  "Where do I buy these?"   Don't worry, I'm going to tell you.

My friends at Dodger Bowl Lanes were kind enough to give me a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.  It was a pickle bucket and still smelled slightly of pickles, so if you do this, I recommend putting some bleach in there to soak overnight, then rinse it out completely.

This time I used Lever 2000, last time I used Dial.  Whatever you have on hand will work fine.  

Washing soda as defined by Wikepedia is Sodium Carbonate.  You can read more about it here:

Borax is also known as sodium borate.  You can read more about it here:

I purchased both my washing soda and my borax at the local Piggly Wiggly, I found them in the laundry aisle.  If I recall correctly they were each about $4.00 per box.  This is a good deal considering that you only use a small portion of the box for this recipe.  You may be able to find them cheaper, but I thought this was a good enough deal for me not to have to go hunting all over tarnation for them.

Step 1:  Heat 6 cups of water to boiling on your stovetop.  The saucepan that your husband borrowed from you to use for something in the garage would work great.  Especially because when he borrowed it, you raised an eyebrow, at the unidentified object in contained.  He reassured you that it was no big deal, and you moved on.  However, now, the saucepan is nowhere to be found, and he's just not sure where he left it.... Ah well, you can use your least favorite wok.  And don't bother getting upset about it, because he probably really won't care that much, and you will be the only one upset. 

Step 2:  Whittle down your bar of soap while the water heats up.  (The Lever 2000 whittled much more easily than the Dial did.)  Now, halfway through this process you will be little do these pieces really need to be?  I'm sure these larger chunks will melt down just fine.... WRONG, right about the time you think that you need to whittle those in at least half.  Or you will be watching this pot melt soap for-eva.  Okay not forever, but a really long time, and you will eventually use a slotted spoon to discard the large chunks floating on top.  I don't know this for a fact....I'm just could happen.  Do step 3 as you do this step.

Step 3:  Add whittled soap to boiling water.  Reduce heat so it is no longer boiling, just really really hot.  Stir often, maybe use a slotted spoon...just in case?

Step 4:  Once all (or most of the soap) has melted away, pour into the five gallon bucket.  (Be careful, it's very hot!)  I use hot pads just in case.  I put the bucket on the floor, it's easier to pour into. 

Step 5:  Add 1 cup of washing soda and up to 1 cup of borax to melted soap.  I use almost 1 cup of Borax because hubby's clothes are so dirty from playing in the garage all the time.  The first time I only used half a cup.  This is fine for my clothes, but I think Trev's could use the extra umph. 

Step 6:  Add 3 gallons of water.  You can use milk jugs, I use a 2 qt pitcher.  There are 4 qts in a gallon, so this is 6 pitchers. 

Step 7:  Stir it up.  Is good if you have a super long spoon so you don't have to touch it with your hands (It will dry them out in a hurry).  If you are using essential or fragrant oil, add up to an ounce about halfway through and continue stirring.  (See slotted spoon, just in case)

  Step 8:  Put the lid on, carry it to your laundry room, and let it sit over night.  In the morning it will be more of a gel.  You can stir it up periodically to keep it from clumping.  I don't know if that will work or not, but sure can't hurt. 

That's it, you now have your own laundry detergent!  I use a cap from one of my old laundry jugs to measure it out. 

If you live with someone who tends to be a little over-zealous on the use of their laundry soap, you can add water to make it stretch a bit further. 

If you have old laundry jugs you can put it in there and give to college students or friends as a nice gesture, or simply to keep it easier access for you. 

It doesn't make a bunch of suds, just remember it is the soap that cleans, not the suds.  If you have a front load washer, I would water it down a bit more.  This is a low suds operation, so it is perfect for front loaders as is, but probably doesn't need to be as potent. 

I don't mind wasting this as much as my other stuff.  We've all done it, forgot that we left a load in the washer all day...or since yesterday, okay fine, a couple of days.  It used to pain me to waste fragile soap on a re-wash, now I just dump some in and move on. 

This hasn't made me rich or anything, but I don't cringe at the thought of buying laundry soap anymore.  Now we can put our money toward things we need, like cute little coats for the dog to savings. 

If you try this, I would love to hear about your experience.  Let me know if you have any questions!


  1. CAn't wait to try this. Love the new blog, Kels.

  2. Thanks Kath and Poeatery! I'm having a lot of fun with it! It makes laundry so much more exciting!