Monday, July 26, 2010

Laundry Soap

I started making my own laundry soap more than a year ago. I found the original recipe on the Little Birdie Secrets blog.

I pretty much just follow that recipe, but I have a few changes. I couldn't find the Fels-Naptha soap they used, but I found this in the laundry isle:

And I like it just fine! I also like the smell, so I didn't add any oils. The steps are pretty simple:
  1. Grate your soap and heat it on the stove with 1/2 gallon of water to dissolve it.
  2. Once the soap is dissolved, add 1 c. borax powder and 1 c. Arm and Hammer washing powder. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Add 4 1/2 gallons of hot water (1 at a time) to the concentrate, stirring well.
  4. Let it sit for 24 hours, then use 1/2 cup per load.

This makes a somewhat gloopy gel. It also does not really make a lot of suds, so don't be surprised the first few times you use it. The first time I made it, it took me about an hour and a half, but now I have it down to about 20 min.

I also had a little difficulty with the packaging. I first tried to save my old laundry soap containers, but the home made soap is a little too thick to work well. I also tried a few rounds of milk jugs, but I gave that up after one disintegrated on me. I finally broke down and spent $12 at Sam's to buy 3 of these:

And, actually, now I don't bother mixing the liquid all together- once I have the concentrate, I just measure it evenly between my 3 containers, then add the water into each container. I find it is much easier than trying to mix the 5 gallons all at once.

The only weird thing I found was that when I wash my towels, I always put bleach in them. Well, some strange thing when I used this soap and bleach together, it made the towels non-absorbent. I would go to wipe up a spill, and the towel would just sit on top of the liquid. It was rather strange, and annoying. So, now we do buy a regular laundry soap that I only use for towels. Everything else we use this, and it works wonderfully.

Total cost breakdown: $10 for borax and Arm and Hammer, which will last for 10-20 batches of this soap. The Zote soap is $1 per bar, and you use one per batch.

So, basically, including the containers, I've spent about $25 for more than a year of laundry soap, and I can easily go another year only spending about $5! I do about 7-8 loads per week, so if you did less laundry, your cost would be even less!

Rebecca, I hope I answered all your questions! Let me know if you have any more!


Jen said...

I've tried the powdered version of this and it just didn't work for us--our clothes didn't smell clean. It's basically the same ingredients only you grate them all and mix them in a tub...I wonder if there's a difference when you add the water??

Villamor family said...

you are you have an HE washer? Will this work for the HE washers? that is a pretty significant amount of savings!

Shanna said...

Jen- I've never tried the powder, but I have been very happy with the liquid. We live in the south, and battle the mold smell quite regularly, and I never really have a problem. Maybe once a month or so I will add a shot of bleach if something smells really bad, but usually I just use the soap.

MK- I don't have a HE washer, but it would work for that, since there are almost no suds.

Kydon ran some analysis last night, and he figures we are saving some where around $150 per year by using this.

Rebecca said...

I was planning to use just my old container... but if it is too thick I'll have to rethink that. I actually have those buckets from Sams. Thanks Shanna, that is exactly what I was wanting to know!

Allie said...

Wow! That is a pretty big savings. I've been using less detergent and adding baking soda for a cheaper "boost" but I am interested in the make your own option.

Penny said...

I bought some Fels-Naptha soap at Publix a few years ago. It was their own store brand if I remember right.