Sunday, March 10, 2013

DIY: Home Made Laundry Soap

I have this intense desire to nest and when it comes to my home, I am super-duper organized. I love to clean and I love to learn new tips and tricks. I believe in having  a home, not just a house with walls and a roof. One of the things I really enjoy doing is making things from scratch and getting back to basics. I am also a teacher, so I get screwed and live on poverty wages my income is limited. If I can save money, all the better!

Last night I made my entire year's worth of laundry soap. It is very easy, just a little time consuming as it is done in two steps. I learned this and modified the recipe from here. Think you might like to try? Here is how I did it...

For 4 jars of Detergent (256 loads) you will need (1) Lirio 400g Laundry bar - I get mine at the .99 Cents Store, (2) Cups of Borax, (2) cups of Washing Soda - NOT baking soda!, (6) cups of hot water, (4) 1 Qt. Wide Mouth Canning Jars.

For a year long supply, you will need to triple this recipe. I suggest doing the first part in three batches as opposed to trying to one big cooking pot.

First step is to grate the bar of soap. This takes a little effort, but makes the melting easier and quicker than trying to melt chunks. You can also use a food processor to make quick and painless work of grating the bars.

Add 6 cups of water to a large saucepan or pot and bring to a boil. Reduce down to medium and add your grated soap. Stir, and stir, and stir. You  can increase the heat, just don't let it boil over cause that makes a mess. Once the soap is dissolved (15 to 20 minutes), add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir, stir, stir until it all dissolves.

Pour the soapy liquid, dividing it evenly among the four jars. Add water to fill the empty space and screw on lids. Allow this to sit overnight and cool. In the morning or sometime the next day you will find the contents have separated. Open the four jars, cut the solid layer with a butter knife, and pour the liquid into a large bowl. Use a blender if you have it, a hand mixer works too (I have a Braun), to whip (slowly at first) the liquid and gel like layers together. You will find they blend to form a thick soapy product. Spoon and pour this back into your jars (you may find you have extra for another jar and I give those smaller jars away as gifts for housewarmings, etc.) I use a wide-mouth funnel to help keep stuff tidy. Add lids and rings, then rinse extra soap off the jar. Congrats, you now have home made laundry soap. It will keep indefinitely, only becoming a little firmer, but still soft enough to scoop.

Use one Tablespoon of this soap per load of laundry. You should get 60+ loads out of this single jar!  I triple this recipe for an entire year supply (1 jar a month even though I always end up with two or three jars extra at the end of the year because I live alone.) The cost savings is wonderful. The jars are re-usable. I make soap each winter, gifting some to friends and family, and stocking up my own supply. Simple and inexpensive. Works like a charm on stains too! Just rub a little in directly on the stain to pre-treat.

This is not a sudsy soap. The quality in soap/detergent that gets the clothes clean is Surfactants. The Surfactant molecules have a molecular charge opposite the dirt and oil molecules, thus attracting and separating them from your clothes into the neutrally-charged water allowing them to be rinsed away in the wash. Don't add more soap simply because you are not seeing a bubble bath effect.

Here is what a year's worth of laundry soap looks like:

Update: Please note, if you live in an area where there is really hard water you may need to increase the 1tbsp to 2tbsp. Another suggestion I had from a friend is to add 2 or 3 tbs of TSP (TriSodium Phosphate, we used to use a solution of it to wash our walls before painting) to the wash (especially if you find you have dulling of whites due to hard water).  You can find TSP at the hardware store or in the paint section of stores like True Value, Ace, and Walmart. This used to be added to all our laundry detergent, but since it is not really environmentally friendly, it was eventually taken out of commercial detergent. I feel used in moderation, i.e. only when called for, it is more environmentally friendly than automatically including it in every load. I have never made a batch of laundry soap that includes it in the melting/disolving process as I haven't found the need, and I am not sure if it will change the effectiveness/quality of the end product. If you decide to try it (adding the TSP to the mix as well instead of just adding it directly to your wash), do so at your own risk, and then let me know how it turns out.


  1. I'm looking for an alternative to petro-soaps.
    This last weekend, for the first time, I tried a solution of baking soda.
    It seem to work fine.
    Have you ever tried something like that?

    1. Hi Erik, a good alternative would be using a lard-based soap made with Lye. The Lye is converted to harmless after the soaponification process. You may also want to look into Dr. Bronner's Soaps. I believe they are Petrol based chemical free. The product is listed as being made from Water , Saponified Organic Coconut Oils with Retained Glycerin , Saponified Organic Olive Oils with Retained Glycerin , Organic Hemp Oil , Organic Jojoba Oil , Organic Lavandin Oil , Organic Lavender Oil , Citric Acid , Vitamin E .
      Let me know how your quest goes and if you have a recipe you would like to share, please feel free to come back and share!!