I started making my own laundry soap about three years ago. No idea why really. Maybe all my friends were doing it? Regardless, making laundry soap is now a regular part of my life now.
Many bloggers have done cost comparisons, so I won't stress myself out with those numbers - but it's much cheaper and fairly easy. Most homemade formulas cost you 2 to 7 cents a load, whereas a quality store-bought detergent is about 20 cents a load .
Even better, you can assign this task to an older child to make it and call it science!
For most any laundry detergent, you're going to need the same basic ingredients: bar soap, washing soda, and borax. I also chose to add Tide for extra cleaning power. You may also use essential/fragrance oils, if desired.
You'll also need a grater and bowls. I used an old school cheese grater for years and then upgraded to a Microplane. Do yourself a favor, and get a Microplane grater. Amazing difference! Some people are leery of using their "cooking" supplies for something like laundry detergent. BUT you wash your cooking stuff in soap, so I don't see the point in keeping separate supplies - just wash thoroughly between uses (which you should be doing anyway). I even use my "food" cutting board.
Mindful Homeschooler's Powder Laundry Soap Recipe:
1 bar soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1 cup Tide
Supplies: cheese grater, bowls, spoon, storage containers
Finely grate soap and mix together.
For real. That's it. It just takes a couple minutes. You can use 1 to 3 tablespoons. I'd start off with 2 tablespoons and decide from there. I do very large loads of laundry and our city is NOT renowned for great water, so I find 3 tablespoons to be perfect. This mixture works best in hot and warm waters. I suspect if you "zest" the soap, that it would do fine in cold or cool.
Mindful Homeschooler's Liquid Laundry Soap Recipe:
To give credit where credit is due, Farming on Faith was the first recipe I ever followed for laundry soap. She has since adapted her recipe, and I have adapted mine, but I still want you to know where this all started. I think thousands have used her recipe!
1 bar soap
1.5 cups washing soda
1.5 cups borax
6 cups Tide
1 gallon water
2 gallons water
Supplies: cheese grater, bowls, spoon, large pot, 5-gallon bucket with lid, storage containers
Grate your soap.
Combine soap and 1 gallon water in large pot, completely melt.
In a bowl, combine your soap flakes and all dry ingredients. Stir to combine.Once the soap is completely melted into the water, add the dry ingredients and stir till mixture thickens a bit - maybe 30 minutes or so. At the very least, everything should be completely dissolved into a liquid.
Get your 5-gallon bucket and filler it up with 2 gallons water - cold, from the tap. When I first started making soap, I would set this huge bucket in my freezer to make sure the water was really cold. This proved completely unnecessary.
Next, add the soap mixture from the pot and whisk, whisk, whisk. Stir in your optional fragrance oils at this point. Cover. Come back a few hours later and whisk, whisk, whisk. Let it sit for a day, whisking when you think of it.
Then comes the fun part where you get to figure out if you have enough containers to hold all the darn soap. I could just use it from the 5-gallon buckets, but I don't have a convenient space to store a 5-gallon bucket in my laundry room. Save your current laundry containers or ask friends and family to save theirs for you to use - they are incredibly thick and sturdy perfect for, uh, laundry detergent.
I use about a 1/3 of a cup for big loads.
After whipping up both these recipes in a day, I was left with this:
There was also about 10 loads worth of detergent that didn't fit in these containers - seriously, three years in and it's still a guessing game of "Do I Have Enough Containers?" Note the barium sulfate containers - very thick plastic and the perfect size to give to friends so they can "sample" your frugal soap (and, yes, my ears perk up at "CT SCAN" and I ask my friends/family to keep empty container - yes, they think it's totally weird).
The blue lid containers hold my powder soap and are from Dollar Tree - I keep a pretty ceramic tablespoon in there with them. Am I the only one who finds ceramic tablespoons completely useless for cooking?
I have not used these recipes in an HE washer, but rumor has it that they're a low-sud formula, so I suspect using a third of the recommended amount would work just fine.
Some recipes call for Dove or Fels Naptha bars of soap. I've used a bit of everything and find Ivory to work just fine - with a coupon, it's usually just 50 cents for three bars. So, my recommendation is to use whatever bar soap you like. It'll probably be just fine.
Do you make any of your own cleaning supplies? Comment with your favorite recipe or a link to it!
Melissa Gibson is the editor of Mindful Homeschooler. She is "Mama" to three children, ages 7, 4, and 1.