Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

Carrie from Coupon Closet asked me to share my recipe for Homemade Laundry soap.

The first time I used it was when I was visiting my sister in law in Dallas and she referred me to the blogger who originally posted it. So I can't say it's my original recipe, but I have made some modifications to it to make it my own.

First things first, what you need to know about my family is that we're a rough and tumble kind of family. We are not afraid to get dirty. My husband and I are both gym rats and my boys are BOYS. Before trying this recipe I thought there was no way this homemade recipe could clean our clothes as thoroughly as a store bought brand could. There was no way it could remove the sweat stench or the grass and food stains our clothes were exposed to on a regular basis. Well, I was wrong.

Not only did our clothes come clean and smell good, we also learned that the cleaning agents in the ingredients were safer on our skin and better for the environment. (information links found below).

All the ingredients that you will need, can be found at Ace Hardware in the House Cleaning section. (including the bucket)

So what you will need:

1) Borax
2) Washing Soda
3) Fels - Naptha bar
4) 3-5 gallon bucket
5) Water

The first step is to take the Fels-Naptha bar and grate it with a cheese grater
Fels Naptha bar

Use the smallest side of your grater for fine grating

It should look like this

Add your grated bar to a medium sauce pan and cover with water (about a cup full)

Covered in water

Add medium to low heat to your mixture. You won't want the mixture to boil.

Medium to Low Heat
The idea is to melt the grated bar into a liquid. (it will, however, have small chucks of bars as it melts down). Continuously stir the mixture so that it doesn't burn on the bottom of the sauce pan or become too chunky. Just a word of warning: DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THE STOVE DURING THIS PROCESS!!!

Starting to get warm
Starting to liquify

This stage is critical, I think. Constant stirring to ensure that the mixture doesn't get too hot and clump up is key. When the majority of the mixture has melted down, you can remove from heat. There will be some clumps still in the mixture, that is ok.

In the large bucket, add 2 cups of Borax and 2 cups of Washing Soda.

2 cups each

Then add your melted Fels Naptha to that mixture.

Adding Mixture to dry ingredients

Borax, Washing Soda and Fels-Naptha

Then you add water. I typically add 3 gallons of water. The recipe calls for 3-5 gallons, but honestly, I don't want to lug around a 5 gallon mixture. It's too heavy. 3 gallons is just enough for us.

Adding Water

Then STIR!

At this stage of the recipe, I do a few other things. Borax can sometimes clump up in the box when in storage. So when you add it to your laundry soap recipe, reach into your bucket after you have added the water and make sure that all the clumps are broken down. I do this by hand to ensure it's all done.

Things to note about home made laundry soap:

1) It does NOT lather when you add it to the washing machine. That is something you will need to get accustomed to. At least I had to. I'm so used to sudsy and foaming cleaning products that it took me awhile to trust that the homemade product was just as effective even though it doesn't make bubbles!

2) You can pre-treat your laundry with this recipe without having to buy extra stain removing products ~ YAY!

3) You will need to STIR this mixture every time before using it. You will hear all the settlement on the bottom the first few times you use it. Just stir it up and it's fine.

4) You don't need to use a lot of it. I use about a 1/2 cup of mine on small loads of laundry and about a cup on medium to larger loads.

5) We do laundry probably every other day ~ at least two loads. This 3 gallon mixture will last us about three months if not a little more. (I really should start tracking that)

6) IT SMELLS WONDERFUL!!! In fact, I bought the ingredients at Ace Hardware when running errands and after being delayed at the post office one day, it was so PLEASANT to return to my fresh smelling car! I may just put one of the Fels Naptha bars in my car, under the seat, as a deoderizer.

7) It's very affordable. It costs $6 to buy all those ingredients and you can make about 3 mixtures out of them. Can't beat that!

I hope this helps to get you started. Leave me a comment to let me know how your experience went and if you did something different worth trying!!


Chi-townRawlins said...

Amen! Love this stuff. And I heart laundry soap making day because my whole house smells amazing.
And with my family of six this batch (i do 3.5 gallons and use 3/4 - 1 C each load) lasts a solid three months every time. I've been doing it for a year now and it's never failed me! Yay!

Shell said...

A tutorial with pictures kind of makes me want to try this now! I'm thinking when the giant bottles in the garage run out it might be time for an experiment! The problem is where in the world would I store it?!

Faith said...

Here's a question.. do you have to use fabric softener with it? Or does this do the trick by itself? Or do you use one of those dryer balls or something?

Christy said...

Faith, thanks for visiting. I don't use fabric softener. I find the clothes come out fresh, clean and soft. I do, however, still use dryer sheets.

Christy said...

For those of you who have asked about HE washing machines and using this soap. I don't have any personal experience with it, but found this article online. I Hope it helps:

Dione said...

How do your whites come out? Do you still add bleach to your whites?

Thanks for posting, I am a visual person and the step by step pictures certainly help. Still not sure if I will try it, but it does sound appealing.

Christy said...

My whites are still pretty sharp when using this formula. I haven't had to use bleach yet, but for tough stains, I do pre-treat first.

Anonymous said...

i think i was reading about this at NYT the other day

Anonymous said...

I would love to try this, but I have a question about the Fels-naptha bar. Do you grate the whole bar? At the bottom you wrote that the ingredients will make about 3 batches. Do I need to buy 3 bars or just one to make 3 batches? Thanks so much!

Christy said...

For anonymous:
Yes only need one bar and yes you grate the whole bar. The recipe itself will make enough to last you up to 3 months or more!

Deana said...

I have a High efficiency washing machine. Do you know if this mixture can be used in a machine like mine?

Anonymous said...

I have made this once, but I think I messed up because the fels naptha bar clumped up and got wormy like when I combined it with the water after melting it down. Or is that normal?

debwebb said...

yikes...just did this and I have "curd" like pieces of the fel naptha all on the top of the detergent?? I did not leave my mixture even for a moment...any suggestions?? I am so bummed : (

Anonymous said...

help! I tried this and when I added the water the fels bar globbed up and is now floating on the top. Do I toss it all and try again or is it safe to use?