Sunday, August 26, 2012

D.I.Y. Laundry Soap Validation

I started this post yesterday, but Mom and Dad came into town to bring me some furniture that my Mom's side of the family didn't want and was happy to pass down to me.  Before they got here, I ran some errands, one of which was picking up the ingredients I needed to make some more laundry detergent.  I live in a small town, and since the only two stores I know of that carry the ingredients I use are Wal-Mart and Publix, I headed to Wal-Mart.  We don't have 'luxury' grocery stores like Publix here.  I plopped my things down on the conveyor belt: Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, Borax, Fels Naptha bar soap, and some regular name brand scented bar soap.

The lady in front of me looked at the things I put on the belt and started up a conversation, "Oh, so you make your own laundry detergent too?  What approach do you use?"  Her husband rolled his eyes and you could almost see the cashier's thoughts of our "hippie" approach.  She was not discreet with her body language or the change in her demeanor towards us.  We got into a discussion about powdered vs. liquid- I've only made liquid, she's only made powdered.  It turns out we use essentially the same recipe, and it was SO nice to have someone validate the reasons that I make my own laundry detergent.

1. I started making my own laundry detergent because it was much less expensive.  You can read about that journey that led to sending detergent home with my children at this previous post.

2.  After the initial alarm that there weren't many suds in my washer, I did some research and found that the "suds" you see in most commercial laundry soaps are actually for show -- they give you the illusion that if they're really sudsy, your clothes will be really clean.  This is misleading, and I found after a month or so that my clothes were cleaner and brighter than they'd ever been.

3.  As I continued using my homemade laundry soap and doing more research about this change in lifestyle I'm easing into, I started to realize the health benefits of making your own laundry soap and avoiding toxins.  We don't want to let them get into our organs, but the skin is our largest organ, and we're okay with letting them leach into our body through that organ????

You can read about toxins found in each room of your house here.

If you want to read about specific brands and specific chemicals, read this article/ advertisement.  If you google search your specific laundry detergent, odds are it will come up with some sort of manufacturers' statement/ warning about what "may" be in your laundry soap.

Today, I made the powdered.  I'm not sure I'm going to like it as much, but the good news is, I can always add it to boiling water to make it liquid. :)

Here's how:
** I made a double batch using two different recipes.  Naptha (as in Fels Naptha) is a petroleum derivative.  This soap isn't a particular form of naptha that is toxic, but it isn't "pure" either.  The other recipe I made used Ivory soap, which is 99.44 % pure according to their information releases.

Recipe 1:                                                                                      Recipe 2: 
1 bar of grated Fels Naptha bar soap                                           1 bar grated Ivory bar soap- unscented
1 cup of washing soda                                                                 1 cup washing soda
1 cup of borax                                                                              1 cup borax

Ingredients and tools I use

Grated soap goes into the food processor to make smaller

You can also chunk your soap and then put it in the food processor, but I don't feel like it works as well this way.

Mix it all together- you get something like this.

** For the Fels Naptha recipe, you ONLY NEED 1 -2 tbsp of detergent for each load.  A really large or really dirty load might require 3 tbsp.

** For the Ivory recipe, use 2-3 tbsp per load.

Yes, this DOES work on HE washers.

It took me 15-20 minutes total per recipe.

Kids love to help with the grating and the mixing.

As a side note, you will probably need to shake the powdered detergent before you use it because the soap is lighter than the other two ingredients and you'll want it to be well mixed to get the best benefits from the detergent.

Cost, you ask?  Something like 15 CENTS per load or LESS!!!  The start-up cost isn't bad either.  The box of washing soda and the box of Borax are less than 4 dollars each and the soap is less than a dollar/ bar.  My Fels Naptha double recipe yielded 96 tbsp (48 - 96 loads of laundry).  I estimate this to be less than a 3 dollar cost for 48-96 loads of laundry.

On Amazon, the best deal I found for an "eco detergent" was about 14 dollars for 100 loads, though the reviews read that it is actually much less than 100 loads.  The best deal I found for 72 loads of liquid Tide was 29.06.  The beauty of these recipes is that in order to make them liquid, all you have to do is add water, which won't add anything significant to your cost.


  1. Cool post. I might just have to try this, I've got the Fels & borax, just need to get the washing soda. :) I thought it was funny that there was a Tide - free sample ad - right next to your recipe. Like they are trying to tempt you back to the dark side or something... heehee

  2. Haha- At least they know I enjoy doing laundry. I'll never go back to regular detergent. My clothes are SO clean. And the whites are white, and the colors are bright.