If this is your first visit to our blog, welcome! We hope that you will stay awhile and check out the rest of Our Out-of-Sync Life Blog as well as our Free Preschool Curriculum website – ABCJesusLovesMe.com. Thanks for stopping by! (Several UPDATES have been made to this post.)
In all reality, I am not very “green.” I don’t get into organic but I do grow a garden. I take care of the environment but it has more to do with the fact that I hate trash and waste. Also, I am incredibly cheap! If I can save money, count me in.
When I saw the amount of money that I could save making homemade laundry detergent, I was sold.
I just finished making my second batch. That means that my first batch lasted from December until March. Pretty good considering how much laundry we do around here! (Read How I Tamed the Laundry Giant for practical tips on managing laundry.)
Here is my recipe and directions (although I am always open to new ideas!)
4 Cups finely shredded bar soap (1 Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap 5.5 oz bar makes 1 cup)
2 Cups Arm & Hammer Super Wash Soda
2 Cups 20 Mule-Team Borax
I used the Zote bar (pink in color) because it was available at a local grocery store. I know that there are other options. Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap (yellow in color) is one. In later batches, I have mixed Zote and Fels-Naptha.
Arm & Hammer Super Wash Soda Regular baking soda is not a substitute (talk to a chemist on why this is). I had trouble finding washing soda so I called the Arm and Hammer corporation to find a place locally that sold it. They were able to give me a few options. You can also find it online.
20 Mule-Team Borax – This is easy to find.
I used the food processor to grind up the Zote/Fels-Naptha bar. First I grated it and then used the shredding blade to produce a finer texture (pictured below). (Large pieces do not desolve during washing.) To the 4 cups of finely grated bar-soap, add 2 cups each of the borox and soda.
I have a front load washer and use 1 T per load (the little measuring spoons that come in formula cans work great for this). The soap will not suds up so don’t panic and think that you should add more.
This recipes comes to about 5 cents per load. A lot less than the purchased detergents. I have been very happy with the results.
– What kind of food processor do you suggest?
I swear by the KitchenAid Food Processor. I realize that they are pricey but in the case of my KitchenAid Stand Mixer as well – so worth the money. I have had the mixer for almost 14 years and the food processor for almost eight years. I use the grater disc first and then the multipurpose blade to make the soap even finer. I have the 11 cup size but it doesn’t look that size is available anymore. I would definitely go up to the 12 cup instead of moving down. Use my food processor for fruit smoothies too! Amazing!
– How long does it take to make the a batch of laundry detergent?
I made 2 1/2 batches today and it took me 20 minutes from start to finish. This made 20 cups of detergent. That is 320 T or 320 loads of laundry. Doing 6 loads of laundry a week, this 20 minutes of time will provide me with almost a whole years worth of laundry detergent!
– What is the price breakdown (with tax)?
10 (5.5 oz) bars Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap = $10.57
1 box Arm & Hammer Super Wash Soda, Detergent Booster 55 oz = $3.53
1 box 20 Mule-Team Borax 76 oz = $3.68
Total = $17.78
Per load = $0.05 per load (Minus what was left for the next batch – I used almost all of the soda (minus 1 cup) and had about 3-4 cups of borax left.)
Be sure to read How I Tamed the Laundry Giant and Won. Practical ideas that I have implemented to drastically cut down the amount of time I spend doing laundry. And check out my no-heat Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe!
Thanks for posting this! Ok, so did you use a box grater initially on the soap, or just the grating blade on the processor? Also, we have a top loader (kickin' it old school here) so how much do you think we would need?
The first time I did it, I used a box grater for the soap. This time I used the food processor only. I just bladed it twice (using two different blades) on the food processor. Everything I have read says to use the same amount on top and front loading.
We have Hard Water. Would it still be o.k. use this recipe? Do you use fabric softner?
Hard Water…I can't tell you on that. I do not use fabric softener. We have "medium" hard well water.
Is it safe to use in a High Efficiency machine? They recommend the HE detergent because these machines have such low water levels.
Lynoitte – I have a HE machine and use this. Just make sure that you grate the pink soap as fine as possible.
Hopefully you check this, hehe. I just made this this morning, but it doesnt look blended together well. Any suggestions? I dont have a food processor, only a ninja and it is just mixing it up at the bottom. Maybe I will try small amounts at one time later tonight after work.
I use the food processor to grind up the soap but I mix it by hand. Hopefully that helps!
I've made this with Fels Naptha Soap. I used a Salad Shooter with a fine grater and mixed it up with the dry soaps in a food processor (Using small amounts at a time). This is a good laundry detergent and cleans clothes very nicely. I have "well water" and really liked the way the clothes came out. The Fels Naptha has a strong oily scent but the clothes come out clean and fresh smelling. I will most likely make this again. ☺
You can make this a liquid, also. After grating the soap mix in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a slight boil(will foam a little) and mix til dissolved. In a separate bucket mix your washing soda and borax together with 2 gallons water(I use warm to hot water to dissolve powder). Add your soap mixture to this and mix. I use half cup per load.
A good idea is to microwave the soap first. It makes it bubble up and get brittle so it's easier to work with. Be prepared for some possible strong fumes though if you use anything other than ivory soap (which can be used in this recipe). Also, white vinegar added to the rinse cycle is a great fabric softener. I have also heard of adding a grated bar of irish spring to the powder to give a little fragrance.
Great ideas! Thank you!
Your intial recipe says 2 cups shredded soap to 1 c. each of the washing soap and Borax. But the mixing directions say to use the grated soap and 2 c. each of the washing soap and Borax. Am I mis-reading something? lol Also, I have a top-loading washer. Would you have any idea how much of the final product to use per load? Thanks!!
Dee – Thank you so much for catching this error. I believe that I have it fixed now! Add 2 cups of the soap to 1 cup each of the soda and Borax.
For the top-loading washer, I would do the same amount and see how it does. You can always increase it.
I made the liquid version… grate the soap bar, put it in saucepan with about 4 cups of water, heat til soap is dissolved… stir in 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and 1 cup Borax, stir til dissolved… pour into a 5 gallon bucket half full of water, stir soap mixture into water, finish filling the bucket to 5 gallons with water, stir, and let set overnight, use 1/4 cup per load… Works great… I also make my fabric softner.
I think I would like the liquid version better but I thought making the powder would be easier. I think it is a cause of the lazies!
I forgot, the mixture will sorta gel, stir before using…
I use that same recipe but with aloe-scented ivory soap. in the winter when the water is colder, we find the ivory doesn't dissolve as well, so we use warm/cold water cycle. but we've loved this recipe and i've converted several people to it and they love it too!! my next experiment is homemade fabric softener with water/vinegar/hair conditioner 🙂
Let us know how the fabric softener recipe works!
Kathi Kraftyzales says
How many bars (and what size bar as there are two sizes of ZOTE) equal the 4 cups of shredded soap?
I used the recipe of 1 large bar, with 1 cup of each powder, cooking the soap with some water, and then adding the rest of the gallon, bringing to a boil, and then adding the 2nd gallon of water. It gelled so hard that I couldn't pour out of gallon containers. I dug some out of one of the gallons and added some hot waster. Then it was usable. WORKS GREAT!!! 1/c cup per load. I am on my 5th load of the day.
Kathi – That is a great question. I haven't had to make another batch for a while as I made several batches last time. I will get an exact measurement next time and add it to this blog post. I believe that I used the large bars.
Does anyone have particular food processors they recommend that work best for this? I wanted to get one just for this purpose. I've found a couple cheaper/older ones and didn't know if a certain cup amount, wattage, or blades really help? Thanks!
I have a Kitchen Aid and love it. It was well worth the investment in my mind but I use my food processor quite often.
Kathi Kraftyzales says
Walmart, in Alamo, TX, now carries Zote aready shredded in a box. WOW!!! Easy Peasy. Bar cost abt 99cents. Box of flakes abt $2.49
That is awesome! I will look into this.
Don't know about Zote but if you put Fels-Naptha in the microwave it puffs up and when you touch it it crumbles so you don't have to grate it.
Southern Mimi says
Does it harm you Microwave if you put the Fels-Naptha in it? I don't want to harm my Microwave or give a funny smell or taste to my food later.
Great thoughts! I don't know. I should have tried this before we got rid of our old microwave!
The microwave works great! But I recommend nukeing small chunks at a time. Let it cool and then just rub it between your hands.
Thanks Catt! I will have to try this.
Having used this recipe for a while, has anyone noticed clothes fading at all? I'm really interested in making my own detergent, but I've often heard others complain about clothes losing their color. Observations or thoughts?
We have been using this detergent recipe for a couple of years and I have never felt this was a problem. I also haven't heard this complaint so not sure what would cause it. Sorry, I can't be more help!
I have used the liquid version for a couple of years. I also add a few drops of essential oil (Sweet Orange, lemon or lavender work well) It makes towels and clothing SO soft and for pennies per year. I have not observed any fading at all and I launder several times per week.
The essential oil would be fun to add! Thanks for sharing.
I added purex crystals for fragrance.
Great idea! Thank you for sharing!
How does this do with stain removal? I'd love to try this but I have a baby so every article of clothing has spit up on it 🙂
Wow…that's a really good question. Unfortunately I don't have a scientific answer.
I have used this recipe for quite a while and we have definitely had stains. Most have come out while others haven't. But, I don't know that Tide would have done any better. I also have a front-loading machine and sometimes I don't think they do as well with stains.
There are stains that I put spray on while I miss countless other stains. I can say that I have three boys and they always have something on their clothes.
Maybe try a few loads but don't put them in the dryer before you make sure the stains come out. Wish I had more suggestions!
Let us know what you decide! Thanks!
Jessica Cowen says
I've been making laundry soap for sometime now. I use Ivory soap. I also make my own washing soda. I could only find it in small boxes so I looked into it. Turns out that Washing Soda is merely baking soda that has been baked. You can buy baking soda in much larger quantities for a much better price. It's very simple. Pour baking soda into a baking dish (larger is better). Pop in the oven at 350 until it feels like washing soda. Bake times depend on how large the baking dish and how much baking soda you put in. Stir occasionally through the baking process until it all feels dry. Voila, an even cheaper laundry detergent. I also cut out the Borax all together. It seems to work just as well and it is truly biodegradable and earth friendly without the Borax 🙂 Happy washing!
Thank you for sharing!