Friday, July 19, 2013

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap How-To

I have been making my own liquid laundry soap now for about 4-5 years & I LOVE it!!  Not only is it super cheap, but doesn't contain anything scented.  So while our laundry may smell boring, it is perfect for us not to have a mama with a giant headache from the chemicals, fragrances, etc.  It is also very low sudsing, which is perfect for an HE washer, whether top or front loading. 

Everyone in our house, minus Mr. Lee, has sensitive skin.  Right before I made my very first batch of homemade detergent all of those years ago I had purchased a bottle (a very EXPENSIVE bottle too!) of a big name "natural" detergent that was supposedly free of this & free of that.  Well, wouldn't you know that everybody but Mr. had rashes; those who wore cloth diapers & those who didn't as well, so it wasn't "diaper rash."  It was HORRIBLE!!  For 3 days I walked funny so I wouldn't be in agony if my skin rubbed together... & for 3 days I had to apply salves, breastmilk, etc. to my own skin & to the Lee children's skin as well.

After that whole fiasco was over, I was left w/a tiny $14 bottle of HE detergent that I wanted to chuck out of a window or something.  I was at a loss because I had no idea what to do... that detergent was supposed to be the best I could get locally being fragrance & yada-yada free, and that was kind of affordable.  I can't say it was even in our budget because I felt like throwing up spending $14 on a tiny bottle of detergent that was going to last for MAYBE a month... YIKES!!  So after the rashes broke out, I surely felt ripped off, frustrated, & quite angry!

I got on the net & found many homemade laundry soap recipes.  I read site after site, recipe after recipe.  While they all may vary a bit with how much water to use, or how much Borax or washing soda, if they do contain both of them, the recipes are all generally the same.  I did experiment once by adding lavender essential oil, but it only scented the soap in the bucket for a few days & then the fragrance was gone. I never could detect any scent to our laundry, so I omitted that part because it was pointless & wasted money.

There are varying brands of soap bars called from from castile, to Ivory, to Fels Naptha, & so on.  I find Ivory to work best for my family because the fragrance is very subtle, it doesn't irritate our skin, & it is FRUGAL!!  Need I say more?!  Oh, another BIG plus is that it rates decently on EWG Skin Deep's database for safety.  While it does score a three, & 1-2 is a better range, I am very happy with a 3.  The score of a 3 comes from the unknowns associated with the fragrance used in Ivory original.  Since my family is very sensitive to chemicals & we don't react to Ivory, I am at peace with my decision to use it in our laundry soap.

Even though this laundry soap is VERY frugal, I can't see spending $4 on ONE bar of a name-brand castile soap if I don't need to.  If the need ever came for me to switch brands, I would get a bar of castile soap though.  I also keep reminding myself just how chock full of chemicals laundry detergent is & I have no problem using Ivory... especially when I think of that horrible rash we all endured after using detergent & that we have only had one rash since when on vacation & I hand washed our clothing in a tiny hotel sink with a bar of hotel soap (loads of fun being on.vacation & having a rash on your legs, thighs, stomach, etc.... not!!).

After just writing about the castile soap I decided to check EWG Skin Deep for the score on a bar of more frugal castile soap, Kirk's.  The score is either zero (if unscented) or a two (if scented).  I wasn't aware that there is a scented & an unscented version, so I am actually going to check into that as the bars are a about $1.15-1.25 per bar at Wal-Mart when I saw them there a while ago.  If I can get the bar with a zero score, I am willing to pay more for a bar of castile soap versus a bar of Ivory, if it is a reasonable price.  Every bit I can affordably cut down on toxins on our skin, in our home environment, etc., I do so; this is one area I may be able to do so even further.

This recipe is SO easy peasy.  Some people complain that the soap grating is a big pain, & some people don't mind it.  Now don't leave any hate posts if you don't like grating (LOL), but I honestly don't mind it.  It goes pretty quickly & is far easier than shredding cheese with a hand grater (we always shred our own cheese to avoid the chemicals, like cellulose, in shredded cheese, so I am familiar with shredding by hand).  I imagine you could use a food processor with a shredding blade, but I just assume not to have to wash it all out, which in my opinion, would take just as long, if not longer, than shredding the bar soap by hand.  I have read of some people using liquid soap instead of bar soap shreds, but I can't tell you how much to use, etc.

The washing soda is popping up at more & more stores these days.  It is sold at several Wal-Marts, grocery stores, mom & pop stores, etc.  It is made by Arm & Hammer, like baking soda, so be sure not to confuse the two.  If you absolutely cannot find WASHING soda, you can make it by simply baking some baking soda.  However, running the oven to make your own washing soda is not as frugal as buying the box of ready made stuff for just under $4.  But again, if push comes to shove, you will still save money making your own laundry soap, even if you make your own washing soda & have to run your oven to do so.

For me to buy the ingredients it costs about $15 w/tax.  I spend about $4 per box of washing soda, $4 for a box of Borax, & $4.50 for an 8 pack of Ivory soap bars.  If I save the ingredients for the laundry soap only, they will last about 18 months, possibly 24 months and even then I may have bars of soap left over.  I find we typically go through a 5 gallon bucket of the laundry soap every 5-6 MONTHS, so it lasts quite a long time... FRUGALITY for sure!!


1 bar of soap, your choice (Ivory, castile soap, Fels Naptha, etc.
1 C washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1/2 C borax
5 gallon bucket

Soap shreds

  1. Shred the bar of soap
  2. Add the soap shreds to a small amount of hot water in a sauce pan
  3. Simmer until all of the soap shreds are dissolved
  4. Add the dissolved soap to the 5 gallon bucket
  5. Add a gallon or so of water
  6. Stir in the washing soda & borax until dissolved
  7. Fill almost to the top of bucket with water, leaving room to stir it without spilling (trust me on this one!)
  8. Stir it all up & put the lid on tight so no littles get into harm's way
  9. Let sit overnight or longer (10-12 hours is probably enough... possibly even 8 or so hours would be enough)
  10. Open the bucket & stir it up good (there will be a big mass of what is like a very thick gelatin in the bucket once it sets along with some water around the edges of the mass so you want to combine the two as best as you can)
  11. The mixture after filling the bucket to the top the rest of the way with water.
  12. Pour some of your laundry soap into a smaller jug, container, etc.

VOILA!!  That's it!! 

To use it, shake the smaller container before use to combine the laundry soap gel with the water again, & then use 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup per load in an HE machine (I use 1/2 cup unless something is REALLY gross... like pukey towels or clothing... then I use a full cup, just because I like to be extra sure, not that I actually NEED a full cup, but I feel better using a full cup.. you know, because MORE is better!! LOL).  Be sure to shake the smaller container before each use. 

Do YOU make your own laundry soap??  If so, do you make power or liquid??  Do you used shredded bar soap or liquid??  If liquid, what kind & how much??  If you haven't made it, will you give it a try after reading how easy peasy it is??  Be sure to come back & tell me if you make it!!