Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap--a tutorial

Back in February, my curiosity (and boredom, maybe?) got the best of me and I decided I was going to try my hand at making our laundry detergent. With five children at home (and two of those five CHAMPION mess-makers) plus a hubby, I do a LOT of laundry. At my cheapest, I could only find us a 144-load box of Arm & Hammer laundry detergent for $8.99, and that lasted us on average about three and a half weeks. Not good enough. I'm cheap. So off I went searching for a powdered laundry soap recipe that I could make at home relatively simply. The Duggars' liquid detergent recipe was intriguing, but the idea of keeping a bucketload of soap that resembled egg drop soup around the tiny tornado who lives in this house was ... well, frightening. I found a powdered recipe, hunted down the ingredients, whipped up my experimental batch of soap and headed off to see if I could prove it unworthy of duplication.


It worked beautifully. Not a single glitch in my laundry. I haven't found any more stains on my clothes, nor have I smelled any funky left-behind odors. I simply have clean, fragrance-free clothes! And, uh ... cost-wise, it was INCREDIBLE. I bought everything I needed to make it for less than $8. I used the last of that batch of detergent TODAY. No kidding--it lasted a family of seven for five and a half months! Wowsa! Wanna see? Well, here's what we did today to mix up our second batch.

First things first--the "easy" part. I combined a box of 20 Mule Team Borax in a big tub thing with a box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. Mine has been sitting a while, so it was a little clumpy. I used a potato masher to break up the clumps.

Once the powdery stuff was combined, I pulled out my bar of Fels Naphtha soap that has been opened and drying in my laundry room for a few weeks. It needs to be grated, so the drier the better. When I made the last batch, I used two bars of Ivory soap, and it seemed a bit gummy when I used my cheese grater (I use the smaller microplane-style grater normally used for parmesan cheese because of the smaller hole--it makes for a finer consistency); I let the Fels dry longer so it didn't gum up when it was grated. My helper Morgan wanted to grate the soap, and her progress after almost five minutes was pretty minimal, she got a bit exhausted.

We chocked the hand-grater and stepped it up a bit. I decided that the Fels was just too hard to grate by hand for Mo (and with my shoulder still on the mend, I wasn't going to even attempt it), so I got out a cutting board and chopped the bar into smaller chunks to put in the food processor.

Here's the consistency I ended up with after whizzing it around for about 30 seconds--perfect! Kind of resembled grits, or coarse cornmeal.

After the bar soap was grated, it was time to combine it all. It took some doing, but I managed to get it mixed up fairly well even with limited shoulder strength. I poured it all into the Rubbermaid container that I keep in the laundry room, and here it is, all full and happy, along with the coffee scoop I use to measure out just the right amount (two heaping tablespoons) per load.
And finally, all closed up, sitting on the laundry shelf ready to tackle the next load of dirties!


Kristie Winn said...

Yay for homemade laundry detergent!

Tina said...

if you like to check my sissy's (need to scroll down a bit) - it's almost like yours - laundry detergent

I don't have all of that stuff here in Deutschland :(

Kris said...

Tina ... remember Pete travels over your way every other month; he *could* be pursuaded to bring you something you can't get there. :)

Tina said...

aahh Kris! you need to read the "Kris post" I published a couple hours ago... :)

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