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Homemade Laundry Soap

Posted on August 26, 2011

I have wanted to make my own laundry soap for so long. I finally assembled the materials and supplies necessary to make my first batch of homemade laundry soap. Below I have outlined the process and results I obtained from my first attempt at laundry soap making.

After researching and reading many blog posts about making ones own laundry soap, I settled on the recipe that uses washing soda, borax, and Fels-Naptha bar soap. There are many different recipes with a few different changes for each homemade laundry soap if you research it. I followed this blog’s homemade laundry recipe to make my laundry soap using the following supplies to make a 2 gallon bucket of soap.

Large metal cooking pot at least 4 quarts or bigger
2 gallon plastic bucket for final soap container
1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha laundry soap
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team borax powder

Grate 1/3 of the bar of Fels-Naptha soap and place in cooking pot. Add 6 cups water and heat gently over low to medium-low heat stirring occasionally until the soap melts. Remove from heat. Then add the washing soda and the borax stirring until all ingredients are dissolved.

Pour 4 cups hot water into the plastic bucket. Now add the cooked soap mixture to the plastic bucket mix and stir well. Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water to the plastic bucket mix and stir well again. Let the soap mixture sit at least 24 hours to gel. It doesn’t gel to a firm consistency but more like a runny egg white. I use about a half of a cup of soap to wash in my extra large top loader washer. The soap works great on spots too if you just apply a bit to any stains on your clothes.

Below you will find additional photos that show each step from above. Click on any photo to super-size it.

Here is 1/3 of a Fels Naptha bar of soap grated and ready for the cooking stage.

6 cups of water added for the cooking stage.

Homemade laundry soap with all water added and stirred in bucket.

Final result of laundry soap after setting up for 2 days.

Bottom line on this homemade soap — I love it. It works well and if you add a half cup of white vinegar to your final rinse cycle you won’t have any static cling and my line-dried clothes were soft too. I do think when I make this again I will cut down on the water to make a more concentrated soap. My final soap mix was a bit too runny but still works fine. I think if you add just the 1 gallon of water at the end and eliminate the last 6 cups of water, you would end up with a much better consistency of soap. Also this laundry soap is a low sudsing soap so don’t be alarmed when you don’t see many suds. All in all, this is a very good, effective and inexpensive homemade laundry soap.

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11 Responses to “Homemade Laundry Soap”

  1. Debbie
    Aug 26, 2011

    Good for you! I’ve been making a simpler, powder version of this for years and have been very happy with it. I use 1 bar of grated fels naptha (I use a box grater), 1-1/2 cups borax, and 1-1/2 cups washing soda — basically your recipe without the water and cooking. You can run it through the food processer to mix it, but the soap flakes settle out anyway so I don’t bother, I just shake the container a bit before measuring. I use 1 tablespoon for regular loads, 2 tablespoons for really dirty loads, and I put the powder in the washer first before the laundry to ensure that it dissolves fully. It makes a lot, works great and I don’t have to lug a big heavy bucket back and forth to my apartment building’s laundry room in the basement.

  2. Shirley
    Aug 26, 2011

    love it… very similar to the version I use. I started out with the powder version (I have always been a powder detergent user and never cared for the liquid)… but in this case I found I liked the results of the liquid better.

    Also – we have very hard water here, so one trick I found for my version is to add a couple of tablespoons of lemon dishwasher detergent (powder) when adding the borax & washing soda. The dishwasher detergent has “surfactants” that help keep the dirt in the water off the clothes.

  3. Kris
    Aug 28, 2011

    Can this be used in a front loader?

  4. Cindy
    Aug 28, 2011

    Kris, I have read several posts that say this works just fine in front loaders and HE washers. While I don’t have first hand experience with this, you can read this e-how post about it but it appears because this homemade soap is low sudsing that it works just fine. Several people say to use the same amount of soap in my case that would be 1/2 cup for a large load. Try it and see how it goes. If you need to, you could cut the soap amount back but I think the 1/2 cup in this current recipe would be fine.

    If anyone out there has any good advice on this matter, I would love for you to comment on this thread.

  5. Marie
    Aug 31, 2011

    I made almost 12 hours ago and my soap is still very liquidy, hasnt ‘gelled’ up yet. Is this normal?

  6. Cindy
    Aug 31, 2011

    @Marie, I didn’t check mine for a few days but it is kinda runny still. It’s like a runny egg white but it works well. I agree its a bit watery for my liking so next time I going to omit that last 6 cups of water at the end. But rest assured, it does clean clothes pretty good.

  7. Ron
    Aug 31, 2011

    My granny is fond of making this before. She uses this everytime we have nothing to use at home. I think by this time we have to be resourceful especially that the cost of living is high.

  8. Jeff
    Sep 09, 2011

    I am searching for laundry soaps since I want to find a way to cut cost on soaps that I use in my laundry business. I haven’t tried making my own laundry soap. I could save a lot based on the ingredients and steps you provided. I am yet to find out if it provides the same cleaning quality as commercial soaps.

  9. Cindy
    Sep 09, 2011

    I think the soap works great and would definitely say it’s as good if not better than commercial soaps. I hope you try making your own soon and find out how much cheaper it is to DIY.

  10. timethief
    Sep 16, 2011

    Hi Cindy,
    Welcome to the make your own cleaning products club. I have been doing this for many years now. 🙂

  11. Linda Kennedy
    Oct 06, 2011

    I have used this recipe and love it. It lasts so long! I have made liquid and powder with the same basic ingredients.

    The only thing that I have found is that if you live where there is really hard water (without a water softener) the whites tend to get a little dull. So I save all the whites for one batch and use a small bottle of store bought detergent only for them which makes it last a very long time.

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