We’re in the process of implementing our newly-created budget. I’m finding that I REALLY don’t like to spend money on boring stuff because that takes away the money we can use to do fun things (or to pay down our mortgage)! A few of our biggest and most boring “budget-busters” are dish washing detergent, dog food, organic milk ($15 A WEEK…the boys drink SO MUCH milk), and laundry detergent. I can’t ever seem to find good deals on these items and it drives me crazy!
When I ran across the idea to make homemade laundry soap for basically one cent per load… (as of Feb, 2011) I was ecstatic! I used a liquid laundry detergent recipe originally found on the Duggar Family site. I’ve never watched the show (since we don’t have cable), but I figured they were experts with the number of loads of laundry they do with all their children!
Ingredients for Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap:
Borax ($2.99 at Walmart or Target–in the laundry aisle, or here)
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda–$2.99 at local grocery store in laundry aisle, or here)
Fels-Naptha Soap Bar ($1.56 at local grocery store in laundry aisle, or here)
5-gallon bucket with lid (around $4 at Home Depot)
10 gallon milk jugs (or other containers) that have been cleaned and rinsed (the concentrate will disperse more evenly if you go ahead and divide it up.
OPTIONAL: Essential Oil Drops for fragrance (we did not add this, so I am not sure how much it costs)
*I could not find the washing soda OR the Fels-Naptha soap at either Walmart or Target. Look at your local grocery store IN THE LAUNDRY AISLE.
Grand Total: $11.54 for 640 loads (180 loads in a top-loading machine). That’s a little more than 1 cent a load! And the savings are even greater the next time you make this because the only thing you’ll have to buy is the Fels-Naptha soap bar!
How To Make DIY Laundry Soap:
STEP 1. Grate the entire bar of the Fels-Naptha soap.
(As you can see, I started off grating it very fine, but realized it was taking too much time.)
STEP 2. Put in a pot with 4 cups of hot water. Stir continuously over medium-low heat until all of the soap flakes have dissolved and melted (about 10 minutes).
It should be slightly foamy with no “chunks” or flakes to be found.
STEP 3. Fill a 5-gallon bucket half-full of hot water.
STEP 4. Pour in the soap mixture. Add 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and 1/2 cup Borax. Stir.
My husband happened to have a paint stirrer that goes on his drill, so that helped. But if you don’t have one of these, just use the end of your mop (or something that can reach to the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket).
STEP 5. Fill the rest of the 5-gallon bucket with water until it is full. Stir again.
STEP 6. Cover and let it sit overnight.
STEP 7. When you open the top up the next day, it should have gelled and thickened slightly. Stir again.
STEP 8. Use a funnel to fill a clean laundry detergent container (or gallon-size milk jug) and fill it HALF way with the soap mixture. Fill the other half with water and shake.
Optional: Attach a homemade tag using packing tape (especially if giving as gifts)
I also made some labels with instructions for use to stick on the front of the milk jugs (which will also ensure that no one accidentally tries to drink it). :)
Though it looks like a lot of steps, this homemade liquid laundry detergent probably took us around a combined total of only 45-minutes to make!
The Homemade Laundry Soap Mustard Test
And in case you’re wondering how this laundry soap performs on tough stains, I thought I would do a little experiment using Prince Charming’s old undershirts.
I poured mustard on shirt #1 and then washed it in Tide Free & Clear.
This is the result.
I then put mustard on another shirt and washed it on the same settings using the homemade laundry soap.
This was the result.
As you can see, they did a similar job washing the shirt. Neither detergent got the stain out completely (which of course you would use a stain remover on a stain that tough normally), but there isn’t a huge difference in the two.
How Much Do I Use?
Once you’re ready to use the laundry soap, shake it in the container first. Then add:
5/8 cups for a regular top-loading machine
1/4 cup for a front-loading (HE) machine
Update: I have been using this for over a year now and found that it works best with 1/2 cup in my HE machine.
When You Have A High-Efficiency (HE) Machine
I have a high-efficiency (HE) machine and have used and will continue to use this laundry soap. I e-mailed LG, the manufacturer of our machine to see if they “approved” the use of this laundry soap. Here is the reply I received:
LG always recommends to use detergents which has “he” logo on it. Even we do not recommend if its written ” he compatible”.
Because oversudsing can create residue buildup in drum, it will be necessary to perform cleaning to remove this residue.
So until we do test in our labs we cannot assure the detergent you make at home is advisable. It might effect washing performance.
LGE – Dubai
However, I also found this somewhat contradictory information:
“The above recipes will NOT make suds in your washer so don’t be alarmed. Fels Naptha Soap is a pure soap and typically makes little or no suds in the water. This makes it perfect for use in the new HE washers as well as traditional washers. You will also notice the need to either reduce your laundry softener or in most cases you can even eliminate the use of softener completely.” – from Soaps Gone Buy
If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, the decision is yours as to whether or not you want to take the risk and use it. Personally, because this soap doesn’t sud at all, I would conclude that it is just fine. I’ll be using it! And from what I’ve read, it seems as though this soap can be used on cloth diapers too.