Sunday, July 5, 2009

Guess What I Did!

If you're thinking that's a big container of chicken stock, you're wrong! I finally made the leap into making my own laundry soap!! I've been thinking about it and thinking about it, and I bought the ingredients a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I decided to just do it already. I had found a large (2.5 to 3 gallon) container with a lid at a thrift store a week or so ago and therefore had no more excuses.

Here is the recipe that I used. I don't take credit for the recipe - if you google homemade laundry soap, you will find many variations of the same basic recipe. Just make it how it works for you:

1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap, grated (I found the soap for .88 a bar and grated it on an old grater I found for a quarter at another thrift store)
1/2 c. Washing Soda (55 oz. box cost $2.73)
1/2 c. Borax (76 oz. box cost $3.48)

I melted the soap in a saucepan on medium-high heat with 6 cups of water. It took 15-20 minutes for it to melt, and I stirred now and then. Once it was melted, I mixed in the Borax and Washing Soda until it dissolved (didn't take long at all) and then poured in another 4 c. of hot water and stirred it well.

I then poured the mixture into my lidded container and added 6 quarts of hot water and stirred it up. I left it to sit overnight. This morning I had a gellatinous mixture that looked kinda cool. I stirred it up to break up the gel and ended up with a slightly gelled liquid - not like normal detergent, but not "icky" either.

I used it for the first time on a load of towels this morning. I have a front loader, so I moved up the tab slightly. You lift it for powder and leave it down for liquid. Since this is a thick liquid with some gel in it, I thought leaving it down completely was a bad idea. I used 1/4 c. in my full load. It worked just fine. I pulled out the towels and they smell great! I contemplated putting some scent in the soap, but it just smells so clean that I really like it. There wasn't a heavy scent to the towels - just a fresh, clean smell. My son's laundry is in now - that should be a good test for it! :-)

I am curious about the cost of my laundry soap, so I'm going to try and break it down:

The Fels-Naptha cost $.88 and I used 1/3 of it, so that's about .30
The Borax box has about 10 cups. I used 1/2 cup, so that's about .18
The Washing Soda is about 5.5 cups. I used 1/2 cup, so that's about .25

Therefore this entire batch cost me $.73! Wow!! I'm guessing at the amount of detergent I have, but at 1/4 c. per load, I should get a minimum of 125 uses out of this amount. That's less than a penny a load! Unbelievable!! If it works as well as it seems to so far, I am completely sold. It wasn't that much work, and there is no way I can find commercial laundry soap that cleans for less than a penny a load!

I will update you on how well it does on my teenage son's laundry. I'm very excited about this, if you can't tell! Let me know if you try it for the first time - I hope it works well for you, too!


Beth said...

You are brave! I think I will have to stick with Tide! I can't stand Borax! :)

Tammy K. said...

I'm glad you finally tried it!! I love it and my girls have not used their expensive lotion for months. They no longer complain of itchy skin and yes even my teenage smelly boys clothes come out smelling clean!

Elizabeth said...

I've been meaning to give this a try. At a penny a load, you can't beat that!

Annie Jones said...

I used to make the powder version all the time. I have gotten away from it simply because my local stores quit carrying both the Fels-Naptha and the washing soda, and I don't want to track them down elsewhere. I suppose I could use a different soap, but I love the fragrance of the Fels-Naptha.

I always used my food processor to grate the soap. I would leave the chopping blade in the bowl, but also put the grating/shredding blade on. I ended up with a nice, fine powdered soap. I just rinsed the soap off the processor parts with hot water when I was done.