Thursday, April 16, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap

We have tons of laundry in this house. I swear that when the Farmer walks there's a cloud of dirty laundry following behind. Really, it's like an old car pumping out pollution, but in his case it's dirty socks!!

I started making my own laundry soap about six months ago and I've never looked back. I was sick of buying the stuff and was glad to find a group of online recipes. I liked the one that Suzanne from Chickens in the Road published. I've changed it just a bit and found a way to emulsify the mixture. So, let's get started!

Here's what you're going to need:

Small bar of soap
3/4 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 baking soda
Large pot
3 empty milk jugs
1 empty juice container

I found all the ingredients at my local grocery store. In the past I've made the laundry soap using one 4.5 oz. bar of Ivory soap but this time I found a bar of Zote which is a specific laundry bar soap. Zote is almost 8 oz. so I'm only using half a bar. I'm using my cheese grater to grate the soap.

Ivory soap grates into perfect little curls but Zote becomes granular in texture.

It's easy to know when you've got half a bar grated. Z-O-T-E has four letters, grate off two of the letters!

I use a large pot that I purchased at a garage sale for 50 cents. This is quite large and was probably used as a canning bath. You'll need something large enough to hold 3 gallons. Don't worry if you don't have something that large. Just use your stock pot and cut the recipe in half.

Start by boiling 6 cups of water.

I don't want to be measuring all the water out every time I'm making this recipe so I measure it out once and mark the side of an empty milk jug with a permanent marker.

Put the soap into the boiling water.

Stir until the soap melts. I'm exciting about using Zote because it appears that I'm going to have a pale pink laundry soap.

When the soap has melted completely, add the borax, washing soda and baking soda.

Keep stirring and simmering until dissolved. Add 4 cups of very hot water. Stir again and remove from the heat.

Add 24 cups of cold water.

Stir till well combined. Let the mixture stand for several hours. What happens is that the mixture will gel. I don't know why but it does. Heck, I failed Chemistry.

Here's a little video (very short) which will show you the consistency of the gelled mixture. Hey - I know you were having withdrawals from hearing that midwestern accent.

You can keep this mixture in a large bucket in your laundry room and simply mix it around before you use it. I don't have room to store a large bucket and it's hard to transfer this "snot soup" into plastic jugs so I've developed a way to emulsify it and make it into a smoother liquid. This process involves my Smoothie Machine!!

Not alot of smoothies or margaritas being blended around here so I've found another gig for the machine.

I fill it up and give a whirl for 10 seconds. It works great because I can just put the jug under the spiggot and fill it up. So easy.

This makes three gallons. You only use 1/2 cup of this soap for each load of laundry. Really! The borax and washing soda do their work, you don't need more. After it's been emulsified it's kind of white. I'd be sure to mark it so that it's not mistaken for milk.

You'll wash 40 loads from each gallon - times 3 gallons is 120 loads!

I bought these supplies months ago but if I remember correctly I bought everything for less than $10.

I don't want to be lifting gallon jugs so I use an empty juice container to keep a smaller amount for daily use. If you look at this photo you'll see the juice container on the right. After it sits for awhile it separates a bit so just shake it up before you measure it out.

Please try this and let me know what you think.

Tomorrow is our weekly field trip. Be sure to be here or the bus will leave without you!


Heidi said...

I do this too!!!! I use it for the nasty barn cloths that we have and boy does it save the dollars for me! Have you tried making homemade fabric softner? It works BETTER than the store stuff... 2cups hair conditioner any kind will work but I use the cheap suave vanilla..or lavender then 2 cups white vinigar and 6 cups water - shake it up baby now - shake it up baby - twist and shout.. oops, sorry... shake it up and there you have it. Love your accent btw! LOL

Molly said...

I use this exact recipe but without adding water. Have you tried the dry? Do you think the gel version works better? Enquiring minds want to know...and save money.

I tried the washing soda + borax mixture for the dishwasher and it's okay, but I wasn't overwhelmed - a film appeared on the dishes.

Wendy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bayouwoman said...

And aren't you so smart? In all my years of raising kids and going back to basics, I never heard of doing this!!! And I spent a ton on liquid detergent.

And now that I only have two kids at home (rather than 5) and less time because I'm running 3 businesses, can you tell me how long it takes to do this? I just might try it.

Mim said...

Yeah, what Molly said. I've used the dry and haven't felt like it did the job for me. But I would go to the trouble to make it a liquid if it worked better. Let us know if you know a difference.

Ang. said...

This is different than any other homemade laundry soap recipe I have seen other people use. I like it! And I have everything on hand already. Fels Naptha is an excellent laundry bar soap, too. It is actually a great "stain stick" which is why I keep it on hand. Thanks for posting this when I am nearly out of laundry soap!

Ang. said...

Oh, and your accent. I would call that a Chicago suburbs accent. Maybe not so noticeable to someone who didn't grow up in northern IL though.

chocolatechic said...

I have made laundry soap several times before, and for some reason, it never seems to get my laundry clean enough.

My whites begin to get a nasty yellow I always end up back with my Tide or Purex.

Lisa said...

This doesn't look nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I can do this!!! Whoohoo! Another great money saver....Thanks :)

Kitty said...

I'm thinking I will try this soon. I already make my own bar soap and like the idea of the natural ingredients. (We, too, are on a septic system.) I use my stick blender to emulsify my soap so may try that on your recipe instead of transfering to the blender. Can you leave out all the cups of cold water and make a more concentrated detergent? Hmmm...seems like all of us will soon be doing our own experiments. Thanks, Suzanne, for all your inspiration--you're a jewel!

Karen said...

How does this clean your whites??

Like another poster, I've tried making homemade laundry detergent, in the past.

However, while it did clean whites strted looking a bit 'dingy' (in the words of that ad currently on TV).

Rene said...

Thanks for this recipe and thanks Heidi for the fabric softener recipe. I've never used liquid laundry soap before last week but I'm starting to like it. We are at the transplant house now and they provide the laundry supplies which includes liquid laundry soap. When we get home in July I'm going to give this a try.

Suzanne said...

Heidi - Thanks for the recipe for fabric softener. The Farmer is addicted to "April Fresh" so I don't know how it's gonna fly in this house, but I'll give it a try.

Molly - I've never used the dry stuff but I think I'll try it. It's the same ingredients and less mess. We'll see. I haven't done the dishwasher mix. I'll see if that works with our water. We get the film regardless. I think it's the lime.

Bayouwoman - It take about 30 min. beginning to end, not counting the time it stands and gels. If you mix up all the dry ingredients, like Molly suggested, it would be only the time spent grating the soap. Three businesses?? THREE...Slow down woman.

Mim - I'll have to say that it works pretty good. We have well water and I haven't found than anything works better than another.

Ang - I use Fels Naptha for pre-treating also. I haven't used it in the laundry soap though.

AND.... You are exactly correct. It's a Chicago Suburb accent. I was raised in the suburbs. The Farmer was raised very close to the city and has the typical southside Mike Ditka accent. We're quite a pair when we're together.

Chocolatechic - I have'nt had that happen yet. Maybe that's yet to come.

Lisa - money and spent it on yourself.

Kitty - I don't think I'd concentrate it anymore because as it is you only use 1/2 cup. The borax can be kind of strong.

Karen - I guess I'm so used to my whites not being totally white because of our water. Even with the water treatment plant in the basement (for which I'm responsible) the lime and rust do their thing. I wish my stepfather was still alive because he was a chemical engineer and could explain all this stuff and figure out an additional ingredient that would pump up the whites.

Rene - Good! I'm going to check out where you're at......"the transplant house" sounds interesting.

Thanks for joining me here today.

belladella said...

I've always wanted to try this. This is a great tutorial.

Mary said...

How very clever. The tip for emulsifying is especially helpful.


The best of the best I say! You are marvooloose dawling...I had to RP this. (re-post)

Vee said...

Very interesting... I'll have to compare this with Robin's.

~ Sara ~ said...

OK I HAVE to add my two cents... or a 1/2 c. of laundry soap! :)

I was just going to post our laundry soap recipe but just go here

We have found it works so much better with the Tide w/bleach added in. AND an added bonus... if by catch you sorta let the soap boil over while "cooking" it. You'll have the cleanest stove in the state! Unless of course someone else let their soap boil over! Happy laundering!!!

Kimberly C. said...

I too make my own laundry soap. It saves TONS of money, and it does a wonderful job of keeping our clothes clean and fresh.

lifeinredshoes said...

Ok Suzanne, I'm a bit of a laundry Nazi, how does this work on whites?
I'm tired of spending a small fortune on Tide w/bleach, Oxyclean, and Shout. What's the 411 here?

Vicki's Bit-o-earth said...

Great Post!!! Thank you! Do you know if there's any place to get larger amounts of Borax? I've looked.. no luck.

Steph said...

Hi! I just googled "farmers wife" to see if there were other farm wives with blogs, and I found this one! This looks like a great, low cost way to keep the farm clothes clean! I look forward to reading more posts like this, as I am semi-new (2 1/2 years) to this farm wife thing! lol.

Suzanne said...

Bella Della - Try and see if your like it.

Mary - I just couldn't deal with big buckets and slimy stuff so I put on my problem solving hat and dug around my pantry.

Oh, thank you so much had to re-post?

Vee - Robin's doing laundry soap too? I think we're in a laundry state of mind with spring promising to come.

Sara - OK, I definitely going to try that. I think I've got some up in the cabinet. Do you think I can add it after the fact, or maybe just sprinkle some in with my homemade? I'm jumping over to check out your recipe. You should post it. The more information the merrier.

Kimberly - I'm happy with the money saving aspect.

Red Shoes - Laundry nazi??? What? I'm probably going to have to add you to my peeps list. I already have a Grammar Nazi and a Laundry Nazi would round out the group, don't you think? As I said, we have water issues here, especially if I'm falling down on my job as manager of the water treatment system in the basement. There's a tank where I add bleach, another for salt and another tank that has some other chemicals.The biggest problem is the rust and I guess I've given up on have really sparking whites.

Vicki - I get that large box at the local grocery store. You might be able to find it at a hardware store also.

Steph - Welcome!! Googling is a good thing. Please come back and I'll come over to visit you also.

- Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

lifeinredshoes said...

Suzanne, I would be honored to be your Laundry Nazi.

Farmchick said...

I like this recipe and will try it. I am intrigues by Heidi's fabric softener recipe and I am going to give that a try to. Good post.

~ Sara ~ said...

OK... so here it is... :) We are going to try Heidi's Fabric Softener recipe... I just spent almost $18 for a the stuff... egads!

Laundry Soap Recipe:

1 1/2 bars of Fels Naphta soap
2 c. washing soda
2 c. Borax
2 c. tide with bleach OR Clorox 2 (color safe bleach)

Grate Fels Naptha soap. Heat and dissolve in 1 gal. water. Remove from heat and stir in washing soda and borax. Mix well. Pour 2 1/2 quarts HOT WATER into a 5 gal. bucket (or half it and put into 2 - 2.5 gal buckets). Add Fels Naptha solution and Tide, stirring well.

Fill bucket/s with cold water. Stir until mixed together. Ready to use in 24 hours. Use 1/2 -3/4 c per load. Increase for heavily soiled clothes.

We use this all the time and it saves us about $40.00 a month on buying laundry soap. It's wonderful stuff George! (as my uncle would say)

PS. The slower you "cook" the soap and water the better it turns out.

Cottage Rose said...

Hey Suzanne; What a great idea, it sounds pretty easy. And getting 40 wash loads is really nice.. Thanks for sharing it with us.. you did a great how to.

looking forward to the road trip..


Ang. said...

I just wanted to point out that if you have a water softener, you can use half the amount of laundry and dish soap that is called for. I only use about 2T of laundry soap for an extra large load. Our clothes are always clean and our whites are always white (except for those darn wash-in-cold-only-because-its-a-school-uniform baseball pants!). This has been the biggest money saver for us!

blufloyd said...

Ha... Zote soap the famous Mexican animal fat bar used for catfishing in the south.
I am not in the soap biz so I use minimal amounts of detergents as well.

Time to get the mower going.

kori bates said...

WOW, I just got done making my soap today! I have seen some interesting stuff in here. I think that I might take my borax down form 1 cup to 3/4...seeing how you said it is strong.

Anonymous said...

I am serious about performing a reverse cell number search by going on the internet. I'm having all of these calls by someone who I really don't know and am interested who they think they're dialing. Various crazy texting and also messages are being left on my voice mail and it is starting to drive me nuts. And so, exactly where can i locate these reverse mobile look up websites?

Peaceful Momma said...

Hi, can you use this in a high-efficiency washer? I totally want to try this! Thanks!