• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Making laundry detergent  RSS feed

 
Posts: 34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have seen lots of posts, mainly on youtube, that show how to make laundry detergent. They use a soap called Fels Naphtha. This isnt something thats available in the UK. Does anyone know a good substitute for this soap? A few people have mentioned Sunlight/another that I cant quite remember the name of, but they are equally as difficult to get hold of.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1441
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Have you ever used soap nuts? I have and was pleased with the results. Your post got me thinking about it so I googled chinese soap berry tree. I was surprised to find that there is a variety of this tree that can be grown in South Carolina.

I think this plant needs to be next on my hit list of plants I must have in the garden. Wouldn't it be great to have your soap growing right in the back yard?


Not sure about your zone so I don't know if any of these would work for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapindus
 
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My family's been using 'Sunlight' soap for generations, but I recently discovered that they've replaced some of the tallow base with...'palm kernelate'.
Now I need to find another locally made soap with no palms involved
 
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I saw another product called "Zote" that a person was using for laundry soap.

what you are looking for is any bar form Laundry soap. typically here we find this type of soap in a drug store or cleaning isle in the grocery store. They are always an old product that has been around since the early 1900s
you could ask some one over the age of 60 if they can think of what their mom might have used back in the 30s or 40s for laundry. I am sure there is a british product that was popular for laundry. I have also heard of people using ivory soap too, any bar soap will work.
 
Posts: 9
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have made laundry soap using grated soap(ivory, fels naptha, etc) and it's a pain. Grating the soap takes a while and there's this yucky soap 'dust'. I've also done the whole 'melting' down the soap for a gel-like laundry soap. Also a pain. I also don't like the soap as much.
Skip it and use this recipe I've been using for over a year. Get a big bowl and scale up the recipe for a big batch if you like it. I only use 1/4 cup per load and it works fine. Add more if you want.

It's a bit messy but it's kinda fun plus if you make a big batch it'll last you for months. Go ahead, get your hands dirty!(clean??)

1 cup Vinegar (white)
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup liquid castile soap(like Dr. Bronners)

■Pour the liquid soap into the bowl first, stir in the washing soda, then baking soda, then added the vinegar in small batches at a time (the recipe foams up at first). The mixture is a thick paste at first that will break down into a heavy powdered detergent, just keep stirring. There may be some hard lumps, try to break them down when stirring (it really helps to make sure the baking soda isn’t clumpy when first adding).

■Mix well and store in sealed container.
 
Posts: 148
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Luna does your recipe work well for stains? Yours is the first concoction I have seen that doesn't involve adding something I am not comfortable touching. (former exzema sufferer) We use soap nuts for pretty much everything, it's awesome on odors, even several year old sweaty man odors, trust me on this one! Stains though, that's where the soap nuts fail me, or maybe it is I who am failing by misuse somehow.
 
Luna Faery
Posts: 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Works fine with stains with me. Only problems I have found is that my whites get dingy when I wash them together with my other clothes(I always use cold).
But I understand this happens with normal detergent also. We also have some hand dyed clothes in the mix, which I am sure contributes. My lazy solution? Eliminate whites from our wardrobes! We don't have enough for a full load of just whites anways.

I haven't had to wash cobbers clothes with this soap yet, so no experience with clay stains.

Otherways to eliminate stains is stick with natural fibers(polyester plus oil stain? good luck.), and put cornstarch or similar on a grease stain right away to soak up the oils.

Any other experience is welcomed! Let me know. Always curious about this sort of thing. I used a similar borax,vinegar, and soda soap in my dishwasher( i can find the recipe if you want it) when i had one, and it left them all cloudy. No longer have one, even though I miss it!
 
steward
Posts: 2168
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
199
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've made laundry soap from home made soap and it works terrific. Of course, we have a water softener in our house. If you have hard water (but not so hard that you've installed a water softener) then soap is not going to clean clothes nearly as well as detergent. In soft water I think the soap based cleaner is terrific.

You don't have to have Fels-Naptha or Zote or any particular soap for the recipes you will find. The simpler the soap, the better, in my opinion, but that's because I try to avoid weird chemicals. Here's what I did when I made a gel laundry soap.

This was the recipe:

1 bar soap, grated
2.5 gallons hot water
3/4 cup washing soda
3/4 cup borax
2 TBS glycerin

The instructions said to melt the soap on the stove, mix all together and use 1/2 cup per full load. It also said you could add 10-20 drops of essential oil.

I cut the water way back. I tried to get by with 1/4 of the water, but that didn't seem to be working, so I ended up with 1.25 gallons (20 cups) of water. I first put the grated soap in the pot, then the glycerin, then some water, then the borax, then the washing soda. The changes the solution went through were fascinating. First, when it was just soap water and glycerin, the liquid was very thin and transparent. As soon as I added borax it started to thicken impressively. By the time I was adding the washing soda I was having a hard time getting it to dissolve (this is when I decided I was going to have to add more water).

By bringing the whole thing to a boil and then simmering, I had the mixture thick but pretty much transparent--translucent, at least. Then after I turned off the burner, the foam layer on top solidified almost to soap. I painstakingly stirred it back in. I kept stirring as the pot cooled (I was doing other things in the kitchen, coming back to check on it from time to time). I did succeed eventually in getting rid of all the incorporated air (I thought that the foam was the problem), but as it continued to cool I found that even without bubbles, the top layer kept solidifying and had to be stirred back into the rest to melt. Any of the mixture that cooled off, e.g. the stuff stuck to the big red spatula I was using, or small amounts that were on the sides of the pot higher up--would solidify to an alarming extent.

I did some online research and found advice to use a stick blender (or a drill with a paint mixing attachment) to really mix it well. Otherwise it seemed that separation was a frequent issue. As it continued to cool, the entire quantity of thick liquid began to turn white from the top down. I used the stick blender, and I do think this was helpful, but it did not change the color back to translucent. If anything it ended up incorporating a whole lot of really tiny bubbles, even though I tried not to. However, after a good amount of stick blending, the material became much more homogenous. It is thick and white, most resembling hair conditioner, to my eye.

I added 1/8th teaspoon of tea tree oil and 1/4 teaspoon of lavender essential oil. After noticing how much even the empty laundry detergent bottle smelled, I added another 1/4 tsp of lavender essential oil.

The next time I make this, I think I should start with 20 cups of water (deionized water) and start that heating in the big pasta pot. Then I can grate the soap and add that. Then I'll mix in the washing soda, then the borax and finally the glycerin (somewhere I read to add the glycerin last). I will move to the stick blender sooner rather than later. I'll probably use the same amount of essential oils, unless something changes my mind once we start using this laundry soap.

Over time this did seperate a little, but a couple of quick shakes prior to use and it was fine. It continued to look like hair conditioner. I am not the main laundry person in my family and the guy who is was a little put off by the odd texture, so the 1 1/4 gallons I made lasted a long time. It contined to work well. He got into it at some point, but I haven't taken the time to make more (we have two kids and life just seems to keep becoming more complex). I would also like to try powdered mixes that I've seen, where you grate the soap (I used my food processor) and add borax and washing soda but no liquid ingredients. I suppose the issue with that is keeping it from sucking up moisture and solidifying.
 
Luna Faery
Posts: 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the recipe! Do you know what the purpose of the glyercine is?
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2168
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
199
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would think that the glycerin helps keep all the ingredients together--in other words, it helps prevent seperation into layers. Glycerin is a humectant--it pulls water in to wherever it is at. You can put a little glycerin on a water stain on wood, and the best bubble recipes have glycerin in them.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've always used some kind of 'soap' in my wash; but after I found 'Sunlight' soap's made with palm-oil, I just let the mix run out.
Someone gave me a big bucket of washing soda crystals and I've been using just them ever since.
My laundry used to get soapy marks and fluff sometimes, now it's always really clean
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2168
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
199
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Someday I will remember how to spell separate.
 
Posts: 16
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This topic got bumped up (presumably because of spam) and I noticed, that nobody metioned horse chestnut. We have plenty of trees in the neighbourhood and I have used it often, especially with delicate fabrics. Here is a good howto with pictures.
 
Don't sweat petty things, or pet sweaty things. But cuddle this tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!