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cheap laundry soap recipe

 
Posts: 11
Location: Northwest Lower Michigan
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I don't know if this is where it belongs but I came across this tip and have been using it for over a year.

grate one bar of fels naptha soap and dissolve it in 4 cups of water on the stovetop. DON'T LET IT BOIL OVER!

in a 5 gallon bucket add one cup of WASHING soda and 1/2 cup of borax with enough warm water to dissolve it.

once everything is dissolved add it together and add cold water to fill the 5 gal bucket.

This will need to be blended (I used an electric drill with a paint stirrer) the next day.  This stuff is a concentrate and should be mixed in a recycled laundry soap bottle 50/50 with water. 

Use it just like any other laundry liquid.  We use it in our front loader machine and it works wonderfully.  The bar of soap could also be Kirks Castille.  I think you could even use homemade lye soap.  There are a couple of options for fabric softener too. 
1. White vinegar.  Use like any other fabric softener liquid.  This is what we use and it works very well.
2. put one bottle of liquid fabric softener into a 5 gal. bucket and top it off with water.  mix it up and throw in a couple of sponges.  Squeeze out a sponge and throw it in like a dryer sheet.

Both of these are great money saving ideas and I hope in this economy it helps just a little.



 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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I don't have room for a bucket to sit in my laundry area, and since we have really hard water and I wash in cold, I didn't go with any of the powder recipes.  I make two gallons at a time, simple!
The recipe I use is to melt ½ bar of Fels Naptha or Zote in 6 to 8 cups of hot water over steady heat (do not boil). I usually pour hot water into my 6 quart pot, turn on the heat, add grated soap, then bring just to under a boil. Stir, then turn off heat and allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes. The soap will be melted and you haven’t had to babysit it. Then I add ½ cup washing soda and ½ cup borax, stirring well to dissolve, then I divide equally into two empty vinegar or milk jugs (1 gallon size).

I add 2 cups or so of very hot tap water, put lid on tight, give a few vigorous shakes, release lid slowly (the heat will cause pressure in jug). Then I add another 2-3 cups of hot water and repeat the shake, then add remaining water to about 2″ from top. You may have to allow suds to settle some before adding the last cup or two. Give one last shake to mix all ingredients. Allow soap to sit in jugs unlidded until cool. Then replace lid and store in laundry room.  This will gel.  I usually use the handle of a wooden spoon to break the gel up the first time I open the jug.
You use 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load, depending on size and filth of load.  Shake the jug a few times to mix before using.
I have used the bar of Zote as a pretreat 'stick' and have rubbbed the concentrate on big greasy areas on jean before washing.  Works good!

I recently made the switch to vinegar as fabric softener.  I was surprised at how well it works!
 
wesleyds Smith
Posts: 11
Location: Northwest Lower Michigan
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Very similar recipe.  We were surprised with the effectiveness of the vinegar also, and it's a lot cheaper than the liquid softener. 
 
                        
Posts: 278
Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
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Just a comment here:  I have very hard water, so I use the drinking water I buy from the grocery store to make my home-made soap to minimize the effect minerals may have with the soap.
 
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I omit borax when I make laundry soap: it's supposedly harmful to soil life.
My washing comes out clean without it.
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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Leila wrote:
I omit borax when I make laundry soap: it's supposedly harmful to soil life.
My washing comes out clean without it.



Leila, so you just use washing soda and water?  Do you add baking soda or anything? 

I didn't know borax was harmful to plants until I found this forum.  We have a standard septic system, but I always wanted a grey water system.  I'll have to figure out a different laundry soap for that.
 
                        
Posts: 13
Location: North East Scotland
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I made my first soaps back in December and have just spent the last two days experimenting with them for laundry. I was quite impressed with the results but mostly because the fabric was left soft enough without fabric softeners. The soap alone didn't shift some stains, but it will be fine for coloureds, delicates, towels and bedding.
I'm going to make lotions and moisturisers next......got the bug now
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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hervor wrote:
The soap alone didn't shift some stains, but it will be fine for coloureds, delicates, towels and bedding.



Yes, I agree.  What has helped me is pretreating stains by rubbing some laundry soap into them or just using the bar of Zote as a stain stick a few minutes before washing.  I also found that soaking for a few hours really helps on stain removal.
 
Posts: 438
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Here's a link to a tutorial I made on making laundry detergent. There are some links on there too to more recipes, one that is just castile liquid soap and baking powder (you could grate and melt castile bar soap instead of using the liquid I'm sure).
http://www.flickr.com/photos/craftylittlemonkey/sets/72157624058764110/
 
                      
Posts: 56
Location: MONTANA, Bozeman area; ZONE 4
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LAUNDRY BALLS-  CLEAN WITHOUT DETERGENT


2 BALLS FOR 14$ - COMES TO PENNIES PER WASH LOAD

http://www.ib3health.com/products/Home/LaundryBall.asp

 
                      
Posts: 56
Location: MONTANA, Bozeman area; ZONE 4
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http://www.soapsgonebuy.com

They have what is needed for these formulas, and they say it come out to 3, 4, or 15 cents per load, depending on what you use.  Compared with store products said to cost $1.50 per load.
 
T. Joy
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The recipe I posted comes out to about 2 cents per load too, it's such a huge savings that I will Never buy laundry detergent again!
 
                                  
Posts: 6
Location: Eastern Oklahoma
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We've been making our own laundry soap for years with much better results than store bought, also the cost savings. We use Octagon and Zote in different batches though. I made 10 gallons last time and my wife said: "You do know there is only the 2 of us here". I grew up with the fragrance of Octagon Soap. My grandmother, born 1878, used it all her adult life as did my mother. I use it for hand soap too. Most people hold on to some things from their childhood because a sight, smell or sound keeps the connection to the good parts of our youth we don't want to lose as we get older.

Mike 
 
Posts: 156
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We have been making our laundry soap for just a couple of months now.  At first my wife hated the idea but now that she sees that "this stuff" actually works she loves saving the money.  Where we live Octagon is the laundry soap easiest to find, nut my mother went to NY and brought us back 20 bars of Fels Naptha.  That should last a while.

I think we have been going overkill with our recipe:

1/4 Bar of Octagon
1 cup washing soda
1 cup Borax

We prepare like the instructions above, but we use this for a one gallon container.  We use 1/4 cup per load.

If I want to use Wesley's recipe for a single gallon would it be:

1/5 Bar of FelsNaptha
1/5 Cup of Washing Soda
1/10 Cup of Borax

This would make one gallon concentrate or two gallons of full strength.

A question for Wesley...how much do you use per load of laundry?
 
Posts: 7
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUxcG0oUbV8

Here is a link to our soap making video. It sounds like the same thing many on here posted. Our first video of stuff we do. Just thought we would share it with others.
 
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
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This sounds Like a must do. I can't wait to try it!
Thanks for the video too
 
wesleyds Smith
Posts: 11
Location: Northwest Lower Michigan
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A question for Wesley...how much do you use per load of laundry?

Sorry I haven't been on in a while.  We use about a quarter cup.
 
                                  
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wesleyds wrote:
A question for Wesley...how much do you use per load of laundry?

Sorry I haven't been on in a while.  We use about a quarter cup.



dude, it's just pennies per load, so feel free to play around with the amounts.  i use a couple cups (bar soap, washing soda, borax recipe) and it rinses easily.

we used this same mixture for our dishwasher for a time and found it left a residue.  i plan on making a bar of deoderant this weekend and will experiment with other products in the future, too.
 
Shawn Bell
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I changed my recipe to what Wesley had in the original post.

It works much better then what we were doing before, and it is even cheaper.
We use 1/4 cup per load.
 
Thelma McGowan
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
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I am very pleased with the results.

as for savings..........
Tide/or big box store brand-----10 cents per load ------standard recomended measure for full load
home made soap------3 cents per load-------2 cups measured for full load

The washing soda makes the clothes very soft. so no need for softner....at least here with our water situation and being on a well.
The next best way to save money on clothes washing is by not creating so much laundry.....my next mission to be frugal. getting more days wear out of our clothes with out looking grungy......of course I have 2 little boys so that might be a pipe dream...haha
 
                              
Posts: 6
Location: Southern Arizona
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We started using homemade laundry soap (the liquid-gel version) two months ago. I've made 3 batches so far b'cuz I gave away a lot and everyone who's used it wants more. So far, it's every bit as effective as the liquid Purex I used to buy. There's 5 of us, vehicle grease, red adobe mud, cooking spatters, a zillion towels. So far, so good. I wash in cold, extremely hard water.

NOTE: This soap will not suds, not even a little, so don't be fooled by looking in the washer and seeing dirty water and think you should add more. It is working fine. Adding too much will leave a soapy residue.

There's dozens of sites with various recipes online. Here's the recipe I've used so far:

---1 whole bar of soap, 4-5 oz., the brand doesn't seem to matter. Personally I dislike the smell of Fels, too chemical-ly. Had a bunch of Irish Spring Blue which smells like 'fresh linen'   so I'm using that. (Hint: Use soaps you like the smell of. Don't bother adding essential oils. Too costly, the soap smell overrides it anyway.)
---1 C. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (can substitute baking soda but it won't gel quite the same. Still works fine, far as I could tell)
---1 C. borax -- If someone could please direct me to posts that 20-Mule-Team borax in greywater is toxic to plants. I've always heard that, too, until I found an Aussie homestead family online who use this soap 20+ years in their greywater direct-to-garden set-up and they laugh when people talk about borax killing plants b'cuz obviously nothing is dying in their fabulous garden with alkaline soils. I'll find the link later. Our greywater is not being used for irrigating yet, but it's always run outside to wild plants that seem unaffected so far.

Directions:
I don't grate the soap. It cuts nicely into shreds and chunks with a big knife and cutting board. Add it to a qt. of boiling water. Simmer and stir occasionally for 30 min or shut off and let soak till dissolved. Or soak the whole bar for several days and heat when it's dissolved.

Heat a gallon or 2 of water (or use hot tap water). I usually put a gallon on to heat while dealing with the bar soap.

Put the powders in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Add the hot dissolved soap and stir with a long-handled spoon until powders dissolve. (I use plastic, don't want my wooden one soaking up the soap smell) Add the 2 gal. of hot water plus another quart to make 2-1/2 gal. total. Stir.

Let sit overnight (or a couple of days) in the bucket, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom well. Doesn't need covered unless stuff will fall in it.   It will gel and take on the color /scent of the bar soap.

I stir it real good one last time and then pour or dip the thickened gel into plastic Folger's coffee cans with lids or 4-qt. ice cream buckets. Diluting or putting this glop into old laundry soap containers seems an unnecessary step.

Use 1/2 c. per large load. I use a ladle which is 1/2 cup, or you can use a laundry scoop or whatever works. Just so you're scooping it out and not pouring it cuz it's a little messy. I have a dish towel under the jug to catch drips and to lay the ladle on.

Here is the math for how much it costs vs. liquid Purex:

An 80-oz. jug of ultra concentrate Purex was about $7.00, probably more now.
So 2-1/2 gallons of Purex would cost $28.

2-1/2 gallons of my homemade soap costs $1.50.
An 80-oz jug of my homemade soap is 37 cents.

That is the kind of math I like.
 
Posts: 257
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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I remember making laundry soap like this once. I remember the bar of soap, the boric acid, but I also remember that (since here in Costa Rica I couldn't find washing soda, or not with that name) washing soda is sodium carbonate, and that to make it, I had to bake sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) for four hours, which I obviously didn't do. Could it be that I used only baking soda instead? I had a pretty good gel at the end.
Also, I have 65 liters of 50% hydrogen peroxide, which I use everywhere from the kitchen to my mouthwash.
Does anyone know a recipe that includes hydrogen peroxide? I heard that at high concentrations it can be used as bleach (40% is what's used to bleach hair). Mine is 50%, but it only bleaches my skin if it touches it, and temporarily.
Anyway, it's still great, especially because here in the tropical forest, by the time the laundry basket is full, the stuff at the bottom is molded, and I wash with cold water to save on the propane...
 
                                
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This is perfect for an entrepreneur like me. I think I can make this as a business.
 
                              
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Location: Southern Arizona
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My 13-yo daughter says some old stains in a white shirt of hers have disappeared-- "it must be that new soap". Another daughter (age 21) says it does her baby's diapers just fine, all the stains come out, no rashes. Her husband is sensitive to chemicals and he's had no reaction to it. Another daughter (age 22) told me today that she loves it.

I just tried a South of France brand 4.25 oz bar of soap and it gelled much harder than the Irish Spring or Fels so I added 1 1/2 gal. more hot water and we'll see how that works.

Does anyone know how to test water for salinity? I want to try some experiments. I can rig up a 'wetlands' and try some plants like cannas and other ornamentals. I'd test the salinity at both ends and the plants too if possible. That's my only real concern with this recipe. Most permaculturists in my area warn against using soaps that add alkalinity or salt to the environment.

A quick google search brings up the European Union putting disodium tetraborate on its list of substances "of very high concern". (It is not completely banned) The testing agency fed it to test animals. I'm not yet convinced it's less safe than the slew of chemicals in laundry soap. Borax, a mined mineral, has been in constant use for 5,000 years for hundreds of applications.

I couldn't find the link to the Aussie family who uses homemade laundry soap (could be New Zealand) but they built a metal house on concrete slab which heats and cools itself via direct solar gain and airflow. They're christians and the pics of their garden beds irrigated with nothing but greywater were amazing. It was an older blog. If anyone finds it please post the link here. They had a lot of good info.

I'll post my observations and further research as they happen. I hope others do, too. We need people testing this out in greywater irrigation systems.
 
Thelma McGowan
Posts: 170
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so my observations with using this new soap recipe are:

The clothes are very soft when they come out of the drier and they do not have static cling.

we did a test load of laundry with our old brand of soap and we had static cling when the clothes were dried in the drier.

Being that i am automatically distrustful of big business....it seems to me that modern laundry soap has built in chemicals that make clothes rough to the touch and create static cling.
Then the same companies market fabric softners and drier sheets to solve these issues.

this makes me Sick! but it makes total sense and why wouldn't a large corporation create the need for more products to sell to the masses to increase profitability.

This not exactly planned obsolescence.....but it is similar on concept. I am sure this type of marketing has a name??
 
                                    
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washing soda is sodium carbonate.  I order mine off of Ebay, rather then buy it by the small box...which no one seems to carry in my area.   

I have been using this for almost 14 yrs.  The soap will also cut the  burnt food and other crud in your pot & pans, too ! Just add a half cup to the pot , fill with hot  water & soak overnight.
 
Mother Tree
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I buy sodium carbonate from the swimming pool maintainence section of the hardward store in 5kg tubs for around 10 euros.  It's marketed as 'pH+' for raising the pH of the pool, but if you read the small-print it's just pure sodium carbonate. 

For 'normal' washing, ie getting rid of dust and sweat from normal clothes, I use a 'wash ball'.

For dirtier stuff I use home-made soap.

For really gunky stuff like nappies I use the sodium carbonate.

My other half likes borax - I've never been able to stand the smell of it and have never felt the need to use anything stronger than the washing soda/sodium carbonate.
 
                          
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I've been using a similar recipe for my laundry soap for 30 years, using homemade soap.  Most of the solid bars of soap mentioned are actually detergent bars and work well in hard water.  They are also chemical based and although the amount in your wash load would be small, you may not want to use the grey water on your organic garden. 

Using natural soap, such as homemade soap, gives an adequate laundry powder in soft water with a neutral pH.  In hard water you will begin to notice a greying of your whites.  Hard water plus natural soap creates a bond between the water minerals and the soap and forms soap scum.  Detergents don't do this but also don't break down in the environment in the same benign way.  To see if your version of the laundry soap is forming soap scum in your water -- look at the water level line in your washing machine.  If you notice a grey-brown scum forming in our laundry tub at the water level, you have hard water and a soap scum forming on both your wash tub and your clothes. 

Reducing the amount of soap that you use helps.  I use only 1 tbsp. per wash load of a mix of 1- 4oz bar of soap, 2 cups of washing soda, 2 cups of borax and a gallon of water.  Its the soap that greys the whites not the other ingredients. 

Adding a cup of vinegar or diluted citric acid (cheaper) to the rinse cycle of just your white load will prevent the soap scum from forming on your whites, and add some fabric softening to your the load.  I just add vinegar to the cup that is intended for fabric softener, at the beginning of the load. 

Borax is fine for the garden, especially for fruit trees.  They require a small amount of boron in the soil for fruiting.  Washing soda in your grey water, will change the soil pH so don't use it on blueberries or other acid loving plants. 

I'm new here and our farm is located in Southern B.C., Canada.
 
master steward
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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
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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
 
Leila Rich
steward
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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
 
Thelma McGowan
Posts: 170
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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
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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!
 
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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
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Thanks for the recipe! Do you know what the purpose of the glyercine is?
 
Julia Winter
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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
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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
 
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