Homeade Laundry Soap: How and WhyOn April 10, 2018 by Kari
I started making my own laundry soap when we first moved into the tiny house. The friends that we were staying with when we were living in the RV have been doing it for years and she shared her recipe with me. Since then I have lost it and needed to find my own way of making it from memory.
I love making my own laundry soap for several reasons.
- It saves us money. Laundry soap is expensive and it’s not like we can stop washing dirty clothes. Husbands need clean clothes for work. Kids go through clean clothes like crazy especially when living on a homestead in the country. The cost of laundry soap can add up quickly.
- Skin sensitivities. In our family we have skin sensitivities and we can’t buy anything that has fragrance in it. This means that our laundry soap can be more expensive than buying whatever happens to be on sale the week that we run out.
- Gray water. Because we have a septic tank for our house instead of regular city water, we have all our gray water run out of the house with the intention of collecting it and using it to water our garden in the future. In doing this I have to be really careful about what products I use so it won’t hurt our plants.
Here is what you need: Borax Detergent Booster, Zote Bar Soap or Fels-Naptha Bar Soap and Laundry Booster Washing Soda which you can buy online to at your local store. You’ll also need a 5 gallon bucket. All of this should cost you about $30. I have only had to buy one box of Borax and Washing Soda and I still have plenty to keep using and I’ve been doing this for almost 2 years. The Zote soap I buy when it’s time to make more.
The Cost: (Prices based off Amazon) The soap I was buying before came in a container that was 1.17 Gallons and costs around $30. I have made laundry soap 3 times in the last 2 years which equals 30 gallons. That is 25.6 containers of old laundry soap which totals $768 in 2 years! I didn’t realize how much I was saving until I just did that calculation! I’m shocked at how quickly that added up!
Now you take the $44.75 I have spent to buy the supplies to make my laundry soap homemade and do the math. That is $1.75 per 1.17 gallon container! Can you believe that cost difference? I can’t! And it only takes about an hour to get from start to finish. It’s probably faster if you do it when you aren’t getting distracted from kids interrupting you! And remember I still have left over Borax and Washing Soda that I can keep using at least 2 more times which means 50 gallons of laundry soap per box! (Update! Still using the same Borax and Washing Soda and it’s been another 2 years! I think I’ll make it through 2020 before needing to buy more!)
Ok so now you are probably thinking “Show me how so I can save money too!”
Here you go….
- Shred your Zote soap.
- Melt shredded Zote soap in 4 cups hot water. Place on stove with medium to medium high heat and stir until completely melted. This is the hardest step for me. It sounds so easy but for whatever reason my soap just doesn’t seem to melt as easy as it sounds so be prepared. Should take about 10-15 minutes. *Pro tip: Melt a little at a time. It will take just as long but it will melt more evenly.
- Fill 5 gallon bucket halfway with hot water and then add melted soap. Stir this up a bit.
- Add 1 cup Borax Detergent Booster.
- Add 1 cup Laundry Booster Washing Soda. Stir it up! If you can’t reach the bottom with whatever you are using to stir you can wear dish gloves to keep your hand from getting in the water.
- Add essential oils. I love using doTERRA essential oils 30 drops On Guard and 30 drops Purify for this. On Guard when added to laundry soap gives it an all-purpose cleaning to protect against environmental threats and Purify eliminates odors. ( I will even add extra drops to the rinse cycle with heavily odored laundry like soiled sheets). I did not add the cost of these oils above. Even if I did I would still be saving a ton of money.
- Fill the rest of the bucket with warm water. Give a final stir to make sure it has mixed well.
- Put on lid and let sit for 24 hours. This gives it time to gel up. The longer it sits the more gel like it will become. After the first 24 hours it will be a lose gel. If it doesn’t gel that is OK too. No reason to toss it out. Use it and try again next time. Who knows what caused it to act out. It can be picky about having the perfect weather conditions to turn out right.
Now you’re finished! I choose to make my laundry soap go further and save more money. I use my old laundry soap container because it fits better on my laundry shelf than trying to use it out of the 5 gallon bucket. So at this point I fill my 1.17 gallon container half with my new laundry soap and fill the other half with warm water. This turns my 5 gallons of laundry soap into 10 gallons. It also makes it easy to shake up before adding to the washer and gives me something to measure with.
You will need to figure out how much to use for your washing machine. For me I have a smaller washer because we live in a tiny house. I use about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup depending on my load. While I don’t have a front load washer I have read that recipes similar to this one can be used. They recommend using half the amount you’d use for a top load washer.