Sep 8, 2011

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap - Really?

Anyone who's read my blog for any length of time knows that I'm a sucker for DIY.

So what am I up to now???

Liquid Laundry Soap!

Over the years, I've read about women who've made their own laundry soap with great success. It looked easy, so I figured since I'm close to running out of the commercial stuff, I'd give it a go.

I gathered the important "stuff":

Cost: Less than $7

I shaved 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap with my food processor. Btw, it took me longer to get the thing out and put it together than it did to shave the soap! It took like 5 seconds.

See what a good job it did?

Meanwhile, In a 2qt. saucepan, I heated approximately 5 c. of water to a boil on the stove. I added the soap shavings *after* I reduced the water to a simmer and covered with a lid. Once in a while, I stirred it up.

While the soap was melting, I filled a 5-gallon bucket with about 3 gallons of hot water. A 2qt or gallon pitcher works great for this. Then I added 1/2 c. of washing soda and 1 c. of borax. A wooden spoon works good to stir it all together. I could've put in some sort of scent (essential oils) at this point, but I don't have any so I didn't.

After the soap is melted, I added it to the bucket and this is what I got:

Cover and let it "brew"!

I just happened to have a frying pan lid that perfectly fits the top of a 5-gallon bucket. Who would've thunk it?? Incidentally, I did this on my lunch hour. At 9pm, the concoction in the bucket was still warm! I did stir it occassionally.

Different websites varied on what the consistency should be. I think it depends on the amount of borax and washing soda put in, but don't quote me on that. The soap may be watery or gel up in areas, or may be slightly lumpy in areas. Some said theirs came out like pudding. In any case, it's all normal!

24 hours later... Again, on my lunch hour I got to see the fruits of my (15 minutes) labor!

Smells like laundry soap!

Using a measuring cup and funnel, I transferred it to gallon jugs that I had in the basement, complete with directions label. (I'm sooo proud of myself! *giggles*)

Looks like MILK, doesn't it?

It actually made 3 1/2 gallons, but who wants to see half a jug? No one.

If you're like me, you'd be wondering: "This is great and all, but what's the cost breakdown?" (The accountant in me, ya know? Can't help it! Shush.)

Cost break down: (as of 2011)
• Borax: $2.98 for 76 oz. Cost per batch: 63cents (16 oz. needed for recipe)
• Washing Soda: $2.99 for 55 oz. Cost per batch .43cents (8 oz. needed for recipe)
• Ivory Soap: $.99 for 3 3.1 oz. Bars. Cost per batch: 33cents (1 bar of soap needed for recipe)
• Or Fels Naptha $.97 for one bar. Cost per batch: 32cents (1/3 bar needed)

Cost to make: approximately 1.38cents

Yield: 464 oz.
Cost per oz. = .00303

One-half cup (4 oz) is what's needed to wash normally soiled clothes. That makes it 1.2 cents per load of laundry!! How many loads? About 116!

As soon as I finish up the rest of my commercial laundry soap, I'll be trying this and let ya'll know what I think. I've been using borax as a laundry booster for a while, and Fels Naptha is a good stain remover so I'm guessing it'll work just fine.

P.S. This is a low-sudsing soap and works fine with top loading, front loading, and HE machines.


Emily in NC said...

What a great idea, thanks for sharing. May have to try this, but am not the DIY type.

Berly said...

Wow, let me know how well it works. I might try it myself!

Kendra said...

I've been making this laundry soap for almost 2 years now...I love the smell of it! I'm addicted to the Fels Naptha bar...I will literally walk around with the thing under my nose, breathing in the smell. But I do like the laundry soap...does a good job and is pretty doggone cheap.

I also make my own fabric softener -- 2 cups of hair conditioner (I use Suave, some milk and honey flavor or something...something not too fruity), 2 cups white vinegar, 6 cups water...mix well. Voila! Cheap fabric softener.

Carissa said...

I've been doing this exact same recipe for years Meari and I love it. I even used it to wash my kids cloth diapers back in the day and it worked beautifully. The only thing I do extra is if the kids have extra dirty clothes I'll add in a bit extra Washing Soda or Borax depending on what the dirt is.

I don't usually use any softener, but sometimes I do add in vinegar to the rinse cycle for my towels if I'm hanging them on the line.

Shelley said...

You are so impressive!! Can't wait to hear how it works out for you. I have sensitive skin so I am very curious about making this for us.

Kay said...

Very interesting indeed! Know a few people that make soap as well, would be nice to try someday.

Pam in IL said...

I knew exactly what you'd been up to when I saw the pics of the products. Haven't made this myself yet, but Hubby uses the Fels Naptha as a soap to wash off oils from poisonous plants like ivy, oak, sumac, etc. He says it's very drying, but it does work wonders on his rash.

Sunshine said...

Oh Kewl!!!
Looking forward to hearing your updated report. Sounds like something I'll be doing if all works well for you!!!!

Claudette497 said...

That's amazing! I don't know if I'll ever actually make this, but I'm sure impressed that you did! I'm at least motivated to buy some stock in Tide, lol.

Sue said...

YOU amaze me! I am speechless.

Julie M said...

I've thought about making this Meari but I know I never will! Kudos to you though for doing it!

Have a great weekend!

MaryT said...

Meari I'll be looking forward to updates. with the cost of everything these days going up we need to save where we can.

Mary Louise in IN

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! This is very interesting. Can't wait to hear how it works.
Betty in AZ

Patches said...

I have seen that recipe before but never tried it. Thanks to your cost breakdown- I will be trying it!

Anonymous said...

That is very impressive and hope it does a good job.


Blu said...

I'm in awe of your DIY skills! It's such a foreign world ;)
Crossed fingers that the soap works out.

Nancy M said...

All I can say is, good for you....but I like the convenience of buying it. I don't do more than 3 loads week anymore!LOL

Anonymous said...

I never thought of making my own laundry soap. What scent would you use if you had it? At what point do you put the scent in? Awesome project; impressive.


CJ said...

Hi Meari -

I am curious to learn how your new laundry soap works out.

That would make a cool science project for the kids.


Katrien said...

awesome. We used to have a tv-show in which they made things like this too.

Julie R said...

THanks for answering the one question that has kept me from doing this, will it work in my he machine! :) Do let us know how well it works.

Anonymous said...

Meari -

That is too cool! I am glad that you were able to do something like that!


chrisstitches said...

We're into garden & preserving, but not laundry soap. Best of luck & hope it works....have heard it does....I'm not as ambitious as you are,
Chris b

Vickie said...

So how well did it work? I may try this! I hate buying laundry soap.

Marexstitch said...

I may give this a go too. We use lots of the stuff and the prices keep increasing. Great idea

Patches said...

I LOVE this! You can get essential oil at any Michael or Hobby Lobby- Look in the soap making area. I used 1/2 bar fels naptha (next time I will try ivory soap), I used twice as much washing soda and borax in the second batch and I like it better. I saw another recipe that adeded oxiclean. I may try that, not sure yet.

Anonymous said...

Can you use this in the new front loading machines that say to use only HE laundry soap??