Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Home-made laundry soap

Posted in frugal by Kathy on March 28, 2008

I’ve heard about home-made laundry detergent for a while, but it took me a long time to finally decide to do it. (Oh, and I know there’s a difference between soap and detergent, but don’t really feel like looking it up to figure out if what I’ve made is soap or detergent. If it’s really that important, you can figure it out yourself.) ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, I found a link to one that said it was H-E compatible, which is what I had to insist upon, since I didn’t want to ruin my one-year-old front-loading HE washing machine just to save a few cents on laundry detergent! So I made it, and it works!! I’m so happy. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve used it on diapers, regular clothes, and clothes that my boys were wearing when they played in the muddy garden-spot. So, needless to say, it’s been tested, and it passed the test! Not only does it clean great, but my clothes are actually softer (and I dry them on the clothes-line), and it smells wonderful. There isn’t a heavy perfume-y scent–just the smell of clean. I’m going to hang my diapers on the line the next chance I get, and see if they’re soft enough using this laundry soap. If they’re soft enough, then that will save even more money, because I won’t have to use my dryer! I don’t know how much most laundry detergent is, but the cheapest I was able to buy High-Efficiency detergent was 19 cents per load.

Somebody sent me a link to another site that had several more on it, but I haven’t tried any of those. They’re all made with the same ingredients, so they should all be low-sudsing, which seems to be the only requirement for HE washing machines. If you try them, let me know how they work!

Also, on this blog, she’s got several home-made cleaners, including laundry detergent and a lot of other stuff on various posts (as well as comments other people have left), so you can check that out for more stuff. Apparently, vinegar, baking soda, bleach, Borax, and ammonia (not all at once!!!) can clean just about anything.

Now, where to get the stuff. See, “washing soda” is not the same thing as baking soda. I couldn’t find it at any of my local Walmart-type stores nor at grocery stores, but if you live in a more populated area, you might be able to find it. After I purchased some online, I found out that the nearest Kroger carries it–but we live about an hour away from that town, so I don’t go there often, but I could have gotten my mom or sister to pick some up next time they went, and saved myself at least the cost of shipping. Anyway, if you can’t find it locally (let your fingers do the walking, but be careful, because a lot of people will see “Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent” and will tell you that they have the “washing soda”, when it’s not the same thing!), then you will be able to find it online. Of course, you’ll have to pay for shipping, so check your prices and make sure it’s worth it! Some people sell “package deals” of Borax, washing soda, and Fels Naptha (or some other variation), but I didn’t look at any of those, because I already had Borax that I bought locally, and planned on using the bar soap I had (Ivory), so all I needed was the washing soda. Make sure you add in the cost of shipping when you check prices, because a lot of places may look like they’re the cheapest, but over-charge you on the shipping. The recipe I used called for 1/2 c. of Washing Soda, and it comes in a 55-oz. box. One-half cup was 4 oz. by weight, which would do at least 13 batches. Since each batch can do over 100 loads of laundry, a little is going a long way!!

Even paying for the shipping for my washing soda, I estimate that the cost per load of laundry isย  1.3 cents per batch — a savings of nearly 17 cents per load! That may sound like chump change to you, but let’s do the math: my kids go through a lot of laundry. They love dirt and mud; my older son is essentially potty-trained but seems to be regressing, so we have extra laundry from that; he frequently wets the bed through his diaper, so I have to wash his bedding with more frequency than I’d like; plus I wash cloth diapers at least 2-3 times per week. All in all, I think I do at least 7 loads per week. That means that I save $64 per year. Every little bit helps. I’ll have to make laundry detergent maybe 3 times per year; it takes about 10 minutes of total hands-on time per batch, or 30 minutes worth of work per year. That’s like earning a tax-free income of $128/hour. That’s a lot of money!


12 Responses

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  1. Oh, darn! « Kathy Petersen’s Blog said, on March 30, 2008 at 2:39 am

    […] I just wrote about my new home-made laundry soap. Now there’s a problem. It’s just as cheap as I thought, and just as easy to make […]

  2. linda! said, on May 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Can I ask you why you didn’t share your recipe with your amazing comments on it???

    Can you please share your recipe for laundry detergent. We have a HE washer and didn’t want to buy the expensive detergent. Please please share your recipe.

    You speak so good about it … it seems logical to share it. Otherwise we will be testing and experimenting and why waste time. I want to make the good one now. Your recipe.


    • Chocolate Monster 43 said, on November 15, 2010 at 7:55 pm

      I know some laundry recipes if you would like me to share them with you they are…

      For Liquid
      1 quart boiling water
      2 cups Bar Soap (grated)
      2 cups Borax
      2 cups washing soda

  3. Kathy said, on May 8, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Hmm… the first link I put in should have gone to it. Maybe they changed it? Anyway, here is the link to the laundry detergent. The ingredients are 1 bar of soap, 1 c. Borax, 1/2 c. super washing soda (not baking soda) and water. Melt the soap in a pot of hot water (grate or cut the soap into small pieces to make it melt faster); add the melted soap to a big bucket with three gallons of hot tap water in it and stir to combine. Then add the washing soda and stir to combine; then the Borax and stir to combine. Set aside overnight and in the morning it will be a lumpy, watery gel. Stir it up before using, and if you have any clumps, break them up to make sure they will fit through the H-E dispenser.

  4. Lisa said, on June 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    I’ve been using homemade detergent for a year now. I really like it. Last week I bought a cheap bottle of laundry soap because I ran out and was too busy/lazy to make it. I don’t like the stuff I bought at all. I use exactly your same recipe. I was able to find the washing soap at the grocery store. It might be cheaper than getting it shipped.

    • Kathy said, on June 13, 2009 at 11:01 pm

      After ordering it online, I was finally able to find a store in Tupelo that carried it. So, I was able to get it w/o the hassle of getting it shipped.

      • RACHEL said, on August 6, 2010 at 8:16 pm

        Where did you find it? I’ve been looking here in Tupelo for Fels-Naptha. Please let me know.

        • Kathy said, on August 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm

          I think I bought some online, as well as happened upon a few bars in a salvage store years ago. I use Ivory for the most part now, because it is used/recommended in lots of recipes if you can’t find Fels Naphtha, and it’s much easier to find than F.N. One of my Tupelo friends told me that Kroger (is there more than one? probably the one on Main St., if so) carries the washing soda and I think also the Borax, so they might have Fels Naphtha as well.

  5. Betty Crepps said, on October 29, 2010 at 2:49 am

    I don’t have a website, but I am happy to tell everyone that I have been making my own
    powdered laundry detergent for a year or more. I like the fragrance of the powdered detergent better than the liquid. It’s the most wonderful experience, just seeing and feeling the difference this soap has made in my in clothes, my sheets and the towels especially. No more fabric softener, and they are so soft and have the most pleasant clean smell. I would highly recommend this and would gladly share my recipe with anyone who requests it. If you don’t have the time to make it, just let me know, we
    may be able to work out a plan.
    Betty Crepps

  6. Betty Crepps said, on October 29, 2010 at 2:51 am

    Please use my email for responding.

  7. Chocolate Monster 43 said, on November 15, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    to anyone out there why waste money on store bought laundry soap and make your own for less!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Shelley said, on December 3, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    You can find Fels Naptha at Winco for $1.08 a bar with the laundry boosters. It is used in countries where laundry is done by hand and I was surprised how clean the clothes got. I grate 1 bar Fels Naptha as fine as possible, mix it with 1 cup A&H super washing soda and 1 cup Borax. I used a small Cuisinart to make the Fels Naptha blend into a powder with the borax and soda so it dissolves easily in the wash. Use 1T in washer per load. I have used the dry for over 2 years and like it far more than the liquid after making it a few times. The dry is quicker to make and stores in a small container. I did not like the slime of the liquid but if you add a cup of Tide, it will dissolve into a thin liquid. The dry is great to take on vacation when you need deterent for a load or two of laundry.
    Adivse: Put small amount in blender at a time, so you do not overload or burn out the Cuisinart. I made decorative labels on the computer with the recipe and a tablespoon inside container and have given it to a few girlfriends and kids at Christmas.

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