Homemade laundry soap is something we think of our great grandparents making. It has become so convenient to buy it, yet so expensive. This easy recipe will save you tons and keep your clothes super clean.
If you are from the country, there is humor in washboards becoming part of decor. They weren’t decorative for many of us, they were tools for labor. Hard, manual labor. I’ve heard so many stories from elders about how hard they worked with washboards, homemade laundry detergent, and hanging clothes out. Never had the experience of washboards myself, but I do remember hanging out laundry. Ah, and the love of lye soap.
To be completely honest, lye soap intimidates me. There are so many stories about it that I’m a little nervous about using it. I dream of it though, ponder it frequently, and wonder if it’s the big bad scary stuff it’s made out to be or if, perhaps, a little common sense exercised is all one needs when using it. No worries though, with this homemade laundry soap. It’s completely lye free.
Words to the Wise:
Here are my precautions and praises about both making and using homemade laundry soap.
- It is far cheaper than buying laundry soap. For approximately $2, you’ll have 10 gallons of soap. Why is it approximate, you ask? There are two ingredients that you buy boxes of: washing powder and borax. These last for quite a while so I’m not doing the math to get the precise cost. For my math loving people, feel free to do the math and leave it in the comments!
- Do not skip the part where you dilute the detergent with water. Partially because you’ll have half the amount of soap, but mainly it will fade your clothes if it’s not diluted. Learned that one the hard way.
- I’ve been told that you don’t want to get the fels naptha on your skin. I’ve not had any problems with it, but if you have sensitive skin then I recommend using gloves. Keep the little ones away, but then most of us don’t allow our babies to play in chemicals. Cheapest place I’ve found it is on Amazon for 88 cents, please use my link above when you order, it’s an affiliate link.
- They have a ‘Laundry Soap Kit‘ on Amazon. It’s linked if you want to check it out. It’s insanely expensive and the directions leave much to be desired. Don’t buy it. Look it at for reference so you know what the packages look like, then move on. It’s SO NOT WORTH IT! Save yourself a ton of money and buy them individually.
- Even when we had a family of house guests for 6 months (Momma, 9 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old), we still only had to do 2 batches in a whole year. It lasts a while!
- If you like scent, or just have to have it, you can either use essential oils (we like lavender) or you can buy laundry scent and put it in, I like to add some to my watered down batch so that I don’t have to worry about it. Of course, it is your preference.
- My advice is to go to a resale store or salvation army type place and pick up an old pot with a lid along with a cheese grater to designate for your soap making. However, I have learned that you can use one that you cook with, just make sure it is well washed.
- Each load of laundry only require 1/8 cup of soap and 1/8 cup of water. I mix it half soap with half water in a smaller container (perhaps reuse an old detergent container) so that I don’t have to measure them both out. So, if you do that, then you’ll need 1/4 cup of your mixed soap per load of laundry, even if it’s a big load.
- For Cloth diapers: Leave out the borax and do a rinse with vinegar every other load (or every load with poopy diapers). Don’t add the essential oil for them.
Now, what you’ve all scrolled down past the ‘warnings’ to find:
Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe
You Will Need:
5 gallon bucket with a water tight lid (They have some that have the measurements on the side, I love those for this purpose!)
Soup or sauce pan (I use an old soup pan from a non-profit store, cost $4)
Old cheese grater (it’s life with food is over)
Wooden spoon (also will never join food again)
- 1 Fels Naptha Soap Bar
- 1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
- 1 cup Borax
- Essential oil, if desired
Super Simple Directions:
- Grate Fels Naptha bar and add to soup pot with 4 cups of HOT water. Stir continuously until soap is completely melted. It will look yellow, but don’t worry that goes away. Trust me, don’t let there be clumps, be patient and stir til all of it is melted. It takes a while. If the soap isn’t melting, turn the burner on low and heat it some, just be sure to stir continuously.
- Fill your 5 gallon bucket with 4 gallons of super hot water.
- Add washing soda to the bucket and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
- Add borax and stir until it’s completely dissolved as well.
- Add melted soap to bucket and stir until it’s well mixed. If you are going to add essential oil, now is the time.
- Put the lid on the bucket and let it sit overnight.
- It’s going to become a little like soft jelly, don’t worry, just stir until it becomes liquid again and remove any large clumps that refuse to dissolve.
- Clean out an old container (I use a juice one and a 1 liter Coke bottle) and fill halfway with soap and halfway with water. Now, you are ready to do laundry! Each time you use it, shake the bottle up to re-mix anything that had the audacity to separate. Use 1/4 cup per load of laundry, a little more if it’s a large load or a little less if it’s small.
SO, there ya have it! Homemade laundry detergent. Insanely cheap laundry detergent. I’m a total fan and will never go back to commercial laundry soap.
For stain removal, rub the stain with a bar of fels naptha. Should take most ‘normal’ stains out!
Do you have any tips, tricks, suggestions or comments?
Please share with us.