Have you seen the price of name-brand laundry soap lately? You can easily spend over $20 on a large box of powdered detergent. It’s enough to make you scream. That might make you popular in a Halloween haunted house, but it doesn’t solve your laundry issues. Have you ever asked yourself, “How can I make soap?” Here’s a low-cost alternative on homemade laundry soap, how to make it using old-fashioned ingredients, a half-hour of your time, a little elbow grease and a lot less money.
When you’re at the grocery store, look in the hand soap section and seek out the bars of soap. You’re looking for Fels-Naptha soap. This stuff is 100 years old. Probably your grandmother and maybe even her mom used this soap. Buy three bars. They’ll cost about a dollar a bar. If you can’t find Fels-Naptha in the hand soap area, try looking in the laundry detergent area, the location for the next two ingredients.
After Fels-Naptha soap, find Arm & Hammer washing soda, NOT baking soda. It usually comes in a 55-ounce yellow box. You want washing soda for its extra cleaning abilities. When you have bad stains on your clothes, regular baking soda won’t cut it.
Next, locate 20 Mule Team Borax. It comes in a mainly white 76-ounce box. The washing soda and the Borax costs about $4.50, each, but these two boxes will make about 3-4 batches of laundry detergent. Each batch lasts about two months for normal laundry washing, or a month and a half with teenagers – maybe a month with a teenage girl in the house.
Buy a cheap flat, metal food grater from the food section of your store. Also, buy a one-cup measuring cup and a one-eighth cup measurer. Dedicate all of these items to laundry-making. You don’t really want to see your family foaming at the mouth while eating at the dinner table because you accidently mixed laundry-making items into your food-making tools.
Plan on spending about 30 minutes in your exercise on how to make soap. Put on a pair of disposable gloves.
Take an old ice cream plastic gallon bucket, or any comparable enclosed container and measure in two cups of Arm & Hammer washing soda.
Next, add two cups of 20 Mule Team Borax.
Both products can be lumpy, especially if they’ve been opened over time. Break up the lumps. That’s the fun part.
Next, place your flat grater over the top of the bucket and one after the other, grate your three bars of Fels-Naptha soap directly into the bucket.
This is the long part of the activity of soap and how you make it. Once the bars have been grated, mix the shredded Fels-Naptha bar soap into the powders, gently stirring and squeezing to break up the soap and any extra lumps in the powders.
Voila! you have laundry detergent. When you’re ready to use your soap, start the water in your washing machine. Use the one-eighth measuring cup to measure your detergent.
If you have soft water, one measuring cup is enough soap. If your water is as hard as nails, use one and one-half of your of your one-eighth measuring cup. These amounts will wash a large load of laundry. You might find your clothes cleaner with this homemade soap, compared to the expensive brand-name varieties.
Allow you’re washing machine to fill half-full of water before adding your clothes. There’s a reason for waiting. This allows your home-made laundry soap to dissolve before adding clothes. If you’re impatient and put the clothes in too soon, you’ll have little golden flecks of Fels-Naptha soap all over your laundry.
Your new home-made laundry detergent also makes a great pre-treater if you have some really nasty stains. Place half a scoop of detergent in a bucket of warm water, swish the water around to let the soap dissolve. Then, soak your clothes overnight. Next morning, wash your stained clothes in the washing machine as usual.
Remember to wash your grater and set it out to dry when you’re done making the soap. The last thing you want is Fels-Naptha turning your metal grater into something that looks like rusty metal falling off a junked car.
So, here’s your list for visiting the grocery store:
- 3 bars Fels-Naptha soap (5.5 oz each)
- 1 box Arm & Hammer washing soda (55-oz)
- 1 box 20 Mule Team Borax (76-oz)
- 1 flat grater
- 1 measuring cup (1-cup size)
- 1 measurer (1/8 cup size)
- Disposable gloves
- Gallon sized plastic container with a lid (if you don’t have a used ice cream bucket)
And, here’s a recipe for soap and how to make it:
- Put on disposable gloves
- Measure 2 cups washing soda into your plastic gallon container
- Measure 2 cups of Borax into the container
- Break up lumps
- Place grater over container
- Grate 3 bars of Fels-Naptha into container
And, to use your inexpensive homemade detergent:
- Start water running in your washing machine
- Measure 1 to 1½ measurer (1/8th cup size) into your washing machine
- Let machine half fill with water to allow soap to dissolve
- Put in clothes
You’ll save money while stretching your laundry detergent dollars over several months with your new homemade soap. Better yet, your clothes might come out cleaner and you won’t scare anyone with a Halloween scream at the grocery store’s detergent aisle.
Note from Ro: I just asked Dick and Mary about using the soap in front-loading machines and this is what they said, “We don’t have experience with a front loader, but this is what we would suggest. Mix the homemade soap in 4 cups of boiling water until dissolved and then add to the washing machine the same way you would if you were putting in liquid detergent. The whole point is you need to dissolve the grated Fels-Naptha flakes. This should do the trick.”