Saturday, April 9, 2011

Making your own laundry soap

Exciting update.  I took a shortcut through the laundry aisle at Walmart earlier this week and happened to spot not only Fels Naptha laundry soap but washing soda!!!!!

I have always had trouble finding laundry soap, to the point that I way driving to an Ace Hardware in Georgetown just to buy the stuff.  As for washing soda, I have NEVER been able to find in the laundry section of any store.  I bought the same stuff (calcium carbonate) in the pool section as something called "PH+."  I found the PH+ a little more expensive than prices I'd seen for washing soda on the 'net, but still much cheaper than buying laundry soap.

The price breakdown as follows:

Fels Naptha - $1.49 per bar (3 cups (2 bars) or $2.98 per recipe)
Washing Soda - $4.99 per box (2 cups per recipe - roughly 6 cups per box, or $1.63 per recipe)
Borax - $5.49 per box (2 cup per recipe - roughly 8 cups per box, or $1.37 per recipe)
Baking Soda - $12.99 per 12 lb bag (2 cup per recipe - roughly 24 cups per bag, or $1.08 per recipe)

This is a grand total so about $7.06 for a batch that makes 144-288 full loads of laundry.  That breaks down to about $0.05-$0.02 per load.  Not too shabby.  Especially when you consider that a even the largest bulk bottle or box of Tide will cost you around $.20 (or 5-10 times as much)

The recipe I use is as follows:

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap

  • 3 Cups grated soap (Fels Naptha, Ivory, or Zote work the best)
  • 2 Cups borax
  • 2 Cups washing soda (also called Sodium Carbonate – look for PH+ in the pool supply department if you can’t find it in laundry)
  • 2 Cups baking soda (this is optional but I think it adds some freshness)
  • *Optional* 10-15 drop of your favorite essential oil (rosemary, tea tree oil, lavender work well)
  • Cheese grater to grate the soap
  • Large plastic coffee can or other plastic container with lid

  • Combine all ingredients and mix well.  You may need to press everything through a fine mesh sieve to break up any lumps.
  • Store tightly covered in your coffee can or plastic container.
  • Add 1 Tbsp per load into water before adding clothes.  Use ½ Tbsp if you have hard water.  
  • Use more for very soiled clothes.

And voilà!

I've used this recipe for nearly 2 years and have never had any problems with it.  The powder dissolves well in the washer.  My mother has reported that she had some buildup using a 1 Tbsp per load with her hard water. She cut it down to 1/2 Tbsp and the problem went away.

This detergent does not create suds , but don't worry, your clothes are getting clean.  It doesn't have much of a scent, which I like.  A friend told me that her husband used to sneeze when he wore any clothes washed in a store brand detergent.  Since switching to making her own, he rarely sneezes.

If you're all interesting in making your own detergent, try it.  If you don't want to use this recipe, there are tons on the Web (try Tipnut) and virtually all will save you money.  It's fun, takes about 15 minutes, and gives you a nice sense of satisfaction that you are using something you've made yourself.

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