A good friend of mine told me that when I made a new batch of my homemade laundry soap, that I needed to write a blog about it. Making your own laundry soap may seem like something out of your skill level, but it is pretty straight forward and it saves you lots of money.
There are some basic things that you need, but into total you will be spending under $20 for your initial investment. Just about everything you will need you can buy at Wal-Mart (You will have to look at the very bottom of the laundry isle’s shelf to find these). The only exception will be your 5-gallon bucket with a lid. You can easily find a bucket and lid at Lowes, Home Depot, Atwoods Farm and Ranch, or, if you are like me, you ask someone and they give you one.
Here are the things you will need:
one 5-gallon bucket with lid
one bar of Fels-Naptha laundry soap
one box of Borax
and one box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda).
You will need a two quart sauce pan, a fine cheese grater, a large bowl, a whisk, an empty laundry soap bottle, and liquid and dry measuring cups. You will also need access to a stove and water.
This will take you about 30 minutes to do from start to finish.
Start by getting all of your materials ready to go. You really don’t want to ever walk away from this once you get it started on the stove, so have everything close at hand. The first thing I do is put 4 cups of water to start boiling on the stove. While the water is coming up to a boil, I grate the Fels-Naptha with a fine cheese grater. (It will look like cheese, but don’t eat it!) The Fels-Naptha is hard so it is a little difficult to grate. By the time you finish grating the soap, the water will nearly be to a boil.
Before you start dissolving the grated soap into the boiling water, measure out your other ingredients. I have modified the original recipe I was given by increasing the amounts of washing soda and borax. I have two boys and I need a little more strength to my soap than I originally had with the recipe. Now my recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of washing soda and 1 cup of borax.
One last thing I do before starting the process of soap making is moving my 5-gallon bucket into the sink. Again, just getting things prepared will make things move more smoothly.
Now your water has fully come to a boil and you have all of your materials by the stove and ready to go. Start by putting in a small handful of the grated soap into the boiling water and whisk it until it is dissolved.
Do all of the soap this way, a little bit at a time. Only adding more soap after all of your previous soap has dissolved. If you put in all of the soap at once, it will turn into a big blob in your pot. I have been in too big of a hurry before and it is a mess. It will also take you longer in the end.
BIG TIP!! Watch your temperature when you start dissolving the soap. I usually lower the temperature because the bubbling mixture will want to boil over on you. If yours starts to do that, remove from the heat and whisk it back down and then continue. If it boils over, it is a BIG mess. You only do that once.
Okay, you have finished dissolving the soap. Remove the pot from the heat and then whisk in your washing soda and your borax. You can tell by feel when the mixture is dissolved and no longer gritty feeling with the whisk. It will also become much thicker.
Now go back to your bucket in the sink. Start running hot water into the bucket. Then carefully pour in your soap mixture. Whisk the soap and water together until you fill the bucket. The soap will want to bubble up on you. Be sure to watch it and spray it down if needed. I never quite fill my bucket all the way to the top with water, because I still have to move it.
You now have a 5-gallon bucket of laundry soap concentrate. Now I find my empty laundry soap bottle and my old Greek yogurt container. Since this soap is a concentrate you will need one part soap, one part water. For my bottle, that means two yogurt containers of soap and two yogurt containers of water. Mix them together and then shake the bottle.
You will need to shake the bottle every time you use it. That is because there are no chemical stabilizers. Put your lid on the bucket and store it. I have a dedicated wooden spoon with my bucket, because your soap will solidify as it sits and cools. This is normal, so don’t freak out about it. When your bottle is empty, stir up the soap and fill your bottle like before.
What does this soap NOT have in it? It doesn’t have any artificial dyes. There are no scents. It also doesn’t have sulfates in it. What is a sulfate? It is what makes your normal laundry soap bubble. When you put this soap in your washer, it won’t bubble. It is still working, but is less harsh and better for the environment. If everyone used this kind of soap, there would be fewer outbreaks of algae in your local streams. These are the outbreaks that cause fish deaths.
How much of this soap do I use? I use a cap full of soap per load, unless the clothes are super stinky or dirty. Then I use two caps full. The soap is cheap enough that it is not a big financial burden to use extra soap.
Now I said this saves money, but I never told you how much money. Here is the breakdown for our family of four.
Bucket and lid = $5 (or free for us)
Washing Soda and Borax = $10
Fels-Naptha = $.97 (at Walmart)
In my eight years of making laundry soap, I have bought three sets of the washing soda and borax. Your initial investment in the borax and the washing soda will last you over a year. Then each time you need a new bucket of soap, you just buy the Fels-Naptha. That means your first bucket costs you around $10 and all of the other buckets for the next year costs $1 a bucket!
I did the math on this one, one bucket makes around 12 (almost 13) 100oz bottles of soap. If you are buying the expensive name brand “free and clear” laundry soap, you spend about $12 on one bottle! One bucket is saving you $131! If you use four buckets full like we do in a year, you are saving around $557 a year! After doing some simple math from materials used over the past eight years, we have saved around $4,411 in laundry soap alone! If your budget can use a little wiggle room, this is worth your time.