Monday, April 25, 2011

DIY: Easy and Cheap Homemade Laundry Soap (Gentle enough for Cloth Diapers)

   This is the first project I would like to share with you guys.  I tried it for the first time earlier this month and I will probably never buy laundry soap from the store again.  The only problem I ran into was that I couldn't find some of the ingredients here in Fayetteville, but they are sold in Gentry, AR at the friendly Ace Hardware.  It's a great time of year to take a trip to The Gentry Safari and we were going anyhow for a friend's birthday party, so I picked up everything I needed on the trip.  As far as I know, this is the closest place to get them but they can also be ordered online at places like for a reasonable price.  The ingredients include Fels Naptha Bar Soap, Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate....the one ingredient I couldn't seem to find here in Fayetteville), Borax and Water.  I also added in about 15 drops of Tea Tree Oil for scent.  You could also use lavender or any other essential oil that suits your fancy.  I would recommend using closer to 30 drops or 4 tbsp. though, as I could hardly smell the tea tree in mine at all.  Even without anything added into it the soap smells very nice though.  I stopped into the Gentry Ace Hardware and asked the man behind the counter if he carried the washing soda and he happily showed me the way and also gave me a copy of the Duggar's laundry soap recipe.  He said they kept the supplies in stock for the Duggars, which lead me to believe I actually may have found the only location to pick them up.  I had printed off several recipes online but decided to try theirs first since I figured it had been tested and approved, as much laundry as they must do.  I have to say, the soap works great and I spoke with one of the ladies at Terra Tots, a local all-natural and organic baby supply store in Fayetteville, and she said this soap was gentle enough to use on cloth diapers, which is great.  After handling the soap and investigating the ingredients I may switch to a more basic soap next time such as Dial Pure and Natural Soap or something from Dr. Bronner's or Tom's.  So far though, my daughter hasn't gotten a rash at all from the diapers washed in this soap and they have all come out of the wash looking great.  I'm just a little over protective of her tooshie.  Ok, enough talk....onto the recipe.  

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value
4  Cups - hot tap water

1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. (Sorry for the crappy photo.  My camera batteries were dead that day and I had to use my phone.)

Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.  

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)
*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

*I think this confused me a bit the first time I read it, but the concentrated form of soap fills a 5 gallon bucket absolutely full.  When you transfer it into another container, only fill it half-way and finish the rest with water.  This means this one recipe actually makes 10 gallons of laundry soap and I figure the total supply cost to be somewhere between $4 to $5, which is an amazing bargain!  Remember to stir mixture in bucket before you transfer and stir or shake small container before each use, because it will thicken.   
This is a really fun, easy, cheap and fulfilling project that I recommend to anyone who wants to become more self-reliant and is tired of paying a ton of money for laundry soap.   

---I am selling this laundry soap on Craigslist for $4 a gallon, so contact me if you would like to purchase any.  Cost is raised above production only to cover gas mileage to Gentry for supplies and back.  I highly recommend making it on your own, but for those who don't have as much time as me, it's still a way cheaper alternative than buying from the store.  :)


Jessica said...

I am going to make a batch next week. I think yours smells super fresh and nice just the way it is. Too much tea tree oil might be a bad thing. (Once our kid spilled a whole little bottle of it in Tim's car and it was hard to breathe in there for like a week.)

Happy Homemaker said...

Yeah, I agree. I think it's nice like it is, though a few more drops wouldn't be nearly as bad as a whole bottle! haha Now that would be awful. That stuff is pretty strong. Next time I'm gonna use lavender. Hope you have fun making it!

Kathy Fisk said...

Can you use this in an
he machine? (Top loader... I usually use far less that amount listed above, which is why I was wondering. Thank you!)

Hali Good said...

Is there anyway to make the detergent smell like tyler diva glamorous washing detergent? if so how?

Leigh Anne Myers said...

How does this recipe make 10 gallons of laundry detergent if you are only using a 5 gallon bucket?

Mrs. Mullins said...

Leigh, the recipe says to only fill empty detergent bottle half full and then add water. So, I guess that would make 10 gallons from the 5 gallon bucket.

Mrs. Mullins said...

I don't have enough empty detergent bottles. Any idea where I can find them? I do have a lot of empty gallon jugs. Would this work?

Shannon Waldron said...

Followed your exact instructions this afternoon. My husband is veeeeerrrryyy sceptical, but in SO excited. The ammount of laundry I do every DAY is outrageous. I cannot wait to use it tomorrow. I'll comment about the results , but I have absolute faith :) ps grating the soap was super fun (not) lol

Michele Barbaree Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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