Friday, April 8, 2011

Simply Nesting: Making your own laundry soap!

I seem to do a TON of laundry. Anyone else? And with #3 on the way it will only increase. I'm not complaining.. I don't really mind.. although at times I have to step back in wonder at just how much laundry I can do each week. Awhile ago, when we started cloth diapering, I bought Country Save detergent in bulk on Amazon. It was inexpensive, easy on the environment, and I could use it both for the diapers and for our clothes. The thing is.. I didn't really like it for our clothes. It didn't seem to really get things clean enough for my liking. I was having a hard time stomaching the price of laundry soap, though. Cue the Duggar's. I love the Duggar's. A family that lives by their convictions, is debt free, and finds a way to be frugal at every turn - I honestly wish I could spend a few days with Michelle Duggar.. or that she was a neighbor.. so I could just watch their family in action. As I was reading through their book (which I totally recommend) I came across their recipe for clothes soap and decided to give it a whirl. (You can find their recipe HERE.) Within 20 minutes I was done and I had 10 gallons (yep, 10) of laundry soap. And, yes, this is for HE front loaders! Here is how I did it!
Ingredients for the actual soap:
1 bar Fels Naptha, grated (plain ol' Ivory works, too.. just nothing with perfumes or dyes)
4 cups hot water
1 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda (not baking soda, not A&H detergent!!)
1/2 cup Borax

Other necessities:
2 - 5 gallon buckets, plus lids (less than $3 a piece at Walmart)
1/4 cup measure
Soap dispenser (I used a water dispenser I picked up at Walmart, it was about $6)

How to:
Grate soap and add it into the 4 cups of hot water - stir over medium/low heat until dissolved. Fill your two 5 gallon buckets half full with hot water and put half of the soap water mixture in each bucket. Put 1/2 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda in each bucket, as well as 1/4 cup Borax in each bucket. Stir until it is all dissolved.
Because I'm kinda lazy I used a drywall-mixer-attachment-thing to stir it up.. and it worked great!
Fill with more water to the top of the bucket. That's it! At this point, I would recommend filling your soap dispenser up about half way.
FYI, homies: the soap kinda gels up so you have to shake your soap dispenser before each use and you have to stir up the 5 gallon buckets before you refill your soap dispenser. This is why I think it is best to just dilute the mixture when you make it (the Duggar's don't). Also, I still use Country Save for our diapers. I don't know if you can use this on your cloth diapers or not!
1 recipe of this stuff - 640 loads of laundry
1/4 cup of the soap per load.
And because Ruth asked, here is how I store it all:

Happy washing!


Ruth said...

Susan, thanks so much for posting. I'm going to talk to the hubby about this! You are so sweet to share, and to let me see how it is that your great organizational skills come into play throughout your house. Good job, girl!!

Susan said...

I really love it, Ruth. The first batch is the most expensive because you have to get the buckets and all the supplies, but after that it is just so darn inexpensive. My mother in law even fills up a squirt bottle and uses it for stain remover. I have started using slightly more than 1/4 cup, and if the kids have been really messy (okay, me too) I will use a little bit of Tide Stain Remover, too. All in all, great money saver! And truly, it took me 20 minutes to whip up a batch!

Eric and Jenny Nelson said...

I want to say that this recipe can be used in the HE machines (looks like you have one) Have you read anything about that?

Abby said...

Thanks for sharing this, Susan! I like Charlie's Soap for diapers, but haven't found anything I *love* for regular laundry so I'm looking forward to trying this.

And the Duggars have a book? I'm so out of the loop...definitely need to get that book. I'm so fascinated by their family.

Susan said...

Jenny - You can use it for HE machines, according to the Duggar's website.
Abby - I am really liking it. You can even add some essential oils to the laundry soap, if you'd like. And I really loved the Duggar's book. Very encouraging. It wasn't just about their family, but their financial decisions and whatnot. Jeremiah and I both really enjoyed it!

L said...

I have been making my own from this recipe for about two years. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Laundry soap is so expensive! and I hate all the heavy perfumes they use. I scent our soap with a few drops of lavendar and tea tree essential oil, it's awesome!

Susan said...

I use lemon oil, Lisa! Yum! And what a money saver!

Sarah said...

Susan, can you use this on newborn's clothes? I keep reading you have to buy detergent for babies and if it is easier to use this that would be pretty awesome.

Susan said...

Sarah - I'm going to! I think it will be plenty gentle for a newborn, and I'm using it with Sarah and Moses right now. I did hear of a friend using a different bar of soap in place of the Fels-Naptha for her granddaughter. When I find out what it was I will FB you on it.
I also heard you can just grate up the Fels-Naptha (it should make about 1.5 cups) and mix it with the borax and the washing soda in equal parts (so 1.5 cups of each) and use it as powdered soap. 1 tablespoon per load.