User login

Homemade laundry detergent recipe, altered

I've been making the most of this hot, summer-like October weather by hanging out lots of laundry. Today I washed up a few big things for the new baby (like the bumper pad for the crib, which is annoying BUT keeps a newborn safe(r) from toddler fingers!) and tomorrow, if I'm energetic enough, I'm hoping to wash bedding. :)

When it's not too hot or too cold outside, I love to fold the laundry into the basket as I take it down. It gives the children extra time to play outside, and keeps wrinkles to a very minimum. And it helps keep piles of unfolded laundry off our couch. ;)

Anyway, I've been meaning to write about altering the homemade laundry soap recipe I use.

First, Headmistress, zookeeper has a lot of notes about the laundry soap recipe here on her blog. Also thanks to her, I found this page (look at the very bottom!) which has an interesting bit about optical brighteners found in commercial laundry detergents.

Now, about my recipe alteration. The laundry soap recipe calls for bar soap, borax, and washing soda. Bar soap (like the Ivory I was using) tends to leave a scum on the top of the water, and honestly, I'm not really sure how essential the bar soap is to getting clothes clean.

So, I made the homemade laundry detergent without any bar soap -- just washing soda and borax. This resulted in a clear liquid.

I made the recipe double-strength (1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax, and 2 gallons of water) and I use 1/3 cup for each load of laundry.

Now, keeping in mind that I have only been using this altered recipe for a couple months (not really long-term in my opinion!), here is my opinion:

I think it works just as well as the recipe that includes the bar soap! :) Our laundry smells fresh and clean, and even though it seems practically impossible that a little washing soda and borax cleans clothing so well, it does! (Actually, I think the water and agitation of the washer does a lot of the cleaning!)

For Joshua's (very dirty) work clothes, I had been using 1/2 cup of homemade laundry soap and 1/2 capful of commercial detergent. With this altered recipe, I'm using 1/3 cup of my homemade detergent and 1/4 capful of commercial laundry detergent, with good results. :)

One note about this detergent: Washing soda is rather harsh, so never put it directly onto your laundry. (I know this from first-hand "how did this fabric get a hole in it while I washed it?!" experience.) Just to be on the safe side, I start running water in the washer, add my detergent, and then start adding the laundry. :)

I think warm or hot water gets laundry the cleanest, but I try to find a frugal middle ground on water temperature. Diapers get cold water and one hot or warm rinse (sometimes with vinegar). Joshua's work clothes always get warm wash water. Our whites (underwear, socks, dishrags, etc.) get a hot wash. Most other loads get washed in cold water.

Also, if you feel like you need to see soap bubbles in the washer, then I suggest using about 1 tablespoon of commercial laundry detergent along with the homemade. It'll bubble nicely (and maybe even smell nice, if you buy a kind with scent!). :) I'm pretty used to our clothing not having any scent after laundering, but I do like how it smells after being in our dresser drawers! :)

Comments

Zote Soap

I make my own as well and it looks like we use the same recipe. I used Ivory at one time and I didnt like it made the clothes dingy looking to me. Then I tried octagon it was fine better than ivory. Then I found Zote soap and I love this you only use 1/3 bar and I really like the results. I will have to try your way as well to see what I like. But for those who want to use a soap zote works and so does octagon. The Fels Naphta I can't find here and the zote was a surprize find. Octagon I can find in several stores.
erika

I second the Zote Soap.

Love the Zote! I've only used the white bar and love the citronella scent. My friend has used the pink one (in a pinch) it equally likes it! I leave it (wrapped) sitting on my dryer and it makes it nice and soft to grate. I've never had a problem with crumbling like some have posted about other soaps.

Laundry Soap

Ladies I apologize if I am posting this wrong, I'm new to blogging so bear with me :) I made your laundry soap Tammy as I am trying to be more frugal (and plan on line drying come spring), however, when I opened it today, it had separated. The top layer is the gel look but the bottom looks like water. Did I just not stir it enough? Can I still use it if I stir it each time?

Thank you for your wonderful website.

Tammy's picture

Separated laundry soap

It's still fine even though it separates! :) When I stored mine in a bucket, I kept a long-handled plastic spoon in there and gave it a stir before using. If it's stored in an old laundry detergent bottle (with a tight-fitting lid), then you can just give it a shake before using! :)

Separated laundry soap

Thanks Tammy! I went ahead and stirred it and just used it on my first load. I think I will try the vinegar idea in leu of my Downy. That will be a hard habit to break lol. Thanks for all of the wonderful ideas.

I make our laundry detergent

I make our laundry detergent too ... but I make it in powder form (I've always liked powder best). We use Fels Naptha in ours, as I didn't really care for Ivory. It's nice to know, though, that in a pinch -- if for some reason I can't get any Fels Naptha, making it without will still work too!

Brandy
http://brandy26.lifewithchrist.org

Timely!

Thanks for this! I just used my last bar of Ivory and wasn't looking forward to needing to buy more. Good to know I don't need it! I was everything except diapers in cold water. What does hot water do for whites? I never noticed much of a difference.

Tammy's picture

Hot water for whites

I guess I just feel like washing certain things (especially dish towels, wash cloths, dish cloths, etc.) in hot water helps get them extra clean! It also seems like our white loads contain the dirtiest items (like socks!). I don't have any scientific backup, the hot water just makes me feel better when it comes to whites! ;)

laundry soap

my friend uses irish spring soap instead of ivory in the liquid laundry soap . She loves the way the clothes smell
Nancy

Soap and smell in drawers

Try putting a drier sheet in the drawer. May sound crazy to make your own soap, but honestly it works. And, if you watch Wal-mar.com and other "freebie" offer sites you can get enough for no cost! Otherwise a little pot pouri [difficult for guys, of course] or a drop or two of aftershave on a clean rag. I have a 13 year old boy--I know SMELLS!! lol......
P.S. can't wait to hear the new baby's name! Your boys have such cool names.

I love laundry

Hi! I just found your site while looking for thoughts on hanging out laundry in winter. I have been hanging my laundry out all summer on my wonderful rotary dryer and I am wondering how long I can get away with it. I guess I will try it and see! Today is one of those "is it or isn't it going to rain" days so I hung out a load with fingers crossed -- I hate it when I decide not to hang my laundry and then it doesn't rain all day!

I was going to say I ALWAYS fold my laundry as I take it off the line -- I figure I'm handling everything one piece at a time, why not just quickly fold it before putting it in the basket? That's one of the things I love about line drying, it actually gets things folded instead of having them hang around unfolded for days, which is what happens when I dry in the machine! There's not much point in hanging things up carefully so they don't get wrinkles, and then letting them sit in the basket for days.

Anyway, I love all your reasons for line drying; we moved into a house with a beautiful backyard last winter and I really enjoy the time I spend out there with the children in the quiet, hanging out my clothes. It's very restful and satisfying! On the other hand I take my clothes off the line after the girls are in bed, so I put on my ipod and listen to music while I'm doing it. The woman lip syncing and dancing while she's taking down her laundry? That's me.

Amy

Tammy's picture

Hi, Amy! :) Welcome, and

Hi, Amy! :) Welcome, and thanks for the fun comment. :)

Liquid Laundry Soap

I make liquid laundry soap, using the same basic recipe. However, I've been using my own, homemade soap, grated. I used to use a real recipe, but now that I've got the knack, here's what I do: I have a big canning kettle that I fill with water. Into it goes 3 cups grated soap, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 cup borax. I heat it until it's all melted and combined.

While it heats, I have two large buckets (one's 2.5 gal, the other I think is 5 gal) that I fill half way with water. After the soap mixture is melted, I dump it into the buckets. Voila! Liquid soap! (After it's cooled, I put the soap into old commercial soap bottles.)

Frankly, I think it's kinda fun to make the soap. My fiance thinks I'm crazy, but that's okay ;)

liquid laundry homemade detergent

I used to use the liquid recipie for detergent and I thought it cleaned great. I had better results with grated ivory than fels naptha. My son used to ride motocross and he would get red clay dirt stains I.f youre not familiar with red clay we are from the south, eveeryone here knows how bad it stains. I quit using it because I saw a blog somewhere where someone said their white clothes became dingy from long term use. Do any of you know much about this?

Tammy's picture

Dingy whites

One theory about the not-so-bright whites is that the commercial detergents contain optical brighteners (see the bottom of this page for more info).

In my experience, our whites become less-bright after repeated washings partly because of mineral build-up from the water we use. For the most part I don't worry about it -- I sometimes do things like adding vinegar to a hot rinse (to reduce soap or mineral build-up), or spreading my whites in the grass for some natural oxygen bleaching. :)

Water Softener

Could vinegar be added directly to the detergent recipe as a softener rather than waiting till the rinse cycle? I don't sit around and watch the washer. So if it doesn't go in at the start, it doesn't go in.

Tammy's picture

Adding vinegar to the wash

I don't know how effective vinegar is when added in the initial wash cycle. Vinegar helps rinse out the soap suds... and as a fabric softener, I'm not sure if it works if it's been completely rinsed out afterwards.

When vinegar is added to the rinse water, it breaks down the remaining soap suds, and (obviously) doesn't completely rinse out of the clothes, since it's in the final rinse water.

I usually have to set the timer if I want to remember to add something to my washer during the rinse cycle! The washer's in the basement and I'm horrible about remembering to listen for the rinse cycle to start. :)

Remembering the rinse cycle

I use a Downy ball. They last forever so it's a one time purchase and they go in at the beginning of the wash cycle. I'm enjoying reading your blog having gotten here through a search for homemade scouring powder.

adding vinegar to wash

Caution! You do NOT want to mix vinegar and bleach! So if you are using bleach in a load, which I do occassionally for whites or laundry that is questionable, you do not want to add vinegar until the rinse cycle. It's ike mixing bleach and amonia. Caustic!

vinegar in final rinse

could you use a doney ball to get the vinegar in the rinse cycle?

linda

Very interesting

I have been using just my own homemade soap to wash clothes. I rub a bar across a grater and then add some baking soda and add white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment and that's always worked out well. I tried once long ago to make my own liquid detergent and just started doing this method to save time. I might try this if I end up running out of soap (happens sometimes since I make all of my own!!)

I tried it.

Kate
I had tried making laundry soap before and did not like it. So after reading this I decided to try again and do somethings different. First I used Irish Spring (spring fresh? blue bar) for a nice smell. Then for my extra dirty clothes I added some oxy clean. I did also use some vinegar in a downy ball. At first I thought that my clothes would smell like vinegar. But they did not. So far it has worked well and I like having a light sent in my soap. Thanks for giving me the inspiration to try again.

vinegar in the rinse cycle.

I am wondering if vinegar can just be added to the fabric softener compartment in the washer?

Vinegar as a rinse aid

I always add vinegar to my laundry during the rinse cycle. At home I have an old twin tub so while it's on the spinner side I put about 1/2 cup vinegar in about 4 cups water and rinse all the clothes with it. I love the clean smell after. When I'm using a regular machine (like at my mother's) I put the vinegar in the rinse compartment and it does the same thing. I have terrible allergies to fabric softeners so this combined with my dryer balls helps keep my clothes soft and fluffy. Hope this information helps!

laundry soap

Will the liquid laundry mixture clean with only borax and washing soap, leaving out bar soap?? It would be runny, but will it clean? Dabbo

Vinegar & Washing Soda

My thoughts on Vinegar:
If you still have a light sent to your wash after using vinegar in the wash, then you are not using enough vinegar. Vinegar will strip all soap and cleaners from the laundry so there should be no smell when it comes from washer.
My thoughts on Washing Soda:
Also of note, I have used washing soda for quite some time and used directly on clothes, it has not harmed a piece of clothing we have had. We have also used this in a pinch on hair and feet (not advising anyone else to do) and hair has been healthier, shinier and softer than any shampoo on the market or that we could make, feet are the smoothest after using this, nothing else worked as well. This was purely accidental, as someone in my home thought it was baking soda, but I felt I had to share as it has been used and now my darling hubby still occasionally asks "Where's that soda honey? "(as I have to hide it from him or he would use all the time). Just thought I would share our household funnies with ya and let ya know how we have discovered things here (definitely not like normal people I am sure)
Blessings, Deena

detergent for cloth diapers

I made the homemade powdered detergent using fels naptha, borax, and washing soda. I am totally new at cloth diapers and in about 3 weeks they stunk like a terrible chemical smell. So I stripped them and read that it was probably the fels naptha soap that caused the build up. But so many cloth diapering moms I know seems to use any kind of soap and it doesn't bother the diapers? I went ahead and bought Charlie's soap since it was the most recommended for cloth diapers. Any suggestions?
By the way I love this site!
Meredith

This is cool!

Whoa I had no idea that you could to this detergent recipe. My question to you is, Does it work as good as a brand name detergent? How trust worthy is it? Well keep us posted of anything new, thanks.

You don't need washing soda

I find it all too common that people can not find the washing soda. You can use oxiclean in its place. They basically work the same way. As for adding bar soap, I too like the irish spring. Just make sure you do not use a most. soap. If you are fortunate enough to find washing soda, I would still recommend using 1/4 cup of oxiclean.

I use the powder, and I use 1 bar of soap, 1 cup of Borax, 1/2 cup of washing soda (if you don't have washing soda, use 3/4 cup of oxiclean) and 1/4 cup oxiclean. As I said, I use Irish spring (the blue and white bars). For the rinse cycle, I use baking soda.

Your clothes will be very clean, and will smell great. Hope this was helpful.

Mixed it stronger and used RISH SPRING BAR SOAP

I just made a batch of the laundry soap recipe I got from a friend,---- which is bar of soap, 1 full cup of washing soda, 1/2 c. borax and 10 gallons of hot water. After shredding and melting the irish spring soap I used instead of fells naptha, my house smells so good from melting the Irish spring. Whoo Hoo, it smells awesome, and better than any fragrant spray. BUT MAKE NOTE THAT...I changed the original recipe. Instead---I used 1 bar of green Irish spring soap melted on the stove while stirring it, One large 41/2 gallon bucket with about 2 1/2 gallons of hot water. I added the bar soap mixture to the hot water, then 1 cup of washing soda, and then 1/2 cups of Borax. Then I added hot water to fill the 4 1/2 gallon bucket almost to the top. Allowing room to dip it out.. I stirred and stirred. I let it set as the recipe say to let it set for 1 full hour. It's been 1/2 hour and it isn't getting thick yet. I wonder if it will. I suppose it will still work the same if its not think. I wonder if the glycerin content is less in irish spring than other bar soaps. The glycerin helps it thicken. Well we'll see, either way I'm guessing that it will smell awesome and since I mixed it with more soap than the recipe called for per the amount of water as the original recipe called for...... then it will be a little stronger per load.... unless I only use 1/2 cup instead of the 1 full cup the original recipe celled for. Anyway, next time I make it it will be before I have company... it smells awesome, and sooooo clean. My whole laundry room smells so good.

Mixed it stronger and used RISH SPRING BAR SOAP

I just made a batch of the laundry soap recipe I got from a friend,---- which is bar of soap, 1 full cup of washing soda, 1/2 c. borax and 10 gallons of hot water. After shredding and melting the irish spring soap I used instead of fells naptha, my house smells so good from melting the Irish spring. Whoo Hoo, it smells awesome, and better than any fragrant spray. BUT MAKE NOTE THAT...I changed the original recipe. Instead---I used 1 bar of green Irish spring soap melted on the stove while stirring it, One large 41/2 gallon bucket with about 2 1/2 gallons of hot water. I added the bar soap mixture to the hot water, then 1 cup of washing soda, and then 1/2 cups of Borax. Then I added hot water to fill the 4 1/2 gallon bucket almost to the top. Allowing room to dip it out.. I stirred and stirred. I let it set as the recipe say to let it set for 1 full hour. It's been 1/2 hour and it isn't getting thick yet. I wonder if it will. I suppose it will still work the same if its not think. I wonder if the glycerin content is less in irish spring than other bar soaps. The glycerin helps it thicken. Well we'll see, either way I'm guessing that it will smell awesome and since I mixed it with more soap than the recipe called for per the amount of water as the original recipe called for...... then it will be a little stronger per load.... unless I only use 1/2 cup instead of the 1 full cup the original recipe celled for. Anyway, next time I make it it will be before I have company... it smells awesome, and sooooo clean. My whole laundry room smells so good.

Baking Soda in rinse

how do you use the baking soda for the rinse? Do you mix with water or just put in the rinse dispenser? Does it leave a baking soda scent?

Laundry Liquid

Hi Tammy,

My daughter and I have been enjoying your blog for about 5 years. We love your humble attitude and gentle enthusiasm about all things pertaining to a Godly woman's lifestyle. We keep pigs on our farm and when one went to the abattoir we asked for a bag of lard. After 10 years I made soap again. It is a real homesteaders style - no fragrance except for a little eucalyptus oil.

Anyway, this made a surprisingly nice bar soap and a friend noted in a letter that she was off to make her laundry liquid out of her homemade soap. Her recipe is similar to yours - we Australians seem to love eucalyptus oil for the fragrance and cleaning properties. A 20 litre drum lasts our family of 8 exactly 2 weeks. Also I don't need to use fabric softener everything comes out so supple. We just use a soaker for work jeans, etc.

So thank you my dear for sharing your delightful home and family with us. May G__ bless you always. :)

Dry Laundry Detergent....

Hi Everyone...

I started reading this site years ago when I was searching for a recipe for laundry detergent and since then, I have enjoyed so many of the edible recipes...especially the Apple Ladder Loaf!

Recently, we moved into a new home and I don't have as much space as I used to. So, to make use of the space I do have, I made my own dry detergent. I am not sure if others have posted a recipe for it...so here is mine and I hope it helps others.

Laundry Detergent

1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup Purex II (colorsafe bleach)
2 bars Ivory Soap *(or whatever soap you use)
20 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
10 drops of Orange Essential Oil
10 drops of Vanilla Essential Oil

In a 5-gallon bucket, shred the bar soap on a grater (I use the smallest holes for a better grating). Add the dry ingredients. Add the essential oils (chose fragrances that you like...mind you, I picked these because they remind me of commercial fragrances that I enjoy). Cover with the bucket lid and shake vigorously. Drop a plastic tablespoon in the bucket and keep closed to preserve fragrance. Give a quick stir with your hand and add 2-3 tablespoons to your washer before you add your clothes.

For those who what the commerical fabric softener, but hate the cost...

Fabric Softener

40 oz liquid commerical fabric softener
120 oz water
6-10 clean face towels (like the kind that Walmart sells at 18 for $4)

Using a clean 5-gallon bucket, pour the entire bottle of commercial fabric softener into the bucket. Fill the bottle 3 times with water. Add the face towels and let shake. Remove 1-2 face towels and add them to the dryer with your wet clothes. When the dryer is done, remove the face towels and return them to the fabric softener bucket. Occasionally, you will want to wash these towels to preserve the towels, but it is not a hard and fast rule on how often. I tend to wash mine everytime I wash a load of whites, which is about every week. Of course, that is because I was 2-3 loads of clothes a day and at least 4-5 per day on weekends with bedding, towels and curtains. So, as you can imagine, my washer gets quite a workout.

If you are going to hang your clothes out on the line, you can double the towels and add them during the final rinse. DO NOT WRING THE TOWELS OUT COMPLETELY. You will want them dripping lightly no matter which drying format you use.

God bless you all and I hope that someone enjoys these recipes as much as I enjoy them.

laundry detergent

i have been making my own since early summer with fels naptha bar soap. i could not be any happier. it works as well as tide on tough stains when i stain treat with the bar first, then add detergent as normal. my clothes smell fresh, too! i now have several friends making it, too. thanks so much for inspiring me as a homemaker! may God continue to bless you and your family in your life and work as a mom:)

Fels naptha soap

I find this in my Albertsons store and if they dont carry it most stores will try and order it for you, ya just need to ask. I
am happy to say Albertsons has it every time I go for it.

soap used

instead of "ivory" or "fels" have you tried zote? there is a white and a pink bar. i got mine at our local walmart for 79 cents

soap vs detergent

When I used soap on my clothes, I had problems with build-up and mildew. Fels Naptha or another laundry soap may be less prone to build-up than other soaps, and a vinegar rinse will help, but for me I just couldn't use any soap.

Most commercial detergents have a *detergent* instead of a soap. Detergents don't leave any residue behind. You can use a smidgen of dish soap in the laundry, that's made of detergent, it works great, but don't use too much because too many suds are bad for machines.

I've experimented with washing soda, borax, and oxiclean alone and in combination with each other. They all work well, in any combination, and clean my clothes just fine. No soap or detergent needed! Borax is especially effective against mildew.

Homemade laundry Soap

I've been using a bar of Fels Naptha and Half a Bar of Irish springs, melting them down in pot of boiling water, stirring very often. (smells wonderful) While its melting, I fill a 5 gallon pail almost half full of warm to hot water and mix in 1.5 cups of Borax and 1.5 cups of Washing soda(both found at Walmart) Stirr it until its blended and disolved into the water. I then pour half the pot of melted soap into the bucket and stirr well. I add more water and then pour in the rest of melted soap. and stirr. I then top off the bucket with more water.... leaving enough room at the top to stirr and dip. It Gells up very nice, almost thick..... so less per load can be used. about 1/2 to 1/4 cup per load.

I personally like to fill old Laundry jugs about 3/4 full of gell and then top off with water leaving room to shake container with each use. this way your 5 gallons goes further and still seems to clean very well.

Thoughts.

Laundry Soap

I use this same receipe and fill old laundry jugs 1/2 full and the rest water. I use vinegar for softening with a couple drops of lemon oil added to the rinse cycle. I also prefer hanging my clothes to dry but I have heard for dryers to reduce static you can use tinfoil crumpled into a loose ball, and you can reuse it. I'm going to try this. I just started making my own dishwasher tablets, toothpaste, and cleaners as well. It's so satisfying and cost effective!!
Tammy R

Post new comment

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.