“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let's be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Laundry SOAP ;0)... Plain, Simple, Economical

If a chore or project can be done with simple directions and/or ingredients, I'm usually on the bandwagon trying new methods at home.  Laundry is one of those chores that can put a big dent in the budget if you buy store bought detergent, stain remover sprays, fabric softeners, etc.  Here is the recipe I use for making laundry soap at home.  I have a standard washing machine (after my new high efficiency model broke down the second time .. I opted to replace it with an old fashioned one without a computerized brain) ... something similar to what my grandmother used with push pull type dials. 

#4 Powder Laundry Soap

2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (or Ivory soap, Sunlight bar soap, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile,or Zote)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

  • Grate the soap on a fine cheese grater. 
  • Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
  • Use 2 tablespoons per full load.
Here is a link to the website I found this soap.  There are all sorts of other recipes .. as well as directions/instructions on adjusting the amount that may be necessary for your type of water.  Tipnut/10 Laundry Soap Recipes

Do some research on your own should you decide to try this at home.  For our laundry, I found that after several months of continual use (and not using any fabric softener) .. our clothes felt clean.  I had come to hate the overpowering smell of fabric softener .. let alone the expense.  My washer was always grimy .. so I concluded that some of that grime was being left behind on my clothes/towels/sheets.  Using the homemade product has virtually cleaned the inside of my machine, I'm happy to say.  The ingredients are very inexpensive to buy and are usually readily available at the grocery store.  Over the course of a year, I've spent about eight dollars on materials ... and still have enough to make a few more batches.   Homemade laundry soap is extremely cheap to make.  I've tried both liquid and powder recipes.  Powder is easier for our family as the liquid often times needs to be stirred before use ... and you know how kids are when they do laundry ;) ... powder is easier for them. 

For stain removal or pre-treating spots, I simple use the Fels-Naptha bar soap, gently rubbing the stain with the soap and some water ... at times I even use my old washboard in my laundry room sink.   To give extra softness and freshness to towels, I use 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the rinse (DO NOT USE WITH BLEACH).  I put it in the fabric softener dispenser (do so at your own risk;) .. or in a fabric softener dispenser ball that you can plop in at the beginning of the wash cycle.  Using the cycle that includes a soak is helpful for extra soiled clothes .. as well as dark fabrics as it allows the powder to completely dissolve and work more efficiently. The savings are worth the effort.  Here's a guy that makes a liquid version ... and has done stain removal and price comparisons.

Hazards of fabric softeners

To dispense static electricity from your clothes in the dryer .. try wadding up a few balls of aluminum foil and dry clothes as normal  (shut the laundry room door because it's a bit noisy;)

Next year I hope to dabble making laundry soap from the soapwart plant growing in my garden :)

Non toxic cleaners .. including a recipe for soapwart laundry soap


The Younger Rachael said...

I have a front loader, so I'm reluctant to try powders. but, that said, I only use 1 tsp of liquid stuff with each load. We get so sweaty here -- its hitting mid-90s and its still May -- I feel like we need some deodorizing! During the winter, I've washed without soap if its just school clothes (I'm a teacher and Hubby is a student) -- we just don't get that dirty.

Plus, with only 1 tsp, the last bottle of detergent lasted 7 months (it was the small bottle at Walmart, of the off-brand!) The new bottle, from Sams -- the bulk store -- should last a year plus. Doesn't leave much scent on the clothes with so little, also. Helps that we have soft water, too.

DarcyLee said...

We had a HE washer too but it kept breaking down so we gave it away and bought a non-computerized one. Much better. I also use this recipe for laundry soap and have used it for about a year now. Love it. And I, too, found that the inside of my washer is sparkling clean-no more residue. I highly doubt I will ever go back to regular laundry soap again.

FlowerLady said...

I recently posted about my own use of homemade laundry powder detergent. I love the smell of mine, as I use the Zote soap.

I have a 10 year old Maytag, no computer, and that's just the way I like it.

Happy Laundering ~ FlowerLady


I also have a washing machine with knobs and no computer. Less junk to break down, more reliable, and costs much less to purchase.

Maria Stahl said...

I'm going to be the whiny one here and point out that this should not be called "laundry detergent." Detergents are petroleum by-products added as stain removers to other soap-type products. A lot of people avoid them simply for the petroleum connection.

Mrs. Mac said...

OK .. Maria (Miss Whiny;) ... I'll change the title back to Laundry soap .. which is what I had originally titled it .. but changed it to detergent when checking the recipe over at tipnuts. Thanks for the good info:) Mucho gracias!

Kathryn said...

I've been using soapnuts for 3+ years now. Love them. I do add about 1/3rd cup each of baking soda & borax, also use vinegar. I don't give them much thought, but my MIL mentioned how soft the towels are when she helped fold them once.

I bought 2 1-Kilo bags 3+ years ago & i still have 1/3rd of the last bag left. They weren't cheap initially (the outlay was probably about $45, but they have lasted a long time).

When staying with my ILs, using soapnuts is a bit too much. (We stay with the ILs 2 nights a week & i do the sheets before we leave.) But i just recently read this article at Natural News: http://www.naturalnews.com/028846_laundry_detergents_dioxane.html
so this week i got some 7th Generation to use when we stay with them.

If you are still using commercially made detergent, you'll want to check on this article.

Trent @ The Simple Dollar makes laundry soap with the same recipe as yours Mrs. Mac. Says he enjoys doing it. Folks have asked him if it is worth the time, & so he did a cost analysis & determined that for him it is worth it.

Diane said...

We have been using this same exact laundry recipe for about six months. Couldn't be happier with it. Also line drying for the past 6 weeks for the first time ever.

Pat said...

I made my first batch this weekend and have done two loads with it. It's odd not to see any bubbles!

Laurie said...

I always love visiting your blog! I made my first batch of laundry soap recently. I like the idea of using the Fels Naptha as a stain remover, & also have soapwort growing, tho' I have never done anything with it. Isn't the scent of the flowers just wonderful? Got to be one of my favorites. Alas, I was too late to enter the Tattler giveaway. We found out about them recently, & just today discussed ordering some.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Pat said...

UPdate on my home made laundry soap. I love it.
I will never waste my money on commercial products again.
I am looking for zote soap..where do you find it? I used Ivory.

Mrs. Mac said...

Pat ... I'm not sure about Zote soap. I use Fels-naptha. Will check around this coming week when I go shopping for Zote.