I was complaining to a friend about the cost of liquid laundry detergent from the store that was both unscented and good for sensitive skin, I should have known better. She is just like me and very unsympathetic, I should have seen it coming when she said “Then just make your own.” That got me to thinking, “why not?”
Five gallons? I don’t think so.
After looking for recipes online, I found that most recipes made 5 or more gallons of soap. Who has room to store 5 gallons of detergent? After reading a few and experimenting with my own ingredients, I came up with a perfect mix that makes only one gallon of laundry soap. I can whip it up in 15 minutes and have laundry soap for the next 3 months without having to mix it in a 5 gallon bucket.
I went on Amazon and purchased Laundry Soap, Washing Soda, and Borax. With the amounts that I purchased, I have enough ingredients for making detergent for the next 5 years. If I bought the detergent from the store for 5 years it would cost me about $600 versus the $30 or so that I spent on the basic ingredients.
I washed out an empty milk jug so that I could have something simple to store it in that was inexpensive, after all, who doesn’t like cheap and easy?
I took one bar of Zote soap (the bar does smell strongly, but the clothes don’t smell after being washed) and grated 1/4 of it into a bowl. Which came out to 3.6 ounces on my handy-dandy kitchen scale. If you don’t have a scale, just eye ball it. Soap making isn’t exactly rocket science.
I don’t worry a lot about exact measurements so I just poured half a gallon of water into a heavy bottomed pot on the stove top. Once the water is warm, add the grated soap. Simmer the soapy water until the flakes are dissolved.
Once the soap is dissolved add 1/4 cup of washing soda and 1/4 cup of borax directly to the liquid. Simmer the soap for 2 minutes or so, making sure to stir it so it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and set the soap on the back burner to cool for a few minutes.
Fill the empty container 1/4 of the way with cold water and use a funnel to pour in the soap mixture. (I didn’t have a funnel so I had to carefully pour it directly into the jug which made a huge mess). It’s important to do this while it is still pretty hot, mine was the consistency of a thick syrup after cooling for a few minutes. The soap firms up as it cools, especially in this condensed form.
If you want a scented soap, add essential oils to the mix now. I added about 20 drops of Lavender oil to mine since I love the smell and it doesn’t bother my daughter’s sensitive skin.
Fill the container with more water until it is 1/2 inch from the top. Put the cap on tightly and shake the mixture for a couple of minutes to mix everything together.
Let the mixture set for 24 hours (I sometimes use mine right away, it’s really runny but works fine). Shake it a couple of times before pouring it each time since it does clump up when it sets. I don’t really use a measure when I pour it in the washing machine with a load of clothes, but I probably use about 2-3 tablespoons per load. A gallon of liquid laundry detergent lasts me 3-4 months since I do a load of laundry just about every night.
Between using this homemade laundry detergent and my homemade dryer balls, I have noticed that my laundry doesn’t have that almost slimy feel from the buildup of soap. I also like to add 1/4 of white vinegar to the fabric softener container in any big loads, it makes my towels feel more fluffy. I have noticed our clothes, towels, linens, everything has been lasting longer since I switched to making my own detergent.