Happy May Day! So many healthy, natural products can easily be made in the comfort of your own home. To highlight some of these recipes, I’m dedicating this month as “Homemade in May.”
Today’s post originally appeared on Feb. 19, 2011. This was my go-to laundry detergent recipe for years. Unfortunately, I can’t use it any more because of my high efficiency washing machine – and I can’t use Fels-Naptha anymore because we now have a septic system.
This recipe’s an easy one to try, and I can attest that it stretches a long way – plus it gets clothes very clean.
Earlier this week, I confessed that I make my own laundry detergent. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also super affordable and it cleans really well. As promised, I’m posting my favorite soap recipes, along with some helpful hints. I know many people aren’t interested in making their own soap. But, if you have a lot of laundry and are trying to save money, this is a cheap and easy solution.
(I’ve read that Ivory, soap, Sunlight soap, and Zote soap also are effective, but I haven’t tried them. And I haven’t checked out their ingredients … so I can only vouch for Fels Naptha.) All soaps can be found in the laundry aisle at grocery stores, although I’ve had trouble finding Fels Naptha and washing soda at many stores. If you want to skip a trip to the store, you can purchase them from Amazon or Soaps Gone Buy.
[Editor’s note: Since originally publishing this recipe, I’ve learned that Borax is not as safe or healthy as I initially believed. If you choose to use it, use with caution.]
These recipes produce unscented laundry detergent. If you want to add a little scent, add five drops of essential oil to every gallon of liquid detergent once the soap cools to room temperature.
For the liquid soap, you’ll also need a plastic mixing spoon, gallon jug, a 4-cup measuring cup, and emptied laundry detergent bottles.
The first thing you’ll want to do for both recipes is grate your bar of soap. I’ve tried grating the Fels Naptha by hand, but it takes a little longer than I like. I’ve had a lot of luck in chopping a bar into smaller chunks, then grating it in my food processor. (Because it’s just soap, I don’t worry about using it in my food processor. I just wash everything afterward and it gets really clean.)
You also should be warned that both recipes make a very low sudsing soap. The soap definitely cleans your clothes … just don’t expect to see lots of bubbles like you see with commercial brands.
Powdered laundry detergent
2 cups finely grated Fels Naptha or Ivory bar soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup Borax
Mix the ingredients well and store in an airtight container. Use 2 Tablespoons per full load of laundry.
Liquid laundry detergent
¼ cup finely grated Fels Naptha or Ivory bar soap
¼ cup washing soda
¼ cup Borax
16 cups water
Pour 4 cups of water into an emptied gallon jug.
Pour 4 cups of water into a saucepan. Add ¼ cup finely grated Fels Naptha Soap. Heat until Fels Naptha melts (usually right to the water’s boiling point).
Stir ¼ cup washing soda and ¼ cup Borax into hot Fels Naptha liquid. Stir until all soaps are incorporated.
Pour hot soap mixture into gallon jug. Add 8 additional cups of water. Shake well. Cool to room temperature. Once soap is cooled, transfer to emptied laundry detergent containers.
When using, the soap will be like a very lumpy gel. Shake your laundry detergent container well to mix the soap and loosen the goopiness, and use two capfuls per full load of laundry.
Latest posts by Hilary Kimes Bernstein (see all)
- The Day I Realized Healthy Choices Don’t Guarantee Health - July 21, 2015
- Avoid Synthetic Bug Sprays with All-Natural Repellents - July 16, 2015
- The Day I Learned I Could Cook Real Food - July 13, 2015