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Keeping it clean: My laundry soap recipe

The other day my sis asked me to share my recipe for laundry soap. It's very simple, but I'm not so good with measuring things. I tend to just make by feel (needless to say, I don't always have spectacular results). For the sake of passing on the info I'm going to make an attempt to quantify the process. I hobbled this particular laundry soap recipe together from various sources across the web. I've been making my own for so long that the process has evolved a bit to suit me, but you can find similar -- if not identical -- instructions just about anywhere.

 

Laundry Soap

 

What you'll need:
  • Grater
  • A small-ish sized pot
  • Something that can hold a good amount of liquid and has a pouring spout (I use a plastic juice pitcher)
  • Big spoon
  • Something to store your soap in (I re-use a laundry soap dispenser that originally held the store bought variety. It is 1.36 gallons, so all of the measurements below work well with that size. If your container is a different size you'll need to adjust your measurements accordingly.)
  • Funnel
  • 1/3 bar castile soap, grated (I use Kirk's)
  • 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • 1/2 cup 21 Mule Team borax
  • essential oil (optional)

Steps (sort of):

 

First you need to grate the bar of soap into a pot. I generally sit in front of the TV and watch something ridiculously mind numbing during this process -- but if you're better with time management than I you might find something more productive to do, so long as it doesn't involve your hands because they'll be busy. Once the soap is grated add enough water to cover and then a bit more for good measure and put it on the stove to simmer. You'll let it simmer until all of the soap dissolves. 

 

Fill up a tea kettle and get it to boiling. While you're waiting for your water to boil and your soap to dissolve you'll add 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax to your plastic pitcher (or whatever).  Once soap is dissolved and water is boiling, add both to the pitcher. Stir with your big spoon until all of the washing soda and borax have become one with the liquid. 

 

Put the funnel in the mouth of your soap storage container. Pour in the concoction from the pitcher, then add warm water from the tap until full. At this point you can add a few drops of essential oil if you like. I use lavender or lemon. The lemon seems to work a bit better as far as smell staying power. Then put the lid on and give it a good solid shake. It'll take a few hours to set up, but I've used it right away plenty of times and my laundry has never complained.

 

And if, like me, you don't use dryer sheets. You can wait until the rinse cycle and add a cup of white vinegar. Works like a charm, promise. 

 

Happy laundry!

 

I was too lazy to photograph each step of the process. But here's my finished product.

That's some silky soap!

 

Views: 1121

Comment by Lynda Reynolds on June 26, 2011 at 2:30pm
I run my bar of soap through my food processor...I use the grating disc and it works like a charm...after all it's just soap.
Comment by Aleah Weltha on June 26, 2011 at 3:04pm
I love it Lynda! I don't have a food processor yet, but that's one more reason I need one.
Comment by Lynda Reynolds on June 26, 2011 at 3:14pm
Don't buy a new one!  Go to a thrift shop or a yard sale...they almost give them away.  So many people get them and then never use them...I of course use mine all the time...I've worn out 2!
Comment by Aleah Weltha on June 26, 2011 at 3:26pm
Will do, Lynda. I'm allergic to retail, anyways. :)
Comment by matt on June 27, 2011 at 12:09pm
Cool idea, I haven't tried homemade liquid soap yet, but I've been using a recipe for a powdered version that works well and is easy. I, too, go the food processor route. Obviously, the best part is blowing up a soap bar in the microwave!
Comment by Aleah Weltha on June 27, 2011 at 12:55pm
That's the first time I've heard about the soap in the microwave trick. Not only are you making laundry soap, you're cleaning out the microwave too. Win/win!
Comment by John F. Houpt II, PhD on June 28, 2011 at 3:54pm

My wife and I have one of the "new type" low water,high  efficiency washers.  They use  less but only "special" high efficiency soaps - which means more money!!!  I want to use your soap recipie in the new washing machine. What are your thoughts on this?  I think it'll work well, but, I'm not a chemist. Only an engineer and beer brewer! LOL!!!  Thanks for sharing your recipie and the other great ideas from all the responders!

Comment by Aleah Weltha on June 28, 2011 at 4:43pm

I really don't know for sure, SC. We're still using the most un-efficient energy and water hog ever... unfortunately. It seems like it should work -- at least it shouldn't hurt to try (which is sometimes as high as I aim...)

 

But get a second opinion. I don't want to be to blame for breaking a pretty new washer. ;)

Comment by Amy M on June 28, 2011 at 5:46pm
Can this be used in a HE front loader machine?
Comment by Lynda Reynolds on June 28, 2011 at 6:10pm
I had a Neptune HE front loader for 9 years...I used my homemade laundry soap.  I just (last week) purchased a new front loader and will continue to use homemade...seems to work for me.  I do run a cycle once a month of 2 cups of white vinegar to *clean out* the hard water deposits.

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