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Laundry Soap

If you had asked me in college I would have told you that I used liquid laundry soap (usually liquid Tide) and a sheet of fabric softener (Bounce, the normal scent, way before they had different ones to choose from). After college I continued in this manner, only with cheaper powdered detergent, until I had a kid in cloth diapers. We used a variety of cloth diapers, most of which had fleece on them on some part. I discovered early on that too much soap +/- fabric softener led to detergent building up on the fleece and problems with the diapers no longer working right. So…. we changed our routine. It turns out that cloth diapers are a gateway drug to the natural-ish lifestyle.

So Tide and bounce were now out and I found myself scouring the laundry detergent aisle for a cheap, limited additive laundry soap that got the job done. Not even easy to say, but certainly easier said than done. Eventually after about 2 years I discovered making my own.  I played with the recipe. Here’s what I came up with as a final finished product:

Powdered Laundry Detergent:

  • 1 bar grated Fels Naptha soap (finely grated with a box grater or a food processor)
  • 4 cups of washing soda (sold in the laundry aisle, in a pinch use baking soda)
  • 4 cups of borax (again in the laundry aisle).

For light load, use 1 tablespoon. For heavy or soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.

Recently my sister asked me if I had ever made my own laundry soap. Uh, yes. I’ve been doing it for about 5.5 years. When I shared my recipe she said something like, “You’ve GOT to send me these things when you find them.”  And so I am.

  1. December 30, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    a. that sounds easy, and it’s like 80 loads, give or take – so probably thrifty compared to my evil $15 box of country save. wonder if i can thrift a box grater . . .

    b. “cloth diapers are a gateway drug to the natural-ish lifestyle” oh really? because some people might think that if you use cloth diapers, you already drank the natural-ish lifestyle kool-aid.

    • December 30, 2009 at 11:47 pm

      Ok you have a point. Maybe it’s better said as ….I stopped using all kinds of chemical products as a result of choosing cloth diapers. Laundry soap, fabric softener, smelly lotions….

      You could use a simple grater for the soap, but my experience is that a box grater does a better job (smaller flakes).

  2. EMS
    January 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I found a little grater (very fine flakes) at the dollar store up by Best Buy… that’s what I use to make my liquid version laundry soap. I might just have to try your powdered version now, too! No cooking!

  3. Nancy
    January 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    The soap works great, considering I live on a farm! I use Ivory soap though. I just use a cheese grater that I bought to grate pumpkin for pumpkin wine.

    The only reason that I thought about soap was one week I could not leave my house for 5 days. I though what happens if I run out of soap.

    You can use washing soda and borax mix to make dishwasher soap. I have not done that yet, but as a rinse agent I did put vinegar in and it works nice.

    I am on a mission to save money this year, and the homemade soap cuts the bill down A LOT!

    Thanks! Glad to provide you with Blog ideas too. 🙂

    • January 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm

      I think the castille soap gets more stuff out. But I use Ivory if I don’t have it around.

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