"$uper" frugal living. "$aving" money...one idea at a time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How To: Homemade Laundry Soap

I was first introduced to the idea of Homemade Laundry Soap quite a while back by my friend Sheena.  I was thoroughly intrigued but didn't do anything about it at the time.

Then, last week, I noticed that I was just about out of liquid laundry detergent...and try as I might, could not find any on sale for a price I was willing to pay (oh, I miss the days before the economy tanked that I used to get this for free with coupons....all of the time).  So...I thought...what the heck...let's try homemade.

So....I did.

It was SUPER CHEAP (about $1.59 for a 5 gallon bucket's worth--look for price breakdown below) and SUPER EASY to make (only took 25 minutes....start to finish). 

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap
4 cups water
1 bar Fels-Naptha soap 

(found in the laundry isle)
--or you can use any soap and/or soap scraps
1 cup A&H Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

Yield: 5 gallons (concentrate)

7-10 gallons (diluted)

Grate bar of soap.  Place in a saucepan with water. 
Melt on medium-low heat (don't boil it), stirring continually, until all soap is liquified.
Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full with HOT tap water.  Add melted soap, soda, and Borax.  Stir well until all powder is dissolved.

  Finish filling the bucket with hot water.  Stir, cover, and leave overnight (giving it a chance to thicken). 

Here's what it should look like after it's sat for a while.
(like a lemon ice slushy)

Now...this 5 gallon bucket is the concentrated version (pre-treat stains with it).

The original "recipe" calls for 50/50 dilution with water, but my friend recommends using it in it's concentrated form (after trying it diluted for several months)...so you can decide what works best for you.  

Here's what I did.

I filled a container (can use an old but clean, empty laundry soap container...mine wasn't quite empty yet so I used an alternate) and filled it 3/4 full with the concentrate (see that compromise?) and the rest of the way with water.   

Shake container before each use.

You can also add your favorite scent of essential oil for a "custom" smell.  Just a few drops in your smaller container (it will be wasted in the 5 gallon bucket because the smell will dissipate over time).  

But...the essential oils are not "essential" (ha ha ha).  The Fels-Naptha has a nice lemon-y smell on it's own.  But...go ahead and play with it...it's your soap.   

This is a low sudsing detergent.

For front loading machines (yes, it is good for front loaders) use about 1/2 cup detergent.

For top loading, 3/4 to 1 cup

Try supplementing with 1 cup vinegar which has the power to naturally disinfect and soften the fabric.  (I'm definitely going to remember to do this when I do my MANY loads of "soiled" sheets.....**sigh**...boys).  (Thanks for the tip livingrichwithcoupons).

Either way...whether you dilute it or not, it is going to save you a LOT of money. 

Price breakdown
(as of Saturday at my local Walmart)

(free...he he he)

Fels-Naptha $.97 
(1 bar per recipe)

Arm & Hammer Soda $3.24
(abt 7 recipes @ 1 cup...$.46 per recipe)

Borax $2.98
(abt 18 recipes @ 1/2 cup...$.16 per recipe)
Total:  $7.19
or $1.59 per 5 gallon bucket

I'll let you know how it works.  

I've got more laundry tips coming.  So keep you eye out.


  1. AWESOME mel!! We have been doing homemade cleaners as well. We didn't do liquid though. Pretty much used the same ingredients just not all the cooking, melting, etc. I think it works like any other laundry detergent. Now we have like a two year supply, all for about 20 bucks! Last week Chad made dishwasher detergent as well. Super cheap!! I am all for that!

  2. Awesome! I really need to try this! Please do let us know what you how it worked for you :)

  3. Oh, I'd love to know how it works. I came across similar recipes a while ago but never got around to actually doing this. Maybe next time my box of tide runs out... I'm totally curious!

    Also, I'm visiting from a blog hop. Great site!

  4. I am super curious about this one. Be sure to report back after a few weeks on how your clothes are turning out (the good and the bad). That price is so amazing that I can't help but want to get on board too.

  5. I would LOVE to hear what you think of the laundry soap! I have been thinking of doing this myself, but haven't gotten the guts to do it yet.
    Also, I totally agree with the "I used to coupon and get things free." I have been seriously wondering if it is even worth my time anymore or if I spend as much money as if I just were careful with what I buy. I miss the days before the economy tanked.....and Extreme Couponing.

  6. Um yes please! I'm gonna have to try this. But it probably won't be for awhile as I just bought some from Costco before you showed me this stuff!

  7. Ooo, thanks for the vinegar tip! I'm looking foward to trying it.

  8. I just made this and I was wondering if it's supposed to be chunky? I see that this was posted a year ago so hopefully I'll still get a reply.Thank you.

  9. Anonymous, the answer to your question is YES. Give it a good stir, or if you put it in a bottle and diluted it give it a good shake. Truthfully, I just leave mine in the bucket now and as I put it in the washer try to break it up a bit. Its texture will not affect it's ability to work properly. Thanks for asking.


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