Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

After seeing many mentions of homemade laundry detergent at various frugal living forums and blogs over the years, I finally decided to make a batch for myself!  I was reluctant to try homemade detergent/laundry soap in the past (despite the potential savings)  because my Mother took care of the laundry for us.  And since she was kind enough to take on the laundry and ironing, I figured it best to stick with what she preferred (she's a diehard Gain fan!).  Since I've taken over laundry during her recovery, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new.

I used this recipe for the homemade laundry soap.  The blogger gives a review of the laundry soap after having used it for a year.  I also found the comments helpful.

The Process:

Instead of grating the Fels-Naptha bars by hand, I used my Salad Shooter.  One of the best yard sale buys we ever made!  I never used Fels-Naptha before, but had previously read about it having an unpleasant smell.  I actually found the smell to be quite pleasant - a clean, soapy smell!  I also was surprised to find it readily available in our area.  Wal-Mart and Kroger had plenty as did a local country store.

Once the Fels-Naptha was grated, I used my Vitamix (the dry container) to blend together the Fels-Naptha with the baking soda.  I wanted to create smaller bits that would dissolve easily in the wash.

The Fels-Naptha and baking soda blended together

I found it was best to work in small batches of baking soda and grated Fels-Naptha.  Also, to "rev" the machine a couple of times instead of letting it run continuously.  With one batch, I had to scrape out a baking soda-soap paste from the bottom of the container (combination of overloading and running the machine just a bit too long!).  So, there were a few larger chucks in the final mix.

Finally, mixing the Fels-Naptha/baking soda mix with the remaining ingredients.  In hindsight, I should have separated into two batches (like my husband suggested!) instead of one large batch.  Just to ensure a thorough mixing of the ingredients and equal distribution of the softener beads (I love those things!).

Bella inspecting the final product

The resulting homemade laundry soap
I didn't have a pretty canister, so I used what was on hand - several large pickle jars and canning jars!

How it Works:

So far, so good!  After making the laundry soap, of course I wanted to test it out.  I did a large load of towels in cold water and a load of linens in warm water.  No problems dissolving completely in either warm or cold water, and everything was clean afterwards.  I've read about the possibility of a residue when using homemade detergent/laundry soap over time.  But, the consensus seems to be using vinegar to solve the problem.  

The Math:

Cost of ingredients:

1 box Borax $4.79 (Kroger)

3 bars Fels-Naptha .99 each (Wal-Mart)

1 box (4lb) baking soda - already on hand {I normally buy a large bag from Costco since I use baking soda not only for baking, but homemade cleaners, homemade carpet deodorizer and the litterbox}

1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda $3.29 (Kroger)

4lbs of Oxi-Clean $11.05 (12 lb box from Costco)

2 small containers of Downy Unstopables $4.97 each (Wal-Mart)

Total spent: $32.04
I'll give an update on the performance of the homemade laundry soap in about a month!
Mary Ellen


  1. This is similar to what I've been making and using for close to 2 years. We like it for the clean part but we have had recent issues with residue build-up; particularly noticeable with towels and cloth napkins and things where we want absorbency! I've done the vinegar and baking soda rinses that are recommended and they have helped--I need to do them again though!

    I hope your Mama is doing well!

  2. Like you, I've read and seen about homemade laundry detergent for years. I will see how your review goes after a month. I've been getting some pretty good deals lately on laundry detergent and since there's only the 2 of us, not spending too much. But, it hasn't been that long since I was doing laundry for a whole family. I'm not brand loyal, so I buy what ever is on sale with coupons. If the homemade laundry detergent saves money and works well, I would try it too!