Sunday, January 9, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap: Powdered or Liquid

A few years ago I started making my own laundry soap. I had no idea how easy and cheap it was to make your own laundry soap.

Not only is it financially brilliant, but both recipes are septic friendly (no phosphates). You can customize the scent to your liking depending on what soap or essential oils you prefer. If you are allergic to scents or dyes, no problem- just use mild soap such as Dr. Bronner's mild baby bar soap.

Did I mention how incredibly inexpensive it is?
1 batch of Liquid Soap makes 4 1/2- 5 gallons. Each batch costs approximately $3 to make it. You use 1/4-1/2 c. of soap per laundry load.
1 batch of Powdered Soap makes about 4 cups. You use 1-2 Tbs. per laundry load. That's about $0.01 per load.

Allow me to let that sink in for a second.

What's the cons you might ask? Well besides a little elbow grease I can't think of a single thing. And if you view it as a free upper body work-out via grating a bar of soap then I guess it's a win-win, right?

Ok, now get to work! All you need as far as utensils is a measuring cup, a metal spoon (or designated wooden spoon as you don't want to end up with soapy food by cooking with it), a medium to large saucepan, and a metal cheese grater. I prefer to keep my cooking utensils separate from my craft utensils- go to your local Thrift store to find these three things. You should walk out of there just a few dollars short. I also grate my soap on a craft cutting board so I don't gunk up my countertops with soapy chunks.

*both of these recipes do not suds up significantly. This is normal (making it perfect for front loaders) and does not affect their ability to cleanse*

Powdered Laundry Soap

1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax (interesting tidbit about 20 Mule Team Borax here- yeah I'm that nerdy)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
2.5 oz bar soap, grated finely- do not use beauty bars that contain moisturizers.
----Recommended bars to us: Dr. Bronners, Zote, Fels-Naptha, Ivory
optional: few drops essential oils

Combine all and store covered in a dry location. Use 1-2 Tbs per load of laundry.

Liquid Laundry Soap

2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 bar of soap, grated (see above)
4 cups warm water plus 4-5 gallons warm water
5 gallon bucket with lid (Home Depot's orange buckets are super cheap at about $3-4 for both bucket and lid, I personally prefer the gamma lids which are much easier to use on a daily basis)
optional 20-40 drops essential oils

Combine 4 c. warm water and grated bar of soap in a saucepan over med-low heat. Stir with metal spoon until soap dissolves.

Pour borax and washing soda into 5 gallon bucket. Slowly add 1 gallon of warm water and stir to dissolve.

Gradually add rest of the water to make 4 1/4-5 gallons total. Once soap is dissolved, add to bucket and stir well.

Let cool and add essential oils. Let sit, tightly covered overnight. Mix well (may have to stir before adding to each load). The soap should have a jelly-type of consistency and may be lumpy: this is normal. If it is too solid, just add a little more water and stir. Too runny? Add a little more borax, soda, or soap. Sometimes the hardness or softness of waters, or the brand of bar soap will affect it's consistency, you'll just need to experiment for yourself to see what works!

*Note- if your clothes end up with a little "residue" feeling then you might want to adjust your quantities. Try doing 1c. each of borax and washing soda instead of the full 2, or just reduce the borax only.

Finally, my last tip: instead of buying expensive fabric softener, use 1/2 c. of distilled white vinegar in your washing cycle. If your machine has a slot for softener you can add it there, otherwise just take a cheap downy ball, add the vinegar, seal and toss into the load!


  1. I love this stuff--I've made both kinds and stick with the liquid. [I use dish detergent if I have stains] I also make my own "Soft Scrub" with Dr B's alomond soap--it smells so Great!