Friday, November 11, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

A while back I had run across a blog that had a great recipe for making your own laundry detergent. The site isn't up anymore so I went on a mission to find another recipe. I found a ton! I decided on using one that had very basic ingredients, but that required more amounts than others.

For this recipe you will need:

1 bar of Fels Naptha Soap (I've also heard you can use Ivory)
2 cups of Borax
2 cups of Washing Soda

A grater or peeler for the soap (I used both)
A measuring cup for the water
A pot to boil the water and melt down the soap bar
A bucket that holds at least 2 gallons of water
Empty containers to store the detergent. (I used old empty detergent bottles)

I first started out grating the bar of Fels Naptha into the ceramic bowl. Normally, that would be a method most people could do easily. However, I  have a condition that causes my joints to swell and become very painful, so I switched to the vegetable peeler and it was much easier for me. 

I then boiled 4 cups of water. When the water reached a boil I added in very slowly the bowl of grated soap, gently stirring the whole time. If you pour it all in at once, or too fast, you will get big clumps of soap, which you don't want. I kept this at a rolling boil stirring constantly until all the soap was melted. I did not take pictures of this as I needed 2 hands!

I filled a 2 1/2 gallon bucket that I got at the dollar store to the 2 gallon mark and then slowly poured in the boiling soap mixture. 

I then added 2 cups of Borax. I initially began stirring with a slotted plastic spoon, then a whisk. Eventually I abandoned both of these utensils and stuck my whole arm right in the bucket and mixed by hand. The borax settled at the bottom and wasn't dissolving as nicely as I would have liked it to. Mixing by hand did the trick.

I then added 2 cups of the Washing Soda and went right to the hand mixing method. Let me just note, that stuff gets HOT when combined with water. Again, I made sure that it was completely dissolved and there was no residue left on the bottom. 

I mixed it up with the slotted spoon until it was well blended and then covered it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours. I was a bit concerned with the smell at this point because it didn't smell that great. I can't explain what it smelled like, but it wasn't good. I thought of putting some sort of essentials oils or fragrance oils in it but was afraid of how it would effect anything I washed, so I opted to leave it out. By the next morning when I checked on it the smell was fine, it took on the smell of the Fels Naptha soap, which isn't unpleasant. In my opinion anyhow. 

After 24 hours I removed the plastic and gave it a good stirring. It gelled up quite a bit, and that's ok. 

At this point, the consistency should be about what you see in the pictures. Pretty solid and jello like at first until you start stirring. I used a funnel and put the contents in an old empty detergent bottle I had laying around.

Seems like a lot of work, right? Well, it wasn't! the hardest and longest part was grating/shredding the soap. the entire process took me about 15 minutes and alot of that time was waiting for water to boil. 

Now, why would I do this? To save money of course! 

A 100 oz bottle of Tide at Walmart can run you around 12 dollars. The bottle or box claims you can get 64 loads out of the package. That runs you about .18 cents a load.

I paid 2.98 for a 76 oz. box of Borax at Walmart
.98 cents for a bar of Fels Naptha
About (can't remember exactly) 3.60 for a 55 oz. box of Super washing soda. 

This recipe calls for using a 1/4 cup of detergent per load. 

From the batch that I made this time I was able to get just a bit over 2 gallons. So we'll call it even at 2 gallons.

16 cups to a gallon = 32 cups
32 x's four 1/4 cups =  128 loads

If I were to use all of my ingredients at once I would have enough to make 6 gallons. (with some Borax and Washing Soda left over) equaling 384 loads!

Adding up all of my ingredients
Borax 2.98
Washing soda 3.60
Fels Naptha (x's 3 if I'm using the supplies in their entirety) 2.94

Total = 9.52
That's just about 2.5 cents a load! 
If you do one load of a laundry a day, you have more than enough for an entire year! If you have kids like me you sometimes end up doing 2 loads, that still enough for over half the year. 

I'm always looking for bigger and better deals and savings (with a product that works of course) so if you know of another recipe that saves even more I'd love to hear from you! 

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