Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap (and it really works!)

In my quest to reduce the amount of money flowing out of my wallet and into the hands of Proctor & Gamble, I decided to do a little experiment. A couple of my friends had recently mentioned that they'd been making their own laundry soap and were quite happy with it, so I thought I'd give it a try myself. Now I have to admit I was sceptical, but I went ahead and purchased the required ingredients which I am happy to report that I found in the laundry aisle at my local Winco.

It's quite simple to make if you want to give it a try for yourself...

You will need a clean two gallon bucket, one bar of Fels Naptha soap, one box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, one box 20 Mule Team Borax, and empty laundry detergent containers to store your homemade soap in.

Grate 1/3 of the bar of Fels Naptha soap and put it into a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts, stirring occasionally. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup of the Arm & Hammer super washing soda AND 1/2 cup of the 20 Mule Team borax; stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Fill bucket with four cups hot water, then carefully add soap mixture from the sauce pan and stir. Add additional 1 gallon plus six cups water and stir again. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours until it "gels." Stir it really well before you transfer it to empty laundry soap containers using a funnel and you are finished! This laundry soap is low sudsing and works in "HE" washers - use 1/2 cup per load.

The borax cost $3.62, the washing soda was $2.70, and the bar of soap was $1.12, bringing my total cost to $7.44 (plus tax) for six gallons (approx. 192 loads!) of laundry soap. Of course I have lots of borax and washing soda leftover to use in future batches, and all I'll need to buy to make those is another bar of the Fels-Naptha soap - not bad. ;)

Now that I had my homemade concoction all I had to do was use it. I was hesitant to say the least. If you make some (and you should) you will see why. It's not a pretty looking laundry liquid, but rather it sort of resembles a long-forgotten jello that you find in the back of your fridge - you know how it looks - disgusting! Separated into a part jello/part liquid mess that gets dumped down the sink. Anyway, that's about what your homemade soap is going to look like.

Although I was unsure about whether or not our clothes would come out clean, I went ahead and gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised by the results - clean looking and fresh smelling clothes for a fraction of the cost of any laundry detergent on sale at the store. I'm not going to take the time to do the math, but the amount of money saved here is huge! I can only imagine the savings for larger families. :)

Just to prove how well my homemade laundry soap works, take a look at these before and after photos:

Ah yes, my sweet little nine-year-old girl had been playing outside at a friend's house and got just a little bit muddy. :) Thankfully she was a good girl and wore her play clothes (thank you, Anna). My expectations were low as I loaded these filthy clothes into the washer. I hoped they'd be clean but figured there would be stains from the dirt, but take a look at these:

I was delightfully surprised by the results, and you will be, too! Go ahead, give it a try!

Visit Frugal Fridays for more money-saving ideas!


  1. Anonymous5/28/2013

    Just found your site & love all the tips and info. I was curious about the homemade detergent; is it possible to add essential oils or something to fragrance it, or does it not need it? Thanks!

    1. The addition of essential oils isn't necessary; however, it is nice to add some if desired. The soap recipe, as given in the post above, does have some fragrance from the Fells Nafta soap, but it isn't overly strong and doesn't conflict with the addition of a few drops of EO. Personally, I like to use a few drops of tea tree EO to loads that are particularly dirty such as my dh's work clothes as well as towels and washcloths. :)


Thanks so much for visiting; your kind thoughts and questions are always welcome. :)

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