Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Laundry - The Great Soap Debate

I read an article yesterday, and it gave me the push I needed to (finally) make my own laundry soap.

I've had the recipe and a bar of soap sitting on the table for several weeks, and I ran out of detergent about two weeks ago. I've been using a bit of washing powder, a bit of Borax, and a squeeze or two of Dr. Bonner's Peppermint ... but the Dr. Bonner's is REALLY expensive to be using as laundry soap.

So, I made some.

The article states that we don't really need any detergent, at all, to clean clothes. It's the agitation that gets the clothes clean, which, the article states, is why, before laundry detergents were invented, people still managed to have clean clothes (of course, "clean" is really subjective, isn't it?").

I knew that ... sort of.

I knew that soaking the clothes for, at least, a half hour before running them through the wash cycle gets them cleaner than a longer wash cycle. For a while now, I've been filling the washer with clothes, water and soap, and letting them just soak until I know I have time to get them washed and put on the line (sometimes they'll soak for a full day before I get around to them ;).

Then, I run them on the shortest wash/rinse cycle. I believe I'm saving electricity, because the washing machine isn't running for as long as it would if I ran the clothes through a regular, but longer, cycle. ... but I haven't measured it.

I haven't noticed a significant difference in how clean the clothes are ... but then, I have never been one to obsess about having the whitest whites. Come to think of it, most of our clothes are dark, anyway.

And they don't smell bad. In fact, between the peppermint soap and hanging them on the line, our clothes actually smell pretty nice ;).

So, I guess they're getting clean.

Laundry Soap:

1. Dissolve one bar of grated soap (your choice, and homemade soap works, too. I used Ivory, because that's what I had) into 4c of almost boiling water.

2. Pour soap mixture into a bucket with 3 gallons of hot water.

3. Add 1c of Washing Powder and stir until dissolved.

4. Add 1/2c Borax (optional, but is used to boost the cleaning ability of the soap) and stir until dissolved.

5. Let sit until it thickens into a gel.

6. Use up to one cup per load of laundry.

Given that soap isn't even necessary, according to the article, I use about 2/3 cup per wash, and will start decreasing the amount until I find the balance I like. The estimated cost per load for homemade detergent is from two to five cents.


  1. I've been making my own laundry soap for about a year now and can attest that I have saved some major coinage in doing so. It works great and I love "frugal"!

  2. I use the same recipe, with a little more borax though - I've been doing this for about a year also and no one has noticed the just won't have the suds that you usually had! It has saved us a ton of money (there are five of us).

  3. we started making our own soap because we couldn't force ourselves to go down that stinky isle in the store.

  4. SciFi and Maria - I'm hoping that making my own will save some buck$, and it's good to know that it works well, too.

    Karl - too funny! That aisle does stink :). Who needs all that perfume?

  5. I've been making mine, too, but just powdered because it's faster/easier/not as messy to make/store. 2 c. grated soap/1c.borax/1c. washing soda. Use 2T per load. Easy-peasy. (BTW, I found your blog when I was reading Bezzie's blog).

  6. I've been using homemade laundry soap that my friend made but it;s getting low, so I just printed out your recipe to try. I have also stopped buying dish soap. I used to buy Ivory. But I ran across a recip to make dish soap too.

    Or if u don't want to copy the link the recipe is:

    1 cup liquid Castile soap (I used Dr Bronners)
    3 tablespoons water
    a few drops essential oil (if using unscented Castile soap)

    Works great!

  7. For a long time now, I have been given homemade laundry soap by my friend, and it pretty much works well on my clothes. And after reading various insights about laundry soap making, I think I should make one too, to try out how cool is to experiment about stuffs.