Tuesday, March 02, 2010

DIY: Laundry Soap

Alternately titled "How I keep our clothes clean for a penny per load"

Now do I have your attention? It should. Do you realize that Tide costs about .21 per load; same for Arm & Hammer?

When we moved to the other side of the state, and now back again, I knew I needed to do something about keeping our household expenses down. For 1)My hubby was a non-working, fulltime student. 2)My job doesn't pay in tangible goods like money or even food. 3)I like doing things in a more natural way. Honestly, I am still so far from being completely eco-friendly, but I like doing things like our grandparents did. I keep a garden, I cook meals from scratch, and now I make my own laundry detergent.

It's simple, the supplies are pretty cheap and easy to find, and it only takes a couple minutes every couple months to do it. There are several recipes out there, but I'll give you the liquid one and the powdered one that I use.


13 cups HOT water
4 tbsp borax
4 tbsp washing soda
1/4 cup liquid castile soap like Dr. Bronner's (I like the orange scent)

Mix together in an ice cream pail (or other container of your choice). Stir every so often until cooled to room temperature. Usually I make this at night, stir a few times before bed and then it's ready in the morning. Use about 1/4 cup for each load.


1 bar (3 oz) Ivory, Zote or Felsnaptha soap
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda

Grate soap in your food processor, then change blades to the scary chopping blade. Add the borax and washing soda and process until it's a very fine powder. Use 1-2 tbsp per load.

These are both low suds formulas, so they work well in my front loading washing machine and you gotta love that! Enjoy!!


  1. What is washing soda and where do you find it? Also do you have any sensitivities? I have to be careful about what I use otherwise I will break out. Sounds good, I don't think it would be an issue. I've used the felsnaptha before. Thanks for the idea. Do you use clorox 2 or downy or do you have all natural for those too?

  2. Washing soda is a cousin to baking soda...they are not the same thing. I get mine at Pick 'n Save in Shawano....it's in the same aisle as the laundry detergent. It's very gentle, so you shouldn't have any reaction to it (but I could let you try some of mine if you wanted to test it on a load or two first)

    For fabric softener, I use vinegar and that also helps to make sure all the soap is out of the clothes.

  3. Hey Jess, I have done the powder one in the past. We had a problem with our whites staying crisp white. Have you experienced this? I recently found a recipe that also included oxy clean, do you know anything about it. Who knows maybe we were just dirty people.

    Cha Cha

    P.S. I sent you an email

  4. Got your e-mail and replied :)

    Also, I haven't had the problem with crisp whites....but I also live with 5 boys so I NEVER get to have anything white stay white for very long...I do use some clorox once and a while, though....see, I have a LONG way to go to be totally eco-friendly! :)

  5. Jess- where do you get the dr. bronners?

  6. Staff of Life in Shawano has it, but there are places online that you can get it at better prices. At SoL, the liquid is $10 and the bar is about $4.50.

  7. Thanks for stopping by yesterday. We have today off school, sick day, and I'm so tempted to abandon the laundry, dishes and stuff to sew on Only's quilt.

    We've been using the dry homemade laundry detergent for about 2 years and I don't miss buying the other stuff at all! I keep mine in an old 1 gallon ice cream container and keep track of how often I make it by using a permanent marker to write the date on the container. I only made it 4 times last year! I also only use 1/8 C. or 2 tablespoons of the dry stuff per load. I have also found that using white distilled vinegar in place of fabric softener works great. Clothes don't smell like vinegar. You can use a drop or two of essential oil in your laundry if you want a scent. I also throw a tablespoon or two of table salt in with my bleach loads - supposed to help in getting them more white.

    Around here we have found all the supplies at our local grocery store, but also at Ace Hardware - so you might check at a hardware store. Sometimes they are cheaper.

  8. We got our supplies in Shawano yesterday and Tom mixed it up last night. Just did our first load with it tonight. Thanks for the great idea.


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