Thursday, March 17, 2011

Budget Buster - Laundry Soap

Anyone nervous about the inflation issues that are being predicted?  I am.  We have been planning ahead just to be on the safe side.  One thing we are thinking about it is how to do things on a leaner budget.  Laundry soap was one of the first things we thought about.  My mom and sister have been making their own laundry soap and they inspired me to give it a try.  So I thought I would look into the homemade laundry soap issue.  This is what I came up with.

I needed to pick up a few things in order to get started.  I needed a bucket to store the laundry detergent in as well as the ingredients to make the laundry detergent. 

Batch 1:
Bucket - $3.97 + Fels Naptha - $.99 + Borax - $2.99 + Washing Soda - $2.99 = $10.94
  • 144 loads of laundry for a little over $.07 per load

Batch 2:
Fels Naptha - $.99 = $.99
  • 144 loads of laundry for $.0068 per load

This is not so much an exact calculation of the cost, but more of a break down of your initial investment costs compared to the product you can produce.

So, to get started, you need to grate the Fels Naptha soap.  I grated mine on the largest holes on my cheese grater.  You can see the grater in the background. 

Next, add soap curls and 4 cups of water to a pot on the stove.  Cook over medium low heat until the soap melts completely, stirring occasionally. 

As the soap melts the liquid becomes a pale yellow.  (You can see there are a few more soap shavings in the bottom left that need to melt yet.)

Turn the heat off.  Add the Borax and the Washing Soda to the melted Fels Naptha.  Stir until the Borax and Washing Soda are melted.  The mixture will probably be very thick. 

Then pour it into a five gallon bucket. 

Then add enough hot/warm (not boiling) water to fill half of the bucket. 

Give it a good stir until everything combines.  It will not be thick at this point.

Then you add enough cool water to bring the level up to about 4.5 gallon mark.  This is not too technical.  Just guesstimate. 

Give it all one more stir and then cover it with the lid.  You need to wait 24 hours for it to... magically turn into the laundry soap of your dreams. :-)  It will/should settle and thicken. 

A day later, the soap will have settled.  You need to mix it up before you use it or pour some off into a smaller container. 

This is what it looks like after you give it a stir.   

I am turning an old plastic bowl, an old plastic mixing spoon and a orange juice container into permanent laundry soap supplies.

And viola!  You have a lovely container of laundry soap ready to go for just pennies a load.  Give the bottle a shake before you use it each time.

I am just thrilled with my new soap.  We have been using it for a months and so far I am delighted.  Here is the recipe I am using.

Homemade Laundry Soap


1 Bar Fels-Naptha Soap, Grated
1 Cup Washing Soda
1 Cup Borax


1. On your stove top, place grated soap in a large pan with 16 cups ( 1 gallon ) of water and heat until the soap melts.
2. Add washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
3. Pour 16 cups ( 1 gallon ) hot water into the 5-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and stir well, then add 2 1/2 gallons of water and stir again until mixed well.
4. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours; it will congeal into a gel.
5. Stir the soap before each use.

Note* Use 1/4 cup per load in high efficiency machines. Use 1/2 cup per load in regular machines.

Note* This is a low-sudsing soap, so you will not see bubbles or suds in the water. The suds aren't what do the cleaning - it's the ingredients!

Note* Amount of ingredients may be adjusted depending on your own preference. For
example, some people prefer to use 1 1/2 cups of borax and washing soda.

Scented Soap: You may scent your laundry soap if desired; use 1/2-1 oz essential oil or fragrance oil. DO NOT use soap scents as they will ruin your batch.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.

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