Thursday, October 17, 2013

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

I know.  Every blogger in the world seems to have a DIY laundry soap post.  I am not the exception ;)

I realized yesterday that I only had two containers left of laundry soap from the last time I made it (about 4-5 months ago).  Since we have a baby arriving soon (and we do an insane amount of laundry in our house), I did not want to end up running out, which would mean my husband would be running to the store for costly laundry soap.  This stuff is awesome and CRAZY cheap.  

I didn't have enough containers for soap storage yesterday to do a full batch, so my kiddos helped me put together a half batch, which yields 2 1/2 gallons of soap!  A full batch yields 5 gallons.  

What you need:

*1 cup Borax
*1 cup Super Washing Soda
*1/2 bar Fels-Naptha
*Large bucket to hold 5 gallons
*Pot & slotted spoon
*Cheese grater or food processor with a grating option
*Containers to store the soap
*Optional, but helpful: Immersion blender

(UPDATE: After learning more about Fels-Naptha, I just don't feel it is the best thing to use.  Instead, I now use Kirk's Castile soap-frangrance free.  I purchase it at Natural Grocers for $2/bar.  It does up the cost of the laundry soap a bit, but I feel the naturalness of it is worth it for my family).

Cost breakdown:

You will be buying a box each of Borax and Super Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda), though you will only be using a small portion of each.  Both ingredients, as well as the Fels-Naptha bar can be found in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores.  At my Walmart, the prices were:

Fels-Naptha = $.97
Borax = $3.38
Super Washing Soda = $3.24

Total: $7.59  BUT, you will have enough of Fels-Naptha to make 2 full batches, and enough of the Borax and Super Washing Soda to make quite a few more batches (I'm not going to do the math on this one).  My family of 5 does at least one load of laundry every day, sometimes two, and half a batch lasted us 4 or 5 months!  For under $2 a half batch, that is some HUGE savings!  And this stuff works! 

What to do (Full Batch Instructions):

1. Grate your half bar of Fels-Naptha using a cheese grater.  
2.  Place Fels-Naptha in a pot over medium-high heat with 4 cups water.  Stir occasionally, and do not allow it to boil.  Continue to stir over the heat until all the soap has melted.  The steam made my picture come out terrible, but here is the liquid in the pot:

3.  While the soap is melting, add 2 1/2 gallons of hot tap water to your bucket.   You can use any kind of large bucket.  We just use a storage tub with lid.
4.  Once the soap has melted completely, carefully pour the mixture into the tub with the hot water.
5.  Add 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Super Washing Soda to the mixture.  Stir.  Fill the tub with another 2 1/2 gallons of water, to make 5 gallons total.  
6.  Stir.  Cover with the lid.  Allow to set.  

The liquid will take up to 24 hours to totally set.  It will look like thick jelly goop stuff.  This is good!  If it doesn't get super thick, though, I have read that it's okay and it will still be effective.  My batch yesterday only took about 5 hours to get really thick.  

7.  Once yours has set, use your immersion blender (or a spoon or whatever you have), to blend up the goop and make it into a nice smooth texture.
8. Use a funnel to fill your containers with the soap.

Remember to leave a little bit of head space at the top of every bottle, as the soap will gel up as it sits and you need to be able to shake it well before using it.

For regular washing machines, use 1/2 cup-1 cup per load.
For HE machines, use 1/4 cup-1/2 cup per load.  

To make a half batch, just halve all of the ingredients.  You can also add a few drops of essential oils to your batch, though I personally think the smell is just fine, and I actually don't ever smell it on my clothing after it's gone through the wash.

You can also adjust the ingredients to make your stronger or more watered down depending on how soiled your clothing is (our kids are pretty dirty so we keep it concentrated).  

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