Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Laundry Soap From Scratch

I've been making homemade laundry soap for, oh, over six months now, and I am really pleased with the results. It's an interesting process, and it saves so much money. It has a nice, very light fragrance, and I am happy with the clean results. Here is my process:

1. Gather ingredients. I use 20 Mule Team Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Powder (very important that you use the washing powder, and not baking powder), a 4.5 ounce bar of plain Ivory soap, and a large mop bucket (clean and used only for laundry soap)

2. Chop or grate the bar of soap (I use my food processor to grate it unless I'm feeling lazy, then I just rough chop with a knife. The soap is soft and doesn't put up a fight.). Heat up 6 cups of water in a large pot on the stove and dump in the soap. Keep stirring until the soap is melted. If you let it boil, you will end up with some serious bubblage (new words coined: 1), so keep it at a simmer.

3. Add 1/2 C each of Borax and washing powder to the liquid soap mixture. Stir until all granules are melted in and the mixture is smooth.

4. Into your bucket, add 6 cups of hot water. Then add the liquid soap mixture. Stir well. Then add 22 more cups of hot water (this works out to 1 gallon plus 6 cups). Give it all a good stir, then put it aside and let it gel for 24 hours. You will end up with this:

Isn't she lovely? A gel-like, but kind of runny, mixture of laundry soap. I keep a half-cup measuring cup in the soap and keep the entire thing on top of my dryer. It is a very low sudser - next to no suds in the wash, but it's not the suds that do the cleaning. The Ivory bar gives just enough scent, although I've thought of adding an essential oil to the mixture.

So, how much money exactly do I save? Well, let's do the math.

  • 1 box of Borax in my neck of the woods costs $3.99 for a 76-ounce box. Using 4 ounces of Borax per recipe (in weight), that equals $0.21 per batch.
  • 1 box of Arm & Hammer Washing Powder costs me $2.95 for a 55-ounce box. Using 4 ounces of washing powder per recipe (in weight), that equals $0.2144 per batch.
  • 1 bar of Ivory soap is $0.37, and we use one bar per load.

In the end, this recipe makes 2 gallons of laundry soap for $0.79 per batch. And you measure it in half cups, so 2 gallons will yield you enough for about 64 loads of laundry. I get less than that - I have a large capacity washer, and I tend to shove it full, so I use a cup of soap per load. I get about 32 loads from each batch of soap, which equals approximately $.02 per load (or $0.01 for those using only a standard size washing machine and 1/2 C per load). That is a lot of boring math to say that I think it's totally worth it.

Before making our own soap, I used All Free & Clear, which costs approximately $4.49 for the 32-load size, which breaks down to $0.14 per load. And trust me, with as much laundry as I do (sometimes several a day), that really adds up.

So now you know!


Melani said...


Do you think that this would work in a front loader? I'm supposed to use HE soap so I didn't know. I have so many scent allergies that I'd love to use something very lightly scented.

Marcie and BIll said...

Yes, in agreeance w/ melanie, we also have scent allergies, which result in full body rashes. Do you notice the homemade recipe makes any difference than using the All (the same product we currently use)?

Sherry said...

Do your clothes seem to come out bright and clean? I love smell of Ivory. I always used the Ivory laundry detergent on my babies laundry. It smelled so good!!