You can do this. I promise it’s easy as well as effective. We use this laundry detergent exclusively and it not only works fantastic on all washable fabrics- but its dirt-cheap and all-natural with very minimal chemicals. We don’t use fabric softener except for polyester items that get very static-y in the winter and I make that as well when I need it. Ask if you want that recipe at the bottom in the COMMENTS box.
I would dedicate these supplies for detergent making as it is difficult to fully clean off the soap and oils (which isn’t necessary if you only use for detergent making) and you can bring out all your supplies at once if you store them all together in a special basket. We found it makes it less daunting if you have everything together when you need to make more
5 gallon bucket: Home Depot for around $4 or ask at a local bakery, they will usually give you one free! I recommend this because I’ve heard bakeries have so many buckets they just throw them away and people have come back and told me their bakery did give them a free bucket. Doesn’t hurt to ask! With a bucket you can scoop out your soap instead of lifting and pouring and refilling old commercial laundry detergent containers.
Gamma Seal Lid: $8.95 from my store (email if interested as I recently shut the online store down until I have more time to maintain it) or if you have a free shipping Amazon Prime account check it out here and it will definitely make your homemade laundry detergent experience so much nicer to have a screw on/off lid for your bucket. Invest in this! The Gamma seal lids have gaskets and are air-tight and leak-proof! I use them in my pantry for all my food staples also such as wheat, oats, beans, rice, sugar, pasta…
My little pantry loaded with inexpensive, healthy, whole foods.
I use buckets and lids like these for my laundry detergent as well.
Laundry soap ingredients…my 20 Mule Team Borax box split so it’s not pictured.
Pot: 4 quarts give or take~get an old beat-up pot from a thrift store, you’ll feel more homestead-y with an old pot anyway!
Long stirring spoon: foot long, longer if you can find one
Cheese grater: with small “carrot, chocolate” side Yep!…thrift store
1 c. measuring cup: self explanatory….
3/4 c. measuring cup: ….same here :)
Optional…Large basket: to hold all supplies and ingredients- 2′ x 1′ should be big enough
Ivory bar soap: 2 large bars (4.5oz.) or 1.5 Fels Naptha laundry bars
20 Mule Team Borax: 1 cup- A box is $3.38 at my Walmart
Super Washing Soda: 1 cup- NOT baking soda but it IS made by Arm and Hammer)
TIP:I prefer plain, old-fashioned Ivory after having tried many different types of soaps including natural, organic, scented and unscented. Fels Naptha works (I’ve tried it twice) but it has a lot of not-funny sounding ingredients and I don’t know how healthy they are. Also, it is more expensive than Ivory which doesn’t make sense to me. I buy the Ivory soap in bulk from Amazon 40 bars at a time here: Ivory Simply Soap,4.5-Oz bars (4 packs of 10) (for me it has made them .83 cents apiece with my Amazon Prime free shipping account).
Because we make a 5 gallon bucket about every 4-6 weeks and soap doesn’t go bad, we don’t mind having the extra soap on hand. You may only need to make more every few months but here…with a family of 9…we do a ton of laundry!! Look for a local retailer for your Super Washing Soda. I know that near us, it is sold at several grocery and hardware stores at a decent price of $4.00-6.00 and it will make many buckets of detergent. To order online is usually expensive (like Amazon) because it is heavy and s/h has to be factored in.
Be careful where you buy your soap! Those of us on a tight budget need the best price available so I understand if you feel the need to search elsewhere than my recommendation but you can easily be misled by not checking the bar size by ounce! Most sold are a very small…3.1 oz size…while the Amazon link above has the large…4.5 oz size…and has the best price I have been able to find! If you can find it cheaper please share in the comments box below as I’ve searched high and low but I could have missed something!
Set about 8 cups of water to simmer in your new/old pot. While water is heating up, grate 2 bars of Ivory soap or 1.5 bar of Fels Naptha on the “small” side into a large bowl or plate. Then, measure out 1 c. of Borax and 1 c. of Super Washing Soda into a separate bowl. When water is simmering, slowly stir in soap curls until completely melted. Add the Borax and Super Washing Soda continuing to stir until the gritty feeling is gone in the bottom of the pot. It only takes a minute or so. Remove from heat. Fill your 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full of hot water. Add the soapy liquid to hot water and gently swirl with your long spoon to blend. Top off with hot water leaving a little room below the bottom of gamma lid base. Screw on the lid and let set overnight.
The next day you should have a gelatinous texture with some watery separation. Because this bugs my OCD, I make sure the lid is screwed on good and give a few good sideways shakes to the bucket (won’t leak with a Gamma seal lid) which blends everything nicely into a pretty smooth slurry and I do it again later if I notice too much separation. It’s the Borax that causes the gelling and it is also a natural disinfectant. This easy, cheap and natural laundry detergent works great. It does not contain artificial sudsing agents so it does not look “soapy” in the washer. It is working however, which you will see. Start out using 1/2 cup for a large load, 1 cup for heavily soiled or greasy loads. You may actually find you need less than 1/2 cup! Adjust as needed. (HE machines start with 1/4 cup for a large load and 1/2 cup for heavily soiled and adjust down from there) The less you can effectively use, the cheaper it gets!
I hope you decide to try making your own laundry detergent! This recipe has had years of actual Back 2 Basics Home use. It’s not something I heard of yesterday and posted today. We’ve used this recipe solely for many years and it works just as well as the expensive, chemical-filled, commercial kind! Let me know how it works for you!