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Scrub A Dub Dub…Homemade Laundry Soap In The Washing Tub.

on February 28, 2012

We are a family that lives on a tight budget, just like most families these days. I HATE buying laundry soap, dish soap and dish washer detergent. I have had good luck with coupons and buy one get one combos, but the idea of making it myself was appealing. While wasting many hours on Pinterest, I came across THIS post and was hooked on making my own laundry detergent.

Many of the recipes out there for laundry detergents involve a 5 gallon bucket. I was not crazy about the idea of stashing a 5 gallon bucket in 4B, they do not make attractive end tables. SOOO….you can bet I was excited when I came across this concentrated version that fits into just a few storage containers that normally hold leftovers!

This is my take on the original post:

Ingredients and Supplies Needed:

2 bars of Fels Naptha, 1 bar of Zote or 3 – 4 bars of regular bar soap

2 cups of Borax

2 cups of Arm and Hammer WASHING powder (not baking soda)

6 cups of water

A large soup or stock pot

Cheese grater/Or food processor with a grating blade

Stand or hand mixer

Now the fun begins…

Here’s a pretty picture of the ingredients to give you a visual of what you need to look for on the store shelves:

Place the water in the pot and start heating it on the stove while you’re dealing with the soap. I didn’t put mine up too high to start with, I didn’t want to get it to a boil before I finished grating the soap. This is the most annoying, time consuming part of the whole process. The first time I made the soap, I used Fels Naptha and a large cheese grater. Don’t use a large cheese grater, use the smaller, fine grate zesting size. You’ll see it in the picture below. Cut the soap into smaller strips or chunks to make it easier to hold while grating. Rumor has it, if you have a food processor with a grating blade, you can grate the soap that way. If you have one of these, you are no longer my friend. KIDDING. I am just envious. I had an ancient 1980s food processor I gave away and I broke my precious 3 cups food processor’s lid 2 nights ago. Sniffle. ANYWAY..back to business.

After grating the soap and getting a wrist/elbow/hand cramp combo…your soap will look like this:

Dump the soap shreds into the water in batches if needed and stir to melt. After I finished all of the soap, I did turn up the heat on the stove but never really got it to a boil before all of the soap was melted like the original post called for.

After the soap is melted, dump in the 2 cups of Borax and 2 cups of Washing Powder:

Stir in the powders until they dissolve completely. After the powders dissolve, divide up the liquid between 3 to 5 storage containers depending on what sizes you have available. When you dump it into the containers, it will separate and look like this:

The original post said to add more water to the soap after you divide it into the containers, it’s up to you if you want to do this. I have done this step and also skipped it on other batches. It doesn’t seem to make difference in the outcome, but it does make a few more loads of laundry’s worth of soap.

NOW…be patient and let it sit overnight or at least 8 hours. I made mine at night so I could sleep until the next step. I don’t like surprises and want to know NOW!

Now the ‘fun’ comes. Open the containers, take a butter knife and cut the top layer into blocks of soap:

NOW…take it easy on the next step. The original poster dumped 2 containers of soap into her mixing bowl at once, I do not recommend this, even if you are using smaller containers. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer that was donated to us by a WONDERFUL FRIEND (yay, Belinda). The first batch I made was early in the morning and I accidentally turned ON the mixer instead of using the lock switch. Mess. MESS. Turn on the mixer slooooowly. Soap sloshes out everywhere if you don’t. But if it does, it’s JUST soap and does clean up easily. Keep it on low for as long as it takes to break up the blocks and start combining the blocks of soap with the liquid soap that was on the lower layer. After this happens and you feel comfortable turning up the mixer, turn it up one notch at a time and eventually you have something that looks like whipped butter or buttercream icing.

Place it back into the container and move onto the next, repeat.

After the soap sits a while, it does thicken up and becomes scoopable. I keep a plastic spoon on top of the dryer to scoop mine with. I don’t really measure…but about 1 to 2 tablespoons pure load depending on how large the load is. Below are pictures of the soap after it sat for a few days and I scooped some out.

OK, so now my recommendations and a little more advice:

I have tried Fels Naptha, Zote and Softsoap bar soap.

Fels Naptha has a nice smell, Zote smells like cheap bathroom cleaner but was the easiest to grate, and softsoap smells WONDERFUL. I used the coconut scent.

When I used the Soft Soap, I skipped the mixing step because it never divided and  hardened like it did with Zote or Fels Naptha. I haven’t washed many loads of laundry with it yet, so I’m not sure how happy I am with it at this point.

Some other laundry soap recipes use Ivory or Pure and Natural, that’s why I thought I would try using the Soft Soap. DO NOT use Dove, Oil of Olay, or Caress. These aren’t traditional soaps and have moisturizing lotions in them that aren’t going to work too well as a laundry soap.

When I first made the soap, I had a traditional washing machine and now we have a top loader HE. I was nervous about using the soap because of the whole needing a special soap for HE machines. The reason you need special soaps is to keep the suds level down in the machine and you will notice that the homemade soap does not suds at all, so you’re good HE machine owners.Just put it directly in with the laundry and not in the soap dispenser if you machine has one.

Suds do not equal clean…just something visual to make us know it’s getting clean. This soap suds very little.

Don’t worry about using our good kitchen pot, cutting board, grater, etc for this, it’s soap and it clean off easily. Do not put them supplies in the dish washer after, unless you give it a good scrub with a sponge first. OH the soap residue was horrible…

Hum…I think that’s it. If you have any questions, post them below and I will try to help!

OH and, one more thing…the original post does have a cost breakdown if you are interested.

Here’s my cute under the foot toddler that was ‘helping’ mommy that day…


2 responses to “Scrub A Dub Dub…Homemade Laundry Soap In The Washing Tub.

  1. Michele says:

    Yay!!! I am excited to try this!! Maybe the week after next! How does it work on stains?? Let’s just say that MY son does not believe in napkins…. just like his daddy…. as they say “why else do you need shirt sleeves??”

    • The original poster said that she would dab a little bit of the concentrate directly on the stains and rub it in. I use oxyclean on stains…so not 100% sure…and ha on sleeves 🙂

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