Saturday, April 28, 2012

How to make your own laundry soap on the cheap!

Last year I decided to challenge myself to see just how much money I could save if I made those expensive cleaning products on my own. At first I envisioned myself over an outdoor cooking pot with a long wooden stick or paddle making soap and from that, cleaning products. After a lot of research I found recipes, concoctions and formulas that were made from inexpensive products easily found at your local grocer. I adapted those to my own formulations which we are sharing with you today.

I started with about $10.00 worth of ingredients and was on my way to my first batch of laundry soap, window cleaner, general purpose cleaner and dish washer detergent that would last me, on average, about 6 months.

I couldn't tell you the exact amount we saved but I do know we spent under $25.00 the entire year on cleaning products. Now I purchase store bought laundry detergent only if I can get it on sale with a coupon and each load is under $.08c a load. Then, when the bottle is really low I pour the remaining laundry detergent in my homemade laundry detergent bottle that had about a quart left in it and add a cap or two of water.  Over time I will have a full gallon again that will not go bad and I can use in a pinch.

This is how we made those products.

Laundry Detergent:
$.03c a load

1/2 bar Zote Soap, Fels Naptha or Large Ivory Soap bar
1 c. 20 Mule Team Borax
1 c. Washing soda

Zote soap and Fels Naptha are bar soaps for laundry and are found in most local grocery stores on the laundry soap aisle. If you don't know to look for them you won't see them as they are generally kept on the top shelf and are not heavily stocked.

20 Mule Team Borax is a product that has been around for generations. Washing soda is different than baking soda and also can be found on the laundry aisle.

Cut the Zote/Fels Naptha/Ivory bar in half. Store the remaining haf in a zip lock. Grate the soap on a box grater or just cube it up in 1/2 inch cubes.

In a large stock pot combine soap with 2 qts of water. Turn burner on medium to low to melt the soap. This might take a while, up to half an hour. Do not let the water boil. Nothing will blow up, but it will bubble over and you will have a huge mess. Stir occasionally.

When the soap has melted (or almost all has, you may not get it all to melt) add in the  borax and washing soda, pouring in a little at a time and stirring until it is well mixed.

Turn off the heat and let this sit until it cools down to warm not hot. Slowly pour into a 1 gallon jug and fill with water. Remember you started with 2 qts of water which should have filled the jug up to half.

If you want a scented version, add 5-10 drops of an essential oil to the gallon jug and shake.

Use a regular liquid detergent cap full when you do laundry.


Shake well each time before you use it. At first the water and the soap mixture will separate. Over time it will mix together.

The first few times you use this your water will be dark and nasty. Don't worry, this homemade mixture is getting out dirt and grime other detergents never got. You'll be very surprised.

Dishwasher  Detergent:

1 c. 20 Mule Team Borax
1 c. Washing Soda

Mix together in a clean jar. Use 2 tlb per load. 

All Purpose cleaner

1/2 c. vinegar
4 c. water
1 tsp Homemade Laundry Soap

Pour into a spray bottle. If you want scented use a few drops of essential oil. You can also use 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice to add an additional cleaning agent and to add a lemon scent. Or, add orange peels and let it sit for about a week.

Window Cleaner/Stainless Cleaner

1/2 c. vinegar
3-4 c. water.

Mix together. This is absolutely the best cleaner for just about anything in your kitchen. Your stainless will shine to a mirror finish.

A couple of handy tips:

If you have laundry that smells like mildew or if you have a load of work clothes that smell oily and sweaty but cannot seem to get that smell out, instead of using a fabric softener in your laundry, use 1/2 cup of vinegar. Your clothes will not smell like vinegar when you dry them nor will you have those yucky smells.

It's a great way to freshen up all sorts of things in the laundry.

Also, take those leftover slivers of bar soap and add them to a gallon jug with 3-4 cups of water. Shake occasionally. As it gets thick, add 3-4 more cups of water and continue to add left over slivers of bar soap. If you have an almost empty jar of liquid hand soap you can rinse the container and pour that in too. Over time you'll have liquid hand soap. This will not go bad over time and may be quite useful one day.

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