Saturday, January 28, 2012

It All Comes Out in the Wash

For months, maybe even close to a year now, I've been talking about wanting to try making my own laundry soap.  I've read innumerable blogs and watched video tutorials about it.  One thing I noticed is that the recipes are all very similar.  Some use more or less of a specific thing, but they all use the same ingredients.  And so my quest turned to finding one that made a more manageable amount of detergent for me.  I found one that makes 2 gallons, instead of the 5 that was more common, and gave it a try.

Here's what I did:

I cut 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap into thirds and grated 1 piece.  (Yes, it does look just like grated cheese so if you have little ones around be very careful that they don't eat it.)  Then I melted it over low heat with 6 cups of water.  When it was completely melted, I added 1/2 cup each borax and washing soda and let it

continue to cook until it started to get a honey-like consistency.  This took a lot longer than I had anticipated and it foamed up more than I thought it would.  Next time I will use a bigger pot.

In my big blue enameled canning kettle, I put 4 cups of hot tap water.  This happened to be what I had convenient but you can use any container that will hold a little more than 2 gallons and allow for easy stirring.  A plastic bucket commonly used for food storage would be perfect. Add your melted soap-borax-soda mixture and stir together.  You can then add any essential oils you wish to scent your laundry soap.  Use a lot!  I put 16 drops of tea tree oil and I can't even smell it.  If you add nothing for scent, your laundry will just smell clean not perfumed.

Next you add 1 gallon plus 6 cups more hot water (that's 22 cups of water).  Stir it up and let everything sit for 24 hours.

At this stage the recipe I was following said you could have a number of results depending on the temperature of your house... it could have layers of clear and cloudy liquid, be a thin gel, or even have a 'slimy' top coating.  Mine had a top layer that was mostly clear and then a thicker cloudy layer.  I just stirred it all up

good and used a funnel to transfer it to some old water bottles.  You can use any containers that you wish - old laundry soap bottles would be great because they have the measurement on the cap.  Some of the other people posting on line used a 2 gallon water storage/dispenser with a hook attached to the side for a measuring cup.  That was attractive and handy, but for now my old water bottles will do just fine.

For each load of laundry, you'll use 1/2 cup.  Everything I saw in my research indicated it would be fine in the high-efficiency front loaders because it is very low sudsing.

Cost-wise, this laundry soap works out to about 3 cents per load, compared with 15-20 cents per load for commercially available detergents.  The borax and washing soda were each between $2 and $3 (and each contains several cups of product) and the Fels Naptha bar soap was 97 cents so less than $7 total and I should be able to do laundry for more than a year!

The first load is washing now.  I will post a follow up telling you what I think later this evening.

I've linked this post to the Preparedness Challenge #31 at Homestead Revival.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to have a formula that works in hard water. The typical laundry soap formulas don't work well in hard water.