Friday, February 18, 2011

Laundry Detergent for Two Cents a Load?

Have you checked the price of laundry soap lately? Even on the clearance shelf at Target yesterday, it was $12 for 60 loads. That's 20 cents a load. I've found an excellent recipe for making it for just 2 cents a load. Yup. It's so simple to make effective, good-smelling, inexpensive homemade laundry detergent, and it takes only about twenty minutes of prep time.

Here's what you'll need:

4 cups hot tap water
1 bar Fels Naptha soap (or Octagon, or if you get to a Mexican grocery, a bar of Zote)
1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

Grate the bar of soap into a large sauce pan or dutch oven, and add the hot water.  Heat over a medium-low heat, stirring until soap is melted.

Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.  Add melted soap, Borax and washing soda, and stir well until all is dissolved.  Fill bucket to near the top with hot tap water and stir well.  Cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

In the morning, it will be jelled. Don't fret! Stir it up with the longest spoon or spatula that you have, and using a funnel, fill a clean, used laundry soap dispenser bottle half full.  Fill up the rest of the bottle with water and shake well.  Add some essential oils at this point to the dispenser bottle if you like. Be sure you shake the bottle a bit before each use.

Our water is super-soft here, so I use only half a cup (or two caps full) of this liquid laundry detergent for my top loading machine. A front loading machine would take about half that. You may have to experiment a bit based on the hardness of your water. 

I've been using this liquid laundry detergent for several weeks now and the clothes come out fresh and clean. Even David's work clothes are cleaned well by this detergent. I have had to use a bit of Shout to clean stains, but I had to do that even with the commercial laundry soap I was using. I also find that this liquid detergent is not as harsh on the clothes as the powdered stuff I was getting at Sam's Club.

If you prefer to use powdered laundry soap, there are recipes online for such a thing. I have not yet experimented with them, but they involve the same ingredients as I listed above, but without the hot water. Not sure how all that would work out, but if one of you tries it, would you drop me a line?

Thanks to my friend Jeanne, who forwarded me the recipe some time back after having found it to work well for her family.

UPDATE:
I made a batch of homemade laundry detergent using Colgate's Octagon bar soap instead of the Fels Naptha. It is not as strong, and it does not clean as well, so I have had to add a capful of liquid commercial laundry soap to each container as I mix it up from the mother batch. It's working better as a result, though with hotter days coming up I may have to make some additional adjustments. I'll keep you posted!

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