Jan
1st

Homemade Laundry Soap

photo info and credit

Laundry is the bain of my existence.  It.never.ends.

My hubby does manual labor, so his clothes aren’t just dirty, they’re…..well….I’ll spare you the details.  Just trust me on this one.  Plus, I have 2 little girls that adore mud-pies and finger paint + a little boy in diapers.  ’nuff said.  I know wherefore I speak.  So all that to say, I’ve been around the block when it comes to detergents.  For awhile until I knew better we were using store brands until one day, after a particularly balmy July day, I washed my hubby’s work clothes, took them out of the washer to toss into the dryer and I could smell the sweat and paint fumes, nauseously mixed with “Mountain Rain” synthetic fragrance.  It was enough to trigger my gag reflex.  This is because detergents COAT your clothes with surfactants (which means it coats the surface with synthetic anti-microbials), whereas soap is based off of natural fats that penetrate the fabric and truly cleans it.  (for more on this, check out this article)

I finally decided that  I would be one of those weird hippies that makes their own laundry soap…after all, it couldn’t be much worse.  I tried several recipes online and after MUCH research, this was the best version I’d found.  I’ve tweaked it just a bit (and explained some extra mixing steps that I learned through trial and error) and I finally found a soap that cleans our exceptionally dirty laundry!

<insert Hallalujah Chorus>

I was SO shocked at the effectiveness of this homemade version, that I vowed never to buy another bottle of commercial detergent (more on that in a minute…)

So without further adieu, here is my go-to Laundry Detergent Recipe:

  • 1 C. liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 c. table salt
  • 1.5 c. washing soda (not baking soda; you can find washing soda in the cleaning aisle)
  • hot water
  • 1 gallon bucket with a lid

-mix the salt and washing soda with 2 c. hot water. ( it won’t completely dissolve, but will help break it down.)  Then, in a separate container (I use a 4 c. measuring cup) add your liquid castile soap into about 3 c. hot water.

(SIDE NOTE: this is an important extra step – don’t skip it! you’ll thank me later!  There is a mild chemical reaction that takes place between the salt, soda and castile soap that causes the castile soap to gel into large clumps.  By diluting it first, you are minimizing the initial reaction and it makes it MUCH easier to stir and mix thoroughly.)

Then add the soap/water mixture into the salt/soda mixture.  Pour slowly and stir constantly.  The castile soap will start to gel instantly, so make sure you stir it really well.  Add additional hot water until you’ve reached 1 gallon.  After this, you are good to go!  However, when I have the time, I let it cool on my kitchen counter and stir it as it sets up.  As it cools, it will start to thicken and gel.  I use a wire whisk and stir it every so often.  This makes it easier to use, because otherwise you will get large soap clumps when you scoop it out to use it.

When you are ready to wash your clothes, I recommend 1/2-3/4 c. of Laundry Soap for a large, lightly soiled load.  I’ve read on other blogs that some people can get away with 1/4 cup.  my family stinks.  we need more than that, and I think 3/4 c. does a great job for an average load.  However, if I am washing work clothes, I bump up the amount to one cup of soap per large load.

and there you have it!! it sounds way more complicated than it really is  - I make it in less than 5 minutes, and then stir it when I remember to! AND this costs around $0.02-4 p/load!

oh – and remember how I said that I would never use the store brand again. well. I fudged and bought a bottle on sale over the holidays, when things were SO hectic that I gave in to convenience and grabbed a bottle (at least it was unscented….)

our clothes STUNK.

never gonna do that again.  I hate doing laundry enough that doing the same load TWICE just about did me in.

__________________________________________________________________

UPDATE! I got a great reader question, asking how my breakdown p/load was so low, so here is my mad-math-skills, for your reading pleasure – and also a CORRECTION!

When I buy my liquid castile soap, I can find it at my local grocery store for approximately $13 for 32oz, my washing soda is $3 for 55oz. and my good ole regular table salt is $0.53 for 26oz.  So here is my breakdown of my hard costs p/ one gallon batch:

  • castile soap = $3.25 p/batch
  • washing soda = $0.35 p/batch
  • salt = $0.08 p/batch
  • grand total is $3.86 p/gallon batch of laundry soap.  Then, assuming you have a bazillion messy kids and a hubby that does manual labor, so you use the max amount of 1 c. p/load, then you are looking at a grand total of $0.23 p/load.  However, you don’t NEED 1 c. for a normal large load, so assuming you use the mid range of 2/3 c., then you are looking at a cost of $0.18 p/load, on the high end, as most people can do a 1/2 c. p/load, which is then $0.12 p/load.
  • and now for the CORRECTION!!!  In my notes, I have the upcoming top secret blog posts that you know nothing about!  Soon to debut on the blog will be a recipe/tutorial on how to turn castile BAR soap into liquid castile soap.  Funny how they put  castile soap in a bottle and charge you through the nose for…you guessed it….adding some water to it!   SO, with my tutorial, (which is coming soon!), the breakdown is anywhere from $0.03-.06 p/load!!!  This is compared to the last batch of perfumed laundry detergent that I paid $6 for, in order to get 32 loads (sometime only about 25-28 if the clothes were heavily soiled.)  That works out to $0.23 p/load, so this is a HUGE savings!!!
Thanks Stephanie K. for asking to see the details (and making me give away the topics for future blog posts…!!)!!!
__________________________________________________________________
UPDATE #2!  I’ve gotten several email questions about the castile soap, so I thought I’d do another update.
  1. do you use scented castile soap or just unscented?  You are welcome to use the scented castile and they have some wonderful scents!  The only downside is, it does get washed away and does not scent your clothes.  They use essential oils to add the fragrance, which is completely natural, but A) not strong enough to withstand such large amounts of water and B) NOT a surfactant, so it’s not supposed to scent your clothes because it DOES wash clean.
  2. do you still use a fabric softener or do you no longer need it?  I might be a bad one to ask for this, because I’m not a huge fan of fabric softener anyways, so I don’t usually use it.  Even the “natural” stuff is still meant to coat the fibers, trapping in a tad bit of moisture so that they stay soft.  If you would still like to havea  fabric softener, use about 1-1.5 c. white vinegar in the rinse cycle (you can just fill that Downy Ball with vinegar instead of Downy ;) (sshhh….. ;)) And don’t worry – the vinegar smell is completely washed away, but it’s a natural fiber relaxer and will help remove built up coating on the clothes, so they don’t stiffen in the dryer as much (side note: realize that the majority of our clothing/laundry is cotton based.  cotton is NOT stiff in it’s natural state….hmm….makes you wonder, huh? the stiffness/crunchiness is from anything that might be coating the clothes; ie: years of commercial detergent (which are not going to come right off after one wash in castile soap, unfortunately…), dyes/chemicals/coating/sealants put on the cloth by manufacturers.)  If you’d like your clothes to smell good coming out of the dryer, you can make homemade dryer sheets with essential oil – but seriously – I’m spoiling all of my upcoming posts in this one update, so you’ll have to wait on that one!! ;)
  3. when I looked up castile soap it mentions you can use it to make dishwasher detergent, shampoo, face wash, and cleaning products.  Have you tried making any of these?  YES – some I like, some I’m not too crazy about.  I use the castile, mixed in a 1:1 ratio with water, in a foaming hand soap pump.  This works great, but remember that its meant to wash clean and has no moisturizers, so your sin does feel kinda….funny.  like it’s squeaky clean. not even sure how to describe it.  Plus, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) is what is used as a foaming agent in most soaps and shampoos (and is a KNOWN carcinogen), so if you use it expecting lots of bubbles, you’ll be disappointed.  the castile soap is based on coconut oil, which does actually foam (weird, huh?) but not as much as SLS.  My middle daughter has really short curly hair, and I use the 1:1 ratio as her shampoo and I love it because it rinses clean, and it doesn’t strip her hair.  Most shampoos are made to suppress your natural oil production and then coat your hair with synthetic oil, because naturally oily hair from the roots is gross, right?  well, no.  as long as you shower regularly!  Our hair produces natural oils to naturally moisturize and strengthen our roots, but when regular shampoo stops it, our body over compensates by, you guessed it, making more oil.  Most women, using “moisturzing shampoo” are simultaneously coating it with synthetic oils while stripping the roots, so our hair gets greasy and we can’t usually go more than a day before we feel slimy….right ladies? It’s because our body is trying to replace what was lost at a rapid rate.  However, know that if you DO use castile soap on your hair, it will feel really dry at first and some people don’t care for how “squeaky clean” it makes your hair.  I personally don’t use it, but it makes my daughter (with really short hair) have springy curls! oh – and the same with the face wash.  It works great and I use it in a pinch, but it does seem to dry my face out, but I know others who love it. As a base for cleaning products, it’s great!  I would start with a dilution of 1:5 (castile:water) and see how you like it.  Also, if you add in about 10-15 drops of tea tree oil per 8-10 oz of cleaning solution, you have an instant anti-bacterial spray, just as effective at killing grim and germs as clorox. (no lie – there’s a post coming on that soon! :)  Don’t use it on glass or wood because it does streak, but it’s great for countertops, bathrooms, porcelain, etc.  oh – and I’ve never used it as a dishwashing detergent, so I will let you know if I do – or post on here if you’ve ever tried it! We have a homemade cleaning post coming soon, so hang tight…this was kind of a spoiler but I was getting so many inquiries, it was a worthwhile update! :)

Pin It

_________________________________________________________________

Written By:


This entry was posted in Homemaking, Tips + Tricks and tagged , , ,   |   Bookmark the permalink.



 

 
45 Responses to “Homemade Laundry Soap”
show comments ⇓

  1. Kristyn

    Awesome! I am so excited for you and the Kingsley’s. Where do you find liquid castile soap? Is there a certain brand to use? Can you make a 5 gallon bucket size or is it better to make in smaller batches?

  2. Thanks! We are so excited too! You can definitely make it in 5 gallon batches – I just tried an few weeks ago and I have a TON of laundry soap now – it’s WONDERFUL. Just make sure to stir it really well as it cools – I didn’t follow my own advice and it’s lumpy! As for the liquid castile soap, Meijer *used* to carry it, but I’m not if they still do. I usually get it at our health food store. An check back – thIs week I am going to have tutorial on how to turn castile bar soap into liquid – which saves a TON. I’ve used Dr. Bronners brand but I noticed last week that our health food store has a new brand which I’m going to try!

    • I buy mine at HEB grocery, don’t know if there are any around you. It seems to be a little cheaper there than the health food store. I used it as hand soap for a more natural choice, that was before I even know about the laundry soap. I just read that is was for multi purpose, so I tried it and it was great. Love the almond sented one but will take the advice and use the unsented for the laundry soap.

  3. Steph.

    I have been buying “natural” laundry soap and have been paying 18 cents a load- so compared to that it is cheaper yet! And I will agree it was so easy to make! But I too can get away with less than 3/4 a cup :).

    Thank Kelsi for this recipe!

  4. Ingrid

    So is the amount recommended, for use in a top loader, or a front loader? I am using up what we have left of some commercial stuff we bought 7 years ago. Once the last batch is gone, I would be interested in doing this. As some 7th generation detergent we have does not clean the clothes either, they still come out smelling like B.O. :P

    Oryana up here sells the castile soap, Dr. Bronners brand, they have it in bulk or a bottle. :)

  5. this is such a great post! i’m going to be trying out some recipes and i will try this one first! what are your thoughts on using borax? i’ve heard conflicting views…

    thanks! :)

    • barefootbeing – before trying this recipe, I looked at several other recipes very similar to this one, all of which called for Borax and/or Fells Naptha. I’ve heard raving reviews about using them, and I do occasionally use borax on tough stains. However, I cloth diaper my little one, and I was always hesitant to use SUCH strong cleaners on something that was always on his bum. Then I read this http://www.enviroblog.org/2011/02/borax-not-the-green-alternative-its-cracked-up-to-be.html
      and was a little worried – especially hearing that the Environmental Working Group recommends AGAINST using Borax because it is quite dangerous and is an effective herbicide and pesticide. I decided to nix it from my cleaning supplies (even though it works great!) because of the risk, esp with my little ones, and also because this recipe above works so well without it!

      • i agree! what’s the point of switching to a natural homemade mix if you still have the risks?!?! thanks for all the info, i will check out the link. i’m going to try your recipe this weekend!

        thanks again!!! :)

  6. Steph.

    The first time I made this I thought- oh hot water- I’ll just boil water on the stove and use it- this time (the second time I have made it) I thought- oh I will just use hot tap water and see if it make any difference. It totally makes a difference! My first batch was very liquidy with “grains” and this batch (which is probably the “right” way to do it) makes it thicker and foamier! Just so you know!

  7. Sandra

    I have a bottle of castile soap and have been eager to try making my own laundry detergent (especially as my daughter has eczema!) I have a HE (front loading) washing machines and was wondering whether this would work in it or make too many suds? The manufacturer paperwork warns against using anything that isn’t HE specific (due to the increased suds and it’s potential to damage the machine). Thanks again for your ideas!

    • Hey Sandra! I don’t have an HE machine, so I am not a good one to comment on this – if anyone on here has one and has tried this, please let us know! I will tell you however, that this doesn’t foam much. I get very little lather when using castile soap (compared to a regular hand soap, shampoo, detergent, etc.) so I wouldn’t *think* that there would be much risk of that, but again, someone other than me should be commenting here!

  8. Eileen

    Where do you find washing soda? I tried Target and Loews so far as well as my local grocery store (in PA) but haven’t been able to locate any.

  9. Holly

    Is there a place to get the castile in bulk? I started making my own detergent to be cost effective and Im cloth diapering but my daughter is SUPER sensitive to everything. So I want to try this recipe but the castile is so expensive compared to the borax/washing soda method that I am not iffy on using!

  10. Holly

    now* iffy on using!

  11. mattie

    Do I only use 5 cups of water (two with the salt/soda and 3 with the castile) or do I top off the container with water? I’ve only ever used the fels naptha/borax homemade soap…first time trying this.

    • great question! You basically want to END with a gallon of laundry soap. The water mixed with the salt/soda and then with the castile soap is simply to help them dissolve when you initially start mixing. If you just dump them on top of each other, they react and turn into cement! I have a1 gallon container, and once I have everything diluted enough to mix, then I top it off with extra water if I need to and then stir to combine. Hope that helps! let me know if I need to explain more! – kelsi

  12. Robyn Underwood

    I’ve always used original scent Tide powder. I have hard water and love the way it cleans. I am now leery of using it with some of the articles I’ve been reading. I have tried numerous green laundry detergents and several homemade recipes that have all bombed =(. How does this compare? I cannot deal with funky smelling laundry…..actually, I WON’T deal with it. I am a little obsessive with my laundry smelling clean…….Thanks in advance =)!

    Robyn

  13. Kat

    for the people who use this & have an front-loader – do you put it into the soap dispenser, or right into the front, with the clothes?
    tia!

  14. Faith

    does this recipe work for cloth diaper?

    • Cheeky Bums

      yep – I use it with no problems on my diapers. Keep in mind though that certain soaps/detergents work better than others depending on what kind of water you have. That’s why some people swear by brand XYZ but it doesn’t work at all for you. It’s a water issue – not a laundry soap issue. Give it a try and see!! thanks for stopping in! – kelsi

  15. Julie

    Super excited to try your homemade laundry
    detergent recipe! Love that it’s borax-free with
    practical ingredients and sounds easy make.
    Now I am curious how to make bar Castile soap
    into liquid…. just not able to find your blog on
    that yet…I will keep searching. Thanks for
    sharing all the great info.!

    • Cheeky Bums

      Julie, I just realized that I don’t think I ever posted the bar to liquid recipe!! woops!!! it’s coming!(and it’s super easy!). Hope you like it – I have 3 kids and it’s still my favorite soap to date! – kelsi

  16. Beth

    I just made this recipe last night. It was pretty solid by this morning, even after stirring well during and after combining all ingredients, and occasionally thereafter while it set up. I was hesitant to use it today, but I read elsewhere that even if it’s really thick, just add more hot water to the 1/2 cup serving to dilute it when you put it in the washer (I have a front-loading HE washer, so it has to be liquidy). I did that, stirred it up a bit more, and seemed to work fine. My first test load of laundry was the ultimate test: a week’s worth of dirty cloth diapers. I have to say, I’m impressed. I say this because with regular detergen, even after prewash, a hot wash cycle with a little bleach, and a rinse, the cloth diapers usually still stink. Today, I opened the washer and was delighted to smell…nothing. Nothing! Ok, maybe a teeny smidge of diaper smell, but barely anything. YES! Thanks for this recipe!

    • Cheeky Bums

      Beth – that’s great to hear!! SO glad it worked for you! I have an old school washer, but I still have to make sure that there are no solid chunks of soap when I put it in. I know HE machines can be finicky, so I’m glad diluting worked for you. if it’s an extra stinky load, or if there’s still a hint of “gross” to your load, you might want to add a tad bit more soap than normal (esp since you are diluting it in the first place) just a thought, but so glad it worked for you!! thanks for posting!!! – all the best! -kelsi

      • Beth

        Thanks, Kelsi. I agree–I think for diapers especially I will use more soap than the normal 1/2 cup. And the extra hot water added before washing isn’t to dilute it, per se; it’s water in addition to the 1/2 cup soap, just to make the soap more liquidy. Anyway, I’ll keep experimenting. Thanks, again! I’ve found several of your posts on natural cleaners to be useful. I’ve made many changes recently! And on a verrrry side note…I went to grade school with Rusty in CT!

  17. LaVonne

    I’ve been making my own laundry soap for my HE machine for about 5 years and I love it. I just tried your recipe. I love that it’s so quick to make but I’m wondering how you get a gallon of soap out of 8 cups of ingredients. It seems more like half a gallon to me.

    • Cheeky Bums

      LaVonne – thanks for pointing that out; I added a bit to the directions. In the recipe it calls for “hot water” but I forgot to mention that after you’ve mixed everything, then add additional hot water until you’ve reached a gallon of total soap mix. thanks for catching it!! hope it works well for you!!! All the best! kelsi

  18. I am so excited to discover your blog and this recipe for laundry liquid. I had been making mine with Lux soap flakes until I discovered they contain animal origin fats, not particularly nice! I will definitely be giving this a go, thank you!

  19. Anna

    Now that you buy Castile soap bars this may not matter, but if anyone would like a cheaper alternative to the liquid, try buying Dr. Woods Castile soap from vitacost.com, it’s cheaper than the other brand & ships to your home. This company (that I do not work for or get paid to advertise) sells many other things like, vitamins, bar soaps, natural hand sanitizers & more.

    • Cheeky Bums

      Anna, thanks for sharing! that’s great to know – I’ve heard a lot about them but never actually ordered from them! I didn’t realize they had an alternative brand to Dr. Bronners and my allegiance to him runs thin, so I’ll have to give it a try! thanks!!! – kelsi

  20. Stephanie

    Just curious what the salt does…

  21. Renee

    Hi Kelsi. GREAT posts about the laundry detergent and the hand soap! I am going to try these. I do have a box of borax that I would like to use up first before switching to washing soda. So, would you substitute 1/1 borax for washing soda? Thanks.

    • Cheeky Bums

      Renee, Yes, you can use Borax and Washing Soda in a 1:1 substitution. There may be a more scientific method of figuring out a better ratio, but that’s always worked for me! :) kelsi

  22. Emili

    Hi, I just made this recipe and it didn’t solidfy? I used real salt instead of table salt, could that be why? Or could I have used too much water?

    • Cheeky Bums

      Emili, there are quite a few things that can affect the consistency – room temperature, water temperature, hardness or softness of your water, and how long you mixed it even. I only use table salt with this recipe – I don’t use my precious (and expensive!) sea salt. It may be lumpy, but it won’t even totally solidify, and if it does, it will probably get gelled on the top and be watery underneath. I just make sure that it is *mostly* mixed up when I put it in the washer. As long as you followed the recipe, you’ll be just fine! :)

  23. Diana James

    Stumbled upon your blog. Enjoyed immensely. I’ve been playing with home made cleaning items for a few years now, having started out with laundry soap. Still playing. Still loving it. I can’t tell if you’ve tried home made dish soap, but I’ve found I love that too.
    For hand washing dishes I use 1T shredded soap (castile or Octagon are two of my favorites. I still have a few bars of Octagon from before they stopped making it!). 1T washing soda OR borax OR 1/2T of each, 1 1/2- 2C of very hot water. Stir til everything is thoroughly dissolved. You can then stir it up every so often throughout the day as it thickens, but it will be fine if you wait til it sets up, (about 8 hours or overnight if you wish) and then stir or quick blend it up with a wisk or stick blender. You can also add EO’s of choice if you wish. Original recipe I found added 1T vinegar as well, but I find it works great and separates less if I leave the vinegar out. I’m quite fond of both Kirk’s Castile and Dr. Bronners. Just thought I’d share. :-)

    • Cheeky Bums

      Diana, thanks for sharing! Dish soap is next on my list to tackle, and I’ve played around with several recipes with mediocre results. I’ll definintely give yours a try!! thanks! – kelsi

  24. amy

    I was having a really hard time getting this to mix completely, when my husband had the brilliant idea to use the stick blender… it was amazing! Mixed completely and never separated. I used it to mix my castille liquid soap made from a bar, too!

    • Cheeky Bums

      Amy – thanks for sharing your tip!!! I just started using my immersion blender as well and it’s helped so much. I didn’t mind the lumps, but not having any at all sure is nice! :) thanks for stopping in!! – Kelsi

 

Add A Reply

*

CommentLuv badge