One of the more common homesteading and money saving trends has been to make your own laundry detergent. I started doing this a year ago and have been pleased with the money saving aspect of it. I make a liquid detergent because I never could get the powder recipes to dissolve. There are many, many recipes out there so if the one I use doesn’t work for you, keep trying! This is for non-HE washers, I have an older model. However, there are recipes out there for newer washers. Here are some examples…HERE and HERE.
There is some initial cost in the beginning to gather the supplies is around $20. After this initial investment, the average cost per load of homemade is mere pennies. This is compared to the average $0.15/load for store bought. One batch lasts me a few months and I do several loads of laundry a week.
Here is what I do…
Materials Needed: You will want to designate the supplies used for this purpose, don’t reuse for cooking
1 bar of soap (use one without a lot of lotion type add-ins, just plain old soap)
1 cup Borax (this is found in the laundry detergent aisle)
1 cup Washing Soda (also found in the laundry detergent aisle)
Large Pot (needs to hold more than 2 gallons)
Long Spoon (to reach to the bottom of the pot)
2 gallon water jugs (you can buy these with water for under $1)
- Grate the bar of soap into fine shreds
- Place pot on stove and fill with one gallon of water
- Get water warm-use medium heat
- Place your bar of soap gratings into warm water on stove
- Leave on stove on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all soap is dissolved (make sure to scrape the bottom so none burns onto the bottom of the pot)
- Once all soap is dissolved, add the borax and washing soda
- Turn up the heat and bring to a boil
- Once you notice the consistency becoming thick, remove from heat
- Add one gallon of cold water and stir well
- Allow to cool slightly so you don’t get burned putting it into the plastic water jugs-and it doesn’t melt them
- Using the funnel, pour the detergent into each jug (it makes bubbles in the pouring process, so I pour a bit into each one alternating and let them settle before adding more-the bubbles will dissipate in a few minutes)
I leave a little room at the top of each jug because this detergent tends to coagulate the longer it sits. I give it a bit of a shake and then it’s ready to add to the laundry. This recipe makes a bit more than 2 gallons, so you can add the remainder to the laundry or keep it in another container. I use around 1/2 cup to 1 cup depending on the soiled aspect of the laundry. I am an ER nurse, so sometimes my scrubs have things on them that definitely need a bit more soap!
You can also scent the detergent using essential oils (add sparingly so you don’t over do it). This recipe does not make sudsy bubbles, it takes some getting used to, but bubbles don’t equal clean!
Hope this helps. If anyone has any other recipes or experiences they would like to share, feel free!