Finally a tutorial for homemade laundry soap! Why make your own laundry soap? Why not! Not only is it more cost effective (and who doesnít want to save money right now?), it can also be a great way to recycle your gallon-size milk cartons! Smells great and cleans well, whatís not to love?
I feel I should point out that, just like regular laundry detergent you buy at the store, tough stains like oil, grass, ketchup, etc., will still need stain treatment. Itís great stuff but itís not a miracle worker. *** Please read through the entire tutorial before embarking on your laundry soap adventures. The recipe makes a concentrated laundry gel; read to the end to see how to make it useable! ***Laundry Gel Ingredients & Materials:
5oz. soap (see note1)
4c. hot water
1c. washing soda (see note2)
5-gallon bucket ($2-3 at Walmart or Home Depot)
a long metal or plastic spoon
Note1: You can really use any soap here you want, except for melt & pour soaps. Donít try it, trust me on this one. Most people tend to like to use laundry soaps such as Fels-Naptha, Zote or Meyerís (I think?), but Lever 2000, Ivory, etc. will work. Homemade soaps also work well for this too (again, no M&P); if you have 5 oz. of soap shards, feel free to use them!
*** ETA: For people who have allergies, this works phenomenally well with unscented, dye-free soaps such as Kirk's Castile, Tom's, etc. When it doubt, stick with what you know works: if Ivory soap is what you use because it's all your skin will tolerate, use Ivory. One of the great things about this is how adaptable it is to your needs!
Note2: Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate, is NOT
the same thing as baking soda! Please note this!! Arm & Hammer makes washing soda (itís available in some grocery stores and hardware stores), but always make sure it specifically says WASHING soda, and NOT baking soda. This process will NOT work with baking soda!! I canít stress this enough. You can also order washing soda from some soap suppliers online, if you canít find it in your area.
(I should also caution that caustic soda, also known as lye, will definitely NOT work!!! Know your sodas!!)
Using your cheese grater, grate your soap into a large sauce pan. This procedure can take awhile if youíre using store-bought soap such as Zote, Fels-Naptha, Lever 2000, Ivory, etc. Good workout for the arms! F-N ends up looking awfully like grated cheddar...
Add 4c. of hot tap water to the sauce pan and place over a burner on medium-high heat. Stir constantly until soap is dissolved/melted. The mixture will smell VERY potent if youíre using anything with a strong scent -- use your fan an open some windows!
(excuse my dirty stove top)
Once the soap is melted, remove from heat. Fill your 5-gallon bucket 1/2 full with hot tap water. This is not an exact science, so feel free to eyeball it. Add the washing soda, Borax and melted soap mixture. Stir vigorously until all powder is dissolved. The mixture will be fairly viscous at this point. I recommend using a metal spoon because they wash clean. Plastic tends to absorb scents.
Once dissolved, fill the bucket the rest of the way (I leave 3-4Ē of room, again this is not
an exact science) with hot tap water. Stir to combine.
Place the lid on your bucket and set it somewhere safe overnight. I like to put mine someplace cool like the basement or our garage in the cooler months. So sad and lonely...
Did I mention this process really brings out the scent of the soap? Any
whiney babies in your house who are sensitive to smells may not be pleased with you...
super, awesome, supportive husbands will completely understand your love of crafting and being frugal!
The next day you have concentrated laundry gel! Weeeee! See how thick and lovely it is? It's almost the consistency of good flan. Mine is still very yellow because of the Fels-Naptha soap. I once used an electric green soap and it made it a lovely minty color.
To use at this point, you will have to experiment with scooping. Some people use 2T., some people up to 1/2c. It depends on your washer, the load, etc. I prefer to dilute it for convenience factor.To use as laundry soap!
1-gallon container (milk containers are great
Funnel (if your container has a small opening)
Concentrated laundry gel
Essential or Fragrance oil (see note3)
Note 3: If your soap was heavily perfumed, as Fels-Naptha is, Iíd be careful adding any scent. The laundry gel will retain that heavy scent, itíll just be lighter, and actually quite nice. I remember using Lever 2000 and adding scent because it didnít really stick, though.
Fill your gallon container 1/2 full with laundry gel. Fill the rest of the way with water. This is the ratio for gel, 1:1, no matter what amount youíre using. For 1 gallon, keep EO/FO to 1/4-1/2tsp. You donít want to get too crazy with it.
Shake well before each
use. It tends to want to separate overnight. Shaking makes it good as new.
Top-loading machines: use around 3/4c. for a full load.
Front-loading machines: use around 1/4c. for a full load.
** Added: It is totally normal for your bucket of gel to have some condensation. You can either pour it into your washer, or just pour it down the drain. If you have more than 4-5" of liquid floating on top the next morning, that may be a warning sign that it wasn't mixed properly. But 1-2" is totally normal. Thanks, Honeylioness, for reminding me!