Make your own

Homemade Laundry Soap

by Lisa Vitello

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If you are like me, you might be doing a double-take when you look at the prices of liquid laundry detergent these days. Most brands are quite expensive. The cheaper brands don't work so well. What to do?

I have begun making my own homemade laundry soap and I am so happy with the results! It is very easy to make, costs just pennies for several gallons and works better than anything I have ever bought in the store.

We have very hard, well water where we live. I always had problems with leftover soap residue in my clothes. On top of that, I wanted a product that contained no phosphates, since we have a septic system and what we put down the drain stays right here on our property! I looked at the local health food stores for an "earth-friendly" brand of laundry soap, but was quite put off by the high prices. I have five children at home, and we go through a lot of laundry soap! So, I can't afford, nor do I want to pay exorbitant prices for this product.

I have always been a "do-it-yourselfer," so I figured, "How hard can it be to make laundry soap?" I tried a few recipes and found one that is very easy, economical and safe. Here is the recipe and instructions:


  • 1/3 to 1/2 bar Fels Naptha, grated (this is a laundry bar that can be found in the laundry soap section of your market) or Ivory Soap
  • 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1/2 cup Washing Soda, not baking soda! Washing soda is made by Arm & Hammer and can also be found on the laundry soap aisle in your market
  • 4 quarts water

You will need an old pot (about 6 quart size) that you can use just for laundry soap making, a wooden spoon, an old cheese grater, a funnel and some plastic containers like three plastic one gallon milk jugs (washed out), water jugs, or a plastic bucket that can hold at least three gallons, etc.

Place three pints of hot water in your pot. Turn the heat on medium and grate your bar of Fels Naptha into the water. Stir until the Fels Naptha is dissolved. Add your Borax and washing soda. Stir until it is thickened. Take your pot to the sink and add more warm water nearly to the top of the pot. Continue stirring. When it has cooled a little, pour even amounts into each of your three milk or water jugs using the funnel or pour the entire amount into your three-gallon bucket. Fill up the jugs or the bucket almost to the top with warm water. Mix well (you can use the handle of the wooden spoon to stir the soap in the jugs). Let stand for a few hours to cool. This will get thick, so continue to add water as needed until it is a nice "laundry liquid" consistency. You may need to shake or stir it up the first few times you use it, as it tends to separate. But, eventually, it will stay stirred together. Use 1/2 cup per laundry load.

There is no lye or anything that can "blow up" or hurt you in this recipe. This homemade laundry soap is very low sudsing and does a great job! Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and some food coloring if you like.

Since this liquid is so low sudsing, you can use cold water for most of your laundry. This will cut your utility bill dramatically. Heating water is one of the highest energy costs in any household.

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