Sunday, May 31, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

As promised, here is my first attempt at making homemade laundry detergent.

Again, here are the ingredients.

Laundry Detergent (from the family

1/3 bar (is about ¾ cup when grated) fels naptha or laundry soap (I found Colgate Octagon Soap at Bi-Lo)
½ cup washing soda
½ cup Borax
2 at least 2 gallon, buckets (I used Ice Cream buckets and an old empty 1 gallon liquid detergent bottle
Essential Oil of Choice, for scent
1 gallon sized drink container, to measure additional water

First, I cut the bar of soap into thirds. Despite the name, it was a rectangle, not an octagon. One-third of a bar made about ¾ cup of grated soap.

Grate Soap and put it in saucepan.

I saved the remaining grated soap for the next 2 times I make the detergent.

Add six cups of water and heat (I did this on medium heat) until the soap melts(this is also when I heated the 4 cups of water needed, in a kettle, while cooking the first three ingredients in the saucepan).

I stirred until all the last bits of soap melted, about 20 minutes on medium heat. It was pretty foamy so I had to look carefully to see if the soap had indeed completely melted.

Add the ½ cup washing soda and the ½ cup Borax and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.

Poor 4 cups of hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. This is when I had to separate the mixture by half into 2 different containers- the 1 gallon ice cream bucket and the empty 1 gallon laundry detergent bottle. The smaller ice cream bucket in the picture was too small, it was only ½ gallon size. But I poured it into this first as it would be difficult to stir in the bottle. Next time, I will use a bigger bucket first.

Here, Kelly holds the funnel so I can pour the heavy ice cream bucket without spilling.

Add 1 gallon plus six cups of water and stir. This is also the time to add the essential oil. Let the mixture "gel" for 24 hours before using.

Use ½ cup of the detergent per each load of laundry. I marked the measuring cup lid to the old bottle with a sharpie at the ½ cup line, since it was only marked for concentrate. It took me almost an hour to make this. Now I should be all set!

My lower back was a bit sore, but I am hoping my efforts pay off. The cost of this detergent is only one cent a load! This will save us at least $8 a month, as we usually buy the “clear and free” laundry detergent because we have sensitive skin and exzema. This is naturally “clear and free”.

This makes 2 gallons for 64 loads. I use oxyclean with my whites and extra dirty loads anyway, so I will continue doing that.

I also wrote detergent on the ice cream bucket lid and I am storing that in my laundry room.

So, we have been using the detergent for 4 days, and I really like it. It cleaned ketchup without pre-treating, and even though the low-sudsing formula made me nervous, it cleans great. Even urine on crib bedding. It didn’t gel thickly like I thought it would, but that doesn’t bother me. I would like to try to use the Fels Naptha next time and see if that makes it thicker. I will post more updates as I use the detergent, but so far, I really am satisfied. It was totally worth the effort.



Terri :o) said...

Good job, little niecer! :)

Terri :o) said...

Oh, I might add that you might try your local hardware store for fels naptha.

Shelly said...

Oh, great idea! I would never have thought of looking at the hardware store.

Stephanie said...

Oh I have cousins and my grandmother use this stuff. They say they love it! Once we get a washer and dryer I am going to try it! Is it safe to use on cloth diapers!

Shelly said...

Stephanie, I just used it on our cloth diapers today, and they washed up perfectly. They are gentler on cloth diapers than most commercial detergents because of the lack of harsh chemicals and bleaches. I hope you like it. And you are excused from making it until after your baby is sleeping through the night (or ish, Henry still wakes up once at night to nurse).

Katie said...

Thanks for sharing. I just started making my own laundry detergent . . . I have to ask . . . where did you buy the washing soda? I could not find it anywhere and just ended up using baking soda. So far, it is working fine with the baking soda.

Jonesey said...

That's impressive! Now that I've seen you do it and I know it is possible for a real person to do it, maybe....maybe I can give it a try.

Shelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelly said...

Jonesey, it was easier with my handy-dandy kitchen aid attatchment to grate the soap. If you want to try it out before investing in all the ingredients, let me know, I can send some of my ingredients your way. And it definately counts for science and math in my house!

Shelly said...

Katie, Since wal-mart sells the big box of baking soda in the laundry isle, I would think it works just as well. Especially since it works great in your detergent. Which is good to know in case someone else can'y find the washing soda locally. I found my washing soda at Ingles, a local grocery store. That is the only place I have seen it. Sometimes, grocers will start carrying stuff if you ask. I hope you can find some somewhere close.

panamamama said...

Do you think I can use Dr Bronner's liquid soap instead of the bar?