The Zarb Homestead

Living natural and healthy on a simple budget

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent (HE Washer Safe) November 25, 2012


I am frugal by choice. I like to save money by making things we use everyday. This way, we can use the money we save to splurge on things that we enjoy in life.  One of the things I make is our laundry detergent. I honestly do not have any idea why we have so much laundry to do in the first place. It is just the husband and I living here and we have no human children, just our fur babies. I would say I do at least 2-3 loads/day. When I started writing this blog it was about noon and I had already done 2 loads of laundry. I know that will not be it for the day, because when my husband gets home from hunting I will have plenty more.

Maybe the problem is me. I will admit that I tend to wash anything and everything that will fit into my washer. That means rugs, shower curtains, floor mats,comforters, pillows, dog beds, etc.  If it fits, it ships gets washed. I am sure this stems from my fear of my house stinking. You know when you walk into someones house and it has its own odor? For example, if a home has pets living inside, people smoke inside, or they cook a lot it can have its own smell. Our house is older home and I fear it may develop its own scent. I know, it is an odd fear to have but still there is nothing wrong with having cleanly washed things, right?

I have had many people ask me for the recipe and I could have sworn I blogged it previously but I could not find the post. So, here it is with easy to follow directions and pictures. It is so simple, just 3 ingredients, and easy to do you will wish you have tried it sooner.

To start off, we need a bar of soap. The soap I use is called Fels Naptha.  It is an old-fashioned type of soap usually found in the laundry aisle.

You may use Ivory soap. It will work just fine but I have tried both and I feel that Fels Naptha is better at stain removal than Ivory. I purchased mine at Kroger for $1/bar.

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Next, you will need to grate the soap where it can be easily melted in boiling water. This is the hardest part of the whole recipe and it doesn’t take too long.

Tip: You can use a food processor to do the job but the soap will not be as fine.

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Add 12 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the soap and stir contiguously until all the soap is dissolved.

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Once the soap is dissolved, stir in 1 cup of Borax and 1 Cup of Washing Soda.

Please note: Washing soda should not confused with baking soda.  They are not the same thing.  Washing soda is sodium carbonate and baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.

The brand I use is Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.  I have no trouble finding it and the Borax in the laundry section at my local Kroger.

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Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

Tip: Place a wooden spoon over the pot to help it from boiling over.

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Many people use a 5 gallon bucket to store it in, not me. I think it looks a bit trashy sitting in the laundry room floor. I use a Tupperware like clear container. Since it about 1/2 the size of the 5 gallon bucket, I use only 1/2 cup vs the 1 cup that the original recipe called for. Fill it 1/2 full with warm water and pour your hot mixture in. Stir and add more water until the mixture reaches the top.

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You may add your own “smelly good” oils to the mix. I use 1 oz of Tea Tree oil because I have sensitive skin and love the smell.

This is an optional step and can be left out. Your soap will still smell great.

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Let it sit overnight.

It will become a slimy gloppy substance, like a watery gel once it has settled. Mix the gel until it becomes a thick liquid. I have read different methods of doing this. Some people using a drill with a mixer attachment or a hand held kitchen mixer. Me, I use my hands. I feel childish, but it is fun breaking up the slim as it slides in-between your fingers.

As you can see, I even have laundry going in the background 🙂

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Transfer the soap into empty laundry bottles. A large kitchen spoon works well. My soap mixture is never perfectly smooth, it always has lumps.Once it is in the bottles, I go to shaking as hard as I can. It is like DIY “shake weights.”  That helps break the lumps up even better but still there are going to be some.

I shake the bottle every time before I use it. This makes sure it is mixed well because the liquid can settle and separate while sitting on the shelf.

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The soap is a low sudsing soap; if you don’t see suds, that is ok.  The suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap thus this is prefect for HE washers.

How much am I saving?

This recipe cost me about $1.21 to make and will wash about 128 loads.That is less than a penny/load!

I normally only have to make this twice a year. When I run out all I have to buy is another bar of soap. There is still plenty Washing Soda and Broax left for about 4 more batches. Super cheap to make and can save loads of cash. I have been making this for over 2 years now and it washes just as well, if not better, as Tide does. I have even compared the 2 side by side like they do on TV. This is a good way to be green and save some green. Enjoy your soap making.

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