Friday, January 1, 2010

Making Laundry Soap

When I heard about making laundry soap several years back, I quickly dismissed it when I saw grating bars of soap and saucepans were involved. Laundry detergent isn't a major expense for us, I reasoned, and it sounded like entirely too much work.

This fall I tried making laundry soap for the first time, though it wasn't exactly initiated by me. A vendor that I was reviewing through the TOS Crew sent me a laundry soap kit. Having everything grated and premeasured made it all seem less intimidating. I followed the simple instructions and soon had a small batch of laundry soap. Our clothes seemed clean enough, and I committed to giving it another try when my current bottle of store-bought laundry soap was gone. I just ran out this week and made my second batch.

My friend Heidi shared that she has been making laundry soap for some time using a recipe from The Family Homestead. I already had the Borax and Washing Soda required. Finding Fels Naptha laundry soap was a bit more difficult. I was told Meijer typically carries it, but searched and searched the laundry aisle without success. Instead, I purchased Dr. Bonnor's lavender castile soap. However, just before running out of the store-bought detergent, I found Fels Naptha at Meijer, logically placed with the other bar soaps.
The most work involved was grating the Fels Naptha bar. It really wasn't a big deal and didn't take much time. My arms probably needed the workout anyhow! Only 1/3 of the bar is required.
The next step is to place the grated soap into a saucepan, with added water, to melt down the pieces. Once melted, the Borax and washing soda are added until dissolved. At this point, the mixture is transferred to a bucket with hot water. All that is involved next is adding more water and stirring.

The soap then needs to sit and cool. The instructions say to wait overnight, but I've been told it will work just as well even using it right away. The consistency after cooling is a liquidy gel that sort of looks like egg noodle soup.
It isn't the prettiest soap, but works just fine. The cost savings really does make it worth the small hassle to mix up a batch. I'm not sure I care for the smell of the Fels Naptha. It isn't a terrible smell and doesn't seem to transfer to the clothes anyway, but I think I might try the Dr. Bronner's lavender soap I picked up earlier next time. It will raise my cost from 71 cents to $1.71 for a 2-gallon batch...still a spectacular savings.

For detailed instructions on how to make this soap, visit The Family Homestead.

1 comment:

Debra said...

This is great Heidi -- and my first attempt at making laundry soap ourside of the wonderful little kit looks a lot like your picture, so I'm glad to know I didn't just mess it up. It's been working great though, so I wasn't terribly worried.

We still have store bought stuff around too, and my kids tend to use that. I won't be buying more though.