Then yesterday, I ran out of laundry soap. Not good, because I’ve got a huge pile of dirty (read: “stinky”!) diapers that need … um… attention. So today I’m making laundry soap. It’s so easy, dirt cheap (no pun intended) and it hardly takes any time. It sure isn’t as hard as loading 3 little farmhands into the van, buckling everybody’s carseat, driving to the store, unbuckling everybody’s carseat, going in to the store, getting laundry detergent, going to the bathroom 3 times while we’re in the store because “I know I went, but I have to go again… really bad!” checking out, then repeating the whole carseat scenario in reverse to get home.
So, today I thought I would show you how I make laundry soap.
(Now keep in mind that we live on a FARM and I have TODDLERS. We get crazy-dirty. These pictures are for mothers of crazy-dirty families who need to make 18 gallons of laundry soap at once. If you’re just a normal family, you probably can get by making 1/3 of this at a time… so I’ll give the directions in two batch-sizes)
Here’s what you’ll need to make the soap. I was able to buy enough ingredients at Kroger’s to last our family at least a year (maybe 3!) for under $10.
(Oops! I forgot to include soap in the picture – 1 bar for regular families, 3 bars for crazy-dirty families!)Ingedients:
- Washing Soda (This is NOT the same as Baking Soda!) 1 cup for normal families, 3 cups for crazy-dirty families. Washing Soda can be a little difficult to find… I was able to find some in the laundry aisle of Kroger’s.
- Borax (optional, but it really helps to boost the soap’s cleaning power) 1/2 cup for normal families, 1 1/2 cups for crazy-dirty families
- Soap (use whatever type you have on hand. Since I make soap, I often just use scraps. In this case I had some old dried up bars of ivory kicking around from my pre-soapmaking days. You do NOT have to buy special soap for this!) 1 bar for normal families, 3 bars for crazy-dirty families
First, I set a pot of water on the stove to boil. (4 cups for normal families, 12 for crazy-dirty families.) While I’m waiting, I grate the soap. You can see in this picture that the ivory was so old that it crumbled. Usually you would have long shreds, as if you had been grating cheese.
When the water is boiling (or close to it) I add the grated soap. Then I let it dissolve in the boiling water, stirring occassionally.
Now, I do the next step in an 18 gallon storage container, but if you are making the smaller batch, you would use a 5 gallon bucket for this next step. Whichever you are using, fill the container a little over halfway with water. (Technically you’re supposed to put in 3 gallons for normal families, 9 gallons for crazy-dirty families… but I just eyeball it.) To this, add the washing soda and borax. Then, pour the dissolved soap and boiling water from the pot into the main container. (Be careful! Boiling water is hot!) You can see the nice sudsy concoction:
Then put the lid on it and let it sit overnight. It has occurred to me that a small child might be able to pop the lid off and then flip into this and not be able to get out, so take steps to prevent that. (I have been known to put a playpen upside down over my laundry detergent bucket). Wait 24 hours and you will have laundry soap!
Here’s what it looks like after a really good stir!
I’ve seen many websites that say to use 2 Tbsp of laundry soap per medium sized load… but I rarely have a medium sized load! I guess I usually use just less than 1/4 cup per extra-large load.
Several women I know have special high-efficiency machines that they can only use low-sudsing formulas with. So you can judge for yourself, here’s a load of bed sheets mid-cycle.
For those of you who are more detail-oriented than I am, there is a wonderful blog post over at TheSimpleDollar.com which is where I learned how to do this. That post goes through all the math and shows you how much money you are saving. That guy also has pictures of an experiment where he poured mustard onto two white shirts to show how this laundry soap compares to Tide with Bleach (both cleaned equally well). Definitely a post worth checking out!