Laundry soap

**UPDATED** Scroll to the bottom if you're interested.

A couple of months ago I made my first batch of laundry soap. I wasn't going to blog about it then because I wasn't sure if the idea of making my own laundry soap would "stick", but now I'm hooked. I can't remember where I first read about this idea, but I was intrigued. Then when my friend tried it, my interest was piqued even more, and I thought I might try it. Then I read more about it here. Only after reading that was I sold on making a batch. Just follow that second link and scroll down to the "Calculations" section and you'll see what sold me. And now that I've tried it for a couple of months, I will keep on making it.

Here's the recipe:

Liquid Laundry Detergent
6 cups of water
1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Soap, grated
1/2 cup washing soda (Arm & Hammer)
1/2 cup Borax
enough hot water to fill a 2 gallon bucket
[optional: you can add 1/2 to 1 oz of essential or fragrance oil.]

Mix grated soap in a saucepan with 6 cups of water. Heat on low until dissolved. Add washing soda and Borax. Stir until thickened and remove from heat. Add 4 cups of water to a 2 gallon bucket. Add the soap mixture and mix well.
Fill the bucket with hot water (at least another gallon ( or 16 cups) and then some) and stir well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens somewhat.
*Use 1/2 cup per load*

Here's what the Fels Naptha bar looks like.
I found it in the laundry detergent section of our grocery store, right smack dab next to the washing soda which was next to the Borax.

Here are the three ingredients, after I'd grated the bar of soap.

And here's a fresh batch of soap that still needs to sit for 24 hours.

And here's my full 2-gallon bucket.

To answer a couple of questions I've already received from friends and family:

Does it actually clean your clothes?
-Yes. For loads that are extra dirty I've added a bit more soap (3/4 cup) or washed them in warm water, but it cleans them great!
Is it easy to make?
-Yes. I figure it takes me about as long to make a 2-gallon batch as it would to stand in front of the various brands of detergent at the store and try to figure out which is the cheapest.
Have you used fragrance or essential oil?
-I haven't. And you don't need to. I actually really like the smell of the finished soap. It's very clean smelling. But I do love citrus-y scents so I may pick up some oil and fragrance it at some point in the future, just for fun.

A couple of other things. I realize this isn't going to sound like a fun idea to everyone. The primary reason I'm doing this is because I'm it's cheap.
Secondly, I'm a little old-fashioned in that I really enjoy learning and doing things myself if I'm able to. It makes me feel a bit like Ma on Little House on the Prairie or something. And since I would sincerely love to live in a little house on the prairie, or live in an Amish community anytime anywhere anyday (and yes, I am serious), this is one little way I get to live that out. Kinda. If that makes any sense.

A few more notes on laundry soap:
1. A reader commented that she had added the essential oil but did not stir the soap each time before use. Thus, the oil gathered together and actually ruined some of her husband's clothes! *MAKE SURE TO STIR YOUR SOAP!!!* I do this anyway, but I forgot to mention that the first time I posted this. It can sort of congeal a bit between uses, so you'll want to stir it briefly (or, if you transfer it to some sort of a bottle, shake it) before you use it.

2. The consistency of the laundry soap is a little different than store-bought soap. Someone described it as looking like egg-noodle soup. It does kind of resemble that.

3. The soap does is not sudsy. But it doesn't need to be to get your clothes clean, so don't worry about it! :)


  1. I'd like to try something like that! Really. If it works for your family, will work for me, and i believe it is chipper!

  2. Well, Caroline Ingalls, I'm impressed! I won't be at all surprised to hear next that you're stuck in a blinding blizzard when you befriend a hunted Indian.

  3. Do you know if you can use this in the front load washers...I have to use a lot less soap in mine.

  4. Stacy, thank you for sharing this with us! I am truly going to try it --- how exciting!!

  5. This is cool! I'm definitely going to try it - especially since the Queen of Clean recommends some of this stuff. I already have the Borax and Fels Naptha and they work great. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Just curious, how much did it cost to make your own soap? How long does a 2gal last your family?


  7. Letisha,
    Great questions! I actually haven't figured out the calculations on my own... (I will the next time I buy the ingredients, though!)... but if you follow the second link in this post, you'll see some calculations for it.
    As for how long a 2-gallon bucket lasts for our family, I forgot to write down when I last made it. I know it was at least two months ago. This time I'm keeping track of how long it lasts. I'll keep you posted! :)

  8. Oh have outdone yourself this time!

    The thought of making my own laundry are a girl after my own heart. I can't wait!

  9. amazing! I love learning about things on your blog --- you are a blessing! - Lisa

  10. thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I have printed it out and will definitely try it!

  11. Where did you get the bucket??


  12. Okay, I have missed you!!! I stopped using bloglines and I didn't have a link and well, there are no excuses. I simply MISS YOU!!!
    I will have to take the time today to read through your past few months, but right now I want to comment on your laundry soap post.

    Thank you for the recipe and for answering some FYI's. I am with you on the whole being cheap and feeling like Ma from LHOP - I get a little giddy everytime I do something even remotely like this for my family!! (PUrchasing meat right from a farmer and none from the store; using our wood fireplaces to heat our home all winter long; getting our clothesline finally put up so we can dry our laundry in the open air!! ETC)

    I have been wanting to make my own soap mostly because of cost and also, looking to go more organic in those areas - to get rid of more toxins in our cleaning....

    As soon as the organic laundry soap (METHOD) that I just bought is gone, I will make this! Although, I will add some lavender to mine. I just love the smell of lavender clothing, towels & sheets!!

    Okay, praying for you. I missed you. ANd it is SOOOO good to be connected again. You are such a blessing to me and I just feel like if we were in the same town, we would be making soap and pinching pennies together!!!


  13. Stacy...
    love it, love it...soon you will be making the soap to shave for your laundry soap! yeah!

    from your soap loving friend!
    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

  14. Jennifer-
    I got my bucket at the grocery store. :) I'll bet you could get one at any one-stop shopping place (Walmart, Fred Meyer... whatever you have around you), or a hardware or home store.

    If any of you ladies make this, I wanna hear all about whether or not you like it or not! Do keep me posted.

  16. Go Stacy!! It feels so good to make your own stuff doesn't it?! And it saves money too.
    I tried a new recipe last week. It is more concentrated and also uses lemon essential oil. I'm working on it and will post it when I get it figured out.
    Hope you have a lovely week.

  17. I made some of this about a year ago. I decided to put in the essential oil to give it a lemony smell. UNFORTUNATELY... I never read that you must stir or shake the soap every time you use it, or the essential oil can form little droplets and ruin clothing. Yep. My penny pinching gruel-soap ruined my hubby's $30 new work shirt! We had to throw it away! Yikes! Of course, as my life goes, it HAD to put little oil spots on his shirt versus my jammie pants or something of no consequence.
    SO... if you use essential oil, keep this in mind!

  18. Great job, Stacy. I've seen this recipe before, but haven't tried it. Do you know how much you would use for a front loading washing machine?

  19. Both Tracy and Debbie have asked about front-loading washing machines. I don't know much about those machines, but I did a Google search on front-loading washing machines and homemade laundry soap. One link said that because homemade detergent is low sudsing (and it is; hardly any suds) it is perfect for them. Some said use only half whatever the directions suggest (so in this case, 1/4 cup). However, I did find some links that indicated otherwise. I wish I knew how to put a link in a comment, but I don't. But here's the address of one you may want to check out:
    That link seems to have some good tips from people who actually have front-loader washing machines and what soap they have tried/are using, including homemade soap!

    thank you for your tip about stirring! i'll add that to the original post.

  20. You are a girl after my own heart. I love to experiment with home made concoctions also. This sounds like fun.


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