Making Homemade Laundry Detergent

For the past 4 years I've been using Charlie's Soap. When we moved into this house, we bought a 5 gallon bucket of powdered Charlie's Soap and it's lasted all this time. Since I don't have it in the budget right now to spend $130 on another 5 gallon bucket of the stuff, I decided to make my own. I also decided to make my own because it gives me something new to try. As my garden winds down for the year, I am always looking for ways to keep my creative side "fed".

I googled "homemade laundry soap" and was amazed at how many great resources there were. There are tons of "recipes" but the one I chose was actually the one that the Duggar family uses (from 18 Kids and Counting). My family doesn't have much in common with their family but I figure if the laundry soap works for a family with that much dirty laundry, it'll probably work fine for us.

I used their Liquid Laundry Soap recipe.

I was so happy to be able to find the ingredients between Walmart and Harris Teeter. I knew Walmart had Borax since we use that for cleaning and always have it around.

You can also use Zote soap instead of Fels-Naptha but I decided not to use it this time since it has a stronger fragrance and color and I'm worried about it irritating Evan's skin.

So, start by grating the whole bar of Fels-Naptha soap. My arm was a bit tired by the end of the bar. The soap has a nice citrus-y scent.

Pretty soap curls.

Add the soap and 4 cups of water to a medium pot and cook on medium heat while stirring until the soap dissolves. I actually didn't stir the whole time... just every minute or two and nothing bad happened to the soap.

In the meantime, I filled a 5 gallon bucket with hot tap water and added 1 cup of Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda) and a 1/2 cup of Borax. I stirred it until they dissolved.

This is how the soap-water mixture looked after it was melted. Your house will smell very fresh for a few days after making laundry soap.

Pour the soap into the bucket of dissolved Borax and Washing Soda. Stir it well and fill the rest of the bucket with hot water and stir again.
The original recipe called for diluting it further until you have 10 gallons of soap. I don't have a second bucket so I decided to leave it as is and just use half of the recommended soap.
I wanted to put some of the soap into a smaller container to leave on the laundry room shelf. I had a gallon pitcher so I filled that with soap and left everything to gel overnight.

Wow, did it ever gel! It was very thick... kinda like thick jello. I used a 1/4 cup measure to scoop some into the washer for a test run and it works just fine. The laundry came out fresh smelling and looks clean.
Not bad for about $.01 a load! And if my calculations are right, I won't need to make more for about 6 months if I was my usual 6 loads a week. Not too shabby for about 15 minutes of work.
***Edited to add that the soap gets more liquidy the more it sits. Shake or stir well before you use each time***