Sunday, April 19, 2009

All I Needed Was Some Guidance

I've read online for a few years now about people making their own laundry soap. I'll be very honest, the first time I heard of it, I thought, "WHY? Why would you do that? They sell it in neat little boxes and bottles."

Then I read about people who like to avoid chemicals. These folks rinse their hair in vinegar and don't wear deodorant. That didn't appeal to me. Besides, I have a friend who works at a plant where they make Sun detergent and he tells us how badly it stings your eyes. It's got to get you clothes clean, right? :) And don't think I refused the free boxes he brought me that were "damaged" in a shipment. (they were dented) Because they lasted me for forever.

But saving money? Now THAT appeals to me. But I didn't know what Borax even WAS, much less where to find it. I wasn't going to tell anyone that though.

Then my e-friend Suzanne from Joyful Chaos posted quick directions on Facebook about how to make your own detergent. What's the big deal--I've read the directions a hundred times, right? She said the magic words, "You can find it all at Kroger."

Aha! NOW I'm off and running. It was so easy! And I believe her when she says it will last a long time. I've been using it all weekend and I am very pleased with how my clothes have come out.

So for those of you who are visual or need a bit more guidance (like myself) are Suzanne's directions--paraphrased.

Here is what you need to buy. And ALL of this was found on one aisle at Kroger.

A box of Borax, Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, a bar of Fels Naptha soap.

You will also need a container. I used an old coffee can.

Grate the whole Fels Naptha bar into the can.

This may take several helpers. We just did some until our arm got tired, walked away, and let someone else have a turn. Within an hour we had it all done. (We did other things in between)

Now, Suzanne said she puts hers into the food processor at this point. I don't have a food processor so I just picked up handfuls of grated soap and rubbed my hands together (like I was cold) over the can. It tore up into very fine pieces quite easily. I kept doing this until I didn't see anymore big pieces.

Then you add a cup of Borax and a cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda.

Here it is all mixed together. We took turns shaking the can to mix it.

You will need one other thing and that is fabric softener. I put mine in a Downy Ball, which you can also get on the laundry aisle. I've had mine for a while but I'm sure they still have them. Or, my washing machine has a place to put the fabric softener also.
Now, this might sound like a lot to buy but it's really not. The bar of soap was just over $1 and the boxes of powder were each around $3. When you consider how long it will's easy to see the savings. I will have to buy another Fels Naptha bar for the next batch, but I only used ONE CUP of the other 2 boxes!!! This stuff is going to last a very long time.

You only use 1/8 of a cup per load!!!!!! Actually, Suzanne said she uses just under an 1/8 of a cup. But I've been doubting her and tossing in a bit more. She's probably right--it just seems like so little.

So there you have it. Easy, simple directions for making your own laundry soap and saving tons of money! Thanks Suzanne!


  1. I have made my own soap, although I did the liquid version. I have a couple of comments:

    1. Possibly vinegar will work as well as a fabric softener, the clothes won't smell vinegary after they dry. But if you are wanting the smell then the commercial softener would be better.

    2. If you live in an area with lots of poison ivy, stock up on fels naptha. It is one of the only soaps that cuts through the poison ivy/oak/sumac oils so that you won't get a rash, or get a milder one. Just wash the area like you would with regular soap.

  2. How does it smell? What if you're allergic to the fabric softener, then what do you use?

  3. I have wanted to try this for a while, but I cannot get my husband on board. In fact, even though he doesn't do the laundry, he thinks he is the one that must choose the soap. Whatever. LOL.

  4. Oh and by the way, you can use deoderant without chemicals. You can get something called a crystal that is in a deoderant bottle, and you wet it and use that.

    And you can get natural shampoo. That way, if you are interested in being more natural, you don't have to go without altogether.

    Oh, and did you know you can make your own toothpaste? My husband isn't for that one either so I used Tom's of Maine Fluoride Free Spearmint Toothpaste.

    And while I am at cloth husband is FOR those to save money. People say that with the extra water you use that it doesn't save money, but I beg to does NOT cost over a thousand dollars a year in extra water, but that is what disposable diapers cost.

    Re-useable cloth menstrual products...haha I am free to use whatever I like so long as I don't describe it to my husband. I have wanted to make cloth pads for a while, except that I can't sew. I also want to start using a Diva Cup which you can use instead of a tampon.

    Ok I have probably just grossed you out now LOL.

  5. Great post, Brenda! I have been wanting to try this with for awhile, just never got around to it. Keep us posted on how it's working, okay?

    (And, I don't use fabric softener in my wash. I don't like the smell. I do however use fragrance-free, dye-free sheets in the dryer.)

  6. Maybe someday I'll try it just for the heck of it, if I can find the materials. Maybe WalMart? Mrs. W., I hear you. My husband is/was not on board for lots of this stuff. He insisted on disposable diapers; he made me use paper plates and cups when we had babies at home to save me work, etc. I guess he figured a few dollars in savings wasn't worth a tired wife (I didn't have my first till I was 34, second at 36 and we had a busy schedule even though I didn't work, with my husbands job and many church activities). Really, I'm grateful to him, but I think all the money-saving "green" ideas sound cool just the same if you have the energy -- more power to you!

  7. Cool! I want to try this, but have no idea if I can get any of that stuff here. Also, I probably should wait until the huge Sam's Club size laundry container I bought recently is gone...

    That would be more frugal.

  8. I too have wanted to try this and laziness sets in. I try to be as frugal as possible but life happens. I will add it to my cool things to try list.

  9. I'm going to try this. Just as soon as the ALL runs out! Thanks for the recipe.

  10. I had NO idea it was THAT cost efficient. I am like you were. How much can it really save? Is it really worth is? Does it really clean clothes? With the economy the way it is, I'd love to save some money, so thank you for inspiring me!

  11. OK...When I first started reading the post, I had a LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE moment. actually sounds pretty cool. Less money, less chemicals, and I can put it in a pretty glass jar with a label. Sounds like a keeper. Laura

  12. OK--put a big L on my forehead!!!! (slapping forehead) I put mine in an old coffee can and I even have a beautiful glass jar. DUH!!!!

    I'm so glad you said that!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)