Sunday, January 10, 2010

Making Homemade Laundry Soap

I made laundry soap yesterday and took pictures of the process. I know that I used to have the desire to make my own detergent, but was intimidated of the process of making it. Hopefully, if anyone reading this is apprehensive about making it, the pictures will help show you just how easy it is to do.

My sister (Hi Angie!)got me started making this detergent. She did it first and gave me a free sample to try. I love it and always use it even though I have two full bottles of the store-bought stuff still sitting in my laundry room. It is especially nice since we try to avoid artificial fragrances. Ivory soap does have some fragrance in it, but the Feingold Association has found that those with sensitivities usually tolerate it well.

First thing...make sure that you don't have any laundry that needs to be done for 24 hours. Your detergent will need to sit for an entire day, so get all necessary laundry done before you start making your detergent.

Here are the ingredients you'll need:

1/2 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1/2 cup Borax powder
1 bar Ivory soap

You will also need water and a small bucket.

First, you grate the entire bar of Ivory soap.

Add the grated soap to a saucepan and add 6 cups of water. Heat it until the soap melts. Here's a photo of the soap/water mixture right after I've put it in the pan.

And here's what it looks like after the soap has melted.

At this point, add the washing soda and Borax. Stir until everything dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.

(Honestly, the most difficult part in making my own detergent was finding an appropriate bucket to use. I ended up using an old cat litter bucket that we had around the house. I don't know what size it is because all it says is that it holds 30 pounds of cat litter! However, the detergent recipe that I use says to use a small bucket that is around 2 gallons.)

Here's my bucket. I put it next to my KitchenAid mixer so you can kind of get a visual size comparison.

After adding 4 cups hot water to your bucket, add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir some more. Your soap mixture will look like this...basically cloudy water.

Let this sit for 24 hours. During this time, the detergent will gel. It will become semi-solid. The best term I can think of to describe its consistency is "gloopy." You can see in the picture that it's solid enough to support a measuring cup on top.

After the 24 hour period, give your detergent a little stir to distribute the water better. Use a 1/2 cup per load. I tend to give my detergent a stir each time I get ready to use it.

I haven't had any trouble using this detergent. However, don't expect to see the pretty white bubbles that you get from the store-bought stuff. This is a low-sudsing soap, so you won't see suds.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Happy cleaning!


  1. I have a friend that has made her laundry soap for years and she loves it. She said it is really inexpensive to make. Do you know how much per load it cost and how it compares to store bought? Where did you buy your ingredients to make this? I may just give it a try. Thanks for taking pictures of the process as this helps a lot.

  2. Suzanne,

    I haven't figured up how much it costs per load. For the ingredients, I purchased the Borax at Wal-Mart, the washing soda at Kroger, and the Ivory bar soap at Walgreens. I do not know what I paid for the Borax or washing soda, but the Ivory bar soap came in a 3-pack for $0.99. I will say that I've read other sites that did include a cost analysis and they all concluded that homemade detergent costs less per load. If I have time I'll look through my receipt file tomorrow and see if I still have the receipts for the other ingredients.

  3. I still have two store bought bottles sitting at home and pick the homemade kind over them too. The recipe that we use says it cost 1 cent a load which is a lot cheaper than buying from the store even with a good sale. I agree that it is very easy to make.

  4. I'm trying to remember what I paid for the last store-bought bottle I purchased. It was a 50-load bottle of Sun detergent. The price on the bottle is $2.99, but I think I got it on sale at Kroger for $1.99 and then used a $0.50 coupon that doubled, so ended up paying $0.99 out of pocket for the detergent. Even at that great and very rare deal, I still end up paying $0.0198 cents per load. Since the time involved in making this is minimal, I definitely think it's worth it.

  5. I've had all the ingredients just sitting around for about six months waiting for me to make my own detergent! However, I'm pregnant and on bedrest, so it will have to wait three more months for me to do! I'm excited about it though, and really appreciate the pictures. Thanks!

  6. Here's a cute idea for the kids with Ivory soap. (Or you could do it as a special treat for them.) Grate the ivory soap like you did in the first step, add warm water unitl it thickens and is slightly pasty. Make it into a ball, poke a hole and add a small toy. Let it harden and enjoy! We're gonna make some next week for a craft project.