Commercially made laundry detergent is expensive. A single container can cost about $20 and depending on the brand, may clean 60 – 80 loads of laundry. For a family, your detergent bill can easily be $160 or more per year. But if you want to put most of that money back in your pocket, make your own detergent.
On our homestead, we make many of our cleanings products and that includes laundry detergent. But before you think it is too hard to do, don’t worry. It is straight-forward with process that requires just a few ingredients and tools. Just set aside some time (I allow myself two hours.) The basic ingredients for homemade laundry detergent available at most grocery stores and even big box stores. I have even purchased both the borax and washing soda from our local hardware store. (In our area, washing soda is sold in a 3 lb. 7 oz. box and the borax is in a 4 lb. 12 oz. package. Both can be be purchased for less than $5 each.)
The recipe was given to me at an Earth Day event in 2009. I decided that once I used all of the detergent previously purchased from the store, that I would try my hand at it. And let me just say, it works and I have been making my own ever since.
Liquid Laundry Detergent
- 1 bar soap (Zote, Fels Naptha, or your own homemade soap)
- 8 quarts water
- 1/2 C. washing soda (not baking soda)
- 1/2 C. Borax (such as 20 Mule Team)
- cheese grater
- measuring cup
- container such as crock pot or electric roaster that can hold at least 2.5 gallons
NOTE: When making my homemade cleaning products, use appliances/tools that will be designated just for these products and not food preparation. Thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales are a great source to pick up items such as measuring cups, crock pots, electric roasters, cheese graters, spoons, and even storage containers.
Grate the bar of soap into your crock pot or electric roaster. Note: the smaller the grater holes, the quicker the soap will melt.
Add 2 quarts of water and heat at a medium to medium low setting. (In my electric roaster, this will take about 30 – 45 minutes.) Stir periodically so the soap does not clump together or stick to the bottom of the heating vessel.
After the soap is completely melted, add the powdered ingredients: Washing Soda and borax. Stir until they are dissolved. After they have dissolved completely, turn the vessel to a low setting.
Add the remaining 6 quarts of water. Stir well to combine. Allow the mixture to ‘cook’ for approximately 30 minutes. Remove/turn off the heat. The soap mixture will now have a gel consistency rather than watery. If it is still watery, heat for another 15 – 20 minutes or until gel-like.
Pour the mixture into containers. If the container(s) have a small opening, use the funnel. For ease, I use old plastic liquid laundry containers.
Shake the container well before using. If using a single large container and you find it difficult to shake, insert a spoon and stir well for at least 1 minute. Measure out 1/3 cup for a large load. (If you have a high-efficiency washer, use half of the amount.)
If you are used to commercially made laundry detergents, be aware that your homemade detergent will not produce as many suds. This is normal. The detergent will still clean your clothes.
If you have heavily soiled clothes or clothes with grease stains, feel free to add some additional cleaning ‘boosters’ to your wash, such as Oxi-Clean. I have poured some of my homemade detergent directly onto stains, such as ‘ring-around-the-collar’ and then rubbed detergent into the fabric and allowed to sit for 5 minutes before adding to the clothes washer.
Add laundry detergent making to your DIY (do it yourself) skills. Not only will you end up with more money in your pocket at the end of the year, but you get clean clothes as well.