Making Laundry Soap with Tessa

I don’t know how the weather is in the rest of the country, but here in Missouri, it is cold and wet. That makes it the perfect time for an indoor project. Today’s project is homemade laundry detergent. When I first learned about this rising trend of people making their own laundry detergent, I was skeptical. When I figured the cost of ingredients and equipment and discovered it would set me back less than $.25 a gallon, I decided to give it a shot. I must say, even after trying it a few loads, I was still skeptical. As this detergent does not have the added chemicals that store-bought detergents do, it doesn’t make many suds. I knew in my head that it was the detergent that did the cleaning and not the suds, but I was still used to seeing them and wasn’t sure I liked my homemade detergent. It was a week later I was convinced. One of my dogs had gotten into the trash and eaten plenty she shouldn’t have. She then proceeded to get sick all over an  old pink comforter. I tossed it into the wash, fully expecting to have to rewash it with my store-bought detergent but it not only came out clean, it also came out brighter than I had seen it in ages. I was sold. I have been using the same recipe for almost 4 years now and love it still. I did learn the hard way that more is not always better. Using more detergent than the recipe calls for in each wash will make your clothes dingy from buildup. Just keep that in mind. Let me also make clear that this recipe is not my creation. The recipe is from the original Duggars recipe. I am only responsible for teaching you how to make it.

Also, I have a family of four and this recipe usually makes enough detergent for us for six months. I have never had it mold or go bad. If you won’t use as much as we do or are concerned at all about this, you can add Teatree oil to each jug. Ten drops per jug should keep it fresh.  With that said, let’s get started.For this project you will need:

Ingredients-
Hot tap water
1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap
1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup of borax

Tools-
Medium sized sauce pan
Long handled spoon
Cheese grater
5 gallon bucket with lid
Funnel
Empty detergent bottles.

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

Please note- you must use Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda.  Arm and Hammer baking soda will not work. Nor will Arm and Hammer detergent. It must be sodium carbonate.

 Fels-Naptha
Fels-Naptha

Once you have your materials together, you will start by grating your bar of Fels-Naptha with the cheese grater into the saucepan. A vegetable peeler may take longer but will work in a pinch.

Grated Fels-Naptha
Grated Fels-Naptha

It should look like this when you are finished…

Add hot water
Add hot water

Add 4 cups of hot water to the saucepan.

Stir
Stir

Stir continually over med-low heat, stirring continuously until the soap is dissolved. Do not whisk or you will cause sudsing.

5 gal. bucket
5 gal. bucket

Fill your 5 gal bucket half full of hot tap water.

Melted soap
Melted soap

Stir melted soap.

Washing soda
Washing soda

1 cup washing soda.

Borax
Borax

And 1/2 cup borax.

Continue stiring
Continue stirring until all powder is dissolved.

Continue stirring until all powder is dissolved.

Filling the bucket
Filling the bucket

Finish filling the bucket with hot water, give it one last good stir and then…

Lid on bucket
Lid on bucket

Slap a lid on it and let it sit overnight.

Day 2
Day 2

Day 2: this is how it should look.

Gelled
Gelled

It should be a combination of large gelled clumps and liquid. The cooler your house, the more gelling.

Homemade laundry soap
Processing

The original instructions tell you to stir at this point but I find it much more effective to roll up my sleeves, shove my arms in and start squishing it through my fingers until it is of a  consistency that it will easily flow through a funnel. More fun too!

Prep
Prep

This is the part where I tend to make a bit of a mess. So, unless you just like to mop, I would suggest tossing a towel down on the floor.

Storing soap
Storing soap

I use 2 gal bleach jugs because they fit better on the shelving in my laundry room but any jug with a screw on lid will work. Bleach jugs, detergent jugs, even milk jugs. Just make sure to rinse them out well before filling. If you haven’t thought to save jugs before starting, check your local laundromat. If you are not opposed to digging through their trash, there are usually more empty jugs than you can carry. I have found from experience, that friends and family are willing to save their old jugs for you, as well, if you only ask.

Filling the jugs
Filling the jugs

Fill each jug half-full with the detergent. If you are particular like me, you can measure the exact amount. If you are like everyone else, you can just “eyeball” it.

Finishing off mixture
Finishing off mixture

Once your jugs are all half full of detergent, add hot tap water to each jug until they are almost full. Leave just enough room at the top to make shaking effective for mixing. Then, screw the lid on and shake away!

Your new homemade detergent is now ready to use. I hope you love it as much as we do!

For top load washers, use 1/2 cup per load.
For front load washers, use 1/4 cup per load.

~Tessa

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