Friday, August 15, 2014

Little Things Day 3 - Homemade Laundry Soap

1 Jar = 1 Year

Homemade laundry soap? Get out of town! Yep. And even better, it lasts a year and doesn't take up as much space as one might think.

First off, let me admit, you may find "little things" a bad title for making your own laundry soap. It's a bit of a project, but it's not something impossible so don't mark it down as something you can't do. You can. It's pretty easy.

Second, why would I do this? Well, as of late, I'm working to have more control over the products I use. I went vegetarian for entirely environmental reasons. The health benefits are great, but it's important to me that the lives of my family make less of a footprint.

Enter this soap. It is not filled with all-natural ingredients, but that's a concession I'm making as I step away from commercial soap. With this product, you use less than a commercial powder and it works wonderfully. Except for the Oxi-clean containers and the optional scent crystals canisters, all the packaging is biodegradable. When I compare it (8 small boxes/containers) to the numerous huge plastic bottles and detergent tubs my family would use in a year, this wins. Hands down.

And price! I bought my supplies at Walmart and together they were $43.77.  Nearly half that was the Downy Unstoppables but since I've been adding them to my laundry anyway, it's a wash (da-dut-dah!)

Sure, it looks kinda funny, but what it looks like doesn't matter if it works on your wash. And it does. Here's how to make it:


1 - 4 lb 12 oz box Borax
3 Bars Fels Naptha  soap
1 - 4 lb box baking soda
1 box Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
4 lb OxiClean (1 large container + 1 small container)
2 containers laundry crystals (for scent - optional)
Recommended: Small organza bag or cheesecloth filled with rice


1. Grate the Fels Naptha into a bowl.

2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bucket that holds at least 5 gallons.

3. Once mixed, pour into a sealable container. I used a glass 4-gallon jar also purchased from Walmart. If using, place your rice packet on the top to absorb moisture.

Further notes:

This soap is unscented if you don't use scent crystals. You can use any type you like or skip them entirely. Downy, Gain and Purex all make these now. Additionally, I used two canisters but you can adjust to your taste. (Edit: Taste as in preference not TASTE taste because, well, ew!)

Pro Tip for grating: if you have a food processor or have a grater attachment for your KitchenAid this is done in a second. Alternately, you can use Zote Soap. It's softer. You can microwave a bar at a time until it puffs up then let it cool. Break it up with your hands. (This just in! Zote also makes soap flakes. You can substitute 1 box for the Fels Naptha)

Pro Tip for mixing: use more than one bucket. This stuff is heavy. You'll have to use a very heavy spoon. Mixing in one bucket, it's tough to get to the bottom ingredients. The easiest thing to do is divide all the ingredients between two 5 gallon buckets mix each well. Pour back and forth between the buckets a few times to further combine.

Both OxiClean containers come with scoops. Make sure to keep the scoop from the smaller container. It holds 2 tablespoons and that's exactly what you need per load. You can add an extra tablespoon if the clothes are extra dirty.

Another tip: If you have super hard water, Borax can start to turn your whites gray. You can counteract that by adding Arm and Hammer Raindrops to your wash. I picked up mine on Amazon rather than search the store for it. Here's what it is: This is totally optional. I use bleach with my whites and they're fine.

More about Fels Naptha:

This soap is a great stain remover. Dampen stain and rub in the Fels Naptha. It will even get melted crayon off clothes if they happened to pass through the dryer with the other clothes. Look up this stuff online. You'll be amazed what it gets out of clothes. Seriously, where was this all my life? Hiding on the very bottom of the laundry aisle's shelves.

This soap has been used for over a century to treat poison ivy, sumac and oak. If you think you've gotten any of these, lather with the Fels Naptha to remove the resin. Wash your clothes with grated Fels Naptha to remove the resin from them as well. The resin can stay in your clothes for up to a year even when washed with regular detergent. Note: this is not meant to be a hand or body soap. Rinse well to remove the soap.

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