Saving Money: DIY Laundry Soap

Hello, dear readers!  Tonight’s post is about my adventures with do-it-yourself laundry soap, and it’s the start of what I hope to be a little series on saving money.  Part of my and CF’s reasoning for buying our mobile home and moving in here at Lot 26 was to save money–not just for our super exciting upcoming trip to London, but also to save money in general.  We don’t want to live outside our means.

So, in the spirit of pinching our pennies, I’ve been looking into ways to save money.  I’ve been trying to slash our grocery bills to about $50 or $60 a week, and I buy things like toothpaste and extra toothbrushes in bulk when they’re on sale.  But since most of the products I buy are “natural” or “organic,” they can be a little pricey even when they’re on sale.  So, I’ve started to research making my own natural products.  And I’ve started with laundry soap because it seemed really simple.  (And I think I was allergic to the liquid detergent I bought last time).  But, I hope to be making other things soon too–like maybe shampoo!

Tonight’s adventure with laundry soap started with some internet searches–where I came upon these awesome instructions for DIY laundry soap.  I also read about making your own liquid soap, but it seemed messy and difficult.  The “recipe” for powdered detergent couldn’t be easier.  Although you can read about it at the site linked above, I thought I’d share my experience with you here.

What you’ll need:

-1 bar of (simple) soap (Ivory, Zote, or whatever you want really, though I would avoid something with too many added ingredients.  We do want this to be natural after all.  I used a castile soap called Kirk’s Original Coco Castile.  It contains exactly 5 ingredients and I can pronounce all five.  According to Michael Pollan, this is a good thing.)

-1 cup borax (I found a big box in the laundry detergent aisle of my regular grocery store)

-1 cup washing soda (Arm and Hammer makes a good one…again I found it in the laundry aisle)

You’ll also need a grater to grate the soap, a bowl to mix it all together, and a spoon.  Oh, and you’ll want something to store it in when you’re done.  Here’s a pic of all the stuff:

It's good to be prepared when embarking on new adventures.

Ok.  So once I had all the stuff ready to go, I got started.  First you grate the soap into the bowl:

All natural soap!

All grated!

Note:  I grated the soap on a Saturday afternoon while watching a movie.  It didn’t take long.  I let the grated soap sit for a day before I mixed the rest because I had read that sometimes the fresh soap is too moist and it makes everything all clumpy when you add in the powdered ingredients.

SO then you add the borax:

One cup borax

And then you add the washing soda:

And one cup washing soda!

Mix it up.  This may take a little longer than you think.  You want to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed.  Then, you can store it in an old coffee can, like me, or an empty yogurt container or whatever 🙂

Mixin' it up.

That's not coffee!

Then you wait for laundry day!  Actually, I mixed this up right before I did laundry.  And I know what you’re thinking:  can this soap really clean my clothes?  What if my boyfriend is a musician who sometimes plays in smoky bars and gets all sweaty cuz he works hard playing the drums?  Can it get the smell out?  Yes.  Yes it can.  I used this soap to attack this:

The closet threw up!

It worked well!  I even did a load of sheets and towels, which was the real test because I use a vinegar/water solution to clean counter tops, so our kitchen towels smelled like dirty, vingerary counters.  And this soap even got that out!

And the most brilliant part:  you only need about 1 tablespoon per load!  (But you can use 2 Tbsp. if it’s a really big or really dirty load) (<–that sounded bad…)

You just put the soap in while the water is filling the machine:

Just one tablespoon!

In it goes!

This soap won’t bubble like other laundry detergents, but it does work.  My clothes got clean and didn’t smell like anything!  Which is good considering before they went in, some smelled like smoke.  If you wanted to add fragrance, use a fragrant bar of soap, or add some of your favorite essential oil.  This is a super cheap way to do laundry because it’s super concentrated.  You can check out the savings on the website I posted above.

Another bonus is that it’s all natural…AND you can use both borax and washing soda as household cleaners!  Double whammy!

I am so impressed with this soap, that I am thinking about giving it away in all natural laundry gift baskets:  the laundry soap, a bottle of distilled white vinegar (an easy, natural fabric softener!), and some tennis balls to use in place of those wasteful fabric softener sheets for the dryer (the tennis balls keep your clothes from getting static-y).  What do you think?  Would that make a good gift?

Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough about this project, but I look forward to sharing more money saving ideas with you in the future!  Until then, may all your laundry days be easy and may all your homes be happy!


About Cathy G Gilbert

I am veggie-loving, community college professor who lives, teaches, and writes in Central IL.
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3 Responses to Saving Money: DIY Laundry Soap

  1. Chip says:

    I am going to try this. Thanks. And how come you’re 26 but I’m 28?

  2. tanya says:

    Awesome! I’ve been making our laundry detergent for about 3 years and I can’t begin to estimate the savings I’ve enjoyed with a family of 5!! The kids even like to get in on picking out the smell for each batch – orange essence is a current favorite! 🙂

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