Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Basic Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

About 10 months ago, I came across a post on a blog that talked about making their own laundry detergent.  The blogger posted that she used a certain recipe, and I don't quite remember which one she used, but I began wondering how difficult it would be to make my own laundry detergent and what kind of savings I could see.  I have to admit, I'm a bit of a detergent snob.  I LOVE Gain Original Scent and rarely strayed from that particular detergent.  However, that detergent costs $15.47 at my local Wal*Mart for a one-gallon jug.  When you have two young, very active sons, you do a lot of laundry.  A WHOLE LOT of laundry!  That gallon of Gain would last me approximately one month max.

So, the research began. 
I'll be honest, I didn't do an extensive amount of research, but basically wanted to see which recipe folks seemed to prefer, which one they thought cleaned the best and which one provided the most savings.  The basic recipe I chose makes 10 gallons (5 gallons of concentrate), and it costs a mere $2.10 per gallon to make.  That's a savings of $14.37 per gallon!  Multiply that by 10 gallons, and you've saved a nice little chunk, huh?

These are your cast of characters, so to speak:

1 bar of Fels Naptha soap*
1 cup Arm  Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

That's it! 

This basic recipe makes a concentrate that will fill a 5-gallon bucket.

Here's what you do:

Fill a 5-gallon bucket 1/2 full with very hot water.  Add your washing soda and Borax and stir until it appears to be dissolved.  (Please note:  Arm & Hammer baking soda and washing soda are NOT the same thing.  You must use the washing soda.)

At this point you'll want to put a pot of water on the stove top to boil.  I usually put 2 to 3 cups of water on to boil.  Now, you'll grate your FelsNaptha bar soap.  If you have a food processor, I highly recommend using it to grate your bar soap. 

I cut my bar soap up into smaller chunks, then use the food processor.
Once you've grated the bar soap, you'll add it to the boiling water on the stove top and stir until it's dissolved.

The final step is to add this to the 5-gallon bucket and stir well to combine.  You can add more hot water to fill the 5-gallon bucket. 

Put the lid on the bucket and allow it to sit overnight.  It will become a gel like substance.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that for you.  I mentioned that this will make 5-gallons of concentrate.  I saved and cleaned one of my old gallon-sized Gain jugs - one with a spout.  I fill it 1/2 full with the concentrate, then fill the remainder of the jug with water.  Since the concentrate does turn to a gel, you'll need to shake the bottle well before each use to break up the gel.  For a top load machine, you should use 5/8 cup, for a front load, 1/4 cup is recommended.  This laundry soap will not suds up like regular laundry detergent. 

Now, there are all sort of variations you can make with this; however, I recommend starting with this bsic recipe and using it first.  Once you're ready to make your second batch, change things up a bit.  You'll know more about what you need or want after using this first batch.  If you need more whitening power, you might add some Oxyclean, baking soda, white vinegar or maybe even bump up the amount of Borax.  Prefer a different fragrance?  There are other laundry bar soaps that you can substitute for the Fels Naptha, such as Zote or Castille Soap or you might consider adding a few drops of an essential oil.   However, be careful with the essential oils or you just might end up with oil stains on your clothing. 

When I made my first batch, I reduced the amount of water and added some Gain scented fabric freshener just because I love that scent.  Unfortunately, the fragrance didn't really stay with the laundry as well as using the actual Gain laundry detergent and wasn't worth the extra cost.  No big deal. I'll try something else another time.

For those of you trying to stretch your household budget, try out this laundry recipe.  I think you'll be pleased.

Good luck, and be sure to let me know what you think.