Homemade Laundry Soaps #4

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

We began here - 9 years ago!! : http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/35195/

Here are the original "recipes" from Gardenwife, copied from the top of Thread #3 (http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/540316/):

Liquid Laundry Detergents

Recipe #1

3 Pints Water
1/3 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, Grated*
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
2 Gallon Bucket
1 Quart Hot Water
Cold Water

Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 Quart Hot Water to 2 Gallon Bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with cold water, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture is gelled. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.


Recipe #2

1 Cup Soap Flakes
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
2 Tablespoons Glycerin
2 Cups Water

Mix all three ingredients together. Add glycerin and water. Use 1/2 - 3/4 cup per load. Best when used with cold or warm water.


Recipe #3

1 Bar Soap - Any Brand, Grated (Fels or Zote works best)
5 Gallon Bucket
1 Cup Washing Soda
4 1/2 Gallons Water

Place grated soap in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat on low until dissolved. Fill bucket with hot water, and add soap. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup washing soda and mix well. As it cools it will thicken. May be used immediately. Use 1-2 cups per load.


Powdered Laundry Soap

1 Cup Soap Flakes*
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax

For light load, use 1 Tbsp. For large or heavily-soiled loads, use 2 Tbsp.

* Edited 8/17/2005 to say that Zote soap is wonderful in these recipes. I found it in Wal-Mart's laundry products aisle in a section devoted to Hispanic products. It cleans as well as the Fels, better on some odors, I think...And the fragrance is nice.



The liquid detergent can also be used as a pretreater for stains. I caution you that the Fels mixture if made with too much Fels can lighten the fabric if spot-treated. Been there, done that!

Deodorant Soaps can be substituted for the bar soap. Some may work better than others. You can also use Zote soap -- works great and smells nice.

Essential Oils can be added to soap for fragrance.



Fels Naptha is in the bar soap aisle or possibly the laundry products aisle at your regular supermarket. I have found it in my area at Meijer.

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda is in the laundry products aisle. It comes in a 55 ounce yellow box. This is not the same as baking soda. If you have trouble locating this product, you may want to ask your local store manager to order it for you. It may be helpful to provide the UPC number: 33200-03020.

Borax is usually sold under these brand names: 20 MULE TEAM or BORATEEM. It is also found in the laundry products aisle.

Ivory Snow used to make soap flakes, but I think that they have stopped making them. To make your own soap flakes just grate a bar of Ivory soap. (Hint: let your kids do this part!)



Fels Naptha Soap: about $1.00 per bar
Borax: about $2.99 per box
Washing Soda: about $1.29 per box

Each box of Borax and Washing Soda will yield 30 gallons of laundry soap mix. 5 bars of soap will yeild 30 gallons. Buy your soap on sale, and save even more! (I got Zote on clearance for $.50/bar at Wal-Mart.)

Ballpark figures, it costs $9.48 to make 30 gallons of homemade mix. That is approximately $.30 per gallon!

1 gallon of pre-made, store-bought detergent can cost between $4.00-$7.00. If you normally pay $5.00 per gallon, after making 30 gallons of your own mix, you will save $141.00!



Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda product page:

Product Q&A: http://www.thelaundrybasket.com/Questions_Comments/Questions...

You can sign up for e-mail offers here: http://www.thelaundrybasket.com/Latest_News/latest_news.asp

You can get the Super Washing Soda & Borax both at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0006M64XE/104-1841619-7481...

Super Washing Soda is 100% sodium carbonate.
Baking soda is 100% sodium bicarbonate.

Soda ash is sodium carbonate:

(Makes sense...Carbon = leftovers of fire, or ash.)

This FAQ about fabric dying says you can buy sodium carbonate/soda ash at pool supply stores:

They say that it is purer than the sodium carbonate packaged as washing soda because those products contain optical brighteners. I don't know if that would make a difference in how it works in detergent; I wouldn' think so.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I'm kind of thinking this should be a 'sticky' as EVERYONE uses laundry soap and just about the time it slips to the bottom of the page someone inevitably asks 'where's the soap thread?'

Benton County, MO(Zone 5a)

I like the liquid recipe and was wondering if I could put baking soda in my batch, along with the fels, washing soda and borax?

This message was edited Mar 16, 2010 2:30 PM

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I suppose you could, but the washing soda does pretty much the same thing as baking soda, so I don't think it would improve the mixture at all. Try it and let us know. :-)

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

the baking soda is not as good as the washing soda.
The fels has a strong perfume scent.

Benton County, MO(Zone 5a)

I did make a batch with both sodas, zote, and borax. It seems to be a little better this time. I wanted something that would work on odors and I was having to add baking soda to my wash,

This message was edited Apr 3, 2010 6:17 AM

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

The Borax and baking soda are both very good for odors.

Whitsett, NC(Zone 8a)

Breakdown of current dry detergent costs here in Spokane:

Fels-Naptha, 5.5 oz. bar, $1.39
As measured by me after grating = 1.5 cups per bar
Using 1 1/2 cups = 1.5 cups...that's $1.39 for one batch

20 Mule Team Borax, 76 oz. box, $4.19
As measured by me = 11.7 cups per box
Using 3/4 cup = 0.75 cups...that's $0.27 for one batch ($4.19*0.75/11.7)

Arm&Hammer Super Washing Soda, 55 oz. box, $2.49
As measured by me = 6.9 cups per box
Using 3/4 cup = 0.75 cups...that's $0.27 for one batch ($2.49*0.75/6.9)

The dry recipe makes 3 cups (48 tablespoons) of laundry soap, plus/minus, so at $1.93/batch you can do:
48 loads at 1.0 tablespoons/load for $0.04 per load
36 loads at 1.5 tablespoons/load for $0.06 per load (my average)
24 loads at 2.0 tablespoons/load for $0.08 per load

Hope this helps!

It's time to bring this one back to the top!

I've been going over all 4 threads this weekend, and have found the ingredients and made myself a batch of the powdered mix. I got out my old metal grater, and shaved some (1/3 bar) until I got a cup of shavings (fairly compressed). At that rate, I'll be able to make 3 batches per bar! I don't have a processor to break down the shavings even further, so for now I put the soap, washing soda, and borax in my kitchen-aid mixer, and let the beater mix it up for a few minutes. I'll still have to shake it up a bit when I use it, until I get a processor to make it more fine.

Anyway, here is my breakdown for cost:

Zote - 14.1oz bar - $0.97 (used 1/3 of bar) = $.32 per batch

20 Muleteam Borax, 76oz box, $2.99
(as measured above ('cause I'm lazy!)) = 11.7 cups per box
using 1/2 cup = 0.50 . . . ($2.99x0.50/11.7) - $0.13 per batch

A&H Super wasing soda, 55oz box, $2.77
(as measured above): 6.9 cups per box
using 1/2 cup = 0.50 . . . ($2.77x0.50/6.9) - $.20 per batch

Total cost per batch: $0.65
21 tablespoons (give or take)

10 loads at 2.0 tablespoons/$0.065 per load
21 loads at 1.0 tablespoons/$0.033 per load

3x All Small & Mighty detergent I've been using:
$3.97/32 loads = $0.12 per load

Now off to do a load of laundry!

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

I found Zote at Home Depot and I really, really like it. I think that it works better than Fels.

Florala, AL

been using the dry formula a few weeks now... everything comes out really clean... make the liquid yest, but it is still liquid today with a white foam on top of it... the liquid under is yellow.. is it normal for the white foam to be ontop?

Cave Creek, AZ(Zone 9b)

I've used the dry and love it (easy to store too!)

-South Central-, IL(Zone 6a)

Garry, that is how mine is when I make it. Solid foam on top, and yellowish green liquid underneath. But it works okay for me.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I started with the liquid, moved on to mixing the powdered ingredients and using them dry.

I find it most time effective to no longer blend them. I have three separate containers and measure from each for each load of laundry.

I was initially worried that the dry ingredients wouldn't dissolve thoroughly but find that is not a problem.

Just my preference... pod

Cave Creek, AZ(Zone 9b)

I have no problem with the dry dissolving either and I always used cold water. Love how clean my clothes are....Sent my kids off to college w/ the homemade stuff! I used Fels Naptha in my mix and love it.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Zote here and I like the fresh smell but it was what was available in this area.

When we went on vacation, I measured laundry soap into ziplock snack bags to use when away from home. It worked well.

Cave Creek, AZ(Zone 9b)

I haven't tried Zote but will look for it...I can't believe how little it takes to clean even w/ the hard water in AZ.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

You will probably find Zote in AZ but not as commonly in the north.
I agree with how well it works, regardless of water type.

Mid-Michigan, MI(Zone 5b)

I can find both Zote and Fels Naptha with no problem...

Hugo (Vicki), OK(Zone 7b)

will this work in front load machines?

Florala, AL

yes vhanna, thats what we have here :)

Hugo (Vicki), OK(Zone 7b)


I'll go to the store and get ingredient for the dry. Let you know what i think about it.


Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

I just made my first batch (dry) with Zote.. I'm so tickled!! My first load is washing as we speak. :)

Virginia Beach, VA

I am attempting to make shower gels by cooking bar soap that i have plenty of. It took few hours to melt them on low heat but to my disappointment it jelled.

Had anyone tried making shower gels? Please share your experience. Thank you.


Virginia Beach, VA

I finally got the ingredients to make shower gels and now I am ready to make liquid laundry soaps.

We have a new washing machine that is r water saver and i do not like it because the wash does not seem clean like my old washer.
I also have a lot of powder detergents but has to liquify before using otherwise there will be soap flakes in the wash. It is a pain!!!

Can I use the tide powder with the borax and washing soda to make liquid laundry soaps? If so what is the formula? I appreciate any help.

I thank you


Spencer, WV


I make liquid soap from bar soap, and it isn't unusual for it to gel. I just get out my immersion blender and blend in a little hot water at a time until the consistency is the way I want it. (a hand mixer would work, too!) I have used lever 2000 soap, and Dr. Bonner's, and it never comes out exactly the same way twice! The recipe I use is 1 grated 8 oz. bar per gallon of water - heat until soap flakes melt, but DON'T BOIL. Add 2 tablespoons of gylcerin and let set overnight. If your soap is 4 oz. bar, you only use a half gallon of water. If it is a 6 oz bar, you use 3/4 gallon. Dr. Bonner's peppermint soap makes AWESOME shower gel! You don't get quite as many suds, but it works - and it smells heavenly!

I make laundry detergent, too! I have been making and using my own for about 2 months, and I really like it. I cheat a little, though. I make a large (5 gallon) batch of homemade laundry detergent, then add about 3 cups of Tide to that. Then I mix it all up and put in washed out milk jugs. I wanted to save the money, but I am addicted to the smell of Tide! This way, I get the best of both worlds! Same thing with homemade dishwasher detergent. I make a large batch, then add a small box of Cascade powder and mix it all up.

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