Homemade Laundry Soaps Thread #3

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

This is a popular subject! This thread is continued from http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/449622/

Here's the scoop, from my original post on thread 1, located at http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/35195/
It's been modified with info gleaned along the way to this third thread on the subject.


I found these on Themestream, which has since gone out of business. Google had a cached copy of the page, thank goodness, so that saved the re-typing! Here are several recipes quoted from the author of the article, Sandy Shields. I've included additional notes, too.

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_Comments_Super_Washing_Soda/questions_comments_super_washi.html

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/104-1841619-7481545?v=glance&n=284507&v=glance

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.

This message was edited May 12, 2006 4:43 PM

Thumbnail by gardenwife
Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

The grater on the food processor does a good job of breaking down the bar soap. I cut the soap in to long strips to fit in the feeder, and push it through. I have the chopping blade in, too, and that makes it finer yet.

Thumbnail by gardenwife
Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

Fels comes out to a sort of cornmeal consistency. It can be chopped finer yet if you let it run for a while. Zote soap has a waxier feel and comes out like sticky wax beads.

This message was edited Aug 25, 2005 6:08 PM

Thumbnail by gardenwife
Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

Running the food processor with all three dry ingredients helps break everything down more. I should have run this batch a little longer to break down the Fels better and combine the ingredients more finely. The Zote seems to break down better for me, just don't have a photo.

Thumbnail by gardenwife
Spokane Valley, WA(Zone 5b)

Excellent idea on including a summary of costs and locations where these items can be purchased, Kimberley! Love the visuals, too. :)

Donna, who is now mixing up her 13th batch since switching over in June 2004

(Linda) Winfield, KS(Zone 6a)

I was searching EBay and ran across some Zote bar soap, someone from Ks. was selling. Then also I ran across some Lirio Laundry Soap. I think the Lirio is another Mexican made soap. Has anyone heard of it or tried it in there Homemade Laundry Soap. Here is the link if anyone is interested in checking it out. They are selling it for 89 cents a bar.



Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

Gosh Kim,

I dont understand how your soap comes out so course.

Maybe try to not push it thru the shredder but only use enough pressure to keep contact.

Mine comes out so fine that it gets in the air.

Do you buy ahead of time and unwrap the soap as soon as you get it ?

Darn stuff wont shred worth a darn if it's soft and fresh like white bread .hahahahaha

Linda ,

OMG ! Did you see what the S&H is on the soap ? !

Spokane Valley, WA(Zone 5b)

I sneeze when I grate up the Fels with a small rotary cheese shredder (like from Pampered Chef; for hard cheeses like Parmesan). *ACHOO* lol

I then shake/sift all the soap mixture through a fine mesh strainer and press out the remaining little clumps for a nice smooth texture. Doesn't take more than 15 minutes, max, and can even persuade the other household members to take a turn now and then. :)


Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

I've not heard of the Lirio soap before.

Scooter, maybe my FP's blades are different than yours? I didn't run it as much as should/could have on that batch I photographed, either. There was some Fels dust in the air, but it wasn't consistently fine-ground like that. The Zote batches were well-mixed in the end, however. I think the Zote dissolves really well in cold water, by the way.

Adding a little store-brand Oxyclean-type powder really helps on perspiration odors, by the way. I tried that a few nights ago on some P-U gardening clothes.

* Edited to fix names, LOL!

This message was edited Aug 26, 2005 12:02 PM

Camilla, GA(Zone 8a)

Our Wal-Mart has the Zote bar soap..local grocery stores also.


Spokane Valley, WA(Zone 5b)

Nice tip on the Oxyclean additive for perspiration odors. I must admit that I still add some Clorox II for my whites, but rely on the homemade mix for all the laundry. :)

P.S. Kimberley, I think you meant to address scooterbug regarding the FP, but that's okay. We might be getting one of those soon, too... though not just for laundry soap! lol

Okeechobee, FL(Zone 10a)

TF check Goodwill, and yard sales for FP. I see many here for $5.

Ashton, IL(Zone 5a)

I came across the original thread about a year ago and have been using the dry mixture ever since then. And I have been grating the soap manually! What a good idea to check the thrift stores for a cheapo food processor, my arms are getting tired! I found Zote soap at a local grocery and it was 59cents/bar. I like the smell but it is waxy and has been hard to grate.... definitely need a FP.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I grate the Zote manually, then run it through my Vitamix (it's almost a food processor, but not quite) with the other two soaps to get them all mixed and then I run the whole lot through my OLD flour sifter. It takes a little while, but works very well when the Vitamix behaves. It's motor has some issues. :-/ I let the Zote sit for at least a week on top of the fridge before I grate it, which seems to help a little. It's a fun project in the evenings while my DH is surfing and we're chatting. :-) Zote is 70 cents down here. Maybe I should buy a bunch and sell it on eBay, huh? LOL

~ Marylyn

(Linda) Winfield, KS(Zone 6a)

Marylyn if you could ship it without costing an arm and a leg.
Scooterbug I'm not buying it off ebay. I was just wondering if anyone had ever used the Lirio Laundry Soap. Even the person selling it in Ks. the shipping is way to much. It is a little over 14 ounces a bar. I haven't been able to find any Zote around here in my small little town.

When I make mine and I use my FP the Naphta soap is still pretty course, so I turn around and run it through my coffee grinder. It makes very fine work of it then. Turns out pretty powdery.

Bloomingdale, OH(Zone 6a)

Wow, I waded thru part of the first thread, and I'm impressed.

Here's a tip if it hasn't already been suggested, I use vinegar for my rinse, but if I'm having big static problems, I add a capful of hair conditioner to the rinse also. That really works well on those fleece blankets.


Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

2pugs, Fels no longer contains Naptha.

MG after a couple washes with this soap finally gets all the harsh scratchy detergent residue out ,
you will have soft laundry. No need to add anymore petroleum based fabric softners.Yuk!

This message was edited Aug 26, 2005 10:35 AM

(Linda) Winfield, KS(Zone 6a)

But it is still called Fels-Naptha then on the back it does say Contains No Naphthalene, I didn't realize it was made by the Purex Co. mine are only 5 1/2 oz. size bars.

I have quit using fabric softener as well. I do use viniagar in my final rinse. Sometimes I throw in a downy fabric sheet in the dryer, only because I still have them around. But only 1 sheet per load.

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

I use a kitchen aid with the grater attachment and the smallest grater - Fels comes out powdery. It makes me sneeze too but I time it after grating cheese and it not only cleans the grater it cleans the dishwasher I clean the grater in.

At 5hp the grating takes so little time that the sneezing is brief.

I have been using this for a number of years and have saved literally hundreds of dollars maybe thousands. I love the savings and the fact I don't have to carry it home from the store or pay MORE for fragrence free. Not that we might a fragrance but I do mind the fake overscentedness of most commerical cleaners, air fresheners etc. Any ideas?

This message was edited Aug 26, 2005 12:14 PM

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

has anyone played with adding a fragrance? It would have to be something special to deal with the Fels

(Zone 9a)

Wow, I just flound this thread - what great ideas! For me the best part is not having to go near the detergents in the grocery store (after I buy the initial ingredients). Those strong artificial perfume odors that permeate the area give me headaches. When my kids were little I used to send them to grab the smelly stuff but they grew up, married and moved out of state - probably so they wouldn;t have to shop for detergent anymore LOL.
Can't wait to try this. .

Marietta, GA(Zone 7b)

Wow, I have read the first, second and now third thread on this and can honestly say that I never expected to spend so much time in all my life reading about laundry soap!!! Thanks to Sidney for linking to this from the stain thread.

I have been using vinegar as a rinse for years and really do like it. I have a front loader and have been buying the Arm & Hammer fragrance free laundry liquid detergent for quite some time now. I think the Queen of Clean liked Arm & Hammer, so it stuck with me. My husband just accidentally bought the fragranced one and I told him thats not what I use and he said but it smells clean! No... it smells perfumed!! I am going to make the powder ASAP... But first I need to go to sleep since I'm missing out due to laundry education.

This thread has also inspired me to start looking into making some more homemade cleaners and see if I like them. I had wanted to do that long time ago and never did. Now's the time! Printed out a list for myself and will look into it :)

Kooger, I'm not sure if your still watching this thread, but you had me laughing so hard I teared up about your mom making you all eat the yucky puffed wheat for the free dishes!! TOO FUNNY!!


Oostburg, WI(Zone 5b)

Oh yeah, still here and don't ever offer me that stuff, I'll GAG!! lol

Still making the powdered soap. I do use Stanley's Orange Miracle for grease stains - it's the best, IMHO, for grease stains, ie. cooking bacon and hamb. DH has complained that the tops of the thighs on his work jeans are looking brownish, so I'm thinking about adding a bit of bleach to the wash cycle. Any comments on that idea? Will it help?

Camilla, GA(Zone 8a)

I liked the homade suds, but they just won't clean mine and hubbies work clothes..(farmers)..They are just sort of dingy looking & the grease and diesel, it doesn't hardly get out any at all....Like I said, I did like the idea of making my own, but after several different ones the results were the same.


Oostburg, WI(Zone 5b)

Yeah, that's what I'm seeing too. My guess is lack of a detergent? I think I'm going to have to go back to detergent for his work jeans. He sees the public a lot and doesn't like the way his jeans are looking.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I have found that the homemade stuff works great on regular dirt, but not as well on grease (like the beach towels I wrap around my little Katie when she eats spaghetti.) So I keep my Tide on hand for greasy dirt. It lasts a lot longer than it did when I used it for everything, though! :-) I add Clorox 2 to clothes that are very dirty but not greasy, and it seems to work very well with the homemade stuff.

~ Marylyn

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

I keep the powdered generic for Oxy-Clean on hand for when things need an extra boost.

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)


They do clean grease and oil nicely but you have to increase the Fels in the recipe.
My DH runs a spa - he uses Fels to strip the massage oil out of the linens. works great!

Camilla, GA(Zone 8a)

I've tried that, no go.. I'm talking diesel and axel grease...black and heavy..


Dillonvale, OH(Zone 6a)

Got a package in todays mail with 3 bars of Fels Naptha Soap. Have a pretty good idea who sent it, from the city it came from, but obviously they don't want named, so I will just say THANKS!! to whoever it was :)

If I can do anything for you please let me know


Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

Have you tried rubbing the FELS bar right on the black heavy grease.

My mom used to use lestoil and it worked but lord I hated the smell.

I am going to look into the orange miracle.

Oostburg, WI(Zone 5b)

The only thing I dont use "orange Miracle" on is good whites because it can some times leave a yellowish spot. It does a great job on grass stains too.

Mansfield, TX(Zone 8a)

Ran across this thread a few days ago - it has taken a while to go back and read the whole thing. I have found everything except the Fels or Zote but am anxious to give this a try. Thanks for the info.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Do you have an H-E-B there, stownes? Ours carries Zote and Lirio near the laundry detergents.

Mansfield, TX(Zone 8a)

There used to be HEB in the area but haven't seen ads for them lately. Someone did tell me they thought they saw Zote at a dollar store. Am going hunting tomorrow :-)

Hendersonville, TN

I have a question about recipe #2: what purpose does the glycerin serve? Just wondered why it is included in that recipe only.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

You know, I'm not sure. I copied them down. I'm assuming it must be a surficant?

Bloomingdale, MI

I have been making the laundry soap on and off for a few years. Daughter doesn't like it. My niece lives here and her daughter has sensitive skin. She loves the soap! I use vinegar for softening.
Problem....many stores are discontinuing the Washing Soda!! ACKKK! When I do find it...I buy it up. I know where there are 4 boxes, but won't have money for them for a few days. I am on a search.

Any recomendations for a replacement for when I can no longer find it? I have emailed the maker asking if it is discontinued.

Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

Oh, I hope they don't pull the product line. I guess I should buy some more, too.

Tellico Plains, TN(Zone 7b)

The stores only sell what the product manufacturer buys shelf space for.

Product manufacturers will not buy space if it is not making enough profit for them.

You could put in a request to the management but unless there are enough it prolly will not make a difference.

re; Softening ..........
Once you get all the harsh detergent residues washed out of the laundry you will NEVER need to worry about softness.

This cleansing of the scratchy residues takes a few washings so just wait.

You must not use any chemicals ie detergents or fab softners (all are petroleum based) to achieve this.( bleach is OK )

For our own Levis to be baby soft speaks volumes for this wash soap.( I use the dry formula, easier to store and anly takes 5 minutes to make a batch )

(((*-*))) Shirley

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