Instructables

Homemade Laundry Detergent

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I wanted to
A. Save money
B. Be ecologically phosphate free

If you learn from my mistakes your results will surpass mine in both respects, I am sure.In addition to my clothes coming out "so fresh and so clean, clean" it was a very satisfying and aesthetic making process!
 
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Step 1: Gather Materials

You wil need:
Food processor
1 bar laundry soap like Fels Naptha or Zote, or Ivory - Zote can be found in hispanic grocery stores
1 Box Borax - found in the laundry aisle
1 box Washing Soda or Oxi Clean, orBaking soda - (Washing Soda AKA soda ash AKA sodium carbonate available in some grocery stores made by Arm and Hammer or you may find it art supply stores in the dyeing section)

OPTIONAL- essential oil of your choice, I didnt do it but I think tea tree might be nice.

Some recipe considerations, there are many variations to be found online but I based mine on this here http://www.thegreenguide.org/article/diy/household

Powdered Laundry Detergent
# 1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap
# 1/2 Cup Washing Soda
# 1/2 Cup Borax
# For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons.

I adjusted for the fact that Zote is at least twice as big as a Fels Naptha bar, and personally if I'm going to make a mess I'd rather double or triple the recipe which still easily fit in the food processor, also I used baking soda AND oxi-clean instead of the washing soda, the reason being that I could not find the washing soda, and Oxi-clean is essentially the same thing but with added peroxide* which does add a mild bleaching action, should be "color safe" though. It is also my understanding that baking soda is similar to washing soda but half as alkaline, so using baking soda will give you a gentler blend.

*note don't try and make the liquid recipe behind the link with "oxi clean" because the peroxide will make the whole mess foam, that was what I originally tried -- and ended up with useless semi solid foamy spooge.
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joeactually2 months ago
nicholaix5 months ago

washing soda is at the laundry section of walmart, ace hardware stores and many other large retailers. Usually near the fels naptha.

dchrenek6 months ago
"Super washing soda" is difficult to find... It's sodium carbonate, or soda ash. Go to your hardware store and in the pool and spa section "adjust up" or "ph up" is the same thing... Sodium carbonate. Plus it's cheaper.
tassie23 years ago
Good to see a cheap way to make a common item.

Heres a way to save 99% of any washing detergent costs...

For last 14 years my family has used a laundry "donut" in washing machine.
It is a hollow plastic donut about 4 inches diameter. With a coloured liquid inside.
Cost about 40 bucks 14 years ago.
Goes in washer and swishes around.

As a result , My clothes have NO detergents embedded in them.

Have not needed any washing detergent at all for 14 years as a result!
Just think of that $ saving..

Am not a mechanic etc s no ultra greasy clothes . Just normal use clothes.
Anything like that can be presoaked if need be in a bucket.

As an experiment.....
Try washing your normal clothes with no detergent in machine. It will take about 3 washes to remove all the residue!

I can assure worried people that yes my clothes are clean. they last longer and have no chemical soap smells. Sunlight does a great job.

I was a skeptic at first, 14 years later I know better! And am richer as a result...
We wear normal make clothes just like anyone else, by the way..

Have a nice day from Australia
Hi tassie2, can you elaborate on where to get the laundry "donut?" what is the brand name?
hi there

not sure if my donut is still around..Bought in Australia ...

Ceramic washing balls are an alternative type item

eg

http://www.superwashball.com/store/index.php/default/super-wash-ball.html

Or find a "hippy" alternate lifestyle. mag . They often have them.
I have not used one but around and serve similar purpose no doubt.

Have seen comments that these items are a"con" and do either nothing or make washing worse.

I was a skeptic myself.
Like my post says..

My wife and I have used our donut for 10 + years.
She is no mug. Has a masters degree in museum conservation! so not easily fooled.And knows about fabrics etc.

More the con is overpriced overadvertised ove scented laundry powders!

Like I said , as a test wash your normal clothes with no detergent. See how much detergent residue comes out of washing machine for several cycles!

good luck.

I have no interest in the product other than how many hundreds of dollars it has saved us!
lstair tassie22 years ago
I was interested but very skeptical, found a ton of sites saying the are scams. There are laundry balls, cds, disc, etc some selling for $90 and they are just plastic with some colored water inside. Your are right, enough water will get something clean but it has nothing to do with that little plastic thing you've thrown into your washing machine. You can get the same result with out the little plastic thing. Im honestly glad that not using soap has worked for you, im happy that you havent had those nasty chemicals around your family but I thought you'd at least like to know that its not bc of the donut thing.
tassie2 lstair1 year ago
Agree re what use the disc/ donut is..

The over frothy scented wash powders are not user friendly.

We bought the donut as a test and just leave in washing machine .

If nothing else it swishes around the dirt etc and keeps it moving in wash.

Every so often we run some vinegar throughwashing machine to freshen it up.

Anyway 14 years free of washing powder costs and weird scents is ok by us!

We like our sunshine scented clothes in Tasmania!
hey there just wondering what is zote soap never heard of it in Australia's it just a laundry soap?Going to give it a go anyway sounds like a winner!!! how about adding eucyalyptus oil...a great cleaner...and deodoriser.
melaleuca, or tea tree oil should work just as well as eucalyptus oil, plus, has many other uses. I know it has been used in natural degreasers and all purpose cleaners as well. I buy toothpicks soaked in melaleuca oil to help my immune system defense. it kinda has a minty flavor to me. rarely do I get sick. Also, it should be readily available in your part of the world.
Hello, Just wanted to let you know that Melaleuca is Eucalyptus Oil - Melaleuca is just one species of Gum Tree and there are three Geno Types of GUM trees but most people even Aussies think there is only one Geno - "Eucalyptus", but there is also Angophora and Corymbia - which are all Gum Trees and there are over 700 different gum tree species. Kind regards an aussie
Actually Melaleuca is NOT Eucalyptus oil but is commonly known as Tea Tree. Melaleuca comes from the Latin name for Tea Tree which is Melaleuca alternifolia. The Latin name for Eucalyptus is Eucalyptus radiata or globulus or some other varieties. They do both come from the same botanical family though: Myrtaceae.
so what's the proper term/ source of tea tree oil? j/c

I have used Tea Tree oil in shampoo, lotion, makes sense it would work in soaps too.  It smells very close to eucalyptus, and I put it in my humidifier too.  It should be used in small quantities no matter where you use it, especially internal.   That's why it's just on the toothpicks, it's just that strong.

Hi! I realize this is 2 years later but... if this helps anyone, then great. Powdered laundry soap recipes can be made with many kinds of soap. If you can't find Fels Naptha, Zote, Kirk's Castile, Sunlight or Ivory, then try just about any shower soap bar! Dial, Lever 2000 and many others have been used with success! The only ones that will not work are the ones with added oils or moisturizers such as Dove. No doubt you have lots of brands of soaps in Australia that we have never heard of here, and most of them would probably work just great. Good luck.
Can you explain why the ones with added oils and moisturizers, such as dove, will not work?

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

4 Cups - hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!



Powdered Laundry Detergent - Top load machine

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!



TIPS FOR LAUNDRY SOAP: We use Fels-Naptha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can often be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2 per batch.



Inexpensive Fabric Softener Recipes

Recipe #1
1 Cup White Vinegar
Add vinegar to rinse cycle. Works great. Removes residue and odors. Also helps to keep washing machine and hoses fresh and clean too.

Recipe #2

1 Container of Name Brand Fabric Softener
4 Inexpensive sponges, cut in half

Pour entire container of softener into a 5 gallon bucket. Fill empty softener container with water twice. (2 parts water to 1 part softener) Add sponges to softener/water mixture. When ready to use wring out extra mixture from one sponge and add to the dryer as you would a dryer sheet.

Note: Baking Soda = Sodium Bicarbonate. the "bi" states that there are 2 carbon atoms. "sodium carbonate" is a general term. So unless you are specifically looking for Sodium Monocarbonate, then baking soda will work.
No, incorrect assumption. :( Sodium bicarbonate & sodium carbonate as sold commercially are not the same. But Google a bit & find out how to use the chemistry to make baking soda into washing soda, by heating it to 450F for 30-60 minutes in the oven. Not difficult. Cheers!
Hi. Any product that has added oils or moisturizers can add stains or even unpleasant odors to your clothes. For this reason, adding bath splash sprays and such that smell good is not advisable for laundry soap. ONLY "essential" oils will work - and not the kind that go in the tiki smell stick thing in the office. It has to say "essential" oils. Not only do essential oils smell great, but many have the added bonus of being cleaning agents! Orange, tea tree and eucalyptus oils, among others, will actually add to the cleaning power of your laundry soap. Good luck.
zote is a mexican laundry bar soap, it's made by jabonera la corona and is very cheap an efficient
about 0.85c/bar 500grams
Zote comes in the form of a bar and is found in the laundry/detergents aisle. Here in America it can be found in supermarkets, and in a lot of pharmacies, including CVS. Don't know if that helps ya'll in Australia--hope so! ;-)
mejohn2 years ago
I still say that the best DIY laundry detergent is soap nuts. They actually grow on trees & have been used for centuries. http://stores.buysoapnuts.com
asree2 years ago
does this detergent remove stains? and keep the cloths soft too? looking to prepare enzyme based detergent
jrh0652 years ago
If you're like me and only have a cheese grater for this step, I strongly suggest getting some extra soap and letting it dry out for the next batch. I just made a batch with dry zote, and the cheese grater reduced it to a powder finer than my washing soda. It was easier than usual too.
I wish I had thought of letting it dry out. My grater and I fought the battle, I won! LOL Anyway, I used the Ivory soap and have loved it. I wish I had thought to switch to homemade laundry soap sooner. Am looking for a simple softener recipe now.
jayenmelb2 years ago
Laundry donuts, balls, flying saucers whatever do aboslutely nothing excepting the mechanical action in removing dirt as they rub against clothes in the washer. The instructions for all types is to wash in warm or preferably hot water. Anyone who has ever forgotten to put washing detergent in the load of dirty laundry would realise that excepting heavy and greasy stains the clothes wash clean in plain water, even better if the water is hot. Unless you have hard water ordinary everyday soap is OK. Only if you have hard water do you need water softeners to assist the soap to work better. Downunder in Melbourne the water isn't hard and for your average load of laundry not containing heavy stains like grass and grease the homemade recipe without the borax and other softeners is perfect. Even cheaper - 1 small teaspoon of ordinary kitchen dishwashing detergent (no more than this or it will foam too much) in warm water does the job perfectly. 1 cup of cheap white vinegar in the rinse remains the best fabric softener.
How to quickly tell if your water is hard - look inside your kitchen kettle. Is there any noticable build up of white calcium deposits on the heating element and surrounds? If so it's mild to severe hard water. The black bits are heat scorch marks common on the surfaces of stainless steel and plastic kettles and don't indicate hardness. The other method. How well does your bathroom soap lather up in your hands using just cold water? Little or none, water is hard. Good lather, water neutral or soft.
Topcat20212 years ago
Great Ible;
I haven't read all the comments so far and I apologize if someone has already posted this but a good source for sodium carbonate can be found in the pool supply section of most big stores as PH booster check the label that is is indeed sodium carbonate. The crystals (or flakes) are smaller than washing soda so it may be the same as the super washing soda. I use this all the time in my laundry and it is a wonderful addition for getting clothes cleaner with less detergent.
again good work on your project.
Dan
violetfog2 years ago
Hard water has iron. Iron and bleach do not mix. It casues a gel mess that is tough on drains and septic systems.
cdinwiddie12 years ago
Just came across this post about laundry detergent and I thought it was pretty funny that rgarcia-1 gives the exact directions that can be found on the Duggars website. I use Michelle Duggar's liquid soap recipe and Fabric Softener in the dryer, I don't use sponges, I use 2 inch by 6 inch strips of cut up fleece. I think if you are going to copy and paste their information, you should at least give them credit. By the way, I love your pink detergent!!!
ppaterson3 years ago
Can someone help me, I made the liquid laundry soap recipe is
1/3 cup grated soap (I used the sunlight bar soap)
melted in a sauce pan with 6 cups of water, When melted add in
1/2 cup of Washing soda &
1/2 cup borax powder
Stirred until melted.
Then put 4 cups of hot water in large pail, added the soap mixture and stirred. then added 22 cups of water which is suppose to equal 1 gallon + 6 cups of water stirred and let sit for 24 hours and it is suppose to gel.
I had it covered for a while then took the cover off, stirred it now I have the cover on it again and it still hasn't gelled?
What did I do wrong?
It is almost 48 hours now and is still liquid. IT also doesn't bubble when I put it in the wash machine since i don't have any other laundry soap i tried it any way.
Thanks to anyone who can help me out on what to do to make this gel.
How can I help you.......................? I'll be selling your product.....how it is effective...can you give me your sample
Hi P,
Just noticed that the recipe you are using recommends much more water than the recipe I use.
I use 1/2 cup of each of the ingredients you use, with the exception that I use a little more grated soap and I use Linda Laundry soap instead of Sunlight soap. I also use only 16 cups of water in total.
So perhaps the reason why your mixture isn't gelling is because the recipe calls for a bit too much water......?
As for sudzing, my recipe doesn't create bubbles, but it does wash well.
Best wishes from http://youcanknowanything.blogspot.com/
I used this same recipe and we divided it into seperate containers. we were going to let it sit all night and i gave some to friends. my husband decided to shake it for about a minute very hard and within an hour it was gel. dont tell him because he is already to smart for his own good lol. hope this helps.

You need to use 1 cup of soap for it to gel.
I wont always gell sometimes you will get what looks like slim or sometimes tapioca. go ahead and use it. it's fine.
Of all the homemade laundry detergent recipes, instructions, and comments I have read ever the last several months, it is not supposed to suds up like commercial laundry soaps. The reason being, these items used do not contain the questionable ingredients as do the commercial products.... it is eco-friendly :)

This lack of sudsing also makes it safe for He machines.
This sounds like the recipe I use:
http://grannyinanutshell.blogspot.com/search/label/homemade%20laundry%20soap

And it doesn't gel.. just kind of looks like egg drop soup. You don't want the bubbles on top of the water, they need to be down in it to do any good. :)
I use a recipe that I got from Annie Jean Brewer, she has a website called Annieenygma.com . She also has a video tutorial.

Anyway, I use this recipe for my hardwater laundry. I use hot or warm water for the washing machine so that there won't be residueon the clothing.
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup grated Linda Laundry soap.
16 cups of tap water.
It is hard to locate soap bars like Fels Naptha or Octagon soap in my region of Canada, so I found the Linda Laundry soap bars to work fine. The mixture thickens up well. I use an electric hand mixer to smooth out any lumps and to make it nice and frothy.
As to where to buy the ingredients, here is where I found them in Ontario, canada:
Borax I bought for about 5 bucks at Home Hardware.
Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda I bought at the Real Canadian Wholesale club for under 6 bucks.
The Linda Laundry soap bars I found at No Frills for $1.49 each.
Blessings from http://youcanknowanything.blogspot.com/
karinda13 years ago
Hi People's, Just wondering whether anyone has used this recipe and have a septic sewerage system? I have used soap flakes before and found that it started to clog our septic system with a gluggy slime, obviously the animal fat in the soap wasnt breaking down, even though it was when it went through my wash cycle.....which I know doesnt really make sense but thats what was happening. Will this recipe be any different....any enlightment would be great. Kind regards another aussie
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