Day 175: Squeaky Clean Laundry

boraxA few weeks ago I wrote a review of all the types of laundry soap we had been using.  I also mentioned my bad- towel-smell experience with homemade laundry soap.  Well, I was willing to give it another go, so I went back to the fabulous homemade laundry soap website (here) and tried another recipe (number one) – liquid this time not powder.

This time instead of using Ivory, I used half a bar of Kiss My Face olive oil soap.  I also remembered to use washing soda not baking soda, so that might have something to do with my better results.  The liquid soap takes a little longer because you have to cook it up, but it was kinda fun -like a science experiment.

I poured the, still warm, soap into an old liquid detergent bottle (which turned out to be a terrible idea) and did the first load of laundry.  The laundry came out clean and smelled mainly just like the bar of soap I had used which was great.  But back to the bottle.

The next day, grant went to do some laundry and low and behold, the laundry soap had congealed into a solid mass inside the detergent bottle.  I had to boil it in water on the stove to get it out – not something I want to have to do on a weekly basis.

At first I thought my metric conversion skills were to blame and that the recipe had been for 1 gallon of water and not 1 quart (I had used a litre), but a double check of the recipe assured me it really was 1 quart.

then I read further.  Oooooh, you’re supposed to add another 2 gallons of water at the end!  Well no wonder my clothes were so clean – I had used the ultra concentrated recipe.

I figured I could either put it in a big bucket and scoop out a solid glob every load or add some more water as per the original recipe.  The result is a watery looking suspension of soapy particles, but at least it fits in my easy-to-pour detergent bottle, and now I have two gallons of the stuff, so that should last for a while.

More importantly, it still seems to clean our laundry properly.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda

  • Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
  • Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
  • Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
  • Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

I’m not very organized budget -wise, so I don’t know if making your own works out cheaper, but I have a hunch that it does.  For us, the reduction in packaging is incentive enough.



Filed under Around the house

17 responses to “Day 175: Squeaky Clean Laundry

  1. I was glad to see this post, as I have been toying with this idea myself. I still have 5 bottles of 7th Gen detergent to go through before I make the switch though.

    About a week ago I stopped buying dishwasher detergent and started making my own with borax and washing soda. No complaints so far – and no plastic!

  2. Jen CleanBin

    5 bottles! That must have been some case lot sale!

    We tried making our own dishwashing detergent, but I couldn’t seem to find the right formula to make the dishes actually come out clean. We’ve started using Ecover which is biodegradable and actually does a good cleaning job. It is packaged in cardboard that is 95% recycled -even the pour spout is cardboard. I just wish it came in bigger boxes.

  3. kate

    i think i’m missing something here…aren’t cardboard laundry detergents boxes recyclable? so why is it better to buy boxes of borax and washing soda than a box of soap? there’s lots of biodegradable kinds…

  4. Jen CleanBin

    Well, yes and no. The laundry boxes like Tide seem to be coated in something, but never mind them because we would only buy biodegradable laundry soap now anyway.

    When you make your own laundry soap, you get TONS of it out of a single box of borax or washing soda (my recipe only takes 2 cups of each). Instead of a box of detergent lasting 30 loads, I can make multiple batches of over 2 gallons of liquid soap. So overall, the packaging is reduced.

    Plus, I think it is cheaper, and I like that you know what is going into it. You can avoid perfumes and phosphates and softeners and other chemicals. And it’s kind of fun.

  5. Lenny

    I use fels-naphta bar soap. It is used for spot treating your laundry. You will find it in the laundry ilse in most of you market stores.

    My recipe is:
    1 quart of water
    1 Fels-Naphta bar soap

    Grate the bar and let it desolve in boiling water.

    Pour into a 5 gallon bucket.

    Add 64 ounces of Tide (this helps to keep it from gellng, so you can pour it back into the eazy-pour bottles. Also adds to the cleaning power.)
    Add 2 gallons of hot water.
    1/2 cup borax
    1 cup washing soda

    Mix well.

    I have had wonderful results.

    I wish you the same.

  6. Sue

    How many laundry bottle containers will the recipe you give for the homemade laundry liquid soap make? So i can bottle up the mixture. Can’t have buckets of the mixture in my utitlity room else my kids will think i am going nuts. Also if i add too much into the wash load im hoping not to have the kitchen flooded with soap bubbles. I’d rather make a small amount in case my children are allergic in anyway. So going to halve the recipe.

    • Hi Sue, the liquid laundry soap makes quite a lot-over 2 gallons. Enough for at least three bottles. You only need about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup per load. I agree – it’s better to have it in an easy to pour bottle. Our bucket is not the tidiest option. The soap itself isn’t too foamyt, so I don’t think there’s any chance of flooding your floor. Doing a half batch sounds like a good idea. I’m planning on going back to the powdered recipe on my next batch, but it isn taking ages to go through the 2 gallons of liquid I made (which I guess is a good thing budget-wise).

  7. Pingback: Day 315: Greenwash for a Friendly Future « The Clean Bin Project

  8. Sharon

    It would be great if you could add metric measurements too 🙂

  9. Dennis Lovelace

    I don’t know but I made a batch of home made soap today and I just wait to see how it turns out.
    Four cups of water (h0t)
    1/3 bar of soap ELS-NAPTHA (best)Grated
    Half cup of washing soda
    1/2 cup Borax
    3-gal of water
    After mix let set for 24 hrs.

    Got to have a five gal bucket to mix.
    Will try to let you know how it works.

  10. NONA

    4-30-10 Just wanted to let you know that the homemade laundry soap is a good thing. I made my 1st batch and got right to using it in my “experimental laboratory”, i.e.- the laundry room. I really put it to the test and found that it is very good at getting out all sorts of things. I told my daughter about it and then she brought over some more “experiments”. She had stains that she hadn’t been able to get out in an entire year of treating and wasing them with the o.t.c store products. Well, her clothes never looked better, cleaner. or whiter and we both came away believers and converts. One not herein, she is a smoker, and she was having problems with nicotine build up yellowing her clothing and items, and we found that if you double the normal amount of home brew laundry soap, then double time the wash cycle for the 1st exposure to this product,( reset the cycle timer to start again, without draining the soap), this was sufficient to get rid of all of the nicotine staining and the odor left behind by all of her previous store bought laundry products. Also, she was getting the underarm stain from her anti-perspirant, and we simply used a prewash treating spray there, let it set between loads and washed in very warm water, with the home brewed soap, and got it all out!! Her clothes have never been cleaner!! Nor fresher!! We are hooked, and by the way, we found an extreme reduction in the lint filter collection as well!! Practically no lint at all!!! We were both amazed, as you probably know, the lint in the lint trap, is the fibers from your clothing, which means less in the filter means that your clothes will last much longer!! You’re not throwing them out one wash load at a time in the lint filter collections. I also then went out and got some essential oils to try the scenting of the soaps, and found that I can make up a batch, and add different scents to each bottle in the batch, so that I can have any variety of scents that suits my taste for the aroma therapy effect, but not the problems related to those commercial, chemically generated, un-healthy scents in all of those commercially produced products out there for us to use!!

  11. Teretta

    I have been using the fels-naptha liquid soap for about 2 months. I have noticed that I have a ring around the washing machine where the water line is. Has any one else found this to be a problem, and what can I do about it?

  12. nicole

    Does anyone know where I can buy a fels naptha bar. I am in the lower mainland and dont mind driving. Thanks 🙂

  13. Kathy

    Does anyone use this in cold water washes? I like to try to conserve energy as well and would like to try this soap recipe without using hot water.

    • I’ve been meaning to do another post on this. I pretty much only wash laundry with cold water unless it’s lunapads or rags. My current favourite laundry soap is the Borax-free liquid
      laundry soap from David Suzuki’s Queen of Green:
      Use 1/2 cup per full load
      7 litres hot water
      1 cup baking soda
      1 cup liquid castile soap
      1/3 cup coarse salt
      Dissolve dry ingredients in hot water. Add soap and stir.
      (she has more great recipes at

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