Archive for the ‘soapmaking’ Category

Fair warning – this is a long post!  🙂

Well, I finally made my own laundry detergent yesterday, and I must say – I am impressed (even more so after running the numbers on it!).  Granted, I did make my own bars of soap so that figured into the total cost.  You could use commercial bars if you preferred.  Overall though, this batch will wash approximately 288 loads at about .05 cents per load (YES, you read that right!!  I couldn’t believe it either!).  The total cost was less than $15.00.  Yes, it takes a little more time to mix it up, but to save that much on laundry detergent every year, it’s a no brainer.  We really do pay dearly for the convenience of manufactured laundry detergent.

Here’s what I used:

12 cups Borax (20 Mule Team – in the laundry section at Walmart) – equiv. to 1 full box plus a handfull from another

8 cups baking soda (5 pounds)

8 cups Washing Soda – (5 pounds) (I never could find this in the laundry section, so I did some digging on the internet and discovered it is also used as a pool chemical to balance the pH.  I found a 5 pound bottle at Wally World for about $6.)

8 cups grated bar soap (more on that in a minute)

I used a pretty good sized plastic tote to mix all of this up (be sure to wear a mask or at least put a bandanna over your mouth/nose so you don’t breathe the dust from it).

I have two words for you on grating the soap – SALAD SHOOTER.  I bought one off of Ebay several years ago for about $4, but you could probably find them at Salvation Army, or ask around on your local Freecycle board.

After I grated the homemade soap with the Salad Shooter, I decided to try to grind it a little finer by running it through the blender with some of the baking soda.  (I’ve heard some people had trouble with the grated soap not dissolving in the wash.)  Use PULSE on your blender and don’t over-blend or it will clump up in the bottom of your blender (ask me how I know 😛 ).  Only do a couple of handfulls at a time.  Also, I measured the grated soap first, then blended so I’d have the correct amount for the recipe.  The blender didn’t powder the soap completely, but it did a good enough job that it melted in the wash, which was my goal.

To store the laundry soap, I recycled a freshly washed cat litter container with a lid (you could spray paint it if you want – I covered mine with contact paper).  Be sure to mark it as LAUNDRY SOAP.

You only use 1/8 cup per load.

Now…for the handmade laundry soap…I’ll try to get basic soapmaking instructions uploaded one day.  I used to teach soapmaking classes online a few years ago, and I still have all of the notes from it.

If you are already familiar with soapmaking, then here’s the recipe:

1 – 42oz container of shortening (I used the cheapest thing I could find which had a combo of soy/lard/tallow in it.  Normally I am an ALL VEGGIE soaper, but lard is supposed to be particularly good for laundry soap, so I thought I’d try it.  The smell was not objectionable, which is a major reason I have never used it for personal soaps.)

13 oz filtered water

5.69 oz sodium hydroxide (lye)

0.8 oz orange essential oil (EO) (for scent)

I used CPHP (crockpot hot process) method on the soaping, and added the EO at the end of the cook.  It is not necessary to superfat the soap since it is used for laundry, hence the 0% lye discount.  This recipe is NOT to be used for bathing soap because it would be too harsh on the skin without any unsaponified oils left as moisturizing emollients.

The day after I made the soap, I unmolded, grated with the Salad Shooter (while the soap was still fairly soft), and put all the shreds into a plastic tote so it could dry out for a few days before I ran it through the blender.  I know the softer soap would melt better in the wash, but for long term storage mixed with the other ingredients I felt like it needed to be more “powdered”.

Note:  The soap recipe above will probably be enough for 2 batches of the laundry detergent when grated.  I used approximately half yesterday, and haven’t measured, but it looks like there’s enough left to do another batch.

I used a test run on a load of sheets right after I mixed everything up.  They came out smelling clean and fresh.  Kiddo said he liked the smell even better than the commercial stuff.   😀   The only other thing I may do is add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle as a fabric softener.

Also, after I added the detergent to the washer and some of the water had started filling up, I stuck my hand into the water and swished it around to see how well the concoction had dissolved.  ALL of it had – including the handmade soap.  This recipe does not make a lot of suds, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see lots of bubbles.  The commercial detergents are just that – chemicals that will bubble (similar to what you would wash your car with – they are very harsh).  Most people don’t think something is clean unless they see bubbles, which is not always the case.  Our great-great-grandmothers used their own handmade soap and kept all of their family’s clothes clean.

Have a wonderful day!  🙂

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