I have been gearing up to this post for a long time: making washing soda, getting borax, shopping around for bars of soap, and of course, reading blog posts on how to make laundry soap. However, after reading many great blog posts, experimenting on a small scale, and learning a lot, I decided to go with my own, modified recipe rather than link one. First, I want to give credit where credit is due, and tell you what I based my recipe on. Most recipes follow a ratio of “2 parts borax, 2 parts washing-soda, and 1 part soap-flakes” and here are some of those recipes (there seems to be some dispute on who came up with it…): Wellness Mama has an awesome post on laundry detergent; DIY Natural does too; and I love MommyPotamus’ post and what she says about lemon oil. Of course, there are more, but these are the posts I based my recipe on. Here is what I found out when trying to make my own detergent:
1. Most blog posts on homemade laundry detergent will tell you to use a mild, all natural hard soap, like Dr. Bronner’s or Ivory. But I don’t like spending 3 bux on a bar of soap, because then I won’t really save on making my own detergent. Ivory is cheaper, but I don’t like Ivory (it’s owned by P&G).
2. Other recipes will tell you to get Fels Naptha. I had to google it to find out what it was. It is laundry soap! Here in Canada, or in Quebec at least, we don’t have Fels Naptha. We do have Soapworks however, and as it happened I had half a bar of Soapworks laundry soap in my bathroom – which just happens to be the best ever stain remover I have ever had! And very affordable at about 2.50$ because it lasts so long!
3. Washing soda is easy to make! And cheap! So no need to buy it. For details, read Wellness Mama’s post.
4. You can make a bare-bones laundry soap by mixing washing-soda with soap: my first try (before I found borax) consisted of melting a sliver of olive oil soap in a liter of water and mixing that with a quarter cup of washing soda, and a few drops of lemon essential oil. Got my clothes clean just fine.
5. I found that the 2-2-1 ratio was ok, but not great at getting grease stains out. Also, I don’t see how 2 tablespoons (!) of this soap would work for a full load of laundry. Maybe I am dirtier than most people? So I upped the ratio to 2-2-2 and used at least 1/4 cup of laundry soap for one load of laundry.
6. I agree with MommyPotamus : you want lemon essential oil. Or maybe some kind of citrus oil. Otherwise, if you are using a plain, lard-y laundry soap, your clothes will smell kind of lardy. Even if it’s not made with lard! Go figure! The plus is that lemon oil also cuts grease, and is a stain-remover! (see MommyPotamus)
So this is my final recipe that I am happy with:
- 2 cups of Washing soda (which you make by baking baking soda)
- 2 cups of Borax
- 2 cups of grated laundry soap, or vegetable based soap. I’m sure most would work, just choose something natural.
- Lemon Essential Oil
Cover your mouth with a mask or scarf, and mix everything together in a big bowl. Using a whisk works well, because laundry soap tends to be kinda greasy.
This recipe will yield 6 cups of soap and if you use 1/4 cup per load you have 24 loads of soap!
I find the smell very pleasant, it is mild, my clothes feel clean but don’t stink like chemicals. My partner loves it, and says it’s the best laundry soap he has ever tried (he likes mild smells and hates the residue smells left on your skin by commercial brands)! Here is a test strip I stained and washed in this laundry soap. As you can see, it really works! The only stain that still lingers is blueberry jam. Always a tough one 😀