Making your own laundry detergent is a great way to save money, and it's very easy to do. I made a batch recently and this time I documented it for the blog. I use Gayle's recipe from The Grocery Cart Challenge, but I modify the procedure just a little bit.
You can find all of the ingredients you will need at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle. I bought all of my ingredients at the same time and paid less than $10 for everything and there's more than enough ingredients to make several batches of soap.
To make your own soap, you will need:
1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 cup Borax Powder
1/2 cup Washing Soda
25 cups of water
a large bucket
First, grate 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Soap. Like Gayle, I use my food processor to speed up the process. The first time I did this, I thought to myself, "I wonder if it's a good idea to use my kitchen utensils for this?" Then I came to my senses and decided that it's soap, what is it going to hurt? The grated soap looks a lot like grated cheese:
While I'm grating the soap, I heat 6 cups of water. When the water is boiling, I add the grated soap and let it melt.
After the soap has melted, I add 1/2 cup of Borax. Borax removes stains and neutralizes odors, and if you have hard water, it will soften the water.
I also add 1/2 cup of washing soda. Not baking soda! The boxes look similar, but the products are different! Washing soda cleans grease and other stains.
Stir the powders until everything dissolves:
At this point, I added 4 cups of water to dilute the mixture even further. Gayle pours the water into the bucket and then adds the soap mixture to that. You could do it either way.
When the mixture looks consistent, I pour it into a large bucket. My mop bucket works perfectly for this. Then, I add about 15 cups of water and stir it up.
I let it set all day and by evening it kind of looks like a jellyfish. The mixture congeals and separates from the water. This is normal. I like my soap to be smoother, so I at this point I thoroughly mix it with my immersion blender. If you don't have one of those, just stir it.
The next morning I mix it with my immersion blender again, and it ends up looking like this. Using a funnel, I transfer most of the mixture into my old laundry detergent jug, and store the rest in an ice cream tub.
The mixture still tends to jell after sitting for a few days, so I shake the jug really well before pouring into the detergent dispenser of my washing machine. Some people say that the soap clumps clog their dispenser, but I have found that if you shake it well before pouring, it never causes a problem.
Each load of laundry takes about 1/2 cup of detergent, which happens to be exactly how much the cap of my old detergent bottle holds. This soap is great for front loading washing machines because it doesn't create a lot of suds and it is great for people with sensitive skin because it doesn't have any additional dyes or fragrances. If you wanted a particular scent, you could add your favorite essential oil, but I like the way it smells on its own.