Whoa, Nelly (I made my own laundry detergent)

Last summer, Matthew’s mother taught me how to can vegetables. In my one-step-closer-to-self-sufficiency effort —and also because with every day I grow older I grow more frugal — I decided to learn how to make my own laundry soap.

And, it’s fun. I promise.

To start, I gathered the ingredients I needed. Because Bi-Lo didn’t have everything necessary for this hot-damn awesome endeavor, I went to Wal-Mart. Next time, I’ll be prepared to look for the stuff in mom-and-pop stores.

Soap making

Borax, washing powder, bar soap.

I grabbed:

  • One bar of Fels Naptha soap (this is just a bar of old-fashioned soap. You could just as easily use an Ivory or Dr. Bronner’s bar).
  • Box of Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • Box of Borax powder
  • 10-gallon bucket with a lid

Heat 18 cups of water on medium-high. While it’s heating, grate the soap. A cheese grater does just fine.

Matthew grates soap

Ain't nothing sexier than a man in a fedora grating soap.

When you’ve got hot water, add the grated soap. Slowly now.

Next time I photoblog, I'll clean up my apartment.

Melt your soap. Some folks say to boil the water; some advise against that. I just left the heat at a nice solid 8 and stirred.

Put about 2 gallons of hot water in the bucket. Add a cup and a half of washing powder and a cup and a half of Borax. Mix.

When the soap is melted (when you don’t see flakes, consider it done), add the soap and water mixture to the bucket with the powders.

I did this bit on the balcony. Because I spill things.

Stir. Watch the magic happen.

It's pretty exciting.

And rejoice. You just made detergent.

He's actually REALLY jazzed about this.

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6 Comments

Filed under Family

6 responses to “Whoa, Nelly (I made my own laundry detergent)

  1. Jamie

    I, too, make my own liquid laundry detergent. I love it! It works just as well as any store bought I’ve tried….and it’s soooooo cheap! I use Dr. Bronner’s because I really like the peppermint scent. I also make my own dish washing detergent and most other cleaners. People may think it’s strange but I feel better knowing I’m not putting all those chemicals in my house and the environment. And, yeah, it’s really cheap, too!!

    • sarafraser

      I’d love to pick your brain about the dish washing detergent. Would you shoot me an email? And yeah, what I made was the *very* basic version. Next I’ll try the Dr. Bronner’s as that’s what we use in the shower and we dig it. Recipe for that, too, please!

  2. Libbet

    You can do a powder version by not melting the soap. Just pulverize it all together in a blender or a food processor after the grating.

    • sarafraser

      It does seem like that would be a LOT less messy.

    • Jamie

      I did the powdered version first… I like it better but it doesn’t last as long because it doesn’t make as much, so it turns out to be not nearly as cost efficient. And I still had to grate the soap!

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