October 18, 2011

DIY: Homemade Laundry Soap


We have been doing a lot of new things in an effort to save money. I've done the basic things since I was little- always bought the generic, store brands, looked hard for sales, compared sizes, or bought used. After everything that's happened recently, we needed to save even more money, but it's been hard to see where else we could cut back.

Now that we're using cloth diapers (again, for money-saving reasons), I do a lot more laundry. My mom mentioned making some homemade laundry soap, so I thought this was a perfect time to try.


I made the soap based off of this recipe I found. I saw so many on Pinterest for liquid detergent that involved a lot of melting and boiling, but I decided to search for powdered detergent that would be much easier and faster. I also didn't want a recipe that used Borax (most of them do), so this seemed more baby-friendly to me. It made my kitchen smell like the Fels-Naptha soap for a few hours, too- kind of a clean, lemony scent. There was a tiny bit of that scent that came though during the washing cycles, too.

Ingredients needed:
1 cup Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Baking Soda
1 bar of soap, grated (I used a bar of yellow Fels-Naptha, but you can also use pink Zote soap, Ivory soap, or any brand of castile bar soap)

1. Grate soap to very tiny pieces. (I used an old cheese-grater on the smallest shredding.) If needed, you can dice up the grated bits with a butter knife. We grated it onto a wax paper sheet to make things easier.
2. Mix the grated soap, washing soda, and baking soda. Pour into a lidded, airtight container.

Keep a measuring spoon or plastic spoon handy for laundry days. You'll use 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) per load. For heavily soiled clothes, use two tablespoons (6 teaspoons).

The Fels-Neptha was $0.97, the super washing soda was $3.24 (both at Walmart, by the way), and the baking soda I already had (although it's only a couple dollars, I believe). I'll be able to get several mixes from the baking and washing sodas, so this laundry detergent is only costing me a little over a dollar for several loads. (The recipe I read said 100, but I'm guessing a little less.) Not too shabby!


The same day I tried this laundry soap, I also made the homemade Febreze I saw on Pinterest. It's even better than Febreze, too- because it uses fabric softener, it repels static. Although buying a bottle of real Febreze just isn't in the budget anymore, I will be able to make dozens and dozens of the homemade kind for the price I'd pay on one bottle. (It's mostly water, anyway!)

So here's what I want to know: do any of you have tips or ideas you use to be more frugal? Whether you have been doing something for 10 years or just tried it once, I would love to hear all your suggestions. How do you creatively save money?

**Update- we did start using Borax in our recipe, and didn't notice a difference on Millie's skin at all. If you'd like to use that recipe and stretch it even further, you just add 1 cup Borax to the recipe above. We also sometimes add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance, but it is completely optional.**

12 kind comments from you:

Erin said...

Here are the things I do: 1. dryer balls. I can't tell you enough good things about them. I use them for everything except blankets. I even use them for things like towels. I've been using them for almost 10 years and am so happy they have become cheap and readily available. Usually a pair cost about $5 and last for up to 5 years. This means I only buy fabric softener once a year. :) They also cut your drying time, so they save you energy. :)

2. I also cut my fabric softener sheets in half VS using a whole one. Works just as well and makes my box last a whole year. :)

The other big money saver I've invested in is Star Fiber. They have mops, clothes and a few other items. The reason I love them? When the mop is dry, it acts as a sweeper, but traps more dirt. Shake it out, get it wet and now you have a mop that cleans so well, it will remove scuff marks. The clothes are just as fabulous. Dry, they dust, wet, they clean every surface in your home, and will even take hair spray off your mirrors and leave a streak free shine. All this with no chemical needed. Just water. :) I bought all of my stuff at fairs and such to get better deals, but they do sell it online as well. I hear rumor that the Star Fiber brand also disinfects a bit too. :) It's basically a better version of microfiber. I've found that standard microfibers don't do as good of a job.

Amanda said...

Hmmm I actually really like the idea of this.. we do a lot of laundry as a family of 4 and I am always open for easy ways to save. When you did your laundry did you notice that it was clean feeling still? THat's my only concern is that it still feel as clean as it looks

Ashley said...

This is actually a really good idea! I wish I wasn't so lazy! :) How does it work on stains?! Do you feel like it gets most of them out? Do you do alot of pre-soaking? I'm just wondering! :) Thanks for sharing!

____j said...

I have always been what my husband calls a 'cheapo' because of how I was raised. I was using coupons long before the shows [not crazy like that, though! Only for things I need], always looking for deals in the weekly paper, comparing prices, etc. I know where you're coming from. This is awesome! I still use purex free & clear for the baby's clothes because I get it so cheap at the commissary, but if I ever got in a bind, I would definitely look into making my own. Thanks for sharing! Also, how are the cloth diapers working out for you? I had thought about those originally, but we don't have a washer/dryer in our apartment and it would get really annoying having to go to the laundry mat all of the time, but may be something we switch to in the future.

Alana said...

Oooh--more of these posts please! Hubs and I really need to cut back too. We just bought a hair trimmer so we can save on all those haircuts that the Air Force insists on. I make my own sweet tea, but that's all that I can think of! I definitely want to start making more things on my own.

Bonnie said...

be careful using it on your cloth diapers, I don't think you can use washing soda on them... but i may have to try this recipe for our regular laundry

Kaylee said...

Love this - I have seen this on several sites and really need to get on it, especially since I just ran out of regular detergent - it's the PERFECT time to make a big batch to use AND save money!!

vintch said...

such a fabulous post:) i love, love saving money. it sounds kind of lame, but we sort of turn it into a game, like "how little money can we spend this week?" :)

my favorite money saving idea is this go-to meal: make some brown rice (i use instant), then in another container, mix one jar of soup (campbell's chunky works good) with one can of mixed vegetables (drained). heat the soup mixture. when the rice gets done, pour the hot soup into it:)

it makes soup go much, much, much farther and is super filling:)

The New "Normal" said...

I've made our own laundry soap many times before and love how well it worked. I don't do it right now unfortunately, but once J comes home I will be back to it! We also used cloth diapers for both kids and love how much it ended up saving us.
I have always made my own all-purpose cleaner and window cleaner. For the cleaner, I just mix vinegar and water and add a few drops of lavender essential oil for better smell (I don't measure the amounts, I just mix usually). For the window spray I think I use more vinegar than water so there aren't streaks, but since I don't have to make it very often I don't remember! You can google it though to find the right amounts. This saves a ton of money for me since I am neurotic about having clean counters!
I also refuse to buy paper towels and use old burp rags or cloths to clean and use cloth napkins instead of paper.
OK, that's just my tips - sorry for being so long! :) Can't wait to see what other ideas people have!

beka said...

mmm...clean, lemony scent? i could go for that :)

Tracey @ bitsandpiecesofthebetterlife said...

I just found you at FrugalGirl's Chic & Crafty Party. I love this idea. I just last night decided to make dishwasher detergent on my own and think that this for the laundry will be my next step. I used Borax in the dishwasher detergent and am interested to find the difference in the washing soda. Thanks for the great idea...and saving me money :)

Mrs. Squirrel said...

This is insanely late to the party, but I've been researched how to save on laundry, and found a recipe for fabric softener! 2 cups of conditioner (I bought suave for 1.36) 3 cups of vinegar and 6 cups of hot water. I'm excited once I use up the Downey that is left to make it, not to mention use it for homemade febreeze :)

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