If you Google “DIY Laundry Soap”, you’ll get quite a few responses. One of my favorites is to take a bar of homemade soap, and a bit of washing soda, with a little borax, and process it all through the food processor until you have something roughly the texture of commercial laundry detergent but with definite biodegradable properties and awesome cleaning power. When combined with oxyclean, or sodium percarbonate, it whiten whites without bleach and brightens colors.
I like to scent my soap, and therefore my laundry soap, with lemongrass essential oil. Even though very little, if any, fragrance stays in my clothes through the rinse and dryer cycles, lemongrass is a natural insect repellent and also has mood stabilizing effects, according to some reports. Since I also use this powder for cleaning my bathroom tub and sinks, my kitchen, and for getting tough pots and pans clean, a mood uplifting scent is a must. However, most recently I made my big batch of cleaning soap with a combination of citrus oils and it has a great, cheerful, citrus blast smell. When I processed some of it into “detergent” (lol, this is the furthest thing from commercial detergent!), that citrus scent really filled my kitchen and everything was sunny and cheerful!
I use about 3/4 c each borax and washing soda for each bar of homemade soap. My bars of homemade soap are average size for homemade soap but larger than a store bought bar: 3.5″ x 3″x .75″ on average, and weigh 5 ounces. It takes about 1/8th a cup to wash a small or medium load, and 1/4th a cup to wash a large load. For a load of J’s clothes after he’s been working in the yard in the dirt and mud, or has been out at the lake getting muddy and grimy, I’ve learned that the trick isn’t to use more soap, but to brush off all excess mud and dirt ahead of time outside to start. Then I put his clothes on warm wash instead of cool, and for the longest wash cycle possible. Sometimes it’s not about more soap, but more time agitating. Then I give it an extra rinse cycle so all the dirt rinses away. That usually does the trick.
I store my laundry soap in two spots; in an old coffee can in my laundry room, with a 1/4 c measuring cup in the can for easy measure. Then, in the kitchen I keep some in a repurposed oxyclean container right beside my sink. I can’t emphasize enough how often I use a few tablespoons of this in a pan that has something baked on, in a skillet from the night before, or in a DIY messy pan (which are often filled with oil residue; go figure). Once you add some super hot water and let it soak until it’s cool enough to scrub, the entire mess just practically wipes clean.
The trick is the combination of the ingredients. The soap and borax are excellent degreasers while the washing soda contains microscopic crystal edges which scrape and cut away at the surface of dried on food. When combined with extremely hot water, this soap mixture loosens dried on gunk and makes it easy to clean tough messes. It saves my skin almost every day.
And those same properties work on my sinks and my bathtub, cutting through dirt and grime. It’s replaced Comet, which inevitably ruined my clothes and always got clogged or spilled all over the bathroom floor at inopportune times.
This is a piece of cake to make-if you don’t have your own homemade soap, you can even make it with a bar of Dr. Bronners soap, Fels Naphtha soap, or even Ivory. However, if you aren’t inclined, but you still want it, you can buy it in my Etsy shop. I sell quart bags, which is enough for 25 or so (1/4th cup) washes. More if you do smaller loads, less if you’ll be using it as a household cleaner as well. And I do recommend trying it as a household cleanser, particularly on stubborn pots and pans.
If you’re interested in purchasing just the soap, it’s something I also sell, and at a little cheaper price than I do regular soap. This soap doesn’t have castor oil in it, or shea butter, or any other luxurious oils or butters. Just the basics for a good cheap soap. Coconut oil and lard.
I want to bring up, in case anyone has qualms or questions about using lard in soap, that it’s very ethical to do so. I could write a whole blog post about that, and I did once. However, Marie over at Humblebee & Me sums things up very well right here. You should go read what she has to say if you have bad feelings about using lard. She’s a vegetarian with strong feelings about the matter, and I fully support her.
Meanwhile, let’s wash our dirty laundry!