Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Laundry soap for less than a penny per load? Oh do tell!

Making your own liquid laundry soap has several benefits. My favorite benefit of course is how cheap it is to make. But here are a few other reasons to make your own liquid laundry soap.

-You make enough soap to last for a few months. 15 minutes of work gets you by for a few months, not bad if you ask me.

-Perfect for people who do not love strong scents.

-You can control what your soap smells like.

-Can be used in HE washers or standard washers.

-Low sudsing

-Kids love helping me make the soap so that's a bonus!


1/2 Bar of soap-I recommend using a all natural bar of soap. My favorite right now is Oatmeal honey soap 2pk from Trader Joe's for $1.49. This should be enough to last you 6 months. Oatmeal I find makes your clothes softer than a standard soap. Remember not to get chunky kind. I know of many people who like to use Fels Naptha. For me its too strong and not a natural soap so I steer clear of it. You can use any soap of your choosing.

1/2 cup of Washing Soda-Not to be confused with baking soda. Washing soda is found in a yellow box (Arm & Hammer Brand) and usually cost around $2.50 a box. You can find this in the laundry aisle usually next to all the stain fighters. One cup of this will be enough for 2 years or more. This removes dirt and odors. You can find this online.

1/2 cup of Borax-Found in a green box usually right by the washing soda. Again it cost about $3.50 a box and again will last you a year or two. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral: Sodium Borate. Its a whitener and a deodorizer. Box will say 20 mule team on it. Found online too.

5 gallon bucket-I recently had to buy a new one due to my dog chewing on the lid of my old one. You must have a secure locking lid if you have children or animals. 5 gallon buckets kids or animals can easily fall into. These buckets are about $5 in the painting aisle of your local hardware store. If you buy soap that comes in a 5 gallon bucket, just reuse it. Perfect size. Costco or Sams Club sells this kind. Try to keep this bucket in a location your children or animals cannot easily get to. Top of the washer works well.

Whisk-I bought a large one from a thrift store used just for my soap and keep it in the bucket for mixing ever so often.

1 milk jug-makes it easier to measure when making the soap.

Essential oils-Not needed but if you want to customize your soap, get ones you like the smell of. I use tangerine, tea tree oil, or lavender in mine.

Cheese grater-this will be used to shred up your bar of soap

Measuring cups



1. Put 6 cups of water in a pan and put on medium heat. While its heating up, shred your bar of soap using a cheese grater. Add the soap and mix until completely dissolved. You do not want chunks so this is a very important note. Once

2. Have a gallon of water aside and ready. This is why a milk jug is handy.

3. Add 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax to the soap water mixture. Mix till completely dissolved.

4. Put 4 cups of hot water to the bucket.

5. Pour hot soap mixture into the bucket and whisk till dissolved.

6. Add one gallon of water you had set aside plus 6 more cups of hot water. Mix till completely dissolved.

7. Let soap sit for 24 hours and it will gel up.

8. Use 1/2 cup for standard washers and 1/4 cup for HE washers.


Sometimes I make it and take the time to stir it so its had lumps. Either way it washes my clothing very well. You will need to mix it ever so often so this is why a large whisk is handy to keep in the bucket. I have an old Tupperware measuring cup that I keep on the lid and only use for this soap. I have never had any bleaching type stains or any problems with this soap what so ever. Its never not washed out, its never made my clothes smell yucky, and I have literally have had no issues with it. I am no expert so test this out for yourself and play around with it. Different soaps will smell or the soap consistency will be different.

My calculations:
1/2 bar of soap=37 cents

Washing soda=$2.50 for a 55 oz box. This came to .16 cents per batch. I calculated how much per oz (2.50 divided by 55) and then weighed a half a cup of washing soda (4.2oz) and then multiplied my per oz price by 4.2.

Borax=$3.50 for a 76 oz box. This came to a .14 cents per batch. Did the same calculations above but borax weighs 3.5 oz.. A bit heavier.

Final cost: 37+16+14=67 cents for 2 gallons of laundry soap.

Two gallons of soap for a HE washer translates to 128 1/4 cup portions and .67 divided by 128=.0051938. Meaning it cost me 1/2 a penny per load.

Two gallons of soap for a standard washer translates to 64 1/2 cup portions and .67 divided by 64=.01046875. Meaning only one cent per load.

What does all this mean? I have way too much time on my hand ! All kidding aside, this will save you so much money. Especially if you have a large family like I do. 4 kids and 2 adults have a ton of laundry.

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Just trying to be green said...

Can I say wow? Thank you for posting this- when we run out of our current bottle, I will definitely be making this. Really, wow. This makes me wonder how I've been spending so much on my laundry soap!

Anonymous said...

Ok, just a thought. When buying the bucket, hit a local hardware store, paint store, anyplace but one of the big box or I sell everything places. Honestly it might be a little more, but you are supporting local business.

Chris ( I do not remember my google sign in)

Heather said...

I've used a similar recipe for my family of six (with fels naptha soap) starting about a year ago. After the first few months, the laundry picked up a strange odor and the soap couldn't get it out. I use half home-made and half-store bought laundry detergent. This method still saves a lot of money.