May 15, 2007

Laundry Soap DIY

I've been buying Eco friendly laundry liquid for a while now but still wanted to look for an alternative as it's not cheap stuff and i want to reduce my packaging. So, i went out and bought a bucket, some pure soap and a bag of washing soda and came up with my own laundry soap!
Grate 1 bar of pure soap into a pan and cover with enough water to dissolve. Dissolve gently stirring continuously.
Fill the bucket with hot tap water, stir in the melted soap and a cup full of washing soda.


I found that the melted soap and washing soda didn't quite mix well so i returned it all to a large pan and stirred on a low heat until it was. Leave it to cool and it looks like this:Gloopy and blue!
I've been using it for a few weeks now and it works, my clothes come out clean and they smell fresh unlike with the Eco friendly laundry liquid that gave my laundry a funky smell.
From one box of soap and a packet of washing soda i will get 4 buckets full of homemade laundry soap, each giving around 25 washes giving me an average total of 100 washes. Needless to say, i won't be buying laundry soap anymore. It's probably best to add this laundry soap in the drum with the clothes if you have a front loader like i do, i found that there was some left in the drawer of my machine.
I'm also using the washing soda to wash my dishes, reducing my packaging further. 1 tbsp is enough for a sink full of water. I'm having a hard time convincing my husband that he doesn't need bubbles to get the dishes clean though. To try to combat this i have poured some of the washing soda into an old jar and put in a spoon with a label saying '1TBSP ONLY', i wonder if it will work?

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

i've been using that Lectric soap powder since the beginning of this year - it works great!
two things though:
1. it's not only washing soda, it's got soap added already. there is a Lectric powder which is just washing soda, but this blue one you have pictured is the soap version! so i don't think you need to add soap.. at least i don't, and my clothes always come out clean and fresh-smelling! i add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to help add a nice scent too.
2. i wanted to know whether i really was using the cleanest, greenest option and i found some info on Lectric powder here:
http://www.ethical.org.au/resources/2006/fullTables/Household.pdf
actually, it's more a rating on the parent company's ethical and environmental standards, not on the product itself, so i guess we still have no real conclusions!

nikkishell said...

Ah yes, so it has. It was the only washing powder i could find in my supermarket. Next time i will try mixing without the soap. At least my clothes are getting an extra good wash with this bucket full! ;-) And the bonus is i'll be using less packaging and saving more money!
I tried looking for more info about Lectric Soda but didn't come up with much either.

f. pea said...

i like that this can do double-duty as dish soap and laundry soap - i am so sick of the big plastic bottles. thanks for this nichola!

bugheart said...

me too!
hooray for
getting rid
of plastic bottles.
i must try
this recipe.
thanks!

melissa said...

is this soap biodegradable? i like the idea of making my own laundry soap for the no-packaging aspect, but i definitely want a biodegradable option.

thanks for the interesting post!

Anonymous said...

I've found washing soda at the hardware store in a box - Arm and Hammer makes it, although I'm sure there are other brands.

Tracy said...

looks fantastic. like melissa, i am curious if it is biodegradable, and phosphate free? anyone know product equivalents in the u.s.? thanks nikki!!

Unknown said...

What about for dishwashers? Do you suppose it would work there also since it doesn't make a lot of bubbles?

Anonymous said...

What a perfectly timed post! We (husband and I) are about to host one of our neighborhood Crafturdays, and the theme is DYI cleaning products. Laundry detergent, both powder and gel, is one of the items that we're making.

And these events are always fun; getting our friends together for some craftiness and socializing. We even throw in a BBQ for a party atmosphere.

mainely stitching said...

I'm going to try to find the soap powder - this is great!

nikkishell said...

Yes, it can be used in the dish washer too!

nikkishell said...

As far as i'm aware lectric soda is biodegradable. I've also come up with the phosphate level being 1.20% by weight. If anyone discovers otherwise please let us know. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Here's another recipe: 2 lb box of soda, 3 cups borax, 2 cups grated soap, and 30 drops of essential oil (I usually use lavender or grapefruit). Stir it all together and use about one fourth of a cup per load. Be sure to add the mix to the water before you add the clothes and to use the smallest size grater you can find for grating the soap. I love using this.

lisa solomon said...

why does the idea of cooking soap make me giggle? i love it... thanks nikki!

oschene said...

You can also grind soap to a fine powder with an old meat grinder. Preferably, one you never intend to use on food again.

I grind up Fels Naptha soap and use borax as a booster. Works swell, no florescent dyes anywhere.

Audreyrose said...

Thank you! I am going to try this today! I have been using Ecos detergent for a while, and find it irritating that they have no refill pack or any way I can fill my bottle back up, and it's so expensive that I'm too stingy. I also use vinegar as a softener, and add a few drops of whatever scent suits my mood-usually eucalyptus.
My dude's request for MORE scent has us now putting drops of oil on a washcloth and drying it with our clothes.

Anonymous said...

I use Orvus paste for my delicates. If I made this with castile soap instead of Fels Naptha, would it be gentle enough for lingerie, sweaters, etc? Has anyone tried this?

Donna said...

I read today that you can use 2 tsp of bi-carb soda in the dishwasher with vinegar as rinse aid. I will give it a try.

Unknown said...

BluePrarie- according to the packet, the lectric soda is good for woolens and delicates.

Natasha said...

I used to make this using ivory soap and borax- I will have to look up the recipe as it has been a few years. Thanks for the reminder of this eco-idea!!

Rhonda Jean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhonda Jean said...

Great blog, sew green. : )

I have used the powder version of this for a few years. I use a front loader and have never had a problem. To answer the questions above, it is biodegradable so you can use the water on your pants, but not in the vegetable garden. If you add borax to the mix, don't use the water in your garden or you'll have a build up or boron in your soil.

I have the powder recipe in my blog: http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2007/05/make-your-own-laundry-detergent.html

Unknown said...

My Mom used to make this by the bucket from soap scraps and Fels Naptha bars. Check the Fels Naptha bars, though, as I think the Naptha is a petroleum fraction solvent.

Once upon a time, you could buy real soap soap flakes at the supermarket. Sadly, no more.

Anonymous said...

Hi!

We just tried to make our own detergent. We could only find the Arm and Hammer washing soda and Ivory Soap. I grated one bar of Ivory and dissolved it with one cup of the washing soda. Then we poured it into a clean kitty litter bucket and diluted it with about two gallons of water. Overnight it turned into almost jello consistency, pretty firm. So we thought we would just experiment with a load of dishes in the dish washer. We used about 1/4 cup of the mixture. The dishes are clean, but everything has a soap film on it.

Did we use the wrong proportions of soap to soda, not enough water, wrong ingredients?

Any help, advice, insight would be very welcome.

nikkishell said...

I don't have a dishwasher so i'm taking a guess here but maybe you used too much of the mix? I use the lectric soda to wash dishes by hand and discovered that i only needed around 1 tbsp otherwise thy all had a coating on them and you could taste it.
I'd say just use less mixture and see how you go.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, we'll try less mixture.

Anonymous said...

For the life of me I cannot find washing soda. Even my trusty hardware store that sells everything but the kitchen sink doesn't carry any. Is there a particular brand name that I should be looking for?

Anonymous said...

But, but, but...

That's a lot of time spent just to make soap. Plus the energy to boil it down, the plastic buckets to store it in, and there is still plastic in the soda bag.

I just get detergent that comes in cardboard boxes, and recycle the cardboard.

Also, phosphates were phased out in the 70's already, to my knowledge, at least in the US.

I like your energy though - keep up the experimentation :)

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this soap and detergent thing a lot lately. I've tried a lot of different detergents, now I have soap nuts but those do not grow near us... So I am going to try this one Finnish product that is 100% biodegradable and I can buy it without packaging if I take my own bottles to the shop to be filled. I do not know where they get their ingredients from, but at least it's supposed to be ethical and vegan. I have to send them an email and ask.

What do you think about soap nuts?

muttley said...

If you grow "├┐ucca" plants, these are used by the natives as soap, then all you would need to do is cut a leaf each time you wash

Anonymous said...

I used to use castile soap on my clothes, until everything got covered with soap scum and started having persistent mildew (growing on the soap scum). One wash with regular detergent took care of that problem and proved the problem to me.

Then I tried a bar soap recipe for a while (ivory soap). Just grated, mixed with other dry ingrendients (washing soda and borax). Eventually I got the same problem, although it took longer for the soap scum to build up. I tried other real soaps. Same problem.

Fels Naptha scares me. It's not non-toxic.

Now I use a dish soap. Dish soap is not real soap, but a detergent (sodium laurel sulfate). One could use Orvus paste or a simple cheap shampoo too. A little bit mixed with washing soda, oxyclean, and borax. Cleans as well as commercial detergents, and no soap scum problems!

Anonymous said...

Castile soap will leave residue buildup on your clothes. In fact any real soap has the potential to leave residue (aka soap scum). Makes clothes dingy and prone to mildew. You could sub orvus for the soap though. That should work like a charm.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that you used real soap. Soap leaves behind soap scum. Add just a drop or two of dishwashing liquid to the machine and fill the rest of the receptacle with washing soda. A drop of dish soap won't foam too much, it's all about the right concentration.