Adventures in Laundry Soap

I’ve been wanting to try making my own laundry soap for months now.  I’ve been stalking the Sufficient Self boards, grabbing things out of my RSS feed, and actively searching the interwebs for details.  I finally managed to locate some washing soda at my local Ace hardware store.  In fact, they are the only place in town who seems to carry it (and they had to order it in for me).  But once that was acquired, I was unstoppable!

All you need to make laundry soap.

Originally I was going to try the Bucket of White Slime method.  But then I decided to be lazy and try a powdered version first.  After an hour or so of further research last night, I concocted my own formula based on bits and pieces of others I saw.  Here is the basic recipe I came up with:

Laundry Soap Recipe

  • 1 cup grated soap
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Sounds simple, eh?  Well it is!  First, I used a cheese grater to grate the lovely pink zote soap. (Zote also comes in white, but I opted for pink.)

The bar is ginormous and you hardly use any to grate that one measly cup.

The bar of Zote, before & after.

Then I threw all the ingredients in the blender and mixed it up.  (Next time I think I’ll try the food processor attachment on my stick blender.  The ingredients tend to harden as your blend and it really caked up at the bottom.  Nothing I couldn’t dump out and break up, but it was annoying.)

Will it blend?

Voila!  Laundry soap!  Once it was all mixed together, I put it into a container for easy storage and scooping.

Lovely pink laundry soap.

Now, the big question is… How does it work?  Well, being a lazy scientist, I used a dirty dish rag as my test subject.

Dishcloth before. (Ewww… scungy…)

Dischloth after.  (Ahh… much better!)

The conclusion: It seems to clean as well as my current eco-friendly $15/bottle laundry detergent from Costco.  It doesn’t smell like anything and it is *cheap*.  How cheap you ask?

Well, all the ingredients pictured at the top of the blog cost me somewhere in the $10 range total.  I used about 1/6th of a bar of Zote soap, 1/9th of a box of Borax, 1/9th of a box of washing soda, and 1/4th of a box of baking soda.  I could easily make at least another 5 batches with only the purchase of a small box of baking soda (and the baking soda is really optional).  I’m not exactly sure of the volume of loads I will get from this batch, but I’m estimating it at around 15 loads (I’m using about 1/4 cup per load right now, level for a normal load, heaping if it’s a nasty load). If I’d used to entire box of washing soda (which is really about 6.5 cups, so I could get 6.5 batches out of it) I’d be looking at just under 100 loads for under $10.  Compare that to my current detergent that does around 50 loads for $15.  Um, yeah.  I’m doubling my loads and cutting my cost by $5.  You can do the rest of the math.

So far I’ve done 3 loads of laundry and am pretty pleased with the results.  The towels came out fresh and I’m holding out high hopes for the sheets.  The dog’s bed doesn’t stink anymore, but it still smells a bit like dog.  I think next time, for something that gross, I’ll throw in some Dr. Bronners and OxyClean to give it an extra little boost.

The real test will be if I’m allergic to it. And beyond that, how will clothes fair down the line?  Only time will tell…


4 thoughts on “Adventures in Laundry Soap

  1. I’m going to have to try this. I haven’t used powdered laundry soap in ages, but I’m on a rampage this year against plastic packaged anything, so I’m irked by the laundry liquid bottles.

    Is there something special about ZOTE that you chose that soap?

    I wouldn’t think you’d be allergic to anything in there. Maybe the pink dye in the soap or if it has manmade perfumes (as opposed to real essential oils, which actually elicit few reactions in anyone).

  2. Hey! Sweet! Someone else on the homemade laundry bandwagon! I’ve been making ours for a couple of years now. I LOVE it! I get all my supplies at Winco. They have both the washing soda and the borax and a different kind of laundry bar (that I can’t remember the name of). I make a liquid version that I got from Rhonda at Down To Earth. It gels a little but I just break it up with the scoop. And it works BEAUTIFULLY! Love the pink too, by the way 🙂 Mine’s a boring white color.

  3. I used Zote because Fels Naptha (the one most recommended in laundry soap forums) is petroleum based and Zote is made with coconut oil and tallow. Once I exhaust this batch, I’m going to try the bar of Dr. Bronners that I have. The Zote is fairly unscented and it was an excuse to buy pink soap. 🙂

  4. I am going to try this recipe. My friend told me about the liquid version and I bought the ingredients to make it but I think I’ll try this one first, it looks and sounds easier.

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