Self-Sufficiency Series

Friday, March 15, 2013

Homemade laundry detergent

I ran out of laundry detergent.


For the last couple years, I've been buying Costco's Kirkland brand laundry detergent. Supposedly it washes 145 loads and costs about $20, which is about $0.14/load.


The last time I went to Costco, I bought a less expensive Costco brand ($15) that supposedly washed 200 loads, which is $0.075/load.


Almost immediately the family started to note that their clothes weren't getting clean with the new detergent. Freshly-washed laundry still smelled like it hadn't been washed. So... the new laundry detergent didn't work very well, and I was out of the old laundry detergent. What to do?

For quite awhile I've been meaning to experiment with making my own laundry detergent anyway, so here was my chance.

Nearly every recipe for homemade laundry detergent calls for washing soda (NOT baking soda!) and borax, both of which I had already purchased. But the recipes also called for Fels Naphtha soap, and I was unable to find this particular brand anywhere I went (not that I looked very hard). But a neighbor who had made her own laundry detergent for quite awhile using Fels Naphtha reported that the clothes stank of this particular soap after they were washed; and worse, laundry wasn't getting clean. She finally switched back to commercial laundry detergent.

Based on this, for a long time I didn't bother making homemade laundry detergent. Why bother, if the clothes are gonna stink and not get clean?

But so many frugal websites reported using homemade laundry detergent as a matter of routine, so without any commercial detergent in the house, I decided to bite the bullet and give the homemade stuff a try.

First thing I did was find a recipe that didn't use Fels Naphtha soap. It called for regular bar soap. I'm a devotee of Ivory soap, and it just so happened that I had several years' worth of soap shards saved up (I knew they'd come in handy one day!).


This is the recipe I used. I got it offline a couple years ago and copied it onto my computer, but unfortunately didn't note where it came from so I can't give credit where credit is due.

• 4 cups of water
• 1/3 bar of cheap soap, grated
• 1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda)
• 1/2 cup of Borax (20 Mule Team)
• 5-gallon bucket for mixing
• 3 gallons of water

First, mix the grated soap in a saucepan with 4 cups of water, and heat on low until the soap is completely dissolved. Add hot water/soap mixture to 3 gallons of water in the 5-gallon bucket, stir in the washing soda and Borax, and continue stirring until thickened. Let the mix sit for 24 hours. Use 1/2 cup per load (only for top loading machines). (Apparently this amount will also work for front-loaders, but you'll have to do your own research.)


The first thing to do was figure out how many soap shards made up 1/3 bar of soap. Younger Daughter had the idea to weigh a new bar (4 oz.)...


...and then weigh the appropriate amount of soap shards. To be on the safe side, we measured 2 ounces, or half a bar of soap (rather than 1/3 bar as the recipe suggests).


Next I grated it. This turned out the be harder than grating a new bar of soap, because the shards had hardened over time and had an inclination to break rather than grate.


But I did the best I could.


Next I measured out four cups of water...


...and dumped in the soap shavings.


I heated the water/soap and stirred until the shavings were dissolved. However because some of the soap was in small chunks rather than shavings, it stubbornly refused to dissolve. I decided not to worry about it.


Meanwhile, I got the rest of the water ready. The recipe called for a five-gallon bucket, which I didn't have (though I do have lots of 3.5 gallon bakery buckets). So I used a 30-gallon farm tub and put three gallons of hot water in that, using an old milk jug to measure. As it turns out, I didn't need a five-gallon tub -- a 3.5 gallon bucket would have worked fine -- so next time I'll do this directly in the 3.5 gallon bucket.


Because I had a few undissolved soap chunks, I decided to pour the soapy water through a strainer into the tub.


This left me with a few tiny slivers of soap left over. No biggee.


Next I needed one-half cup each of borax and washing soda.


Pouring in...


Then I gave everything a good stirring.


And then I just let it sit, undisturbed. What amazed me was how little hands-on time it took to make -- perhaps ten minutes start to finish.


By evening, the mixture had gelled to the point where Younger Daughter could leave a visible handprint in it.


But we otherwise left it alone until the following morning (letting it rest 24 hours). The mixture was like goopy Jello, with both solid and liquidy components.


I slopped it all into a smaller 3.5 gallon bucket (with a lid). It smelled mildly fragrant, like Ivory soap -- very pleasant.


One of the old detergent scoops, I learned, holds exactly half a cup, which is the recommended amount of homemade detergent to add to a standard top-load washer.


But would it work? That was the question. I put in half a cup of homemade detergent, added a load of laundry, and let it wash. I was a bit dismayed because there was no soap bubbles (I don't know why, but I expected to see something foamy), so I had my doubts it was doing its job. I always wash laundry (except for whites) in cold water -- does that make a difference?


I've been using the homemade stuff for about a week now, and I've asked the family to pay particular attention to whether they feel their clothes are clean. Certainly they smell clean. At this point, I have no issues with the homemade detergent and am quite pleased with it.

But what does it cost per load?

Yesterday while in the city, I photographed prices for borax and washing soda at Winco.

For washing soda, the price was $3.17 for 55 ounces. This means that one-half cup (the amount added to a batch of homemade detergent) costs $0.23.


One box of borax costs $3.38 for 76 ounces. This means one-half cup costs $0.18.


While technically the soap shards are "free," for the sake of argument the cost of half a bar of new Ivory soap costs $0.62.

So I can make a batch of homemade laundry detergent for $1.03. One batch of detergent makes three gallons. One gallon contains sixteen cups, so three gallons contain 96 one-half-cup measures.

Therefore (drumroll please) one batch of homemade laundry detergent costs $0.0107, or a penny per load.

Compare this with Costco's two brands of detergent: one at $0.14/load (for the better brand) and the other at $0.075/load (for the cheaper and less-good brand). In short, homemade laundry detergent costs one-fifteenth the price of Costco's better brand.

I hope this homemade stuff continues to prove itself to be a good detergent... because I love the price!!!

110 comments:

  1. I use Ivory or Zote instead of Fels Naptha, as I did not like the smell either. We have been using homemade soap for a few years and I love it.

    I am glad you had a chance to try it...as it is easy to make, inexpensive, and the other ingredients can be used about the house in other cleaners(tile scrub etc).

    Jennifer

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  2. I've made homemade laundry detergent using a very similar recipe for years!

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  3. I just mix the dry ingredience and shake well. I keep a very fine cheese grater just for soap. Now I only wash on cold and mostly things are clean. There is always the odd item that needs a hot wash with more powder but in the main I would never go back to buying expensive high smelling sudsy stuff.

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  4. Love your analysis. I'm on my second batch of homemade dry and use Castile soap. I like it, but I think I may try your recipe next time.

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  5. Do you have hard or soft water? My homemade stuff never gels up like that. We have rather hard water here in Iowa, which also means that whites tend to become greys after a short while which is the main reason I wen back to commercial detergent. Just for comparison, I like the smell of Fels Naphtha Soap. To me it smells clean.

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    Replies
    1. I fill up one of the "Downy" balls with white vinegar and it releases the vinegar in the rinse water. This helps prevent static and it helps with hard water. Then I use dryer balls in my dryer to soften the clothes :)

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    2. I have extremely hard water where we live, and the trick I found was adding Calgon water softener to my laundry. I now find that my homemade laundry soap actually works better than any commercial soap out there!

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  6. Are you read for this? :)

    1. It's not laundry DETERGENT, it is just laundry SOAP, because you did not add any detergents (which are petroleum byproducts).
    2. I think you will find that over the course of the next 4-6 weeks, your clothes will slowly start to look dingey (dingy? - no, that doesn't look right). That's because of the lack of detergents.
    3. You can help a little once the weather changes by drying your whites spread out on the fresh-cut lawn, but that won't work for quite awhile, nor will you be able to mow the lawn every time you want to wash clothes.
    4. You can still save some money over commercial laundry stuff by buying some liquid laundry detergent and adding it to your batch of homemade. It'll be diluted, of course, but should still work.
    5. As you observed, no suds. But that's okay, the suds don't do anything other than defy rinsing.

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    1. I think it has to do with the your water actually--hard, soft, different minerals etc. I tried a couple of the lesser brands -- I think Gain was one -- and my clothes did in fact become dingy. Very dingy. I tried the liquid version of this and it didn't work well either. I've been using my recipe for nearly a year and nothing looks off -- even the husband's daily dress shirts. But I did add the Oxiclean, as the recipe I followed from The Prudent Homemaker specified that.

      I don't use Fels as I don't like fragranced clothing -- although I did read somewhere that adding some to a scrub pad would do a fine job on your bathtub. It does that very well. I always keep a bar in the bathroom for washing my hands to remove soot.

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    2. I've been using homemade laundry soap for almost 2 years, and nothing in my laundry is dingy; it all gets clean-looking & clean-smelling without problems. I simply mix together 2 cups washing soda, 2 cups Borax, and 1 bar of finely-grated Fels Naptha or Ivory or any other real bar soap -- I've tried several, they all work fine as long as it's real soap, and I've never noticed any scent on my clothes regardless of what soap I use. And I'm very sensitive to scents -- most store-bought laundry detergents trigger my migraines! I use 1/4 cup for a large wash load.

      I have a front-loading HE (high efficiency) washer, and live in a place that has naturally "soft" (low-mineral content) water. One thing I recommend is to add 1/8 to 1/4 cup white vinegar to your rinse water -- it cuts down on soap residue and naturally softens (the scents in fabric softeners make me very ill with migraine & nausea). Vinegar also gets rid of any sour or stale smells that the laundry soap may not have completely eliminated, without leaving any scent behind. It even gets out cat urine smell (I have an old cat with health issues, so we face this problem on occasion). And vinegar is cheap!

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    3. I used the homemade version for several years. I found that my clothes were not getting as clean as I would have liked. What I ended up doing was making a large batch of homemade laundry soap and adding a small bottle of Tide White and Bright to the mixture. That seemed to make a huge difference. It would seperate in the bucket I had it stored in. So I would mix it up really well before refilling the jug I used for everyday laundry. I never priced it out per load, but I know I was saving a really good amount. If we worked outside and had really soiled clothes, I would add some vinegar to the wash and that helped.

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    4. No technically this IS a detergent, because "detergent" means "cleaner", regardless what it's made of. It describes function, not composition.

      However, these home recipes, including this one, use far too much alkali (the borax & washing soda) to make a high quality one. This will degrade many fabrics prematurely.

      A high quality laundry soap would be mostly soap, with only a little extra alkali. The apparent cost savings come largely from using the cheaper alkali instead of the more expensive soap.

      And unfortunately a good quality laundry soap would suds a lot if you were using an effective amount.

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  7. I just started making my own soap as well and I love it. I mixed mine as you did yours, but then funneled it into some leftover clean juice jugs so when I need soap I just shake the jug and pour the soap. I found it much easier than stirring the bucket all the time.

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    Replies
    1. hi. thanks for the idea to use a smaller container. better than stirring.
      deb harvey

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  8. I've been making it dry as well -- with Ivory -- and it seems to work fine in my HE with well water (although I do just toss it in the drum rather than the little dispenser). I made a tiny batch up with Kirk's Castille the other day. Then I just use plain white vinegar in the rinse dispenser.

    I also add in 1/2 cup cheap oxiclean to the 1 cup borax/1cup washing soda. I don't know that it is necessary.

    Seems to me I saw something on the internet that you can microwave the soap. It bubbles up, but it seems to dry it out, crumbles easier. Haven't tried it though.

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    Replies
    1. I microwave the Ivory for 90 seconds. It puffs up into a huge cloud, and is then super easy to shred. Much easier and quicker than grating - and my 4 y/o loves to help with this!

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    2. I microwave the Ivory for 90 seconds. It puffs up into a huge cloud, and is then super easy to shred. Much easier and quicker than grating - and my 4 y/o loves to help with this!

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  9. y'all are just mixing a bunch of commerical stuff and calling it homemade.

    Whatever happened to Grandma's lye soap? Best made with hog lard.

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    Replies
    1. if you bought flour and yeast, would the bread you made with them not be called homemade?

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    2. Grandma's Lye Soap can be had at any Cracker Barrel Old Country Store - right hand side of the door leading to the bathrooms, on the bottom.

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    3. Are not Borax and Washing soda natural ingredients? I also make my own goat milk soap and use that in the recipe. It is HOMEMADE.

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    4. I make the homemade powder laundry soap and add a bar of shredded lye soap to my zote soap. I have used lye soap bar for years for stain removal and whitening. It works great!

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    5. I have used lye soap for years for laundry stains and whitening whites. I shred a bar of lye soap with my zote soap to my powdered soap recipe and love it!

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  10. I used that exact same recipe for about three years. And I only have cold water run to the washer, so no chance of using warm. I finally went back to store bought detergent this past month. My problem was with oils. The soap did not work at all on sweaty arm pit shirts. And everything was beginning to get heavy with oils and dingy. It works in a pinch, but in my opinion there are just some things that they science has made better.

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    1. don't know if it's still available but an amway distributor told me to use The heavy duty cleaner for GARAGE FLOORS TO WASH MECHANICS' CLOTHES WORKED GREAT.
      ALSO A HOME ECONOMIST TOLD ME TO USE PLAIN OLD LYSOL SPRAY ON ARMPIT AREA AND LET SET BEFORE WASHING. WORKED, TOO.
      deb harvey

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    2. I've had the same experience Michelle. I've tried the gel homemade soap and the dry soap, using Fels and Zote. They work great for the first couple washings, but then the clothes start to stink, especially sweaty clothes, the whites turn dingy and feel greasy. I've tried soaking them overnight, pre-treating the stains and sweaty areas and it just doesn't clean very well. We have hard water and I always wash with warm or hot water. I now use whatever is on sale that is unscented for sensitive skin.

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    3. I have been using homemade for 18 months with no problems like others are mentioning....

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    4. I had the same problem too as the others above. Stuff would come out of the dryer smelling bad (like sweat). Stains didn't come out, and everything started looking dingy too. My sis-in-law stopped making detergent for the same reasons.

      I just started experimenting w/homemade detergent again, but instead of bar soap, I am using dish soap along w/the Borax and washing soda mixed in water. I will probably continue to use regular detergent on my whites, but I noticed that my homemade soap did a good job on the loads I have washed so far. Everything was clean and fresh. For anyone interested, just google Dish Soap Laundry Detergent. The recipes normally call for Dawn dish soap, but I just made my last batch with Gain dish soap---it has a nice smell. --Val

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    5. would that be a bottle of Lysol or like the spray kind for the bathroom?

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  11. I have been using a very similar recipe for the last three months and I think it works great. I still use bleach on whites and a stain remover stick for oil-based stains. I am highly allergic to store detergents, but I have no problem with this soap. I also use Ivory...well, the Kirkland knockoff.

    Being in the mining industry, I always like to point when things we use came out of the ground. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. Trona is the mineral mined to create sodium carbonate and is mined in Wyoming and Colorado. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate which is also mined (Colorado) but can also be created from the ashes of plant material. Borax is sodium borate. Borax is mined in California (Boron, CA) and Nevada.

    Andrea in Colorado

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    Replies
    1. Huh, Andrea. I was told that washing soda was baking soda that had been heated. I was told I could make my own washing soda by baking baking soda in the oven for a number of hours ( I think it releases a proton or electron and becomes washing soda). Now I'm glad I never tried. Gonna have to do some research now............

      Thanks for the info.

      Sandy in Colorado also (Hotchkiss)

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  12. Dear Anonymous,
    Some comments aren't even worth responding to but I will, anyway. I'm just in that kind of mood today. You are not going to get laundry clean using nothing but Grandma's lye soap. Soap alone just doesn't get laundry clean...no matter how strong it may be. Grandma learned that a few additives will keep the clothes brighter and better smelling. And SHE is the one who thought up adding them to the soap. She bought some of it and made some of it when there wasn't anything to buy. So....chill ! We're just all trying the best we can here to get along the best we can using our wits and ingenuity. Want to join the game?
    Sincerely,
    another anonymous (I don't know how to use a name on this contraption, either)

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  13. hi. deb harvey here again. use white vinegar in your rinse. see if it helps. also try every fifth wash or so with regular detergent.
    mennonite girls can cook, canadian website with laundry soap recipes. also nannamanna-moxie.blogspot
    thriftytimes.com
    southbreezefarm.blogspotcom/2009/07
    laundry-soap.html

    various soaps recommended as alternatives zote, sunlight, for sensitive skin use dove or dr. bronmer's magic soap - i've never seen it but maybe on internet?
    front loaders recommended one-quarter cup soap.
    one lady adds a bit of lemon oil for fragrance. one lady adds eucalyptus oil.
    one site makes own washing soda by baking at 400 degrees baking soda. says it is cheaper than washing soda but i don't understand the chemistry and i had already bought the washing soda!! each site may recommend other sites and i researched a lot. say this soap is okay for the HE machine.


    for whites, bluing, anyone?
    in hard water recommended add baking soda
    and salt to soften.

    love and happy laundry.
    deb harvey

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  14. One addition that you may want to try is Trisodium phosphate (TSP). This is available in the paint section of Home Depot. This is what they removed from the detergents to eliminate the soap suds in the rivers. I do not feel bad about using this because I am on a septic system and not the public sewers. It is especially useful in dish washing machines. Be advised that this will make the soap gel but if placed into a soft sided bottle you can squeeze it out like toothpaste.

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    Replies
    1. hi. how much do you use? does it replace any ingredient or is it in addition to?
      deb harvey

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  15. I am curious by the fence in your header photo. I have never seen fence like that. Does it have a specific purpose in your area? The posts are so close together...i am not 'gigging' you in case anyone thinks so. I just find it fascinating and want to know more.

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    1. I took the photo this afternoon while walking. It's our neighbor's fence, and they keep hunting dogs (rather than livestock) so the fencing is tighter than standard field fence. The photo was taken almost parallel to the posts, so it's foreshortened dramatically; but in reality the posts are about six or eight feet apart, and the mesh is 2x4".

      - Patrice

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  16. I am wondering how you can use only 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda in that much product. I use a half cup of each along with liquid commercial product to wash really dirty clothes. Somehow, it just does not seem like that is enough. Just puzzling here.

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  17. I started using Sunlight liquid DISH soap for washing laundry a few years, 1-2 teaspoon fulls does a full washer load, in cold water. Whites seem to be fine. I buy the biggest bottles at Costco when they are on sale. They last a long time.

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    Replies
    1. is it safe for HE machines?
      deb harvey

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  18. I've been using this recipe for about four years. Just don't buy white socks, undies .. etc. You can add a little oxyc-clean to your whites. Our hard water in N. Idaho is also a problem so be sure to use vinegar in the rinse. No need for fabric softener. Our clothes are cleaner now as after several months of use, the commercial detergent is all washed out. For extra white .. you can also add a little borax or washing soda .. this is good for sheets and body perspiration. Grandma would have used bluing to her whites .. I think you can still find it .. perhaps on line.

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    1. I bought Blueing at Albertson's in Texas. I have also seen it in Walmart at times.

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    2. "Just don't buy white undies..." He he he. I buy cotton Jockeys and tie dye them when they get dingy. The color always goes dull before the fabric gives out.

      I love my crazy unders. They make me smile.

      ~ La Crumpet

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  19. Before I began using the homemade soap, my husband asked me to do some research to see if it was safe for the septic. What I found out is that it is not only safe, but I found that it was recommended for septics.

    You can make washing soda from baking soda by cooking it to get rid of the moisture, too. I splurged on my first batch and bought Dr. Bonner's lavender castille soap. We love the way our clothes feel and the smell of the detergent is fabulous. Next batch is plain, though.

    We also just use baking soda, water and a few drops of the lavender soap to shampoo our hair. Mine is shoulder length and I have no problems with this soap. I occasionally use a AC vinegar water rinse. My hair is fuller and more manageable and my teenage son is not fighting the oil in his hair.

    Pennies on the dollar for what the store charges.

    Good on you, Patrice. Treat yourself to a glass of wine.

    sidetracksusie

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    Replies
    1. Mary Hunt also points out that soda ash is sold as a pool water treatment ingredient at a huge discount over "washing soda".

      http://www.everydaycheapskate.com/home-and-family/cheaper-alternative-to-super-washing-soda/

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    2. how much baking soda? do you premix and keep in a bottle?
      deb harvey

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    3. I admit that I mix it in my old shampoo bottles which are 16 oz. I funnel the baking soda in, about half the volume and then add water, shake, then add more soda or water to get the desired thickness. Then I put in a few drops of the lavendar castile soap I use. I made my son's shampoo thicker because he puts it in his hand, so it's like a gel. His hair is very short.

      I make mine runnier than regular shampoo and I squirt it all over my head, then rub it in. This doesn't foam up like shampoo, and I got over that quickly when I finally got all the built up garbage out of my hair.

      I haven't figured the cost because I buy my soda in 50 lb bags and it didn't matter as I was attempting to get away from chemicals I could not pronounce. I know baking soda is a chemical, but it's pretty benign.

      sidetracksusie

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    4. I forgot to add that my husband really wanted no bleach going into our septic. When I have something that is white and needs some attention, I soak it in oxyclean in a bucket. My white dish clothes are forever turning brown due to wiping up coffee and cleaning the coffee pot. I'm fairly satisfied with this solution. Sunshine will take care of the rest.

      My son's socks are white just using the homemade detergent. If I have something really greasy, I can make a laundry soap with dawn or some other grease cutting dish detergent. So far, we've not had any problems getting anything out of the clothes with just the homemade soap in my HE washer. Smells in clothing can be eliminated by using white vinegar.
      My brother smokes and he washes his clothing at our house (he lives next door). He likes the homemade laundry soap and when I occasionally change his clothes from the washer to the dryer I smell them to make sure there is no evidence of cigarette smoke. None so far.

      sidetracksusie

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    5. I compared the price of a box at Wal-Mart today versus the 50-lb. bag at the pool supply store. It was just pennies different! Not worth to buy the pool store version... have you ever lifted a 50-lb SACK on anything? Eeooow!

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  20. I did make this soap dry for a while, first with Fels Naptha, then with Ivory... but as I said in another comment on another post, my mom develops allergies to soaps she uses too much. Since the Ivory is one of the few she can bathe with, we chickened out and went back to store-bought detergent.

    At the recommendation of a couple of other readers, I am now in the midst of trying Charlie's Soap. So far, we like it, and it is economical, too.

    I never had trouble with this soap not getting clothes clean, or with clothes becoming dingy over time.

    One tip - if you see a rotary parmesan grater in a thrift store, buy it and use it to grind your doap. It dissolves much more easily, and made it so I had no problems washing in cold water with the homemade soap powder. :)

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  21. There are several notes online that sticking the soap in the microwave first changes it enough that its easier to grate (or run through the food processor). Not tried it myself, our water is WAY hard, and reviews are mixed for hard water in the long term. But considering how much of a pain it is to find all free and clear laundry detergents (cause I react to most commercial scents), I imagine I'll try it eventually.

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  22. many years ago when my mother used an old wringer washer to wash clothes she made her own laundry soap. she would put the old pieces of hand/bath soap in a mason jar that she kept topped off with water. When she started a load of laundry she would pour off a 1/8 of a cup or so into the washing machine. It worked so well she would wash multiple loads in the same water (we were poor). She also had borax that she could add for those really dirty loads. Everytime I do laundry now I remember how much work it was way back then and love modern washing machines and boxed laundry soap/detergent.

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  23. i have heard that when you use the recipe for laundry soap with all the water, there just isn't enough actual soap in the mix to clean properly. I have heard stories about a few months later the clothes getting dingy, smelly,etc.
    We are in the middle of trying the homemade powder laundry soap. I have thought of mixing it half recommended store version and half homemade. I have just been watching sales and buying any store brand as cheap as possible. For example, my local dollar store had some powder for $1.65 a box at close out instead of $4.50. So I bought every box they had. Just finished it up last week. It was a huge blessing!
    I think you would have some savings if you could reuse the wash water. I used to have an automatic washer that had a water saver switch. It would send the wash water over into a tub. When you wanted to use it, you changed the switch and it sucked the used wash water back into the washer. Now I would love to have that washer back and am really stupid to have gotten rid of it. Especially now since the newer water saving washers are horrible. They don't use enough water to get our country boys clothes clean. I bought an old washer off craigslist and use it mostly. My kids all ask me Not to wash their clothes in the new HE front loading $850 washer since they think they stink when they come out. Yes, I have bleached it and it works for about 2 loads then it's back to bad smell washer. I so would love to get rid of it!

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    Replies
    1. leave machine door ajar after use to air it out. we do and have noticed no odor in the new machine. i do hate the low water levels. doesn't save water as we always use a second rinse.
      deb harvey

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    2. I always keep the door open. Never had a smell and had my washer now for over 5 years. If you close the door its air tight, no way for it to dry if its closed.

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    3. I never had a smell or any mold in my front loader, Ive had it over 5 years. I never close the door until I know its dry. If it holds in water with the door closed how do you think air will in to dry it out? It cant. Top loaders are not air tight so this wont be a problem. I have saved lots of money on electric and water since getting the front loaders and never had a problem.

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    4. If you have a smell in your machine run it through a cycle with vinegar. Works for us everytime :D

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    5. Be careful, sometimes vinegar can cause rusting in a washing machine! I bought a HE top loader, and like it

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    6. Try 6-8 tbsp of citric acid with a empty hot load.


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  24. i have been using my own "homemade" laundry soap/detergent for years and although every now and then i do add oxiclean to the formula for a little bleaching action without clorine. if your clothing becomes dingy or gray looking or smelling it is a good chance that your washing machine needs cleaning or that you are using too much detergent/soap and not getting a good rinse. it is not the soap bubbles that clean- but the friction of the clothing and water and detergent/soap that gives you the "clean" if things are not rinsed well they will get dingy gray because the soap/softner etc..is still in the clothing fibers. i use a front loading machine and a front loader uses only one ounce of the homemade stuff per load.. three gallons can last for about a year or more for our family.

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  25. For nasty grease and oil stains, such as a mechanic would have, use Lestoil full strength on the stain, add a bit more to the washer along with regular detergent.

    Other pine cleaners just don't do the job. Don't know why.

    Lestoil got oil stains out of my favorite skirt when I went to a candlelight service at church and got wax all over me.

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  26. and PS: since I can't stand the smell of Lestoil, I washed my wax-stained skirt again with only detergent, just to get the Lestoil smell out of it.

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  27. I have been using the homemade laundry detergent for 4-5 years now and have had minimal problems. I do add lavender essential oil to my detergent. I just love the smell of lavendar. I have also used lemon and it smells great also. I also make my own liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets. I use oxi-clean on work clothes and for whites I use bluing and oxi-clean. My whites especially smell wonderful.

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    1. Would you share your liquid softener and fabric sheet recipes?

      sidetracksusie

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    2. Fabric Softener
      8 cups of water
      6 cups white vinegar
      1 cup baking soda
      20 drops of essential oil (I use lavendar)

      I knit dishclothes from cotton yarn and put 3 drops of essential oil on the cloth and throw in the dryer. It works great. You can use any cloth.

      Brenda

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    3. vinegar + baking soda = irrational mixture

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  28. I also have made my own laundry soap for years. But I use a cup of washing soda and a cup of borax instead of the half cup. Experiment and see what works for you. By the way, I have never had my laundry get stinky as someone else said. I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle, no vinegar smell, just soft clean clothes!

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  29. The liquid kind sounds so complicated. Mine is powder, comes together in minutes:

    1 grated bar fels naptha (or any soap) + 1 c borax + 1 c washing soda, put in covered container, shake, use 1 tablespoon per load.

    I also make this baby verson for my sensitive baby (washing soda can be an irritant for some people): 1 grated bar fancy organic homemade soap - mild kind, locally made + 1 c borax. Does a perfect job and NO irritation to baby. Just thought I'd share.

    Dawn works so perfectly well for grease stains. I am a stain-removal ninja.

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  30. I've got no trouble with mine dissolving in cold water, with soap grated on my hand grater using the side with the biggest holes.

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  31. Here's another use for your soap shards: cut the leg off an old pair of panty hose, put a few shards in it, knot a loop in it and hang in your shower. Just wet and lather! You can actually hang several where ever you need to wash your hands or face. This is an old Girl Scout trick!

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  32. I was frustrated by our whites getting dingier and dingier. I kept adding more and more bleach (even though I knew it was hard on our septic system) in an effort to whiten them. Then an offhand comment by a water guy took me by surprised. He said bleach actually will make white clothes dingy if you have any iron in your water at all. SO I stopped using bleach altogether and now use only "Iron Out" and/or old fashioned bluing that I was able to find at my local "Amish store." We immediately saw an improvement. Whites are whiter than they've been in years!

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  33. Amway claims their detergent can cost just 0.3 cents a washload if you buy the 50 lb box. Of course that means you'll have a 50 lb box of detergent you're hauling around the rest of your life.

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  34. Just tried making this laundry soap yesterday -- a new endeavour :) -- and thank you so much for sharing! It was incredibly easy and quick to whip up, which was a nice surprise. It hasn't quite been 24 hours since getting it mixed up, and it still is a soapy liquid -- no solidifying at all. From what I can see, I have followed the recipe above with all the same measurements... just wondering what went wrong? Is this normal?

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    1. I honestly have no idea, since I've only made one batch myself. I'm hoping some other readers can chime in with their experiences...?

      - Patrice

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    2. from my knoledge that is normal.she did use different soap

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  35. Curious if any bath soap would work. I'm interested in trying it with Irish Spring just because I like the smell. LOL!

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    1. I am stuck here. I keep opening my mouth and then closing it.

      I just don't know.

      I make my own soap because I am sensitive to a chemical used in all commercial cleaning products (SLS- it makes bubbles, but noes not clean!)

      When I make soap for laundry, I make sure to not add extra oils. This is called superfatting and is why I don't need moisturizer on my hands anymore. My hands used to crack and bleed in the winter, but that's another story. Soapmakers don't add extra oils to laundry soap because oils will just stick to your clothes and eventually go rancid. OK, so I am clear on home made soap.

      I wonder about Irish Spring. Commercial fragrance makes me choke, so I can't even venture to guess if the scent will remain. I don't know what kind of stuff they put in that soap, so I am not sure how it would work on clothes.

      My general thought here is ask yourself if you would wash your clothes with it in bar form. I have seen posts where people use Dove for laundry soap. Ummm, not me.

      If you would not use it in bar form on your clothes, then you know you want to use something else. Fels Naptha and Kirkland Castile are supposed to be simple soaps which are good for laundry. I don't know, because I make my own.

      ~ La Crumpet

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    2. I used Irish Spring in my homemade dry laundry soap for a few months than noticed my husbands white shirts had a green tinge to them. I changed back to Fels Naptha and the green tinge went away. (When using the Irish Spring laundry soap clothing smelled great)

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    3. I've made this soap several times. The first time, I used Irish Spring because I like the scent. However, I ended up throwing that batch of soap out. The clothes didn't come clean. The others that I have done I used Fels Naptha in, with some downy unstopables for fragrance. Smells wonderful, cleans great. I throw a downy ball with vinegar into every load as well, and my clothes are all soft and perfectly clean smelling. Haven't had a problem with the whites graying either, but then our water is not particularly hard, either.

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  36. Does cooking the baking soda actually work? I just bought a whole bunch and forgot "washing" soda. Also for greasy stains (automotive-oil, antifreeze, etc) I just mix Dawn, baking soda, a little water and scrub the spot with a toothbrush and let it sit for a minute; added maybe half cup of vinegar and more baking soda to the wash and all the stains were gone.
    I just bought two bars of Zote, 4lb baking soda but couldn't find borax at walmart so I'm going to hunt that down tomorrow!

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  37. This is nice information blog. Thanks for Sharing.

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  38. I just made a batch of laundy soap today(I used Fels-Naptha)I havent used it yet but hope it works.I will tell you guys (buy writing comments)if my soap works later,I do think I will use Zote next time,love the fresh natural smell of Zote more than the strong toxic like smell of Fels-Naptha(I still love Fels Naptha becuase it is great for poison ivy).Thanks for the soap recipe,cool website.

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  39. I've been using for over a year & have made 3 batches total. My clothes are clean, but I just noticed a little fading in the black clothes so I'll cut back on Borax for next batch. Clothes are clean, I never have too spend $20 on laundry soap. Plus I use vinegar as fabric softner. But I did start too make my own scented fabric softner & it adds just enough smell: 1 cup baking soda,6 cups vinegar, dissolve 1 capful of downy unstoppables in 1 cup hot water.

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  40. MUCH esier recipe is to combine 2 tbsp. Dawn Ultra, 3 tbsp. washing soda and 3 tbsp. borax in a plastic milk jug. Add 4 cups very hot water, shake to mix (it will foam). Then add enough cold water to fill almost to the top. Shekae to blend.
    This recipe works well, and is easier than grating all that soap.

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    1. Yes---I just started making this, and not only is it way easier, but it works much better.

      As stated in a reply above, I started with Dawn, but now I am using Gain dish detergent. I was very happy that my clothes came out clean and fresh.

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    2. How much do you use per load? 1/4 cup(ish)? Thanks! I used to use this but noticed that my clothes smelled kind of stale after awhile. Maybe the Gain would help that.

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    3. How much do you use per load . . . 1/4 cup? Thanks! I used to use this recipe but found after several months my clothes smelled stale. Maybe using Gain would help.

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    4. I actually use 1/2 cup per load. I also add one extra tbsp of each ingredient to my gallon jug.

      Not only have I tried Gain, but now I am using Ajax lemon dish soap too--I like it.

      Try using some vinegar in your rinse cycle. I just fill my automatic dispenser, but if you don't have one, use 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

      This detergent seems fine for most loads of laundry. Some of my stinkier and dirtier loads (kids' running clothes/husband's work clothes) are going to need a presoak or a booster like Oxygen Action or OdoBan added.

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  41. This is nice laundry information blog. Thanks for sharing.

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  42. I make homemade laundry soap with lard and lye. It is quite excellent at getting out stains and smells, but you have to make it no more than 2% superfatted. I usually go for 1%. Rub it on even set stains and they come out. I use it in my homemade soap recipe. To make it easier, you can cut the soap into pieces and then put the soap, Borax, and washing soda to a food processor. I let mine run for about 5 minutes. It comes out nice and powdered like commercial detergent.

    The soap we use for bathing and our hair is 6% superfatted and uses other oils along with the lard. Goat's milk soap is my favorite for washing the hair; the goat's milk conditions it so no more commercial hair conditioners! My hair is down to my waist and I've very picky about what I use on it. Just thought I'd share in case anyone was interested in making homemade soap.

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  43. Wow information overload Have not made any homemade laundry soap yet,but I am going to try it.Thanks for the info.

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  44. ok, i just made some: 1 box washing soda, 1 box baking soda, 1 box borax, 1 bar Zote. blended till fine texture. used about 2 tablespoons for heavy load. I have a front load washer. used hot water.

    so when it washes, there is a smell...bad smell...like old cat pee. I do not have a cat. I have 3 small children. food stains is all. what gives?!!! city water here, btw.

    also, it comes out of the dryer very very soft...no liquid softener used, but came out very staticky. threw it back in dryer on steam cycle with a dryer sheet. No bad smell after being dried. but right now...my whole house smells of cat pee!! yuck!!

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    Replies
    1. That's not even close to the recipe. That's why. The amounts are not one box of each.

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  45. First time I made this it didn't set up right it was very liquidy. I'm going to try this again. When I was stirring the mixture it never thickened... what did I do wrong? Hopefully time #2 works out for me.

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  46. First time I made this it never set up. I like this recipe because my clothes were clean and this is an easy recipe to make. I followed the recipe but when I was stirring it never thickened. What did I do wrong?? Hopefully time #2 will be better.

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  47. Yikes, I think you need to clean the inside of your laundry machine first! Gross

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    Replies
    1. AND the outside! Glad I wasn't the only one who freaked out about that!

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  48. very interesting comments! ive been to afraid to try doing homemade laundry detergent, but now I might try it.

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  49. I tried the whole home-made detergent/soap/ cheap way to go, but it didn't work for me! It didn't touch the dirt on my husbands jeans! I am back to my Tide thank you very much!

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  50. Has anyone tried to add Citric Acid to your homemade laundry detergent?

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  51. I've used homemade laundry powder for a couple of years now and not had any problems with dinginess or odors. I live in an area with pretty hard water, so I use a soapless recipe. I don't remember where I got it from, but it's 2 parts of borax, 2 parts of washing soda, and 1 part of baking soda. I mix it up and store it in a 2 gallon plastic bucket in my laundry room. I keep a 2 tablespoon scoop in the bucket to scoop it out with, which is handy. I had an ancient top-loading washer for ages and used 1-2 tablespoons per load depending on the size and dirtiness. I've recently gotten a new front-loading washer after the ancient one gave up the ghost, and have been using up to 1 tablespoon of powder per load. I put the powder in the machine's dispenser and vinegar in the softener dispenser and it seems to work great. My clothes, towels, and all always smell clean and don't seem to have any buildup. I am thinking about trying a mixture of 2 parts washing soda to 1 part baking soda for a while when I run out of the powder I have now and see how that works. I'm glad that I've had good luck with this!

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  52. I make my soap a bit different. I use two one quart size mason jars, small neck, i take one bar of fels naptha, i cut it in half per jar, first i add 1 1/2 cup of hot water then cut up each half bar into smaller pieces and add it to the jar, set aside tell the next day. the next day, you'll see it kinda gels, so stir it up a bit. Get your blended out, add 1/2 cup of: borax, washing soda, baking soda and oxiclean ( or cheaper brand) fill with hot water, to the top line on mason jar. Next, attach blender attachments and blend away till it looks like mayo. Before moving on to next jar to blend make sure you rinse the rubber gasket well, or your blender will chew it up. Then set aside for a couple days, so it can set, I use 1 to 2 tbps per wash.

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    1. Oh, I buy all my products at Walmart super cheap.
      fels naptha .97cents, washing soda $3.97, baking soda $2.24, borax $3.97 and i use sun oxiclean $5.00 +/- (6lbs). Most of the time I buy a big bag of baking soda at costco, i use it in a lot of things (baking powder).

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    2. I just made my first batch of DIY laundry detergent, using the recipe you cite here. So far, I am happy. My clothes do not smell of that nasty fragrance that is added to commercial detergents. However, I am a bit concerned about the Fels Naptha because I want to start recycling grey water from my washing machine into my garden. Fels Naptha has ingredients that are not safe for grey water. So, I am gonna switch to pure soap and see if I can make a good laundry detergent using the same recipe. (I have an inexpensive measuring spoon set that I attached to my quart jar with a rubber band....very handy.)

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  53. I"m the anonymous one who uses a blender and mason jars, I have always used 1/2cup of baking soda in my wash, it balances out the ph of water making the soap more effective in cleaning; plus it gets the funky smell out of clothes. I made one mistake in my recipe mix, I don't add the baking soda to the mason jar I add it to the wash....sorry. I've used dry mix and it works fine, but this is so easy, and making the powder recipe, watch out sinuses, it flies everywhere, causing more work for me to clean, and making it in the mason jar doesn't take up so much space for storage. Another thing that i've read on this article is using bleach for whites, I've always used and use bleach, I always do my whites last so my washer doesn't develop a bad mildew smell, front load washer, but i know someone who uses ammonia and her whites are great! so, i'm going to give it a try. I wear a lot white, uniforms...

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  54. I must have been tired when I wrote this, in the super sauce I gave you I wrote to add the oxiclean to the sauce along with baking soda, pls put neither in it, a chemical reaction will occure, add it to the wash cycle instead. When I make my dry form I add everything together in one large container....

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  55. Thank you thank you thank you, I have tried everything to get out the smell of Fels Naptha. One thing i do to grate soap is use the food processor. Simple, quick and works great!

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  56. It is very nice information, because you have first practice it by yourself and then only share to us.Nice job , keep it up.

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  57. I use a dry laundry soap recipe. Most of the old laundry detergents and dishwasher detergents used TSP is their ingredients. The law has outlawed this now. BUT, the agricultural people use fertilizer that has 50% trisodium phosphate(TSP) in it. They say it causes algae bloom on ponds and lakes. Since they used this before and the agricultural people are still using it, I add it to my laundry soap. Also, you really don't want your detergent to be neutral. If you ask drycleaner folks they will tell you the trick to getting clean laundry is acid. So...this is why I switched my recipe to this:
    2 cups borax
    3 cups washing soda
    1 cup TSP
    2 bars soap, grated
    1 cup citric acid

    Put in blender and blend till fine powder. Use 1 or 2 TBL per load.
    I have a friend that has hard water and she adds 1 cup of Kosher salt to her recipe and this helps soften the water. She loves her homemade laundry soap. She adds lavender oil and lemon oil to her salt and mixes it for scent. I use a laundry bar and an aloe and vitamin E soap that has a nice smell so I don't add scented oils to it. I use soap from SoapWorks. It is homemade soap and we love it. For those of you in Canada, you can get it at the Bulk Barn. We also use the shampoo/conditioner soap from them as well and our hair is clean, manageable and mine has more body! This is a bonus for me since I have fine hair.


    For a different recipe for laundry softener you might try this:
    • 6 cups water
    • 3 cups white vinegar
    • 2 cups Suave Rosemary Mint Conditioner
    I got this recipe from the web. http://www.moneysavingqueen.com/May-2012/Make-Your-Own-Fabric-Softener-with-Conditioner/
    I couldn't find the Suave hair conditioner but I did find Down Under Natural's NUDE Invigorating conditioner. It has eucalyptus, fresh mint and rosemary in it and I love the smell! For my granddaughter (I do her family's laundry and she has a 6 month old) but she likes coconut so I found a cheap coconut conditioner for hers. She loves it!

    As always, check if safe for your sceptic tank (you might find your husband uses TSP to clean the garage!) and maybe make a small amount and try it for sensitivities. My husband has allergies but these have not bothered him but that doesn't mean it might bother someone else. The laundry recipe is mine after much tweaking for our family.

    Good luck and happy washing!

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    1. Oh, for Canadians, mix the dry ingredients in the blender and mix the soap in by hand if you use the SoapWork Soap. This recipe is not a dry feel when finished. I call it dry because I put it I a plastic container with a snap down lid. I don't know what it might do with some of the soaps you people in the USA use.

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