Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TIGHTWAD TUESDAY - Homemade Laundry Soap

I normally make my own laundry soap COMPLETELY from scratch, meaning I even make the soap that I grate up to make my laundry soap with. But recently, as I started working on cleaning out a bathroom closet, I came across a large hoard of store purchased bar soaps. Long before I started making my own soaps ... when all six kids were still at home, I purchased soaps "stock up style" any time I found a sale, had a coupon, or better yet, had a coupon AND it was on sale. I also had a box of those tiny hotel soaps that a couple of traveling relatives had given to me.

Now that I make my own soaps for bathing, I really don't want to use these store purchased soaps on my skin.... but I really don't want to throw them away, either. The answer? ....  I have been grating them up and making Powdered Laundry Soap out of them for Dave and I. And let me tell you, over time, it REALLY saves some money!

Here is my recipe for Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap:
  • 2 cups finely grated bar soap
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • a few drops essential oils (optional)
Mix all together in a large bowl (glass, plastic, or stainless steel - NOT aluminum) until thoroughly blended. Use only 1 Tablespoon per average sized load. Add an extra 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon for extra heavily soiled laundry and/or larger loads. 

I DO NOT advise grating these hard, commercial bars of soap in your food processor. It is much too hard on them and can easily break the bowl, snap the pin that holds it on, and/or destroy the motor. (yep, I had to get a new one.)
For these hard bars of commercial soap, they grate up pretty quickly, easily and finely on a hand grater. If you still have difficulty grating them, microwave them for just a few seconds (careful, too long will burn them) to soften them and they will grate up much easier, though not as finely. If you do not have a microwave you can easily soften them in your oven, the dash of your car on a hot day, or even just sitting in the sun on the concrete, brick or rocks. It doesn't take long.

Once you have the bar soap all grated up, if it still isn't as fine as you would like, dump it into your food processor with just a little of the Borax and Washing Soda. Whirl all until fine and smooth. The two powdered ingredients cling to the soap so that the soap doesn't stick to the blade nor the sides of the processor and it smoothly powders all nice and fine. Then add in your remaining borax and washing soda, blending well with a spoon (wooden or stainless steel, NOT aluminum).

For added savings and a much harder working laundry soap, I purchase my Borax and Washing Soda at a chemical supplier in large bags. Not only is it much cheaper that way in the long run, but it is a much stronger, better grade product. For example ..... the Borax you purchase at your local grocer or retail store is usually 20 mule. What I purchase at a chemical supplier is 5 mule (MUCH stronger). Since it is still less expensive (ounce per ounce) I can still use the same amount in my recipe AND save money while having a laundry soap with much more cleaning power!

Since these commercial bar soaps usually already have a strong fragrance to them, you might not want to add any more. But if you desire stronger grease cutting ability from your laundry soap, thoroughly blending in a few drops of grease cutting essential oils (such as pine, rosemary, or any of the citrus) works great. They also help to rid your laundry of odors and germs.

You don't use POWDERED laundry detergent and prefer liquid? That's easy..... simply dissolve the amount of powder you would use for a load in a cup or two of hot water, stir until dissolved, then add to your laundry and wash as usual.

One more added tip ..... when you are grating up the commercial, perfumey, store bought soaps, I STRONGLY advise wearing a mask over your nose and mouth. I didn't when I was grating up the hotel soaps and within an hour, EVERYTHING in my upper respiratory tract was as packed full of mucous as it could possibly get! I was miserably sick for a good long while. I also don't advise using laundry soaps made from store bought soaps on a long-term basis (unless they are all natural, of course), but it is a great way to use the ones you have on hand up without having to throw them away, and save a little money in the process. 


  1. Wow! You are doing an amazing job! After reading about the store soap I don't want to use any of my soaps. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. This is Great Anna. I always made liquid laundry soap, the goopy, jelly type which is great half way through the pail of soap but gets thinned down as I use it up. I have made my own soap for about 20 years as one of my kids was allergic to even Ivory Snow. Too many chemicals I guess.

  3. Thank you so much, Callie! And you are very welcome! A good, STRONG, old-fashioned lye soap is great for grating up to make all natural laundry soap.

    And thank you simplicity! Yes, I have heard that Ivory Snow can actually be harsh. Seems I remember my mom saying she couldn't use it on me, either.
    When I make the liquid, goopy type (my mom prefers it), I found a better (though longer) method of mixing that seems to last all the way to the bottom. I boil the grated soap in some of the water to dissolve... add to bucket. I then boil the washing soda in a bit of the water and stir until dissolved... add to bucket and stir. Next, boil the borax in a bit of the water and stir until dissolved... add to bucket (doesn't matter which powdered ingredient first). Blend all thoroughly, then slowly add remainder of the water that has been heated first. Stir often the first 24 hours. I may be imagining it, but it seems that when I add in a bit of essential oils (after the soap mess has cooled a bit), it helps to bind it all together better and stay bound, especially the citrus oils.
    Hope this helps.

  4. One more thing I almost forgot, the water you use in your 'liquid' laundry soap MATTERS. Distilled, filtered and soft spring waters work best. Chemical laden municipal water renders pretty poor results and reduces the cleaning power of the finished laundry soap.


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