Saturday, February 27, 2010

Home-Made Laundry Detergent

"A penny saved is a penny earned", or so they say.  We've been trying for a while to cut back on our household expenses, and also to make an intentional effort to be a little more eco-friendly.  One of the things I tried last fall was making my own laundry detergent.  I was a little skeptical, and I hated to part with my great-smelling Gain.  I was pleasantly surprised how easy this detergent was to make, how good it worked, and how long it lasted.  It smells very clean and "lemony" because of the Fels Naptha.  You can even add essential oils to change the smell, if you choose.  It lasted our family of 5 about 4 to 5 months!  
Here's the recipe:

1 Fels Naptha soap bar, grated 
1 cups washing soda  
1/2 cup borax
5-gallon bucket
Leftover liquid detergent container
Grate the soap bar into a small saucepan (I used my food processor, but a hand grater would work fine.).
Cover with hot water.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continually, until the soap completely dissolves.   
Put washing soda and borax in a 5-gallon bucket.   Pour in the hot, melted soap mix.  Stir well, until all the powder is dissolved.  Fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water.  Stire, cover securely and let set overnight.  The next morning, stir.  Mix equal amounts of soap concentrate and water in a smaller detergent container.  Shake.
For top-loading machines:  Use 1 cup of the soap mixture per load
For front-loading machines:  Use 1/3 cup per load

You can find the ingredients in the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store.  The Fels Naptha is usually in the same place as the other stain removers.   I use Arm & Hammor Washing Soda and Mule Team Borax.  Each of these boxes cost less than $5 and will make at least four batches of detergent.  It all adds up to detergent that costs less than $5 per batch and lasts this family around 4 months.  Can't beat that!

Note:  This detergent is missing a lot of the chemicals and stabilizers the commercial detergent has.  The consistency is somewhat like pieces of jello sitting in water.  Don't worry about it.  Just give your container a shake before your pour.  

I've got to make some more this afternoon.  I'll post pictures for you so you can see how it goes together.


  1. Oh very cool!

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

  2. Dear Jodi,

    We've never met but I grew up & graduated with Donna W. (friends throughout elementary/high school)and I've always had so much respect for Lee and Irma. I'm sitting here late at night reading your posts...Doug's FB thoughts...and find myself crying and smiling.

    How I love the way Jesus Christ compels us to Himself! The heart you both have for orphans is clear and I will be praying for favor and His blessing as you both run hard after Jesus. As well as strength to get done the busy necessary details that make up your life with three adorable and vivacious boys.

    A couple of my favorite verses:

    "For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to do His good pleasure."

    "As you have recieved Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him...being rooted, established, and built up, overflowing in all gratitude..."

    I'll be following your progress and praying along the way.

    Julie Patrick-Barnhill