Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easy Homemade Laundry Soap

The simplest, most effective, least costly soap I know of.  It takes a minute or two to make, works in any type of washer, is safe for all washable clothes, is non-toxic, and stores indefinitely.

Chopping the bar soap before adding it to the food processor
You’ll need some kind of bar soap.  I prefer my own homemade soap, but just about any kind will work.  Fels Naptha and Zote are especially nice because they were designed for laundry (Zote is also hot pink and makes a very pretty laundry detergent J), but I’ve also used Ivory, and once in a pinch, I used a handful of tiny hotel soaps.
 You’ll also need washing soda and either borax or baking soda.  I prefer baking soda because it’s non-toxic and does a nice job deodorizing.

A note about the ingredients:
Washing soda or sodium carbonate: It removes dirt and deodorizes.   I’ve found it in the laundry isle of my grocery store and also at Ace Hardware.

Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate:  It also removes odors. 

Borax:  Also a deodorizer but a whitener as well.  It’s a great ingredient but I don’t use it anymore since I had kids.  It’s a little more toxic than I like to have around my kids.

Finished Laundry Soap
The Recipe
 Actually, it’s so simple it can hardly be called a recipe.  First grate the soap. (I chop it roughly first and then finish the grating in a food processor.  You can also use a cheese grater.)  Then mix one part soap, one part washing soda, and one part baking soda (or borax).  Store in a container with a lid and it lasts indefinitely.  Use about 1-2 teaspoons per load of laundry.  Yes, that’s right: 1-2 teaspoons.  This soap has no fillers or liquids and you don’t need very much.

Why go to the trouble of making your own soap?
1) So, so much cheaper. By my rough calculations, this recipe comes out to about a penny a load.  Seriously, a penny.  Even the cheapest commercial soap costs far far more.

2) Less waste: no enormous plastic containers to end up in landfill.  No filler ingredients had to be manufactured either.

3) Easier.  Takes about a minute to make enough to last a month or more.  No toting heavy containers from the store.

4) Non-toxic ingredients.  I feel better about using it for my own laundry, my children’s laundry, and my pets’ bedding.  I’m not worried about the fumes created when it is dissolved in hot water, nor about storing it in my household.

The most common questions about this recipe are: Is it safe for HE  or front loading washers? And, does it work? Well,  I’ve been using it in my own HE washer for over five years with no problems. And I have two kids, two dogs, and a messy, messy life.  It works as well as any other laundry soap or detergent I've ever used.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I wonder if Castille soap would be OK (since it contains Cocoa oil).

  2. What a cool thing! I never thought about making my own laundry soap. Sounds like a process but I like the nontoxic aspect. I use baking soda now for cleaning sinks & such.

    Thanks for your comment at Hill Country Mysteries. I hadn't visited here in a while, glad for the reminder.

  3. 1 cent per load is pretty darn amazing.

  4. Dawn,
    Castile soap would work fine. I often use my homemade soap, and it is often olive oil based, like Castile.

  5. Kathleen,

    Great to hear from you! I love what you've been doing over on your site.

  6. Mr H.,

    Now that I think of it, the 1 cent number is for Zote. It may well be higher when I use my homemade soap. Could be as much as 2 or 3 cents a load! :)

  7. I used Fels today to make my batch up, I have yet to give it a go. Thanks for return comment regarding Castille soap.

  8. What is toxic about Borax? This is the first I've heard referenced about that in the laundry recipes.

  9. While I was looking for soap recipes, I stumbled across your blog and the name made me laugh. :D The more I read about like minded people, the more I'm surprised it's the DH in the family doing the experimenting and learning about forgotten skills.

    Happy Learning!!!