Friday, February 14, 2014

Finances on Friday! Trouble Shooting with Homemade Laundry Soap

I'm linking up with Rebecca again over at Renaissance for Finances on Friday!

Well, I needed to make some more homemade laundry soap on Tuesday, but I was busy doing something else, so I asked my oldest son to help me make some. Actually, he was going to make it by himself with my instructions. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but it never quite set up to the right consistancy.

I think people have a love/hate relationship with homemade laundry soap, and I have to admit, so have I.

I started making my own soap, I think, six years ago (?) at the encouragement of a friend.  And, I've had to trouble shoot a bit, but I think I'm at a point where it seems to work adequately.

Here's the recipe I use for the liquid version of homemade laundry soap:

1 bar of Zote soap, grated
1 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
1 cup Oxy Clean (or similar alternative)
1 cup salt

Melt the grated soap on medium heat in a large pot filled half way or so with water. You'll want to almost continually stir this and I use a wisk to break up the clumps of soap. Place the other ingredients all in a five gallon plastic bucket. When your soap is fully melted pour the entire thing into your bucket of powders. Use a long handled spoon to stir until the powders are dissolved. Then use your pot to fill the bucket almost to the top with warm water (cool will cause it to set up a little too quickly) and stir it all with your long handled spoon. It will need overnight to set up, but you can go ahead and use it right away if you need to.


  • The original recipe was for Fels Naptha soap, but I like the Zote better. I couldn't get Zote in South Carolina, but they sell it in Walmart here in Oklahoma. Once I used Ivory and I didn't feel like it made the clothes seem quite as clean. The Zote grates easier, is less than $1 and smells a lot nicer.
  • At the suggestion of a friend, I added in the Oxyclean. I've also tried the cheaper Sun brand and it works just as well. The ingredient list is practically the same.
  • At the suggestion of the same friend I also added the salt. After we moved to Oklahoma I felt like the original recipe didn't seem to work as well as before. I don't know if it is hard water or what, but the salt seems to make a difference-maybe softening the hard water.
Certainly this isn't the only recipe out there, and you could also add in some essential oils, but I just haven't done that yet.

We all wear hand me downs, so by the time we get them, someone else has deemed them useless (for whatever reason), so our clothes aren't in pristine condition when we start out with them. I am particular however, because I don't want us walking around looking like we always wear second hand clothes. lol! But, it does take a little effort to keep them looking nice.

Here's what I've come up with:

  • I keep a medium sized bucket by the washer for soaking clothes in Oxyclean (or Sun brand). If something is really stained (shirt collars, food on the front of kids shirts, or whatever) I'll stick it in the bucket and soak it with a scoop of Oxyclean. Sometimes I'll have to leave it in there a few days, but it has almost always worked. The only time it didn't get a stain out that I can remember, was a few months ago Brennan got some sort of weird grease stain on a shirt and it would not come out. I don't know what the stain was from, but it wasn't a normal grease stain.
  • Homemade soap doesn't have the brightners in it that store bought soap does, so during the summer when everyone is wearing brighter things, I'll look for a sale with a coupon and get some store bought soap. Last year Kmart had a sale and I bought a huge box of powdered off brand soap and only used it for the bright loads. It worked great and lasted me a LONG time since I was only doing maybe 5 loads a week with it.
  • I do about 4 loads a day. (There are 12 of us.) Unless there are blankets or something and that makes more loads. I tried hanging the loads out on a clothes line a few summers ago and it didn't seem like it was saving me as much money as the time it took was worth. So, for now I am just sticking them in the dryer.
  • I don't use fabric softner because it makes my kids' eczema break out. I know there are some homemade recipes for that also, but really I don't even notice not using any.
So, if you've been putting off making your own, or you've made a batch and just didn't love it, don't give up on it! It really does save me a significant amount of money. The ingredients do last quite a long time. Try some of these trouble shooting tips and see if they work for you.

Don't forget to link up at Renaissance and let us know any frugal tips or ideas you have!


Rebecca said...

Great! I do the homemade soap too and while it goes give me trouble sometimes, I admit my family is HARD on their clothes- I won't hold it against the poor soap!

As for the line drying, I imagine that much laundry each day WOULD be more work than it was worth...but perhaps you could dry on the line just jeans and blankets and stuff? Especially jeans...those things take SO LONG to dry! Being limited with just jean products might make it more manageable for you. I can't imagine hanging all the underwear and socks for a family that large! ha!

Courtney said...

My kids are pretty rough on their clothes, too, which makes me even more thankful for hand me downs. I don't have to fret over something that cost a lot of money that they just turn around and ruin.
My husband just said last week for the first time that he likes the feel of line dried clothes better. Who knows, maybe there will be more line drying again in my future!

Michelle said...

I use vinegar for fabric softener. I drop a few drops of essential oils in for a scent but you don't have to. I wonder if that would work for you?

Wendy said...

Thanks, Courtney! I'm about to finish off my last batch of homemade soap, I'll have to try some of these changes - they do sell the Fels Naphta soap in more places here now :) But, Zote sounds like a better deal if they sell that here!

Courtney said...

Michelle, That's a good idea! I can't see why it wouldn't. Do you add it to the washer? When do you add it in?

Wendy, Marsha got me started on it using the Duggar recipe. I wonder if she's still making it?

Alyssa Spring said...

I also use hand me downs or thrifted clothes so I don't worry much about stains! Your recipe is similar too mine accept mine is one bar of soap, one cup of washing soda, one cup of borax...and sometimes I add baking soda if I feel they need some extra "oomph"

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