Friday, May 7, 2010

Let's Talk Laundry

For the love of all things domestic and farm-wifey-like! Here comes a post about making your own laundry detergent!

I know, run!! But if you're like me (lover of all things thrifty and homemade, but glamorous at the same time), you'll love this too! Ok, so it's not at all glamorous, but whatever!

My mom and sister-in-laws decided to try this and it really works! Really!

And it's really cheap. Like, really cheap. And it works great on cloth diapers, which I use.

So here you go...

Liquid Laundry Soap-Family Sized Batch

1 bar grated Fels Naptha soap
5 gallon bucket
1 cup washing soda (Arm and Hammer)
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
4 1/2 gallons water

Put grated Fels Naptha in saucepan and cover with water. Heat on low until dissolved. Fill bucket 1/2 way with hot water and add soap. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax and mix well.

Fill bucket with more HOT water. As it cools, it will thicken.
If mixture becomes too thick, add hot water to thin it to desired consistency.

May be used immediately. Mix well before each use.
Use 1/2(normal) to 1 cup per load (heavy).

Cost per load .04. Yes, you read that right. Four freaking cents per load.

(recipe & photo above from Notions on Nesting blog)

I also started making my own liquid fabric softener, which is so easy, it's ridulous. Here's the recipe...

Homemade Fabric Softener
2 cups hair conditioner (any kind - can be scented, which will scent the clothes)
3 cups vinegar
6 cups water

Mix well. And that's it!! I used a cheap-o conditioner, which made this super-inexpensive to make. And it seems to be working well so far. And no extra chemicals!



  1. how well does the soap work with HE washers? i had some issues with my washer when i used liquid soap so i switched to HE soap. Now i'm scared to try the homemade stuff. anybody out there try this stuff with HE??

  2. I need to invest in a 5 gallon bucket. And find the washing soda. Love it too!

  3. i will have to try these. i love my tide and am not sure i can give it up- but i LOVE the fabric softener recipe. easy! and if that`s your laundry room.... i am screaming w envy...

  4. My sister, mom and I have been making laundry detergent (using this exact recipe) for several years now and love it! I haven't tried making the liquid softener but I will. I love that it does the same thing as the expensive stuff--cleans!

  5. I make my own using this recipe as well and it works in HE washers too. Just use 1/4 cup per load. I am going to try the fabric softener too. Thanks!

  6. Melissa StoltzfusMay 7, 2010 at 10:37 PM

    I've been doing a similar recipe. . . no cooking involved though as it is a powder! I've got an HE washer and it is fine! Going to have to try that fabric softner now too! I've been wondering about it! Thanks! PS. Got to your site via Janelle :)

  7. This sounds great, I am going to have to give it a try!

  8. Thanks for these recipes. I am very interested in trying them. One question- my 9 month old son has very sensitive skin and we have to use the free and clear detergents on his clothing. Do you think the homemade detergent would be ok to use for him?

  9. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe with us...I'm so gonna try it.

  10. Just be sure to keep it covered with a lid! you don't want a child falling into your bucket and drowning. It has happened, by the way!

  11. I went to Amazon to get the products that you mentined for the soap recipe and found this. I'm not one to throw up red flags but I thought you should see this since you are pregnant and can decide for yourself..... I know I would have wanted to see this when I was pregnant last year. This is a review of the FELS Naptha bar soap...

    This came from Wikipedia's website, so all of you who have asthma or mentioned the chemical smell, here's why:

    While sometimes also sold next to personal-care body soaps it should not be used as an overall body soap or regular laundry additive since it contains Stoddard solvent, a skin and eye irritant.

    According to the "Chronic Health Effects" section of the National Institutes of Health's MSDS for Fels Naptha:

    Chronic toxicity testing has not been conducted on this product. However, the following effects have been reported on one of the product's components. Stoddard solvent: Repeated or prolonged exposure to high concentrations has resulted in upper respiratory tract irritation, central and peripheral nervous system effects, and possibly hematopoetic, liver and kidney effects.

    Stoddard solvent is another name for mineral spirits, which are, like petroleum distillates, a mixture of multiple chemicals made from petroleum. Exposure to Stoddard solvent in the air can affect your nervous system and cause dizziness, headaches, or a prolonged reaction time. It can also cause eye, skin, or throat irritation.

    It should be noted that using Fels-Naptha as a punishment for foul language is considered highly dangerous.


    So there you go. Careful with this stuff. As a cleaner, I couldn't see that it works any better (or worse) than Spray-n-Wash. And since I'm one of those people who happen to like the light scents of detergents more than the chemical smell (and all the scents are for is to disguise the chemical smell; otherwise they'd all smell bad)... I just use detergent. This stuff is not *choke* "natural" like, say, vinegar. If you are going to use this as laundry cleaner exclusively (rather than stain remover), don't use hot water or you'll get it in your lungs. You might consider using Downey to cover the stench, as well.

    I am willing to try it for small areas of poison ivy, if I ever get it. We use "Ivy Block" which prevents poison ivy/oak/sumac rashes, so I doubt I'll ever get to try it for that.


I love hearing from you! Thanks for your comments! ~Aimee


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