HOW TO::make your own soap

>> June 7, 2010

When I got the idea, Craig (my PH) made me promise that we wouldn’t smell like “dirty hippies.”  

My mom, who was a hippie (and still is for all intents and purposes) would often say, “I was a hippie, but I was never a dirty hippie.”  So maybe it’s a misnomer all together. 

At any rate, Craig was concerned.  I figured, The stuff costs two dollars, so if I have to dump it, who cares?
So what's this stuff that caused such a stir over cleanliness in our home?  

Jenah’s Home Made Laundry Soap. 

I shamelessly take credit for this whole notion, but in reality, I first heard about making your own laundry soap not from a hippie, but none other than the Duggars.  Yup, you heard me right.  Nineteen kids and counting.  Something about this family intrigues me.  

And when they talked about making their own laundry soap to save money, I thought, Interesting… why can’t I do that?   I balked at doing it for a long time because it just seemed, well, a little too “out there” for me.  And maybe just a little too much work.  There was no way that a homemade anything could work better than something that I could purchase at Target, right?
Somewhere along the line we have been fed the lie that there is no way homemade anything can be better and we've decided to believe it.  But the truth of the matter is: this stuff is great. 

I really had nothing to lose (well besides the $2 anyway) so I gave it a try.   I hunted down all the things I needed: Borax, (easy)  Fels-Naptha bar, (easy if you know where to look) and washing soda (a little trickier.)  I gathered my supplies along with a five-gallon pail (with a top) from Menards, and went for it. 

I was a little uncertain, but decidedly hopeful.  Could this really work? 

I followed the directions.  But once I was done it was just sort of, well, runny.  All Free and Clear is so… honey-like.  I prepared myself for the “it was too good to be true moment,” but instead I was pleasantly surprised.
The only thing that mattered was that our clothes smelled nice and that they were clean.  Check and check. 

Some “money saving” ideas I have tried are at best passable. 
Other things are doable. 
Some are ok, but for the money I save I can put up with it. 
But the thing with laundry soap is -- I would never buy commercially made detergent again.  Ever.  This stuff is awesome.  And $2 for TEN GALLONS?!  Bring it on.  I will take the 25 minutes to make it.  And I will take the time to hunt down washing soda.  It is so worth it.
I even gave this away for gifts at Christmas last year.  And you’ll never guess what I got in return.  Empty laundry soap bottles with a pleading, "Can I have some more, please?"           

Ok, so how do you make this stuff?  Well, gather your supplies, and I’ll show you how. (Tips on finding the ingredients are at the end of the blog.)
Jenah’s HomeMade Laundry Soap
Fels-Naptha bar
washing soda
five-gallon pail (with a top)

Step one:
Grate the Fels-Naptha bar (I like to use my food processor.)  In a saucepan, heat 4 cups of water and the grated soap till the soap dissolves.  Stir it around a little.

Step two:
Fill your five-gallon bucket halfway with hot water.  Mix in 1 cup of washing soda, ½ cup borax and the melted Fels-Naptha mixture.  Stir it around.  Fill to the top of the five-gallon pail with more hot water, then let it sit overnight to gel.

Step three:
The next day, mix your soap in the five-gallon pail (My friend Raychel’s husband Seth mixes hers for her with a joint-compound mixer.  Craig never seems to be around when I need his mixing abilities, so I find a large stick or use a giant ladle.)  Fill your laundry soap bottle/container half full with the soap, then fill the rest of the way with water.   (Remember, when you make this, the soap in your five-gallon pail is DOUBLE STRENGTH, so don’t forget to dilute it every time you fill up your laundry soap container!) 

Step four:
Wash your clothes!  For a top loader, use 5/8 cup.  For a front loader, use ¼ cup.  Someone asked me if this works with all water temperatures.  The answer is, YUP!

Ten gallons of laundry soap.   For all of you “math challenged” out there like me, that’s a whopping 180 loads in a top loader and an unbelievable 640 loads in a front loader. (Real loads, not just the make believe kind conventional detergents claim on their bottles.)

Enjoy Your Fresh Clothes!

Scrounging Tips:
Fels-Naptha: On the bottom shelf of the laundry aisle.  Almost every larger grocery store has them, although, I have NOT found them at Target.  It is a small bar, like the size of a regular bar of soap, but the smell is strong.  Your nose will lead you to it.

Borax: If you can't find this, there is something seriously wrong with you.  Just kidding.  This I HAVE seen at our Target, so therefore you should be able to find it ANYWHERE, maybe even at the Kwik-Trip.  Found in the laundry aisle.

Washing Soda: Not to be confused with BAKING soda.  Baking soda and washing soda have COMPLETELY DIFFERENT chemical make-ups.  This comes in a box, about the size of a small box of cereal.  They do carry this at our large grocery store here in town in the laundry aisle.  However, if yours does not, talk to a manager and they should be able to get it for you.  If you can't get it where you live, try a bigger town, Or the internet.  (The shipping can be expensive, though.)  Once you get your hands on it, it will last you a LONG time. 

Five Gallon Pails: Hardware store or large lumber land such as Menard's or Lowe's.   
© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
Use allowed by express written permission only.
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Tanya June 7, 2010 at 12:18 PM  

Wow, sounds easy. Do you add anything to make it smell super nice??

jenah June 7, 2010 at 2:27 PM  
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