UPDATE: There is a new and improved version of this recipe!
I love making my own homemade laundry soap. It’s easy to make, works great, and is healthful for my family (even for the babies).
UPDATE: There is a new and improved version of this recipe!
Most homemade laundry soap recipes call for a bar of Fels-Naptha soap, but Fels-Naptha soap is NOT a natural product so I don’t use it any more. The reasoning behind this decision is my recent discovery that Fels-Naptha includes ingredients such as titanium dioxide (a carcinogen) that aren’t so healthful for the body.
After being alerted to these concerns, and desiring to live as healthfully as possible now to avoid hospital bills later, I chose to search for an alternative that wouldn’t break our budget.
The best alternative that I found is Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap. And, to be honest, I have discovered that I prefer Dr. Bronner’s over Fels-Naptha anyway (besides the reasons already given). Here’s what I learned about this soap:
- It’s typically (but not always) cheaper per bar than Fels Naptha. On Amazon.com (love Amazon!), Fels-Naptha soap usually costs around $4 per bar whereas Dr. Bronner’s soap usually costs around $3.33 per bar. Not huge savings, but every little bit counts (especially for a deal-seeker like me)!
- It has all-natural ingredients (nothing is questionable).
- It comes plain or scented with different essential oils (meaning if you want your soap to smell good, you don’t necessarily have to add any essential oils).
The laundry soap recipe below can be made into a powdered version or a liquid version. Both are easy to make and both work very well. I personally prefer the powdered because we seem to go through it at a slower speed.
Both versions of the recipe are low-sudsing, which means they’re safe for high-efficiency (HE) washers (which are typically front-loading). I do not recommend using this soap for use with cloth diapers (if you use Fels-Naptha instead of Dr. Bronner’s soap–same thing, don’t use with cloth diapers) because it will build up fairly quickly and cause repelling (I learned this the hard way; however, if you don’t mind stripping them more often, then feel free to use it). Rather, I’d use a detergent specifically for cloth diapers, such as my Homemade All-natural Cloth Diaper Detergent (this detergent also works well for mama cloth).
Before I delve into the recipe, here’s a break down of the ingredients and why I selected them:
- Castile Soap. Castile soap helps to remove dirt and stains from clothes. It is made with vegetable or fruit fats (mainly olive and coconut oils). This means that they perform better in the washing machine (animal fats tend to clog it over time), especially front-loading (HE) washing machines. Additionally, castile soap is safe to use if your washer drains into a septic system (same thing, animal fats should not go into the septic system).
- Washing Soda and Baking Soda. These ingredients do well to loosen dirt and stains off of clothing. The baking soda also reduces or eliminates odors.
- Salt. Celtic sea salt, epsom salt, or kosher Real Salt all help to soften the water, thereby preventing mineral build up. If you have hard water, you may need to add more salt. The salt also helps towards knocking dirt and spots out of the cloth.
- Thieves Household Cleaner. Due to popular demand, I started adding some of Young Living’s totally awesome Thieves Household Cleaner to my liquid laundry soap (not the powdered). This is optional, but does add an extra punch of cleansing power to your laundry.
Here are a few more tidbits before we get to the recipe. If you want keep on the natural path, try these as well:
- Add about 1/2 cup white vinegar for fabric softener instead of using commercial fabric softeners. This may sound weird, but it works well and the laundry washes away any vinegar smell so you won’t smell like you just colored Easter eggs. Just be sure to add the vinegar after the castile soap has washed off the clothes (late in the wash cycle, in another wash cycle, or add it to the fabric softener cup if there is one) because you do NOT want to mix vinegar and castile soap nor do you want to mix vinegar and baking soda (or vinegar and washing soda) as these combos cancel each other out.
- If you have bad stains on your clothes, add about a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide or a tablespoon of baby OxiClean to the wash (be sure to spot test it on the garments to make sure it won’t bleach them).
- If your clothes start to become dingy, try to add about 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (such as Lemi Shine, found by dishwashing products) in with the laundry soap (don’t let it get in touch with any vinegar).
- If your white clothes become grayish or yellowed, add some bluing to the load as directed on the bluing bottle.
USELESS FACT: When I was showing chickens in 4-H as a kid, I would put some bluing in a big plastic bin, fill it with water, then dunk my white chickens (up to their head so they could still breathe) in it and hold them their for about 5 minutes. This made their feathers nice and pretty and won me many a shiny ribbon!
- To speed up drying and help to reduce static electricity, use 3 or 4 wool dryer balls (or hang dry, of course). Wool dryer balls also help as a fabric softener.
In a food processor with a grating attachment, shred the bar of soap (or do it manually if you'd rather, but use the finest grate on your grater). Remove the grating attachment and add the washing soda, baking soda, and salt to the food processor then pulse together until a fine powder results (or if you're doing it manually, just mix the finely shredded soap and the powders together in a bowl).
To use, add 1 tablespoon (2 tablespoons for very soiled clothes) to a regular load of wash.
In a large pot, bring about 4 cups of the water to a boil. Gradually add the washing soda, baking soda, and salt. Stir until dissolved.
Allow to cool until touchably warm then pour into a bucket or some other container (I used to use an empty, cleaned out plastic kitty litter jug; I marked a 1 gallon line on side so it involved less measuring). Add the remaining water then the liquid Dr. Bronner's soap and Thieves Household Cleaner a little at a time, stirring after each addition.
Stir or shake (with a lid on of course) before using.
To use, add about 1/2 cup (more for heavily soiled clothes) to a regular load of laundry.
About Clumping: Sometimes the powdered version of this recipe will clump, especially in higher humidity. This can be alleviated by pulsing the powder in a blender or food processor. Be sure to store in an airtight container (put plastic wrap over the top of the container if necessary).
For Cloth Diapers: Do NOT use this on cloth diapers. The soap will cause cloth diapers to repel. Use the <a href="http://measuringflower.com/2013/08/homemade-allnatural-cloth-diaper-detergent/">Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent</a> instead.