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Liquid Laundry Soap

My Dearest DD,
I am always looking for ways to provide for my family and save money too. I am sharing my Liquid Laundry Soap recipe with you. The prices for ingredients are based on 2010 prices in Temple, Texas.

Low suds great for HE machines and hand washing. 

You will need:
1 bar Fels-Naptha - grated (OR Zote, Ivory, Pure and Natural, Kirk’s Castile, Dr. Bronner’s Castile, or Yardly English Lavender)

For really soiled clothes, use the Fels-Naptha 

You will also need: 

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)
3 gallons of hot tap water (draw 6 cups first, wait until later to draw the rest so that the water will not be too cool)

1-1 gallon Ziploc bag
3-1 gallon plastic jugs
1-5 gallon bucket with lid (mark the 3 gallon level)
1 large pot (use for only soap making- I use a tamale pot)
Long-handled spoon (I like to use a slotted-spoon)
Potato masher
Several measuring utensils (I use a set only for making soap. I paid $1 for each of the sets at Dollar Tree)

Measure the Borax and Washing soda into a 1-gallon zip-lock. Leave some air in the bag and close it. Make sure the bag is closed well and turn the bag over and over to combine the Borax and Washing soda. Set the bag aside and let the dust settle.

Pour 6 cups of hot tap water into the pot and add the grated soap bar. Stir over medium to high heat until the soap is completely melted. Lower the heat.

Slowly stir in the Borax/Soda mixture. About ¼ cup at a time. Stir until dissolved and remove from heat. Let the mixture cool down to about room temperature.

Add 1 and ½ gallons of the hottest tap water that you can to your bucket. While stirring, slowly pour the melted soap mixture into the bucket. This will not come up to the 3-gallon level. Add hot tap water to your soap pot and try to get all of the leftover soap mixture diluted into the water. Pour the water from the pot into the bucket until it reaches the 3-gallon level mark on the bucket. Stir until completely combined and check for any lumps.

Set the lid down (don’t seal it or press the lid on tight... simply set the lid on it) on top of the bucket and place the bucket out of the way for 24 hours. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO CHECK ON IT… STIR IT… LEAVE IT ALONE!

24 hours later carefully take the lid off. There will be condensation on the lid and it will drip onto you, the floor, tabletop, etc. I like to sit the bucket next to a sink for the 24 hours so that all I have to do is slide the lid into the sink without creating much of a mess.

Depending on the weather, the alignment of the planets and the rate in which you stirred, the temperature of the house, the way you held your tongue during the pouring process… your liquid will not be a liquid… Don’t fret; this is normal (if there is such a thang). The soap will look like egg drop soup, gel, snot, goop, slime, and any other nasty thing you can think of.

Stir the soap to combine it and now you will pour it, scoop it, or mash it. When mine is a thickish gel, I will scoop it into a bowl and use a potato masher to break it up and then funnel it into the awaiting containers. Place the lids on the gallon containers and use ½ cup per regular load.

Depending on where you shop, this laundry detergent will cost you anywhere from .01 to .09 cents per load. You are not adding phosphates to the water supply and this detergent is wonderful to your clothes and those with allergies.

I prefer to use the lavender soap for general laundry, because for many years I did laundry in 55-gallon drums in the back yard or in the bathtub when the weather was too bad to wash outside. Lavender is soothing and calming. Consider at least washing sheets and bed clothing in lavender. Since I am not a farm girl anymore, I only make a small amount of the Fels-Naptha recipe to keep on hand.

WARNING: You may read where it is recommended to put a few drops of your favorite essential oil into your laundry detergent. Do not do that. Essential oils will break down the fibers in your clothing. Plus, there are only two essential oils that can be used neat (directly on the skin without dilution) and those are Lavender and Tea Tree (Melaleuca) oils. Wouldn’t that just frap with your clothing investment dollars?!

If you want to add a scent add 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to ½ cup of distilled water, pour it into a NEW spray bottle. Shake the bottle and spray the mixture on rag and toss it into the dryer with your load of laundry. The rag should be used for this purpose ONLY.

I know that I told you to use 3 1-gallon containers to pour your laundry detergent in, but I like to use 4 1-gallon containers. 3 to store the detergent and the 4th I will pour about half a gallon of the detergent close the lid and give it a good shake before I pour it into the measuring cup.

Remember, this is a very low-suds detergent. Besides suds is not what cleans the clothing.

You can feel good about making your own laundry detergent, you are saving $$$ and the earth!

Here is where the rubber meets the road:

The only laundry detergent that I will buy is from Shaklee at $26 to $30 bucks a bottle that does 64 loads.

26 divided by 64 equals @ 41 cents per load.

Laundry detergent breakdown

Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer) 55 oz box  (@ 5.5 cups) $3.79
I used 1 cup .68
Borax (20 Mule Team) 72 0z box (@ 10 cups) $4.93
I used 1 cup .49
Bar of soap (I used Yardley English Lavender) .99

Fels-Naptha costs around 1.30 for a 5.5 oz bar

I am not factoring the cost of the bucket, water and utensils. Most I already had and it is a one-time investment. I am also not factoring in variables such as time, fuel, tax, shipping and handling.

.68 + .49 + .99= $2.16 for 3 gallons
16 cups per gallon divided by 2 equals 32 (1/2 cup per load) times 3 (gallons of detergent made) equals 96 loads per batch.

2.16 divided by 96 equals $0.0225 (around 3 cents per load)

I’m lazy so I went to the Consumer Search site to see what they had learned about price per load of some popular brands.

Tide 2X Ultra Concentrate .31 cents per load
Great Value Everyday .19 cents per load
Seventh Generation Free .26 cents per load
Shaklee .41 cents per load
My homemade laundry detergent .03 cents per load

Ok, let’s look at the big picture. Say you do one load of laundry per day for 1 year.

Tide 2X Ultra Concentrate .31 times 365 equals  $113.15
Great Value Everyday .19 times 365 equals $69.35
Seventh Generation Free .26 times 365 equals $94.90
Shaklee .41 cents per load equals $149.65
My homemade laundry detergent .03 cents per load equals $10.95

Who only does one load of laundry a day? Certainly not me!!! I average around 3 loads 5 days a week. Which costs me @ 780 loads per year:

Shaklee .41 cents per load equals $319.80
My homemade laundry detergent .03 cents equals $23.40