Make Your Own Laundry Soap

Home Inspector with Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington 215

With the cold weather and low inside humidity at my house, my kids and wife have been having a problem with dry skin. If you have sensitive skin like my duaghters do and need to know what goes into your laundry detergent, now you can make your own. Costs are low and the process takes no more than 15 minutes.

 Obligatory Cautions:

Don't mix any of the ingredients with ammonia derivatives (surfactants) or chlorine. Always use appropriate eye protection, a mask, and gloves if necessary. In addition, do not eat the detergent, poke it in your eye, or stick it up your nose. Any substance can be harmful if handled inappropriately.

 Most homemade detergent recipes recommend the use of washing soda (available in grocery stores or from pool cleaning companies), but baking soda will work in a pinch.  If you wish to substitute your favorite bar soap for Fels-Naptha laundry soap, use a full bar instead of 1/3 bar.

 This first recipe is one I have made and enjoy. $3.50 buys enough ingredients to make 2 full batches. Use 1/2 cup to cup per load depending on level of dirtiness. Each batch yields 16 cups.



1 gallon hot water

1/2 bar finely grated Fels-Naptha soap

1 cup baking soda

 Grate soap into a saucepan and add enough hot water to cover it. Stir frequently on medium low heat until all the soap is melted. Meanwhile, heat 1 gallon of water in a larger pot (do not boil). Add melted soap and mix thoroughly. Finally, add the baking soda and stir it in well. Allow mixture to cool before pouring into storage container. Keep container sealed and stir contents before each use.

 For extra cleaning power, you can follow the directions above using the following ingredients:

 1 gallon water

1/3 bar finely grated Fels-Naptha soap

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup Borax

 If you prefer a dry detergent, you can use this recipe:

 Powdered Laundry Detergent

 2 cups finely grated Fels-Naptha soap

1 cup Washing Soda

1 cup Borax

 Mix these ingredients well and store in an airtight plastic container away from heat. Use 1-2 tablespoons per full load.


 Additional Tips:

 1.         All these detergents work fine in cold water, so save the hot cycle for soiled cloth diapers and other materials that need to be sterilized.


2.         Contrary to what your mother taught you, neither your clothes washer nor the earth itself will cease to spin if you do not separate light and dark clothing. Once excess dye has been removed from dark cotton clothing by the first few washings, it is safe to mix colors.  However, I still tell the kids to separate the reds.  There's only so many pair of pink underwear I want in the house and none of them should be mine. 

3.         Try using vinegar in a Downy ball or add 1/4 cup during the rinse cycle as a natural fabric softener (just don't use vinegar and bleach in the same load).

 4.         You can fill a square of flannel with the fragrant herb of your choice (lavender works well) and sew it shut. Pop this in the dryer to add your favorite scent.

Comments (2)

Not a real person
San Diego, CA

I loved your disclaimer:

In addition, do not eat the detergent, poke it in your eye, or stick it up your nose. Any substance can be harmful if handled inappropriately.

I remember my freshman year at Texas A&M University. Most fraternities had drinking parties involving excessive amounts of alcohol, so one of the more responsible fraternities had a drinking party with water. Whomever could drink the most water won. Two young college students died that day. It's like my wise old grandmother told me, "Anything done to excess is bad for you."

Jan 28, 2009 10:06 PM
Paul Duffau
Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington - Asotin, WA
Caring for People, Educating about Homes

Hey Russel!

I'm probably not the best one to stick up for moderation as my preferred activity is to go on runs that can be upwards of 30-35 miles solo on mountain trails (obviously a summer time activitiy in my neck of the woods) but you're right.  Almost anything can be over done.

Sometimes it's done in the best interests of people - you're example with the responsible fraternity.  Some times not.  See all the legal disclaimers on ladders and hair dryers.

I read the labels and warnings when I buy things and it just amazes me that people would think of - it would be like smoking the detergent, claiming harm and blaming someone else.


Jan 29, 2009 01:02 AM