Monday, November 14, 2011

bubble, bubble, toil and laundry soap...

Last week I made my own laundry detergent. Yes, I know I said that I didn't want to, but I'm not totally in love with the fancy french stuff I bought. Then I found this tutorial on Pinterest and was shocked at how easy it sounded, and how cheap it is. But what really talked me into trying it? You can use any kind of bar soap you want.

Have you ever smelled Fresh's Lemon Sugar? It is heavenly, to say the least. But I don't use smelly soap. I have the perfume, but by the end of the day, I don't like how it wears on me. So wouldn't it be perfect for laundry detergent? I sure think so! So that takes the cheap part away, cause that stuff is crazy expensive for a bar of soap.

Besides the expensive bar of soap, I needed to get 2 other ingredients. Super Washing Soda and Borax. Niether of which were available anywhere I looked. I've read that you can find them at Walmart, but San Fran boycotts Walmart. The closest one is in Oakland, and the next is San Jose. So I do what I do for everything I can't find here- I ordered it from Amazon. Now, I know they mark it waaaay up, but I really didn't have any other option. Driving to San Jose to save a few bucks is not, indeed, saving a few bucks. And neither is taking Bart to Oakland.

If you are interested in doing this yourself, awesome! Just read the whole way through, I learned some lessons along the way.

This makes one gallon. The original recipe made 2, so doubling it would be fine.

1/2 bar of your very favorite soap*
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
1 gallon water
an empty container to store your detergent in (see details below)

large pot (like a canning pot) that you don't use for cooking
a tall spoon


After thoroughly reading the tutorial and the comments, I knew what I didn't want my container to be. A plastic milk jug, (we don't drink that much milk!) or any kind of container with a small opening. Because: a lot of the people making it were having trouble with the detergent solidifying, and not being able to get it out. Luckily, I had a gallon pitcher with a snap on lid that I'm no longer using as a pitcher. So I'll be able to pour or scoop.


Grate your soap and put it in your large pot. Add a gallon of hot water.


Cook over medium high heat, until the soap flakes melt.


Add washing soda and borax.


Bring to a boil. At this point, mine was very liquid, and clear. (in the tutorial that I read before doing this, she cooked with half the amount of water, and at this stage, hers thickened. I accidentally used the full amount of water, so mine did not thicken until it cooled.)

I let it cool for about a half an hour. It thickened and had gotten a little opaque. I stirred it up and poured it into my container. It wasn't quite a gallon anymore, so I topped it off with water and stirred it again.

I put the lid on and let it cool some more. When I checked on it about a half an hour later, it was chunky and gelatinous. I stirred it well again, and then just left it alone to do it's thing.


The next day, it's totally opaque white, and not quite solid, but not pourable either.


Kinda slimy. 


No problem- I'll just scoop it out. 1/2 cup per load.

 I excitedly washed my first load. Everything goes great! I smell a tee shirt. It smells clean. But not at all like Lemon Sugar. Boo.

*The verdict:

I spent way too much money making my own detergent just so my clothes would smell like my favorite soap. But it was fun, and totally worth it. And now that I have learned my lesson, for my next batch I'll be more thrifty about my choice for soap. But you can't blame me for trying, right?

Links for supplies:

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