Eco Living on the Range: Making My Own Laundry Soap

As part of our simple living lifestyle, I share tips on saving money and frugal living in my blog,

Our house is on a septic system and has its own well, something entirely new to this city girl.

I’ve been told by a plumber that it’s fine to throw toxic cleaning products down the drain, but I think of all the cute creatures around here (like this bull moose we saw, just down the road), and I shudder at the thought of poisoning their environment.

I’ve always tried to make my own cleaning products using vinegar, lemon juice and water, and only rely on the hard stuff occasionally, when things are really dirty.

But making homemade laundry soap was something I’d never considered until I came across this terrific Suddenly Frugal blog. It seemed hippy dippy, and I wasn’t sure it would work. But it was so cheap to make I thought I’d at least give it a try.

This is all you need to make your own Homemade Laundry Soap:

  • Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
  • 20 Mule Team Borax
  • Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap

It’s not easy to find these standard ingredients. These proven cleaners of yesteryear are being shoved onto the bottom aisles at the grocery store. HelMart doesn’t carry them (figures), but King Soopers here in Colorado (a Kroger store) does carry all three.

The recipe is so simple it’s ridiculous:

  1. Get a large bucket or tote.
  2. Combine 2 cups washing soda and 2 cups Borax.
  3. Grate 1 bar of Fels Naptha Soap
  4. Mix into powder
  5. Measure 1/4 cup per load.

Wear a dust mask when mixing, or be prepared to inhale a lot of powder. Ick.

It took me maybe 10 minutes to do all of this, and one batch lasts about 4 weeks for us (I only do wash once a week). Total cost of purchasing the ingredients was, $10.84, about the same as a box of Tide, and I’m going to get at least 3 months out of the ingredients (I bought 3 bars of soap). Don’t hold me to that though; I’m innumerate.

DIY Laundry Soap really does work! There’s a reason this stuff has been around forever. But if you try it, keep these tips in mind:

  • Let your washer fill up at least halfway with water, to dillute the powder.
  • You won’t see bubbles in the water, but bubbles aren’t what cleans your clothes, detergent does.
  • For stains, try spot cleaning first by rubbing a bar of Fels Naptha on the stain.
  • There are recipes for liquid laundry soap out there, but they look like a pain, and they’re messy to make. I like this recipe the best.

I would love to keep making this laundry soap while we’re on the road this winter, but I’m not sure I’ll have the space in the RV to store the ingredients. Time will tell when I get to packing again in a few weeks. That’ll be fun.

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