Tutorial: Making Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

After running out of my surprisingly excellent homemade powdered laundry detergent ,I set about making a new batch.  During my research for the powdered detergent, I found that the most popular soaps used were Fels-Naptha, Kirk’s Castile, and Ivory.  For this batch I wanted to try Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap.  I quickly found that Kirk’s Castile was too soft for my handy dandy Cuisinart processor to grind and was forced to try a liquid laundry detergent recipe to save the soap I had just mutilated. 

I researched over a dozen recipes online and they all shared the same ingredients:  A bar soap of your choice, Arm &  Hammer Washing Soda, Borax, and water.  The amounts of all ingredients varied with some concoctions ending up more concentrated or more gelatinous than other detergents.  I chose the recipe that had the most positive comments from readers from The Simple Dollar website.  My variation on the recipe is that I used 1 and 1/2 bars of Castile soap versus just 1.  Why?  For the simple fact that I thought my soap looked puny against the Fels-Naptha that I used previously.  Adding the extra 1/2 bar could totally be pointless, but I also didn’t feel it would hurt.

The following is my tutorial on how to make your very own liquid laundry detergent.

Ingredients:  Makes approximately 3 1/4 gallons = 52 cups = 52 loads

1 bar soap
1 C. washing soda
1/2 C. Borax
3 gallons + 4 cups water

1) Grate the soap into fine pieces or shave the soap with a knife into thin strips.

This is the result from putting a soft soap like Kirk’s Castile through a food processor.  The soap closest to the blades was pulverized to dust and then gummed up the machine.  While it wouldn’t work for a powdered laundry soap, which needs consistently sized granules, the soap was fine for melting in a pot.

2) Add 4 cups of water to a saucepan and bring to a nice hot simmer just under the boiling point.

3) Add the soap to the pan.  Let it heat up and melt.

Since I had such big chunks of soap, I improvised and used a whisk to mash the big pieces into smaller ones. 

4) While soap melts on the stove, add 3 gallons of hot water to a bucket.  I used a 2 quart juice container to add the water to a 5 gallon bucket.

5) Add 1 Cup of washing soda and 1/2 Cup of Borax to the hot water in the bucket.  Stir to dissolve.

6)  Add the melted soap mixture from the stove to the bucket and stir well to mix.

It took about 8 minutes to completely dissolve my big soap chunks.

7) Cover your laundry detergent and let set for 24 hours. 

8 ) Transfer detergent to containers, or leave it in the covered bucket.  Stir, shake, or mix the soap prior to each use.  Use 1 Cup of detergent per full-sized load of wash.

Notes:  Most all the research I did pointed to an end product that looked either thick, slightly gloppy, or gelatinous after 24 hours.  Most all detergents needed to be mixed before use due to the slight gelling of the ingredients.  I found that after 24 hours, my mixture did not appear goopy and felt like a very slick and soapy liquid that was slightly thicker than water.  As several days passed, my mixture started to gel. 

I have transferred my detergent to empty milk jugs and have already tested it on some laundry.

Is it worth it?

The total cost of the ingredients in this recipe: $2.69.
Cost per load (1 Cup of final product): $0.05

Gain liquid laundry detergent bottle 32 loads costs $6.99 or $0.22 per load.

Using homemade liquid laundry detergent over Gain I save $0.17 per load.  At 416 loads per year that’s a savings of $70.72.   I’d say that making my own detergent is worth it.

But does it work?  Tune in next week to find out! 

UPDATE 10/26: I have the results posted!

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