Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Tutorial: Making Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

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!

Tutorial: Making Foaming Hand Soap

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I always thought foaming hand soap was too fru-fru for me.  I had tried a few of my friends nice smelling foaming hand soap and thought I would give it a try.  Well, I didn’t like my hands smelling like flowery cucumbers, so it sat in my bathroom forever.

Having a baby changed my mind real quick on foaming soap.  It is a million times easier to use to wash his hands than bar soap or plain old liquid soap with a pump.  When my fru-fru foaming soap ran out this week I was dreading paying another $3.50 for SOAP.  I researched online and came up with a foaming hand soap recipe!


1 Empty foaming handsoap dispenser
Clear liquid handsoap

For this experiment I cleaned out the foaming dispenser until clear water ran through the pump.

I used a ratio of 1/5 liquid soap to 4/5 water.  This dispenser was 8.5 oz.  I guessed that the pump took up an 1/2 an ounce of space.  I divided 8 by 5 to get 1.6 ounces of soap.  Subtracting 1.6 from 8 I needed roughly 6.4 ounces of water.

Remove the pump and add the water to the empty bottle first.  Next pour in the liquid soap.  By adding the water first bubbles will be minimized.  Twist on the pump and shake gently to mix the soap into the water.  (NOTE: The pump was about 1/2 an ounce larger than I expected, ergo the excess spilled all over the counter.)

I used the same method to fill an ordinary liquid soap dispenser as a control.

The ordinary pump produced no foam, just watered down soap.

The foaming pump actually produced soapy foam!

The results side by side.

I washed my hands with the foaming soap and it worked like a charm.

Provided that you have an empty foaming soap dispenser, the cost of this recipe was rougly $0.30.  That’s a steal!

Things to remember:

1) Do not use moisturizing liquid soap.  It can clog up the pump.
2) The ratio of water and soap may vary depending on the pump style.  Use more or less until you find something that works.
3) If the pump gets clogged after a bit, pumping vinegar through the dispenser should clear it up.

I will report back in a month to see how the soap and dispenser held up.

Frugal tip of the day: Need I say it?  Make your own refills for pennies instead of buying a new bottle.

UPDATE:  I emptied out a little of the soap mix and added more liquid soap to the bottle.  The ratio is now probably 2/5 liquid soap and 3/5 water.  Upping the soap made a thicker foam and has not clogged up the pump yet.  I’ll report back in a while to see if this penny pinching idea is worth it!

Tutorial: Making Homemade Powder Laundry Soap

Friday, March 19th, 2010

With a baby in the house, we wash a ton of clothes.  I’d say we wash at least 8 loads a week.  After buying another container of Gain for $11, I thought I would give homemade laundry soap a try.

I am choosing the dry method for this tutorial.  I purchased all the ingredients for this at my local Kroger in the laundry supply aisle.  I used Fels-Naptha for the bar soap.  Some people have used Ivory, Dove, etc… Do not substitute baking soda for washing soda.  They are not the same thing.

Ingredients:  Makes approximately 2.5 cups = 40 tablespoons = 40 loads.

1 bar soap
1 C. Washing Soda
1/2 C. Borax

1) Grate the soap into fine pieces.

I used 3 methods to grate the soap to see which one was the most efficient and worked the best.

A) The medium-fine side of a box grater.

It took about 10 seconds to do this little corner.  That’s a lot of grating to do!

B) A Black and Decker mini-chopper.

 I used a bread knife to cut the soap.  It cut easily with downward pressure.

I then chopped up the cut block a little bit.  It had the consistency of a firm cheese.

I pulsed the chopper about 4 or 5 times and it crumbled the bits.  I held the button down for a steady 5 seconds and the pieces did not get any smaller.

C) A Cuisinart processor.

I put the same sized soap crumbles into the Cuisinart and did a couple pulses of grind and a couple pulses on chop.  Within 10 seconds, the soap had been finely ground.

The results:

The Cuisinart was the winner.  It took 20 seconds to shred the soap.  The particles were uniform and fine.  The second best was the box grater.  It took 20 seconds to grate 1/8 of the bar, but also had uniform and fine particles.  Lastly, the Black and Decker just couldn’t cut it.

 2) Dump the grated soap in a container and mix in the washing soda and Borax.

 3) Store detergent in a sealed container. 

Use 1 tablespoon for a full load up to 2 tablespoons if it is really dirty.  We use one baby formula scoop per wash, which is about 1 1/2 tablespoons.

Is it worth it?

The total cost of the ingredients were roughly:  $9.10
The total cost of the ingredients in the recipe:  $1.88
Cost per load (1 Tablespoon): $0.04

Gain Detergent – Powder, 63 oz, 40 loads: $7.25 = $0.18 per load

Using homemade detergent over Gain saves $0.14 per load.  At 416 loads per year that’s a savings of $58.24. 

From start to finish, minus the trial and error, I would guess it takes about 20 minutes max to make a batch of soap.  I would say it is worth it.

But does it work?  Tune in next week to find out.  I will be doing a dirt test between Gain and my homemade soap.

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