People tend to be amazed when they find out I make our laundry soap. They roll their eyes when I insist that it is super, super easy to do. This is undeserved. It really and truly is very simple. It takes just a few minutes to throw together. It is also quite inexpensive, especially compared to buying laundry soap, and even more so if you have been footing the bills for the expensive, chemical-free all-natural stuff. Even a 4 year old can do it. Seriously, I'll show you. I have found it to work just as well as the soaps I had been buying and have never had the slightest inclination to go back. You'll be making your own in no time, and wondering why you didn't start sooner.
It takes just three ingredients, four if you want to scent it.
- Castile Soap
- Washing Soda
- (Optional) Essential Oil
We'll start with soap. Many people use Fels Naptha, however, it contains animal ingredients, which we do not use. Dr. Bronner's makes pure castile soap bars, as do many other companies and people. Use whichever you wish, but be careful of added oils and butters. While those types of ingredients are nice for your skin, they are not the greatest for your laundry. I buy mine at a local shop - Tree Huggers - pre-grated. It's nice and easy, but a bit pricier than grating it up yourself. It you can find it grated and want to pay for it, terrific, otherwise, you just grate up the bar. I will soon be joining the grate-your-own club, I hope to make my first batch of soap soon, and would like to use that for my laundry as well. Borax and washing soda (note: not baking soda,) can both be bought in the laundry section of many grocery stores, or online. (Notes on the ingredients at the end of the post.)
Pour all three ingredients in more or less equal parts - 1/3 soap, 1/3 washing soda, 1/3 Borax - into a bowl and mix them together. You can adjust that to your liking, I tend to go a bit heavier on the Borax and washing soda, myself. My kids are dirty, what can I say. Okay, fine, I am pretty messy myself. That's how you know you've been having fun... right?
Once your ingredients are mixed, add essential oils if you would like. You only need a few drops, and it really is just to scent your soap. If your laundry is coming out smelling like the scents you used, you may want to go a bit lighter, you don't actually want the oils lingering through the wash. In our latest batch we added lemongrass and eucalyptus oils and they smelled divine together! Many people use tea tree oil for its antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. I agree, I just can't resist changing things up and trying new scents.
Stir the oils in well...
And your soap is ready to use! That's it. Use two tablespoons per load for standard washing machines, and two teaspoons a load for HE (high efficiency) machines. It is low sudsing, and you can add two tablespoons to HE machines, as well, if you desire. It is also safe for septic tanks. I told you it is easy. My little ones love making the laundry soap, all I have to do is make sure they take turns adding and stirring, because otherwise they will quarrel over who gets to make it. I store mine in a glass jar with a screw on lid, and even found a convenient two tablespoon scoop to keep with it as well.
It is possible to make this recipe in liquid form, but I have never seen the point, myself, as it works the same and adds more steps and time to the process. If that's what you fancy, however, here is a site that tells you how to do it. It also has a detailed cost breakdown.
*A couple notes on the ingredients. First of all, just because the ingredients are all natural doesn't mean you should eat it. I just want to be clear about that, you never know. You would probably be ill if you decided to chow down on this laundry soap, and I don't think it would taste very good, either.
So, what the deuce is Borax? Or washing soda, for that matter! (I have always thought that Borax sounds scary.)
Well, washing soda, also known as soda ash, is sodium carbonate, a sodium salt of carbonic acid. It is commonly used as water softener, and while it can be extracted from the ash of plants, commercially it is produced from salt and limestone.
Borax, or sodium borate, is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for thousands of years, and for an incredibly diverse array of uses, from preserving food and mummies, to glazing pots, and beyond. It is mined from the ground, and is still used for a variety of household needs. It is generally accepted as a "green" substance. More on Borax can be found here.
**I am not a scientist, or an expect on the subject by any means. This is what I understand these ingredients to be. I wouldn't bet a million dollars on it, even if I had a million dollars, but I am reasonably sure of myself. Please do feel free to correct me if I am wrong.