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Friday, July 1, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I can hear you asking, "Why, for Pete's sake, would I want to make my own laundry soap?" I asked that myself when I first read another blog telling me how to do it. But then, after spending an obscene amount of money on a box of detergent that lasted just a couple of weeks and had names of things I didn't know and fillers that I didn't need, I took the bull by the horns...err, grater by the handle...and I did it.

It was fun, easy and oh-so-economical. Personally, the three criteria I use to evaluate a project. I love my new soap and I know you will, too.

Here's how you do it:

You will need a box of Borax, bars of Ivory Soap, and a box of Washing Soda (NOT baking soda). All of these are easily found in the laundry aisle. They are on the bottom shelf, however, because the stores know how easy and cheap this is and they want to hide them from you. I found all three at both the big-box store and the grocery store.

Oh, and you need a container to put all this wonderful detergent! This cookie jar was a wedding present from a dear friend (hi Sherry), but the cookies got so dry that I couldn't use it for that. I couldn't part with it and now it is displayed prominently in my laundry corner.

Unwrap your bar of Ivory soap with your blurry hand.

You can cut the bar into chunks and put it in your food processor with the S blade. I tried, but my processor is so wimpy and worn out that it didn't work. The soap kept getting stuck. So I got out my grater used the small holes. This extra step took seconds and wasn't hard at all. Like I said, if you have a normal food processor, you shouldn't need to do this part.

Lovely mini-curls of Ivory soap!

Add 1/2 cup of Borax to your food processor with S blade.

Add 1/2 cup of Washing Soda. Yes, I know there isn't a half cup there, but a spilled some into the processor already and had to compensate with less in my measuring cup. There are some of you (like my sister) who would probably toss the whole thing out and start anew with EXACT measurements, but not this fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants gal!

Now we have both the Borax and the Washing Soda in the food processor. I add these before the soap because when I first did this, the soap (being kinda soft) gummed up the blade. But when I changed the order and added the soap last, it worked great!

Then take your in-focus hand and add the mini-curls of soap via the food chute (Is that what it's called? I don't even know. We'll just call it that...OK?) as the processor is running. I found that a handful at a time works great and didn't gum up my wimpy processor.

Let it run for just a short time, 30 seconds or so. I'll admit I never timed it, but it felt like that long.

If you were worried that there would be clumps of soap in your detergent (like I was), no need to worry. It's the consistency of store-bought detergent.

I did the entire 10 bars of Ivory soap and it exactly filled my cookie jar and it took me about a half hour (that's with the gumming of the blade the first time and grating the soap by hand). I still had Borax and Washing Soda left over!

The best part about this whole thing is that you only need a tablespoon. You read that right a TABLESPOON for each load of laundry. I don't have a special washing machine, just your normal tub-style, but I did read that this detergent is good for HE machines as well.

Kiddo3 had some concerns:
"But Mom, how much does this cost?"
I'm glad you asked. The Ivory Soap was around $5, Borax $4 and Washing Soda $5. VERY inexpensive!

"But Mom, will it get even my brother and sister's clothes clean? The ones they wear in the mud puddles?"

Why, YES! It does!
If it can get those clothes clean, yours will be great!

Final comments: It smells nice, not perfume-y or chemical-y. Easy to make. Economical. Effective. Really, what more could you ask for??

The Recipe:
1 bar Ivory Soap
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Washing Soda

Go forth and make your own detergent!!


  1. Oh Annie, I too love the laundry soap. Made a first batch and gave samples to family members to try. Also packed some in my suitcase in a snack sized baggie for an upcoming trip. It seems finding soap in small quantities on vacation can be a challenge. I added a twist to mine, purex has softner crystals we have been using, so I thought I would add a 1/2 cup to the final mix and stir it in at the end. THX

  2. Hi Annie, I am not one of your customers but I love ready your blogs. I did call you about a year ago with tons of questions on starting my own CSA. How is that going for you?

  3. Wanda! Good to hear from you again! It's going really well. We love it!

  4. I like it, keep more of those good ideas coming. How high is the water??? I guess we all have some of that, but we have been thinking of you guys and the boat ride. Hope all is well,
    Mathea, Bob og Marte.

  5. That's pretty cool...I should try it! I didn't know you had a blog, Annie! That's very cool.

    Sarah :)


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