Homemade Laundry Soap

by Carrol Wolverton


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"Have you checked the price of laundry soap lately?" I watched an older lady just staring at the soap aisle with a dejected look. I share her concern. When a big bottle of the good stuff costs $20 and up, it's time to make changes. I know the super concentrated product is supposed to last twice as long, but I note the number of "loads" listed on the labels keeps getting smaller along with the bottles. The only good part is the absence of the big bottles to lug home and later populate the recycle bin.

I've stopped buying commercial laundry soap altogether. One person told me she hadn't used powdered laundry soap in years. Is that a good thing? There are liquid homemade versions, but they are way too messy.

Make your own by using a bar of deodorant hand soap grated and a cup each of Borax and washing soda (Arm & Hammer makes this). Mix all together. The hardest part is grating the soap. Most bar soap will work, but the softened varieties come out looking like coleslaw. Use the hard bars. My preferred store brand deodorant hand soap is purchased on sale from a popular pharmacy chain and is frequently sold for several bars for a dollar. Don't be fooled by the "anti-bacterial" fancier bars. All soap is antibacterial. I use a dollar store plastic bucket to grate and mix. You may have to check one or more markets to find your ingredients, but it's around. Publix in Florida carries both Borax and washing soda products. Target, at least locally, carries Borax, and the local you-bag-it super discounter carries washing soda. Store your mixture in a plastic container near the washer, and use 2 Tablespoons per wash load for a regular size load. If you don't like the lack of suds, add a squirt of liquid dish detergent. I skip the suds and love the results. Your laundry is clean and clean smelling. I use lukewarm water instead of hot, except for whites, and that's usually a small load.

I've heard a complaint from people using well water that the mixture does not get clothes white enough. If you're using very hard water, you might consider mixing the homemade version 50/50 with your expensive commercial detergent. That is still a significant savings.

When traveling on road trips, I pack individual packets in plastic baggies to use at the self-service laundry. We no long buy the expensive stuff.

Additionally, use 1/4 cup of plain white vinegar in the rinse cycle as a fabric softener. This removes soap residue, too. Vinegar is much cheaper if purchased by the gallon, and pricing varies greatly. It's worth every penny because it has so many uses such as in your dishwasher as a spot remover and as a window cleaner.


Carrol Wolverton is retired from careers in government service, counseling, and teaching. Recipes for all of this are in her Living Cheap & Loving It, tomatoes in the flower bed, available on Amazon or lulu.com.
Visit her website at NorthFloridaWriters.org/CarrolW.htm

Take the Next Step:

  • Does the cost of commercial laundry soap leave you frustrated? Then try your hand at making homemade laundry soap.
  • For more recipes for homemade cleaners, please click here.
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