Last winter I promised you a tutorial for homemade laundry soap. At long last, here it is! I originally wrote this for a soapmaker's publication, the Saponifier Magazine. I write a regular column for them and will share some other tutorials for homemade in the coming months.
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In my company we make a lot of soap. A lot. Our cornerstone body care product, we sell thousands of bars each year and ever batch results some trims or damaged bars. We sell the scratch and dent soaps when they are available over here (perfect for laundry soap!), or make yours with a regular bar. One bar is enough for weeks worth or laundry soap. Either option is perfect for effective, homemade laundry soap. (As a bonus, after coming here day after day you'll have a scratch-and-sniff experience of my world when you use my soap!)
My soaps are as natural as can be, made with organic oils, essential oils, and herbs. But most bar "soaps" found in stores today – as well as most laundry "soap" is actually synthetic detergent. Who knew? I'm all for clean clothes but I prefer the most natural route possible. So quick homemade laundry soap it is.
There are only three additional ingredients to turn natural bar soap into laundry soap and all can be found at your local grocery store: baking soda, borax, and washing soda. Baking soda is a natural odor remover. Borax softens water. Washing soda is chemically similar to baking soda but is a much stronger base (high pH) and helps neutralize the natural moisturizers found in soap.
Two thoughts before we begin regarding soap selection:
- Any of the soap I make (LuSa Organics) is laundry friendly. If you opt for another brand, select soaps that do not contain synthetic colorants or large bits of ground herbs.
- If you are mixing different soap varieties choose scents that harmonize with each other. (We used a lavender soap and a eucalyptus bar.)
How to Make Laundry Soap
Materials and Equipment:
2/3 C Baking Soda
1 C Borax
1 1/3 C Washing Soda
Essential Oils (optional)
Box grater or electric grater
Food processor (optional)
Mixing bowl, reserved for non-food use
Mixing spoon, reserved for non-food use
Jar, for storing laundry soap
Gather your materials and equipment. You may consider wearing your gloves and dust mask as we'll be working with powders and alkaline materials (washing soda).
49 thoughts on “Tutorial : : Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe”
I used a similar recipe last year to make homemade laundry soap, but unfortunately I couldn’t use it, because it gave me rashes…in Canada the only washing soda I could find (Arm & Hammer) was VERY heavily scented. I mean, nauseatingly, headache-inducingly scented. If I could every find unscented washing soda through, I’d give it a try again.
Your soap looks lovely with the purple gratings!
You could omit the washing soda and either A) choose a brand of bar soap that you would find drying to your skin or B) add extra baking soda (like a 3x amount). I would think that would work well. Yes, adding synthetic fragrances would be an irritant for sure! ~ Rachel
A short while ago I made some soap in a class at Old World Wisconsin (the seriously old fashioned way: http://mightydistractible.blogspot.com/2011/05/just-call-me-half-pint.html) and the teacher said that it is super-drying.
I have a whole box of it that has cured for about a month and I was thinking I could maybe use it with this laundry soap recipe? Since it was made with no moisturizers (Simply animal fat and lye) would I omit the washing soda?
Thanks for sharing this!! I’m excited to try the recipe. Do you think this is okay to use with cloth diapers?
LOVE your new header and pink feel!
My own recipe with a very simple homemade soap base is here:
Sweet! Thanks for sharing. My whole family loves your soap. Once we or rather I can decided on a fragrance I’ll try this out!
Fabulous! Thanks for posting this. . .I’m thinking that a few jars of this will be made during my handmade holiday spree this fall!
I use my blender (blendtec brand) to chop of the bars of soap, I rough cut them then blend. I use a bit of borax in the blender to keep the soap from clogging up the blades. It works really well. I love my homemade soap!
I’ve been making homemade laundry soap for a while now, but my first attempts using grated soap were seriously unpleasant. I don’t wash my laundry with hot water, (except cloth diapers) and the grated soap didn’t really dissolve. My new recipe uses liquid castile soap, washing soda, borax and water. We love it. And it works great with cloth diapers!
What kind of soap did you use? I never use hot and the batch pictured melts perfecetly into my top loader. I would think a commercial detergent bar (grocery store type soap) might be tricky like you described.
I have a Vitamix and this NEVER occurred to me. Brilliant!
Thank you Renee! Your recipe looks great too!
You could try it this way and if you dont love it, then add the washing soda later. Sounds like the perfect soap for this!
Thanks for sharing the recipe! I’m so excited to give it a try!
ooo yay, I cannot wait to make this! Just ordered 2 lbs of scratch and dent soap, as we just took out our last bar from the last time I ordered it. YUM!!
Actually, you are right. My first efforts at homemade laundry soap were before I had irradicated my home from chemical laden products. I did use commercial soap back then! Thanks for the reminder!
I will definitely be using this. I’m tired of my homemade liquid version that doesn’t seem to gel anymore. Thanks!
Aha! As I suspected. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes! 🙂 Rachel
Lupine made a batch of liquid and it worked fine and kept for a good long time, but I wasnt into the liquidy-ness of it. Youll love the powder!
This post makes me so happy! We’ve been making our own laundry soap for a year now, and we love it. Cheap, easy, good.
Hi I have a question. My friend makes homemade olive oil based soap. No preservatives in it at all(so it can go bad after awhile). she only uses essential oils in it also. Would this be a good soap to use? Is there a shelf life to your recipe? Thinking about making it for holiday gifts and giving in a pretty jar. Thank you.
You can but if her soap is very soft/oily you will need to add extra washing soda to balance it out.
Hi there! I made some laundry powder and detergent from ivory soap, borax and washing soda and they worked fine… until winter! I don’t use hot water in my top loader and both don’t dissolve even after I’ve stirred them in a cup of hot water and added it to the wash. Would anyone be able to advise me on what to add/ substract from my formula? Thanks 🙂
I actually put my soap in first and turn on the washer with hot water just enough to melt the soap then I turn my water on cold w/ a cold rinse. I grate my soap much finer as well which means I use very little hot water.
Thanks for this! I used some luSa oils in my homemade liquid soap, but I much prefer dry. Would this work with cloth diapers, do you think?
Gosh, I would think so. I didnt start making it until mine were out of diapers, but I cant think of a reason it wouldnt.
I also add a bit of biz to the mixture as well as oxyclean
For my whites I use diluted bluing to the final rinse as well
It helps keep the dingys down
I live homemade laundry detergent!!
If you already have soft water or filtered water do you need Borax?
Softened water should be enough. You can skip the borax.
I know this is a tad bit late, but you can make plain ‘ol washing soda from baking soda by baking it in the oven. I’ve seen it posted many times…google it! 🙂
What?! That is amazing. Thanks for this great news. (I made my last batch of soap without it because I was out of WS and in a hurry.) Youre my hero!
Thanks so much for the recipe! I make all natural glycerin soaps. Can I use a bar in this recipe or do I need a lye based soap?
I dont know Anna. Do you mean you make melt-and-pour soaps?
I learned a lot from this post. There are many ways how to make the natural soaps. I have my own recipe also. However, I am hesitant to share it on page.
My daughter has horrible bouts of excema. Do you think it will be ok for her delicate skin?
Thank you so much for all your inspiration!
Absolutely! Just be mindful of the soap you use, choosing a type that your daughter can handle. You can also add a splash of vinegar to your rinse water (sometimes you can put it in the softener cup).
I love my used laundry equipment. I would love love to learn how to make my own soap. It may sound weird but doing laundry is a hobby of mine. http://www.coinomatic.com/static.asp?path=2897
I have made my own laundry detergent in the past. I was wondering how to make it without the Borax. I find that my skin is more irritated, and have recently read that Borax may actually not be as safe as people thought. So I would like to try and omit it if possible. Do you have a recipe that I can use without the Borax? Also, have you heard anything about this?
Oh, and I forgot to ask…Can I use Kirk’s Castile soap bar. I want to make my own, but I have so much of the Kirk’s as I used it in the other detergent that I have made. The ingredients are:
Coconut Soap, Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Coconut Oil, Natural Fragrance
Lisa, Since this is formulated with borax, perhaps google borax-free laundry recipe. Good luck!
Do you think that’s compatible with a speed queen commercial washer? It looks like a powerful soap. Greatly appreciated tutorial!
I know that it is safe for use in a HE front loader, so I would assume so but cant say for sure.
I know you said it is safe for HE front loader but I am a little nervous to try it, lol I have been making your soap for at least a year but just recently got a new washer and nervous about trying it out. Anyone on here try it out and how much do you use?
Laura you can make your own washing soda. Just take regular baking soda, spread it out on a cookie sheet, and pop it into the oven for a couple hours on about 200 degree heat. Homemade washing soda, unscented just how you like it!
I’m confused because you said with soft water we can skip the borax but then you told someone else to google a borax free detergent. I have a water softner and would like to know if I can skip the borax or not. Thank you for your time!
The borax acts as a water softener. If I remember correctly someone told me they didnt want to use borax, so I sent her looking for a different recipe. If you have soft water, skip the borax and see if you love it. I have very hard water so Ive never tried it without. Hope that helps!
I never thought you can make such a great soap at home. Amazing method of Using Borax free Detergent. Thank you I will also try to make some soaps to clean laundry at home.