Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Laundry Detergent

Check out this jar of lovelieness!

I finally made my own laundry detergent this week!  I've read many recipes and blogs on the process but most of them were liquids and required buckets and containers, etc.  Then this week, I came across this blog with an easy-sounding recipe for powdered detergent.

The recipe is simple:
1 cup grated bar soap (such as Fels Naptha, Castile, or even Ivory)
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda

The Borax, Washing Soda, and Fels-Naptha soap were in the laundry section of the store.  Don't mix up washing soda with baking soda--they aren't quite the same. 

The first store I went to didn't have the borax or the fels-naptha, so I bought Ivory soap.  The day I began to make the detergent, I got out the ivory and started to grate it.  I forgot to take a picture, but I just used my hand-held cheese grater and grated the bar of soap into a bowl just as I would a block of cheese.  The blog that I've linked you to says that a bar of Ivory should yield around a cup of grated soap, but mine seemed more like a cup and a half.  Of course, it is rather fluffly and I didn't pack it in the measuing cup too firmly--I didn't want to have the soap compact into a hard lump.  After I got the soap grated, I remembered that I didn't have borax, so I ran out to the store.  This time I went to the Blue Big Box store that is famous for their greeters.  They had all the ingredients, including the Fels-Naptha soap, so I bought a bar of that as well as the borax.

When I got home again, I decided to make more than one recipe of the detergent, and since I now had the Fels-Naptha soap, I decided to use it.  That bar is more creamy, buttery looking.  In fact, it looked rather like a nice block of a good parmesan cheese and the texture was sort of the same, too.  It was a bit harder than the Ivory, but still shredded easily.  The smell is more pungent than the Ivory, though and it yielded around 3 cups, so I grated another bar of ivory and ended up with six cups (plus or minus) of grated soap.

I put some of the soap into my lidded container, then sprinkled in some of the 3 cups of borax and 3 cups of washing soda, and kept layering all ingredients until they were all in the container.  I thought that layering it in would help in the mixing process.  Next I put on the lid and began to shake.  What a mistake!!!  Shaking it seemed to sift the layers back to soap and powder, not combine as I hoped.  So I got out a sturdy spoon and began to stir.  And stir.  And stir.  Finally, it seemed nicely combined.

Twelve cups of the vaious ingredients didn't seem to fill my gallon cracker jar very full, did it!

Once it is mixed up and ready, the directions call to use only one Tablespoon in a normal load or 2 if your clothes are heavily soiled.

I was eager to test it, so I went up and found a load of clothes--mostly towels becasue our towels are dark (red and navy) and I wanted to see if any of the powder didn't dissolve.  I ran the wash and it seemed to work just fine.  It is really low sudsing so it makes it appropriate for HE machines, too, though I have a standard.  When I removed the clean laundry from the washer to put it in the dryer, it felt softer than with boughten detergent.  In other words, it felt like I had used laundry softener, but I hadn't.  I sort of like that.  I dried it and it came out all fluffy and nice.

You can use a drop or two of essential oil if you would like some scent, however, my husband and I are "unscented" people.  In fact, I usually purchase a "free and clear" detergent, but no more!  From now on, I will be making my own.  I do not have a cost breakdown, but I made all of that for around 10 dollars, and there is still well over half a box of the soda and borax left over, as well as two bars of Ivory.  What really is going to make a difference is that you only need 1 tablespoon, so it is going to last forever!

That night, my husband came home from work.  He had PT (Physical Training--excercise) that morning.  They played a game called "chaos ball" which involves a soccer ball, football, and frisbee all in play at the same time with a goalie on each end.  The field was a muddy mess.  He brought home his PT clothes and they were a disgusting, muddy, sweaty mess.  I threw all of it, including his shoes, in the washer with two Tablespoons and it came really clean.  (Well, maybe not the socks, but there wasn't much hope for them anyway.)  It was really convenient of him to provide me with a good test load! 

I have heard from some of you that you are also frugal.  I hope you try this out!  I have also made my own dishwasher detergent and it also uses the borax and washing soda.  Here is the link for that recipe and believe me, it works better than the boughten stuff as well, and is so much cheaper!

Have a great weekend, and if you are here in the US, enjoy the holiday!! 



  1. I am definitely going to try that recipie. With the amount of washing I do it will save me a small fortune. xxx

  2. I've been tempted to try the recipe. Thanks for writing this review.

    I have started using plain white vinegar in place of fabric softener and love the result.

    1. I bought the supplies yesterday and will make a batch tomorrow. ;oD

  3. I have seen this on blogs but have never tried it....I think I will give your receipe a try!!


  4. One of these days I'm going to make a small batch and try it. Sounds like you had complete success which is very inspiring.

  5. You sound very enthused with it, I really must give it a try. I received a small jar from a secret ister at our retreat but because I have a HE washer I was a bit leary to use it. I think I will give it a try in the next load. Thanks!

  6. I have always wondered about making that soap and if it worked well. I think I will give it a try Joanne, thanks!

  7. As soon as I use up my supply of laundry detergent, I'm going to make this. It's good to know that it works....have been leary of spending my time and money to make this. Thanks for posting.


  8. I have seriously been considering this. My big jug of Tide is almost empty, so this is on my to-do list!

  9. I have been looking in the UK for borax ever since you posted this recipe. I have only just found that you can't buy it in UK or Europe any more. So I am going to try it with a borax substitute and see what the outcome is. Melanie xxx