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Homemade Laundry Detergent: Part One

I am not going off the grid.

I just thought I would put that out there so none of you start to worry about me. (My mother may have something to do with me beginning this post in such a strange manner.)

I am, however, dedicated to saving my family money wherever possible. I also am dedicated to living a healthier life, in order to model health and happiness for my children. Through couponing, I have been able to save hundreds of dollars on laundry products, and the thought never crossed my mind to try to make my own. Until I happened across Jillee at “One Good Thing” and her recipe for homemade laundry detergent. I was hooked on the idea after that. 3 ingredients (4 if you count the water), and a little time. I couldn’t wait to get to the store to find what I needed!
Here is the basic recipe for the detergent:

1 bar of laundry soap (Jillee uses Fels-Naptha soap, but I couldn’t find that locally.. more on that in a minute)

1 cup of Borax (an all natural laundry booster. I used 20 Mule Team brand)

1 cup of Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer, stronger than baking soda)


“That’s it?” you may ask. That’s it. I was able to find the Borax and the Washing Soda at my Publix, in the laundry aisle. The Borax was near the Oxiclean, and the Washing Soda was near the Shout. Now the laundry bar soap is where it got tricky. I couldn’t find any at my Publix or Walmart. After checking three different Walgreens stores, I found it at the one all the way across town. (Thank you to my sweet, patient Music Man for driving me all over creation to find what I needed!) I was able to find two brands, this is the one that shows up online. You can use the link to find if a store near you carries it. I may order the Fels-Naptha brand just to see the difference in smell/cleanliness.

I used the brand on the right for my first batch

I followed the recipe and directions that Jillee laid out. Here are a few pictures and a description of what I did.
I grated the bar of soap… this is NOT as easy as it sounds. My right bicep definitely got a workout!

I put the grated soap in an 8 quart saucepan. (Look at how pretty it looks all grated up!! Yes, I think soap is pretty… doesn’t everyone???)

Then I added water to the pan, enough to cover the soap with a couple of inches to spare.

On medium heat, I stirred the mixture occasionally until it came to a low boil. (Keep stirring and scraping the bottom to keep it from “sticking”. Don’t ask me why I know this.)

Once all the soap dissolved, I added the Borax and Washing Soda, stirring to combine. I let the mixture come back up to a low boil, stirring every few minutes.

I transferred the detergent to my Pampered Chef glass measuring bowl (filled it right up, oops!) and grabbed the containers I planned to use. (Two milk jugs, washed out.)

Then I hit a road block. I planned to pour the mixture into the containers. Did I have a funnel? No, of course not. Why on earth would I have one of those handy little contraptions? It’s like the pastry brush that you use to brush butter on top of things, or the turkey baster. You never think of buying one until you need it, and then it’s too late because you need it RIGHT THEN! Okay, back on track… So I looked around my kitchen, frantically trying to think of what to use for a funnel. And brilliance hit me like a lightning bolt. Don’t laugh at me. You know you’ve used the old, “Necessity is the mother of invention” line before. Here is my funnel:

Yep, a plain old, unsuspecting water bottle. Just drained into my thirsty, pioneer-woman body. (Okay, okay pioneer women probably didn’t have bottled water. Whatever.) I cut the heck out of the bottom, and I had a beautiful, workable funnel. Boo-yah. (Is that still a thing?)

Whew. Back in business. I divided the detergent between the two milk jugs laundry soap containers, and added hot water to the half-way point of each container.

Then the fun part: Shake it like a Polaroid picture. (Preferably to the song. So much cooler.)

Leave to sit overnight.

Aren’t they cute, sitting on my kitchen floor? No, they don’t have a spot on my over-crowded counters.

Now, because they need to sit overnight and there are a few more steps to the process, I’ll be posting Part Two tomorrow. In it, I’ll finish the last couple of steps and give it a spin in a lovely load of dirty clothes! Until tomorrow!

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