Homemade Laundry Detergent Concentrate

I have been making my own laundry detergent for a couple years now.  I started for three reasons: one, I love to make useful things- two, I couldn’t resist the fact that it would save me SO much money- and three, I have always had easily irritated skin, and making my own detergent is a good way to monitor if anything makes me itch, and tweak my recipe accordingly.

Every recipe I’ve found and tried has worked well for me, and the changing of recipes I’ve done has been to up the cleaning power, and change the bar soap to a glycerine bar for my sensitive skin. Oh yeah, and I also ditched most of the water so I didn’t have to lug up and down the stairs a 5 gallon bucket of backache.

So it occurred to me that I was adding a completely useless amount of water, because instead of adding a cup of detergent, I could just leave out most of the water and add a quarter of a cup instead. After all, this is pretty much how they sell it in the stores these days, less water, less detergent.

And guess what, it’s amazing! It works beautifully, and I get to think of myself as a genius, win-win!

Here is the recipe that I use:

Laundry Detergent Concentrate Recipe

  • 1 bar of Glycerin or Castile soap, shaved
  • 8 cups of hot water to melt the soap
  • 1 cup of borax
  • 2 cups of washing soda
  • 1 cup of baking soda

Here’s what to do:

Grate the soap into a saucepan. You can use either a box grater or a food processor for this. It’s not a good idea to use the same grater that you use for the cheddar, get yourself a separate tool at a thrift store or a yard sale.

Add 4 cups of hot water to the pan.  Simmer on low until the soap melts completely into the water.

Add the other 4 cups of water, borax, washing soda and baking soda to the pot. Simmer on low until it dissolves with the soap.

(Here’s where the other recipes want you to add this mixture to 3 or 4 more gallons of water. Silly water adders.)

Let the soap cool overnight. It turns into a thick, gooey gel. At this point, I bust out my hand mixer and give it a wiz, it works well to emulsify everything back together and I’ve found it stays that way, and all I have to do is give it a little stir with my measuring cup every now and then. Use 1/4 to 1/3 cup of this homemade laundry detergent per load of laundry.

Since I have switched to this less water method, I have also simplified my storage method. I use one of my older 8 quart pots to warm and mix the soap, and I decided there was no reason to put it into a different container. I have a lid for this pot, and if I use it for my storage container, I can bring it back up and set it right on the stove to brew a new batch when it’s empty.

I *love* making my own detergent. It’s easy, it’s nice to my mother earth, and it’s cheap, cheap, cheap. I hope you give it a try, and if you try this recipe, let me know how it goes for you! I love hearing folks’ stories about product independence!

Happy cleaning!

(originally published 8/13/12)

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