*How To: Make Your Own Natural Laundry Detergent for Pennies*
By: DarkLaw
25 October 2011

After browsing the internet and testing for several days, I've compiled several different recipes for both liquid and powdered laundry detergent.

While I prefer liquid soap, and it is cheaper, the powdered version seems to work a bit better and take up less storage space. Your results may vary. You can make yours more natural or less, depending on your preferences. The soaps and ingredients used in the following recipes are for a natural soap. While some of the ingredients listed on the particular products may sound synthetic or highly processed, they are not. For instance, Fels-Naptha bar soap has a lot of ingredients that sound like chemicals; however, they are merely derivatives of products such as coconut oil, palm oil, salts, ash, etc.

We'll start with my powdered recipe first:

Grate the soap bars with a fine grater and mix with powders. That's it!

I've found that putting them all into a bowl that has a tight fitting lid and shaking is the easiest method for mixing and breaking up any clumps in the powders.

For traditional washers, one heaping tablespoon should be plenty for all but the dirtiest of clothing. For grease and heavy stains, two tablespoons could be used.

For high efficiency or front loading washers, a small tablespoon is more than enough, but you can add more to suit your needs.

This recipe should yield roughly 6 cups, or 48 ounces, thereby affording between 80-120 loads based on how much you use for each load.

Depending on how much you spend for additional soap (you could use more Fels-Naptha if you'd like, but I prefer a bit more fragrance, so I use a French-milled lavender soap in addition), you can expect to spend a total of $6.00-8.00 for the finished product and this recipe takes only a few minutes to make!

Compare that with the costs of traditional, highly-processed detergents such as Tide, which can easily cost $15.00 and upwards for the same 80-90 loads. These detergents contain a lot of chemicals that can break down fabrics and irritate the skin, not to mention introduce hormone-altering substances into your life. Why pay twice as much for something that only harms you and your clothing when this recipe is so easy?

For the liquid recipe, I've come up with two different recipes; one for light loads and one for heavily soiled clothing:

Light, everyday use:

Finely grate and melt the Fels-Naptha over low-medium heat. Combine all ingredients into a 5-gallon bucket of warm water, stir, and let sit over night. It wil begin to gel by the morning, so using a whisk, stir vigorously until a smooth consistency is reached.

Pour half of mixture into another 5-gallon bucket and fill both with hot water to their capacity, totaling 10 gallons of soap. Add natural oils of your choice (I recommend lavender for its anti-microbial features). Dispense into 1-gallon jugs or similar containers.

Use 1 cup for large loads.

For heavily soiled loads:

I alter the recipe and make liquid soap with the powdered recipe - 2 cups of Borax, 2 cups of Washing Soda, more bar soap, etc. You could also use this version for regular laundry and reduce the amount to 1/2 cup per load.

The liquid soap can be made for as little as $0.23 per gallon/16 loads. In order to wash 96 loads, you've only spent about $1.40 or so! Using the doubled recipe, you're still down to about $0.45 per gallon.

(Adding the natural oils does not create an overly powerful fragrance. It maintains a rather faint, clean smell - so to all the guys out there, don't be afraid to add the oils or use a scented bar soap!)

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