Updated December 2019 to add: I’ve changed the way I come up with cost savings. I just do a cost comparison based on recipe amount vs. the same amount of purchased product. It makes sense — and still shows people the wide gap in how much you can save by making your own.
- Tide Original Liquid – 10 gallons: $153
- Gain Original Liquid – 10 gallons: $115
- Homemade Laundry Soap – 10 gallons: $2
Savings over Tide = $151 per recipe of 10 gallons
Savings over Gain = $113 per recipe of 10 gallons
If you had told me 15 years ago that I would be making my own laundry soap, I’d not only laugh at you, but I’d call the funny farm to come take you away … you obviously were cray-cray. A lot has changed since then. I’ve become more aware of the chemicals and junk in our food and cleaning products. While researching, I found better ways to clean, store and cook. At the same time I discovered that many of the items I use today are not only better for us, but are a lot lesser expensive to boot.
I was surfing a Facebook group a few years back and the group was discussing something that caught my attention. They were discussing different recipes for making your own laundry soap. I admit, I was
a bit , OK, a lot skeptical. How could it be as good and get your clothes as clean as the detergent I was buying. The recipe that most people said was by far the best was a liquid soap made famous by the Duggan Family. OK … ok, fine. What the heck, let’s give it a try. The worst that can happen is that I waste my time and a few dollars and we go back to our normal laundry detergent.
I discovered 2 very important things while doing this,
- Laundry detergent is totally different from laundry soap. The fundamental difference between soap and detergent is that soap is made from natural ingredients and detergents are made from synthetic sources … that means chemicals. Who knows what’s in most of that stuff.
- And, amazingly, you can save
$88$113 to $151 or more by switching to homemade laundry soap. That may not sound like much, but considering that’s the savings from a single item, that was a pretty eye-opening amount to me. Imagine if you could find 2 or 3 or more items like this that you could switch out? It can add up pretty quickly.
Let me break it down for you
Store-bought Laundry Detergent
- Gain Flings (at Walmart) $19.97 for 81 loads
- Cost breakdown: $0.25 per load
Homemade Laundry Soap
- 10 Gallons of Laundry Soap (that’s not a typo) – yes, 10 (ten) gallons for $1.99 TOTAL
- Cost breakdown: $0.006 per 1/2 cup – that’s less than a penny a load
- Zote Laundry Soap Bar – $0.97 (at Walmart) If you like for your laundry to be scent-free, use Zote White Laundry Bar instead of the Pink one. You can choose to use Fels Naptha instead — I just like the fragrance of Zote better.
- Arm & Hammer Washing Soda* – $0.60 for 1 cup
- Borax – $0.42 for 1/2 cup
I chose to do this comparison with Gain Flings because if I was still using laundry detergent, that’s what I’d use. There’s no guessing whether or not the advertised amount is used. It’s a pod, so one pod = 1 load of laundry.
I arrived at a savings of $88 because we normally do 1 load of laundry per day – every day. I say “we” but I mean The Hubster. Unless he’s sick or dead, he does AT LEAST one load of laundry per day. I had no idea we were such dirty people.
So 365 Gains Flings cost $89.98 before tax and this laundry soap recipe cost $1.99 to make 10 gallons. Depending on the type of machine you have, you can get 320 to 640 loads from 1 ten gallon batch.
I found that our clothes got just as clean and our whites were actually brighter. We’ve been using this recipe for many years now and our clothes still get as clean as when I first switched over. We have no dingy or gray “whites” and we have hard water.
Making the Laundry Soap
First, shred up a Zote Laundry Bar.
I use my salad shooter to shred the soap — then pop the shooter parts right into the dishwasher for an extra clean wash. If you don’t have a salad shooter, use a sharp knife and “slice” the soap. It will actually turn into powder as you slice down the bar.
Melt the shredded soap on the stove top with 4 cups of water. This is the part that takes the most time … about 20-30 minutes. I’ve actually heard people complain about how long it takes to make this soap … seriously?? Ten gallons of this stuff costs two bucks and you are going to complain about 30 minutes? sheesh!!
I basically stir then set my timer for 15 minutes and stir again when it goes off, repeat until it’s all melted. I do other stuff in between.
After the soap is melted, pour it into a 5 gallon bucket. I use one I got from Home Depot for just that purpose, but you can also use a 5 gallon frosting bucket from a grocery store or Sam’s Club. I’ve gone there and asked for buckets and I sometimes come away with 5-10 or more. (They also make great gardening buckets.) To the melted soap, add 2 gallons of hot tap water. I run hot tap water into the sauce pan I melted the soap in — swish it around to get all the residual soap and pour that into a gallon water or milk jug. Repeat until you have 2 gallons of water in the bucket with the melted soap. To that add the Borax and mix well. Then add the Washing Soda* and mix again. Cover the bucket and let the whole thing sit overnight. Queue Jeopardy music!
The next day, the laundry detergent will have thickened in the bucket. I’d say that the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the bucket contents will be thick and gel-like (almost like Jell-O). You will want to take a whisk or a drill-loaded paint mixer and mix up the laundry detergent. Fill the bucket to the 5 gallon mark with warm tap water. Mix well. Actually, I now use an immersion blender to blend up the gelled soap and water so there are no lumps left at all. I do the level I can reach, then stir with a long spoon or whisk to move the lumpier bits to the top then use the immersion blender again. Repeat until most of the lumps are gone. As I’m filling empty gallon jugs, I’ll use the immersion blender again as the soap level gets lower to break up any remaining lumps I may have missed.
Storing and Using Your Laundry Soap
Using a funnel and a large mixing cup, fill ten (10) 1 gallon jugs half full with the laundry soap mixture. Fill the rest of the jug with water. I leave a small amount of room at the top so that it’s easier to shake the soap if it starts to separate.
I use ten 1-gallon water or milk jugs to store the laundry soap. I have a nice Laundry Dispenser that I’ve decorated that holds a gallon of my laundry soap.
Laundry Soap Recipe
- 4 cups hot tap water
- 1 Pink Zote soap bar*
- 1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda**
- ½ Cup Borax
- Grate bar of soap (I use a Salad Shooter, but you can use a hand grater or cut into small pieces using a knife) and add to a medium sized saucepan with 4 cups of water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
- Pour soap mixture into a clean 5 gallon bucket. Add an additional 2 gallons of hot or very warm tap water to the bucket and mix thoroughly. Add Borax and stir to dissolve. Add washing soda and stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket until you have 5 gallons in the bucket. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
- The next day, use a stick or knife to cut through the gel sitting on the top. Blend well using a whisk or a drill with a paint mixer until it’s all the same consistency. It should be like gravy or thin white glue. Fill empty 1 gallon containers (I use empty milk or water jugs) with 1/2 gallon of soap mixture and then fill rest of way with water. Leave enough room at the top of the jug so that it’s easy to shake. Shake before each use.
- Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil, sweet orange.