Homemade Laundry Soap: The Update

I think people fall into two groups when it comes to homemade laundry soap.  One group is pretty much freaked out by the idea and says “Thanks but no thanks.  Why would I want to make my own laundry soap?”.  The other group thinks it sounds like an adventurous money-saving idea and says “Sure, why not!” and once they give it a go will most likely keep making it over and over.

There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground when it comes to homemade laundry soap.

I, of course, am in that second group of folks that finds it quite fun and satisfying to mix up a batch of homemade laundry soap and have been happily doing it now for several years. But like so many other homemade transitions I’ve made, I keep tweaking things as I go along (like my updated homemade toilet bowl cleaner), and homemade laundry soap has been no exception.  I’m always willing to check out other ideas if I think improvements can be made.

When it comes to a liquid version of homemade laundry soap, I made a transition awhile back to an easy recipe for homemade liquid laundry soap made with Dawn dish soap. This has become my new go-to recipe and it does feel like an improvement over grating a bar of Ivory soap and melting it on the stovetop in hot water like I used to do.

But what I really wanted to write about today is a couple of ingredients that I’ve added to my recipe for Big Batch Powdered Laundry Soap to see if it will be an improvement for that recipe that we might want to stick with.  My homemade powdered laundry soap was already a pretty simple recipe that uses one box of borax, one box of washing soda, and a couple bars of grated soap.  So where was there room for improvement?

homemade laundry soap

Well, I’ve seen recipes floating around for some time now that also add a container of Oxi-Clean and a container of Purex crystals to this same basic mixture.  I decided the next batch I made I would add these two ingredients into the mix as well to see if we liked it.

To Add or Not to Add?

I’ve been debating for awhile now the pros and cons of adding these two ingredients.

The cons?  First off, these two ingredients cost more money.  And if I wasn’t really saving money anymore with a homemade version, then why go to the effort?  I also wasn’t quite sure what the benefit of the Purex crystals were as it’s just labeled as a “laundry enhancer”. Did my recipe really need some enhancing?  Hmmmmm, maybe.  These two ingredients also take away a bit from the “natural” aspect of the recipe I’d been using.

The pros?  Well, I really like Oxi-Clean.  I REALLY do.  I thought this ingredient could add a nice boost to homemade laundry soap and  might also help with the “dingy whites” problem that can go along with homemade mixtures.  I also thought the Purex crystals might add some fabric softening benefit  {maybe that’s what the enhancing is ??} as well as adding a nice scent that’s not normally present in my usual recipe.

Additional ingredients for homemade laundry soap

So last week when it was time to mix up a new batch, I decided, what the heck!  Let’s add them in and see how it goes.  These ingredients might add to the cost, but if found on sale or with coupons, could still be reasonably priced.  Adding these two ingredients also increased the size of the batch and  I’ll be able to wash many, many, MANY loads with this recipe so for the cost and I know this mixture will still go a long way.

And so far I’m liking that Purex enhancing thing that’s going on too.  🙂

Here’s how to do it:

Big Batch Powdered Laundry Soap:  Version 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 76 oz box of 20 Mule Team Borax

  • 1 – 55 oz box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

  • 1 – 3 Lb container of Oxi-Clean

  • 1 – 28 oz container of Purex Crystals

  • 3 Bars Fels Naptha Bar Soap– grated

I use a large Rubbermaid container for mixing up this recipe.  I first empty the entire box of Borax into the container.  Borax can be a little lumpy and this gives me a chance to smash it up a bit first.

Next, I mix in the entire box of washing soda.

Then, I added in my two new ingredients of Oxi-Clean and Purex Crystals.  (I only had a 5 Lb container of Oxi-Clean in the house so I just estimated and used about three quarters of the container).

Finally, I grated the 3 bars of Fels Naptha soap.  Normally for my big batch powdered laundry soap I only use two bars of soap.  However because of the increased volume with the two new ingredients, I added one more bar of grated soap too.

I use a small hand grater to grate my soap and then I run it through my food processor too, just to get it into more finely sized pieces.

Add the grated soap to the mixture and stir everything around until it’s well mixed together.

Use about 2 tablespoons per load of laundry.  I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and fill it about 1/2 full when I scoop.

homemade powdered laundry soap

I’ve used my new Version 2 on a few loads of laundry and so far, so good!  I does feel like the Purex has added some fabric softening and I’m hoping the Oxi-Clean will help keep my whites looking good too.  Whether I keep adding these two ingredients or not will probably all come down to whether I’m able to score them at good prices on sale.

 

 

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38 Comments

  1. I just recently made a batch of the homemade powder detergent for the first time. I have a couple of questions. 1. Is it normal that there are no suds or very little suds? 2. I have a plain old washing machine with an agitator (not a HE machine at all). Do you think the two tablespoons per load would be what I would use for a normal size load? I was not sure if the two tablespoons of detergent was for HE machines. Thank you for your time to answer my questions. I’m really liking the detergent, but I was not sure about these two things.

    1. Yes, that is correct that there are no suds. Most commercial detergents add sudsing agents for looks, but they are not needed for cleaning. And yes, the 2 tablespoons is a good amount for regular machines too. I do not have an HE machine either and use the 2 tablespoons. However if you have a little scoop that’s a little bit more (or less) than the 2 tablespoons,that’s fine too. It doesn’t have to be real exact, but the 2 tablespoons is a good baseline to start with.

  2. I no longer add the OxiClean to my big batch since it does seem to fade dark clothering, like jeans. For light colored batches I just add a scoop of OxiClean along with my laundry soap to that batch.

    1. Yes, those Oxyclean scoops work great to keep in with your batch of homemade laundry soap. Thanks for sharing that tip Norma!

  3. This is my first time making my own laundry detergent. Can I use downy unstopables in place of the Pyrex crystals? Also would just powdered oxiclean and borax mixed together be enough for cleaning power? Thanks for your help. Sue

    1. Yes, Sue, I think you could use the Downy Unstoppables instead of the Purex crystals. I have also seen recipes that use just borax, washing soda, and oxiclean and skip the grated soap. The thought is that soap doesn’t always rinse off clothing well and can make whites dingy and can make towels less absorbent, so some folks are trying recipes without the soap. I have not tried a homemade recipe without soap yet, but it’s on my to do list. I certainly think you could give it a try!

  4. I had made the laundry soap with the Oxi-Clean. It worked well for me, with the exception that I think it faded out spots on my dark clothes. It almost gave them a slightly mottled effect (for lack of a better description). I just make it without n ow and am pleased with the results. My dark clothes that had never been washed with the Oxi-Clean formula, don’t have the faded spots. JMHO

  5. I buy my oxy-clean spin off at the $$Tree. You spend $3 for the same 3 lb. brand name product and it works just as well. I haven’t tried the Purex Crystals yet, but my niece has used them in hers since they came out. Next batch I whip up, I’ll try the Crystals. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I love to make my own laundry soap! I buy my oxi cleaner at my Dollar Tree. For $1 I buy a 32 ounce container, they have lots of good buys.

  7. I make my own laundry soap as well, but nothing seems to help keep the whites white. So I fell back on an old product–bluing. It really doesn’t bleach anything, but the yellow whites become a little less yellow due to the minimal bluing in the laundry water. I like the change, but somethings will never become white without sunshine and lemon juice.

    1. Yeah, whites are the most challenging part of using homemade laundry soap. I’ll have to do some experimenting with bluing and see how that works.

  8. I have used the homemade laundry powder for about a year. A real problem I have is that often when I take my clothes out of the dryer, there are some spots that look like grease spots on my clothes, where there was no spot before. Any suggestions or reasons for the stains?

    1. I’m not sure why you are seeing stains Paula, however I used to see spots like that sometimes when I used to use commercial dryer sheets and I used to suspect they were the problem. Are you using dryer sheets?

    2. Paula – I had a similar thing happen (I use the recipe above, except I do not include the Purex crystals and I use a little less Oxi-clean). Anyway, for me I found that my Fels Naptha wasn’t grated fine enough. I had hand grated it, but never ran it through the food processor. It was already mixed at that point, so I would put it between parchment papers and use a rolling pin on it to make it more fine – once I got it more fine, I didn’t have the “spot” problem anymore. Next time I make this laundry soap, I’m using the technique listed elsewhere on this blog to microwave the Fels Naptha to help crumble it (thank you Bev for posting your experiment with that as well!)

      1. This is such a great comment, Margaret Olivier! Thanks for sharing this. I get those spots sometimes too and never would have thought of the soap not being fine enough. I don’t think I could handle the smell of Fels Naptha being microwaved, but the rolling pin trick is perfect!

    1. Yes, I use this mixture with my loads of darks and with black clothes and it works fine. However I do also always get the water running in my washing machine first, then I throw in a scoop of this laundry mixture so it can dissolve a little bit, THEN I start putting in the clothes. That keeps this mixture from setting directly on any clothing which I truly don’t know if that would hurt anything, but I do things in the above order because that’s my little habit. 🙂

      1. I have a front loader HE machine, and I add mine right in the tub, on top of my clothes (dark/black clothes too, and I always use the oxyclean in mine) and never had any issues.

  9. I have made 2 batches of the powder laundry soap. Each one has lasted about 6 months for a family of 7… that’s A LOT of laundry. Usually 2 loads a day, everyday. (4 on Monday if I take a break on Sunday). I LOVE IT!!! I try to convince all my friends and family that it is not just WAY cheaper it works REALLY WELL. With 4 boys and one rowdy girl I usually go with 2tbs which conveniently is the amount the scoop that comes in the oxi clean holds. 🙂 For my husband and I, 1 tbs works well. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing this with the world!

  10. Bev,
    first off thank you thank you thank you I have a question what was the point in the oxiclean may I just use the crystals and blend them I have all my ingredients ready I want to make your big batch this time and really I thought the borax was the ultimate wash source here I’m seriously thinking of looking to see if borax is in oxiclean no insult to anyone just learning here also sorry for the irrleterate questions I wasn’t blessed with a high education but country born and bred I love your ideas there wonderful
    thank you for taking your time and whoever else to gather these
    amye lou

    1. Any question is fine Amye! One of the common complaints with homemade laundry soaps is that they leave your whites looking kind of dingy after a time. My hope with adding the Oxiclean was that it would help keep the whites a little brighter and maybe add a little extra stain fighting too. But the Oxiclean can be left out if you want to save some money.

  11. I am excited to find your site! I have been wanting to try making my own laundry soap. I plan on trying it out as soon as I find the ingredients I need. I see that some people use vinegar as their fabric softner? Do the clothes come out of the dryer smelling like vinegar? Also, has anyone calculated how much it costs to make this soap vs. a store bought version? Just curious. Thanks so much for all the great ideas you have shared on your site!

    1. If you use vinegar for softening clothes, the smell doesn’t stay on the clothes. I will have to get out my calculator and do another post breaking down the costs! I’m quite certain it saves money though because you use much less per load which makes it last a very long time.

  12. I’m glad you mentioned the using the food processor for the bar soap. I feel pretty clever for deciding to use mine to make laundry detergent. I shred the soap with the shredder blade and then add 1 Cup each of the borax and washing soda and whirr them around with the blender blade thing. The soap mixes in with the powders so much better than when I was scraping my knuckles on the hand grater. Plus, I can make several batches in a few minutes. Just don’t make them all at once unless you want to clean your floor, too. Don’t ask how I know that. 😉

  13. Hi; Thanks for all of your sites, I’m just starting down the road of trying to “detox” my house with chemical free stuff. As such, I’ve got LOADS of questions!! The question today is I live in Canada and can’t find Fels Naptha soap anywhere here. Can I use something like Ivory soap instead? Will it change the way the soap works, or will it add unwanted chemicals?

    1. I have sometimes used Ivory soap in my homemade recipes instead of Fels Naptha and it works good, although Fels Naptha is considered more of a “laundry” soap.

      When it comes to a non-toxic soap, I’m still learning, but I do know that castile soap is often considered one of the most natural soaps. There is a castile bar soap called Kirk’s Castile that can be used in homemade laundry soap recipes, and I’ve also seen some liquid homemade laundry soaps made with the Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soaps. If you can’t find any of these in a store near you, Amazon is a good source for these products too.

      1. I’ve used all of those with good result. However, I found the liquid detergent made with Doc Bronners to be a little more time consuming than I wanted it to be and the soap tended to separate. I may have done something wrong because it was the first time I’d ever made it so it’s worth giving a try if you prefer liquid. Plus I could add essential oils for a little extra germ killing power. Have fun!

  14. I have made my own laundry detergent for years. I was using the liquid until I had a problem with my HE washer and had to call he repairman. He said he always recommended powder and NOT liquid for the HE. He said bubbles can get in the line and cause the water to overflow (which it did, all over my floor). Anyway, so now I only use powder (1 T. only per repairman) and I decided NOT to use the Purex crystals because I try to be chemical free as well. I use the Oxiclean on whites and use vinegar for my softner. I just found your site and am excited to read more about your adventures.

  15. Hi Beverly,

    I am conducting some pretty intense chemical research preparing to launch a new site specifically aimed at breast cancer patients, and survivors. I am a 22 year survivor, making chemicals a BIG deal in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed the information you shared. In skirting around chemicals as much as possible, for the past two decades, I also use vinegar in my wash…two fold, pardon the pun. One, we are farmers, so we get into a lot of smelly chores. The vinegar helps to neutralize those odors, plus it also helps to soften our clothes. I also use vinegar as my household cleaner of choice. It degreases, cuts grime in a hurry. Eliminates cat odors from accidents on carpeting, upholstery; shines stainless like nobody’s business. Used full strength ( I *never* dilute) it also serves as an antimicrobial. Combined with hydrogen peroxide, it will also kill some strains of e-coli. I use it to wash cat litter boxes. After I muck my horse’s stall, I throw down some vinegar, allow it to dry, then put new bedding on top. The vinegar helps to eliminate that ‘horsey’ smell, and kills some of those germs, too. Sorry, this post is such a length; I get passionate sometimes.

    1. Thanks for your interesting comments Annie. I love to use vinegar for lots of things too, and I didn’t know it could be used in a horse’s stall! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  16. I used to think the crystals were wonderful as well … until I saw the way they melted in hot water. Have you ever seen the way oil coats water? It’s the same kind of reaction. And if you use cold water, they don’t dissolve properly, until they go into the dryer … then you end up with what looks like oil spots on your clothes where they have melted.

    I do use the Oxi-Clean as well but I add it separately when doing whites … I don’t include it into the rest of my laundry soap. I use a cup of vinegar as my softener.

    When I do use the dryer I use my woolen dryer balls and add a drop or two of EO’s on each won to add fragrance and more softening to my clothes.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with the crystals Telina. This is a new product for me and I’m still learning and testing so it’s good to hear how it’s gone for someone else.

  17. In keeping with homemade,,,I make “Purex” crystal. Mix Epsom salts & your favorite essential oil(s). I like lavender one time & lemon the next. Still fooling with the amounts, but usually use a pint of Epsom salts to 25-30 drops of EO. Store in a pint caning jar and use up to a fourth of a cup. Great laundry softener & scents.