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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Liberated Laundry

I have been playing with the idea to make my own laundry soap for a while now. After collecting several pins on Pinterest, I decided it was time to do some serious research, and make a commitment to do it! There are many different ideas and methods, but I knew I wanted a liquid laundry soap, and I wanted it to be a "green" recipe. Ultimately I settled on trying "Mom's Super Laundry Sauce".

This recipe is very simple, and only requires 4 ingredients:

1 bar of Fels Naptha
1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)
4 cups of water

All the ingredients can be found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store, and I can not even begin to express my joy at the extremely low price of each item!
Since I am not a fan of microwave ovens (or radiation for that matter), I stuck with the traditional stove top method. It is slightly more time consuming, but well worth it to me.

The Fels Naptha bar must be shredded, but it's decently soft and shredded easily.
Fels Naptha has a pleasant scent, but I found that once I shredded it and added it to the boiling water the aroma was a bit too strong for me and I opened my front door (good thing we were having a Michigan heat wave and it was in the 40's!) and turned on my ceiling fan to help ventilate the air. The directions state the shredded Fels Naptha bar should be fully dissolved within 10-15 minutes, but I found that it took 20-25 minutes with constant stirring.
Once it's fully dissolved you add in the Borax and Washing Soda combo, and stir until you can no longer feel any grainy texture on the bottom. This took me about 10 minutes, but I wanted to make sure it was fully dissolved so the finished product wouldn't have any grainy texture to worry about leaving residue.

Once it's all fully dissolved, pour the mixture into two 1 quart mason jars equally. This will fill them each about halfway, then you add enough water to reach the "shoulders" of the mason jar leaving about an inch or so at the top. Then flip them upside down, the ingredients begin to separate, and you let them sit for 4 hours and go about your day.
My mother-in-law graciously loaned me two 1-quart mason jars for this project. One was a regular mouth mason jar and one was a wide mouth mason jar. This distinction is important for how you handle the next step... the blending. Most standard blenders will work with a regular mouth mason jar. You just screw the blender blade right on to the top of the regular mouth mason jar, put it on the blender, and hit puree... Voila! Easy and relatively mess free!
However, the large mouth mason jar doesn't fit on the blade, so I scraped out all the ingredients into my blender pitcher, whipped it up, and it did the trick just fine... just a tad bit more messy, but the same results.
Upon my research I found that this method cleans your laundry, but I still needed to soften my laundry. A friend of mine recommended using white vinegar in a downy ball in place of fabric softener during the rinse cycle. White vinegar not only helps soften your laundry, it also helps whiten, brighten, and eliminate any possibility of residue build up on clothes and in your washing machine.
So, now the big test... a load of dirty towels! I have a HE front load washing machine, so I loaded up the towels, plopped in a tablespoon of laundry sauce on top of my towels (Yes, that's right! Just ONE tablespoon per load!), threw in the downy ball with white vinegar in it, and set it to wash as normal. Once I got the towels out of the dryer I was very pleased with the results! The towels are very clean, and no scent other than just a clean smell. The towels aren't as soft as I am used to, but they aren't coarse either. I may play around with the amount of white vinegar I use in my next few loads of laundry, but since I'm not totally dissatisfied with the level of softness I will continue to use the white vinegar either way.
So, now my laundry is liberated from chemicals, and liberated from costly store brand laundry detergent! The method is slightly time consuming, but considering that one batch will last me about 6 months, I think it's well worth my time and effort. All in all it will cost me approximately $2.00 for about 128 loads of laundry!

You can find the link to the main article at the top, or you click on the link here. I cannot stress enough the importance to follow the instructions on the link 100%! The instructions are very simple, it's more about having the patience to fully dissolve the ingredients during the cooking phase. But, considering the cooking phase is only a half an hour of your time, it's not that big of a deal to stress about it!

Next project on my list: Wool dryer balls! Stay tuned!


  1. Nice!! Proud of you :) Those towels look incredibly white!

  2. Thanks for breaking this down, I've been meaning to make some laundry soap. And I just ordered some wool dryer balls this week! :)

    1. You will have to let me know how you like the dryer balls!