by Tammy Taylor
*This post contains an affiliate link
Due to travel and illness we are way behind in on household chores. In trying to get caught up and get all the laundry done we ran out of laundry detergent about halfway through. But did we stop our work and drive to the store to purchase more? HECK NO! I make our laundry detergent with just three simple ingredients. Now remember we live and work on a ranch so we need something that will get out some pretty tough grime on very heavy fabric – denim! This formula works great for us.
Now before I get started I must remind you that I’m just sharing what we do here. I’m a rancher. I live in the country. I’m very interested in being gentle on the environment. I always love to save money. I’m just sharing what works for us. OK good – let’s get to it!
First I pulled out my ingredients. Borax, Washing Soda, Fels Naptha and my trusty food processor.
NOTE: Many people have problems finding Fels-Naptha in their local stores, but I’ve found it on *Amazon here. It’s very inexpensive and I think it’s an important ingredient that helps with our tough laundry needs. (There are other brands of laundry soap bars such as Zote and others but I’ve found they just don’t have the same strength to clean heavily soiled fabrics that my beloved Fel-Naptha does.) Ok, on to the easy-peasy laundry soap-making procedure.
Preparing The Detergent
First I unwrap the Fels-Naptha soap and chop it up a bit. Although it’s typical soap consistency it chops very easily. My sister still has children at home and she saves these large ice cream tub lids for me to use as an improvised cutting board. The raised edge keeps everything close so it’s much less messy than a typical cutting board, and it’s a great way to recycle.
Then I toss the soap chips into my food processor and give it all a whir until it’s powdery. This fine powder will escape the lid of my food processor while it’s doing its thing so I place a small towel on top of the food processor during this step to help keep the soap dust down. I also like to let the dust settle a bit before opening up the bowl.
Then I simply measure out two cups of Borax and two cups of Washing Soda and mix them with the now-powderized soap. I like to use a large rectangular-shaped container for this blending as the corners make pouring easier when I’m trying to transfer into my smaller containers. (I’ve tried to transfer after mixing in a round container and what a mess it made!)
Use Much Less Than The Commercial Stuff!
So I simply pour the mixture into the containers that I keep in my laundry room. A repurposed glass jar holds the bulk of it, and a small rectangular plastic dish holds a smaller amount for easy scooping and lightweight handling. The tiny scoop is a repurposed one from a container of OxyClean, which I add from time to time to my load of whites. There’s a lot of recycling in this method and not lots of packaging waste.
NOTE: Please make sure you label these containers. There’s no need in someone picking up an unlabeled container and wondering what’s in it or worse, guessing what’s in it and guessing wrong. A label is a quick and easy way to make sure no one mistakes this mixture for something else.
This recipe only uses 1-2 tablespoons for each load, but I use about 3 tablespoons for heavily soiled items like manure-covered jeans. It works perfectly for us. Here’s the recipe I use, feel free to try it yourself:
Homemade Laundry Detergent
It's easy (and inexpensive) to make your own laundry detergent in minutes. And you only use a tablespoon or so with each load. So it lasts a long time.
- 1 5.5-Ounce Bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
- 2 Cups Washing Soda
- 2 Cups Borax
Grate the entire 5.5-ounce bar of Fels Naptha finely using a food processor or cheese grater
In a container that has a tight-fitting lid, combine the grated Fels Naptha, washing soda and borax.
Shake to mix well.
Store in a sealed container that is properly labeled. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per load.
NOTE: Since the effectiveness of any detergent depends greatly on the hardness of your water, experiment by using the lesser amount, and then increase as necessary.
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