home made laundry detergent

mad_about_mickeyFebruary 12, 2009

Has anyone tried the laundry detergent recipe posted on the Duggar website?

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Seems like quite a bit of work involved just to make detergent. I'm frugal by all means but my time is limited.
Thank to the laundry forum I started using Charlie's soap. Talk about frugal, I buy a 5gal bucket for $145 (no shipping charges) and it washes around 1250 loads of laundry.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:56PM
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I used to make and use homemade laundry detergent - before the Duggers even HAD kids - so the recipes have been around for a long time. I noticed they had TIDE liquid in a show a few weeks ago....

Homemade laundry detergent is cheaper to make if you use ZOTE (80-cents for a large 14+-oz. bar - I got mine at Big Lots) instead of Fels Naptha. I've used other kinds of bath bar soap in it as well when Fels Naptha was impossible to find around here. ZOTE has a nice citronella smell, much better than Fels Naptha.

If you have really hard water, you may find homemade soap leaves your clothes grey and dingy after using it for a period of time. ZOTE may help because it includes brighteners in it's formula.

I preferred making the dry version over the liquid (takes up less space in my storage area in my laundry room.

1 bar ZOTE - grated
2 c. borax
2 c. washing soda
Use 2-3 T. per load

I ended up adding Oxy Clean and Cascade Antomatic Dishwasher Detergent (for the enzymes) as laundry boosters. It was getting pretty expensive with all the add-ins.

I'm like groomingal, I switched to Charlie's Soap 18-months ago, after reading about it on the Laundry board. I was tired of grating the soap and mixing up the stuff and having several boxes and bags of ingredients I had to store.

I also purchased the 5-gallon bucket (1280-loads), which was 9-cents per load back then and just over 11-cents per load now. We figure the bucket will last us at least 3.5 years (6-7 loads of laundry per week).

I was amazed how soft our clothes are, and I hang them on an indoor or outdoor line to dry - rarely use the dryer. I never use fabric softener. I do put some vinegar in the rinse of the kitchen towels and the bath towels just in case there is any soap residue in them from use - but probably don't even need it at all.

I got an e-mail from Taylor at Charlie's Soap just the other day and they were having trouble with their web site, so if you can't get into the site, try again in a few days. Link posted below.

If you have a problem finding washing soda you can go to a swimming pool supply store and get Sodium Carbonate to use instead. It may also be less expensive if you check unit price.


Here is a link that might be useful: Charlie's Soap

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 8:15AM
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I make a homemade laundry detergent almost identical to grainladys only I add in water and I'm still using Fels Naptha in my version - and I add oxyclean in as well to keep the clothes brighter. It takes me only a few mintutes to make but saves our family at least $15/month so definately worth taking the extra little time to make it.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 11:15PM
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I guess "frugal" is in the mind of the beholder. I don't think Charlie's is "frugal". At 11.6/load (cost of Charlie's) I can use Tide and with the way it's performing for me, I have no need to look elsewhere. I do like using a product that works well and have found that cheaper stuff needs additives for a lot of things.

I prefer detergents to be about 6¢ per load or less. I like the idea of making detergent but at the quantities I'd make, the cost would be too high. I can get a lot of different detergents cheaper. If I'm going to make it, I want it to be cheaper and/or work better. If you use enough to justify a 1250 load purchase, however, you might be able to do all right on the cost of homemade if you can find a good source for ingredients. I think I'd suggest making a smaller batch first to see how it works for you before committing to a huge purchase.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 12:16AM
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I'm not quite sure how Tide can be cheaper than Charlie's? A box/bottle of Tide here is about $10 and does 40 loads- that's more than twice the cost. So to this beholder it is more "frugal" to spend 11 cents per load as opposed to 25 cents per load.

Another thing I like about Charlie's is that is good for sensitive skin and doesn't contain fragrances. Also, no need for fabric softener!

Grainlady- did you need to use any softeners with the homemade detergent and is it something that would be ok for sensitive skin?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 2:39AM
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I made the recipe from the website and used Kirks soap bar as they do not carry the fels - naptha here.

After doing the math, and not buying in bulk as the Duggers do, I calculated that the first batch which made the ten gallons of detergent,would have cost me 2 cents per load NOT including the price of the water. I have enough dry ingredients left over and bars of soap to make another batch of the detergent which would bring me down to almost a penny per load.
I didnt include the price of the water as I used the water that I catch in a bucket waiting for hot water, so it would normally go down the drain.

I found that the clothes are clean, although there is no scent on them . The whites seem whiter. I add vinegar to the rinse in my downey ball. But I did that with regular detergent too.

I found no itching problems and I have a problem with other detergents.

I gave a gallon to a friend who loves it and she is going to make it also.

I found that it takes hardly any time at all to make this. The savings to me are real.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 10:20AM
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It's nice to have choices....and this is a good example of those choices. No one is saying NOT to use one kind or another, just sharing our experiences.

groomingal - I used fragrance-free liquid softener (I guess that adds to the price of doing laundry, doesn't it?) because my clothes were as stiff as a board using homemade soap (I always line-dry clothes).

My SIL, who is always going to a dermatologist for one reason or another, said her doctor said the fragrance-free liquid softeners and softener sheets were just as toxic (if not more toxic) as those WITH fragrance. So I haven't used liquid softener or softener sheets in a long time, but switched to homemade soap and vinegar rinse.

With homemade soap I had to add vinegar to EVERY load. Now I just add it to the kitchen towel load, and the bath towel load, and probably don't need it for them.

Homemade soap doesn't rinse out of clothing as well as Charlie's does, and I don't like to waste water on multiple rinses. We're often in drought conditions around here and I try to use the least amount of water possible. You can really feel the difference - even clothes wet from the washer washed in Charlie's feel softer... No more board stiff blue jeans. If one dries clothes in the dryer, this won't be as big a problem as line-dried.

It's a given with soap that you'll get a soap build-up over time - that's the nature of using natural soaps. Something I read recently about using soap in laundry - "soap causes the fabric to deteriorate while leaving an odor". I can vouch for the odor. Off-season clothing that had been in storage often had an acidic or rancid smell and had to be washed before we could use them. I suspect that's from the fat in the soap that's used in the mixtures. While saponified beef tallow can be used to make a satisfactory soap, there are some substances in tallow that do NOT saponify, and have been known to cause acne and skin breakouts (homemade soap can be a problem in cloth diapers causing diaper rash). So instead of soap made from beef tallow, choose soap made from palm, castor, coconut, or olive oils.

It's even worse if people use cold water wash and homemade soap. Neither soap nor detergents clean effectively in cold water below 65°F. Detergent manufacturers and care lables define cold water as 80°-85°F.

I'd occasionally use ALL for awhile to clean and brighten clothing after a number of months of using homemade soap and things began to look dingy (from soap and hardwater). Homemade soap isn't as powerful as commercial detergents, so I found myself adding Oxyclean and Cascade to improve cleaning - which add to the cost per load.

Another thing about using homemade soap if you have hard water; instead of a couple T. of homemade soap, you may have to use as much as 1/4-1/2-cup in really dirty loads of laundry, as well as BIZ, to get the dirt out.

We normally don't even use a full tablespoon of Charlie's Soap per load. I'm not seeing as much wear on our clothing as when I use homemade soap.

I'd also say if people are just starting to use homemade soap, it takes several washing to rid your clothing of the build-up from your original detergent and softeners (if you used them). It will take several months before you get the true experience of clothing with homemade soap. So one or two weeks isn't a good trial period for homemade soap.

But after all that, I still keep the ingredients in storage should times get tough and I would need to make homemade soap again.

I occasionally still make a Liquid Natural Soap to use on bedding and as an all-purpose cleaner:

1 c. liquid Castile Soap (I use Dr. Bronner's)
1/3 c. of salt
1 c. BAKING soda
1 c. vinegar
40 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract
Essential oils (optional)

To half a gallon of water, add the salt and baking soda which has been melted down over low heat and just enough water to help it dissolve. Add Castile soap and the vinegar. Fill your gallon jug up the rest of the way, and then add Essential oils and Grapefruit extract. You'll need to shake this mixture each time you use it.

You can use this as an all-purpose cleaner in a spritz bottle.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 5:30PM
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Do you have a recipe for liquid dish detergent? I'm having a hard time finding one.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 9:11PM
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gonativegal - I've never found one I liked. If you find a "keeper" please post it :-).

3 T. liquid Castile soap
2 c. warm water
2 t. glycerine
2 T. white vinegar
10 drops lavender essential oil
(I also added grapefruit seed extract for antibacterial properties.)

Mix all ingredients in a jar. Cover and shake well to blend. Use about 1 T. for dishwashing.

Check your local library for copies of:

"The Naturally Clean Home: 101 Safe and Easy Herbal Formulas for Nontoxic Cleaners" by Karyn Siegel-Maier.

"Clean and Green: The Complete Guide to Nontoxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping" by Annie Berthold-Bond

"Herbal Home Hints: Hundreds of Tips and Formulas for Cleaning Just About Anything" (Rodale's Essential Herbal Handbook) by Louise Gruenberg

"Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Better Living" by Annie Berthold-Bond


    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 8:17AM
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I can't believe people would pay $10 for a 40 use box of Tide. I try to never pay more than $4 for a 40 use box. When Target or CVS has it on sale for $5, I use my $1 off coupons and buy as many as I can. And Tide is only one brand I use, I'm always on the look out for great detergent bargains, and I keep a nice stock so I never HAVE to pay full price. I would consider making my own detergent if I lived in a high price area and was not able to get great bargains though.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 3:37PM
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Thank you so much for the quick response & recipe - I've got some of those ingredients at home already so I will pick up the rest and give it a go.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 7:41PM
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Natural Dishwasher Detergent: (4 recipes)

1) Liquid Castile Soap (use natural or organic, NOT regular soap)
Essential Oil (such as orange, lemon, rosemary, teatree)
vinegar - to cut residue
lemon juice - cuts grease

2) 3 Tablespoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon borax
2 drops lemon Essential oil

3) 1 1/2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
1 1/2 cup baking soda
1 cup salt
1/4 cup per load NOTE: may add more salt as it is a scrubbin agent

4) 1 tablespoon Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 Tablespoon 20 Mule Team Borax

Add distilled vinegar to dispenser

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 2:50PM
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I have to say, I agree with Grainlady on the homemade soap. I am a soapmaker, so I end up with a lot of soap scraps from the end of soap logs when I am cutting bars. So, I get creative and find ways to use it up. I do make the powdered version of the homemade soap, and I find it doesn't do a spectacular job of cleaning laundry but it is sufficient for items that are not heavily soiled. It also doesn't do a very good job at removing odors from stinky clothing. Despite all that, I continue to use it on SOME of my laundry but not all of my laundry. I found the old soap smell build up in my laundry too over a period of time. About once every 6-8 months I switch over to using commercial laundry detergent for a few months to strip my clothing. I live in a soft water area and I use vinegar in a downy ball to aid in the rinsing of my clothing.

With that said, I purchase those $11 buckets of laundry detergent from Costco and then I only use 1/2 the recommended amount in my top loading machine. (that works out to 1/4 cup), so my 200 use bucket becomes a 400 use bucket. I line dry all my clothing and don't even own a tumble dryer anymore. I find by doing it this way I am able to use the commercial product on my whites and they stay brighter. Using only 1/2 the recommended amount my clothing comes out clean and it rinses well from everything. I only keep Tide on hand for when I have something really super duper stained and dirty that nothing else will touch, which is really rare. I found that by using an old bar of "Grannies lye soap" as a stain stick (I keep one in my bathroom near the laundry hamper) so I can just wet the spot when I remove my clothing and rub the bar of soap on it and throw in the hamper. It gets out almost every stain, every time.

I do have a bag of Charlie's Soap here at the house and have only used it a few times. I keep that more as a back up for when I work my way through the mountains of homemade laundry soap sitting in a 5 gallon bucket.

The homemade soap is nice to be able to do (and since I make my own soap it is even cheaper) but it really shouldn't be used exclusively IMHO because of the build up problems and the need to strip your clothing once in a while.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 7:09PM
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My wife has been making homemade liquid soap for a good year and everything has been good until she tried to double the batch. She went to use it and there is a wax like ring (crust) on top and everything seperated and it won't re-mix up. Any ideas out there?


    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 5:50PM
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