Saturday, January 15, 2011

Frugal Laundry

About a year ago our family doctor, Dr. Jenkins, posted a homemade laundry soap recipe that she uses on Facebook.  I made my first batch in May.  It lasted me six months.  I love it.  It's easy.  It's cheap.  I'm sharing the recipe here.


TIPS: We use Fels-Naptha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

4 Cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Powdered Laundry Detergent- Top load machine

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax

-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)


All the ingredients can be found at Fareway.  I had a to look a bit, since I had never heard of laundry soda or Fels Naptha, but they are both in the laundry aisle.  The Borax and laundry soda come in a box that will last for several recipes.  

Also Dr. Jenkins' suggestion for frugal fabric softener is to dump some liquid fabric softener in a bucket, add the same amount of water, and a sponge.  Squeeze out the sponge and place in the dryer as you would a softener sheet.  I have also been watering down the fabric softener I use in my washer.  

In the summer I hang over half of my clothes on the clothesline.  (I don't like the way my jeans or socks feel after drying on the line and I try to keep our undies inside since we have people come and go sometimes.)  Actually I hang outside if the temp is above 40 degrees.  In the winter I have a small clothesline I use in my basement and I also will hang our shirts on hangers on door frames around the house.  They make the house smell good, help keep the house a bit more humid in the dry winter, and I run the dryer less, thus lowering the electric bill.

Several of the blogs I follow and some friends (Hi Kim) are cutting back on processed foods and store-bought cleaners.  I have not done as much as I would like to, but laundry is one way I am going more natural.  I hope to try out a homemade all purpose cleaner recipe soon, but my husband keeps buying cleaners when he thinks we are low.  So the frugal side of me can't just throw them out.  

How are you frugal with your cleaning habits?  Do you have homemade recipes for things that you used to buy that you'd like to share?


  1. HI STACEY!!
    OH my GOSH!!!! I just ordered homemade laundry soap from the Food Coop!!!!! I am going to print & save this recipe & make my own when its gone tho!! THANKS!!!!!

  2. i made laundry soap about 6 months ago and noticed that it made the color in the clothes fade. i was very sad about this. i loved making my own soap and i loved saving money. i stopped using it because of the fading. but i thought about making it again and only using it for whites and other clothes that doesn't matter if it fades a little (like my husbands work clothes).

  3. sooooooooooooo I didn't end up getting soap from the coop! is is possible to get the bar soap in a single bar purchase or do I have to buy a case? & do you get it @ fareway? ( Have the other ingredients from trying dishwasher soap)

  4. Kim--I already talked to you, but in case someone else wonders after reading your comment.... I bought the Fels Naptha (I never know if I say or spell that right..) at Fareway. I think it's by the powdered laundry soap. I had never noticed it until I was looking for it. It's the size of a bar of soap. It's in a white package with red and green on it.

  5. Oh and you can buy it by the bar. I think it's just a buck or so a bar.

  6. this is on my agenda for the weekend! :) eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!