DIY Laundry Soap 20 cents a gallon

transcription of “DIY Laundry Soap 20 cents a gallon” video..by The Urban Farming Guys..

Hey, we are gonna introduce you to Candy, one of the urban farming guys & my lovely wife. Candy, what are we doing today? We need to do laundry, but first we need to make some laundry soap. We made a batch about eight months ago, made ten gallons, & we’re about to run out. So, we’re gonna show you how to make it with three basic ingredients you can find in any grocery store. It costs about $2 to make & it works great.

Alright, & where did you find this recipe? Well, a friend of ours went to go visit her friend in OK..He does a lot of homesteading & farming down there. So, they made a batch. She came home all excited & brought us a gallon to try. So, we used it, used it as a pre-treater, we used it just like regular laundry soap, it works great…& then, she showed me how to make ten gallons & we’ve been using that for the last eight months. Now, we’re gonna show you how to make ten gallons.

Here is everything that you’ll need to make your own laundry soap:
Washing Soda (not baking soda)
Bar Soap (Fels-Naptha, Ivory, plain bar soap)
Cheese Grader
Pot (to melt the soap in with water)
5-gallon bucket

First thing, you’re gonna take your bar of soap & your cheese grader & just grade it down. Skin your knuckle.. I already sliced my fingernail off earlier. When you’re done grading, this is what you get. We’re gonna take this over to the stove & melt it down. Before you melt it down, you do wanna add some water, probably about a quart..The exact amount doesn’t really matter cuz we’re gonna add more water later.

So, you’re gonna want to put in the water, & then stir continuously over medium low heat until all these little grates are dissolved. Here we are, it’s completely dissolved; it took about 10-15 minutes. Now, we’re ready to add all the ingredients. Take your 5-gallon bucket & fill it about half full with hot water. Add your melted bar soap. Add half a cup of the washing soda & a full cup of the Borax..Then, stir until all the ingredients are dissolved. & once they’re dissolved, you’re gonna wanna fill the bucket all the way full with hot water. Then, cover it. If you don’t have a lid, you can use plastic wrap or something to cover it & then let it sit over night.

So, here we are, 24 hours later. We put this out on the porch for overnight & I’m gonna take our plastic off. & if you look & see, it kinda gels up like this…& what you wanna do before we divide it, because we want this to be 10 gallons ultimately, is really kinda break up these little pieces. Cuz when you go to pour it, they’ll blob out in big chunks. Okay, so I’ve broken up the gel pieces as much as I can..pretty smooth consistency now..There’s little flakes, but that’s ok. We’re just gonna take this 5-gallon bucket & divide it evenly half & half to another 5-gallon bucket. So, almost, just gonna do it til they’re both at the same level. That looks about right. Then, we’re gonna take some really hot water & fill them both up. It will suds a little bit. Okay. Then, we’re gonna take these & pour them into whatever containers you have that you wanna keep them in. We use some tea containers, we have some old laundry detergent containers, milk containers, juice containers. We use whatever we can cuz this is a lot of soap. So, I’m gonna get a funnel & I’ll show you how we can pour it in.

So, now we’re just gonna, while it’s really separated, you’re gonna take it & just fill your containers. This can be a little messy, is why we do it on the porch. But, then, when we’re done, we just spray down the porch & we have a nice, clean one. So, I poured it all into the jugs, & this is our batch..So, for $2, we made enough laundry soap, that’s lasted our family of five working on the farm over eight months worth of laundry. & each one of these, as you know, at the store can cost anywhere from $3-8, depending on the brand you buy..So, you do the math.

Now, we’re ready to do some laundry. This is what you end up with. You’re gonna use one cup per load. & it will have a tendency to separate a little bit as it settles, so just shake it before you use it. & you can use it as a pre-treater; works just great, we love it. Enjoy.

37 Responses to “DIY Laundry Soap 20 cents a gallon”

  1. Paula says:

    How much of this detergent do you use if you have a front loading HE washer?

    Can you leave it at five gallons and just use a half-cup per load if you have storage issues?

    Where’d you get the swell funnel? I need just the very thing for my chicken feeders.


  2. Pauline says:

    Is there any feedback on using this with a HE machine? Thanks so much – this is awesome! Love learning how to become more self sufficient for so many reasons!

  3. Eric J says:

    Paula asked some great questions. Can and how much do we used with HE washers? Can we leave at 5 gallons and just use half the amount per load?

  4. Jason Fields says:

    Hey Paula, for a front loader you can use 1/3 cup… and about making a more concentrated mix that would take up less space, we are going to give it a try next time, that extra water really helps it mix better instead of gelling up. That big funnel has been showing up at several local hardware stores.

  5. Kathi Howard says:

    Same question. How does it work with the HE front load washers? How much should be used with a HE? Should it be less constrated? Is this formula like allegery free to the best of your research?
    Thank you your video is great!

  6. Marie G says:

    I’ve been wanting to try this for a while..and this inspired me. I tried to find Fells Naptha before locally and was unable..but Amazon carries both it and the washing soda ( another item I couldn’t locate) I use borax all the time and always have it available. but for those who can’t find it..again Amazon to the rescue!!!
    For those interested..a solution of Borax and sugar, mixed with water and sprayed rids your home of sugar ants, it also works as a scrubbing cleaner for bathroom fixtures.. Fells Naptha is a great first aid treatment for exposure to poison ivy or other itchy plant rashes..so these products do double( or triple) duty…all the better for my budget and my homes lack of storage space LOL!

  7. You could just scale the recipe for a 2.5 or even a 1 gallon batch. Just take their measurements and divide 🙂

    Just a thought 🙂

  8. Ryder says:

    It seems to me, that if you used much less water…. and made 2.5 gallons total (4x concentrate), you could then only use 1/4 a cup per load… and need much less storage space. I buy 2x and 3x commercial laundry liquid, and I love it at that concentration…

  9. Sterling says:

    How do the clothes turn out after using the detergent? We’ve used a earth friendly detergent, but it left the clothes smelling like they were still in need to be cleaned. Have you ever tried to add any scents to it? Are the clothes “scratchy’ once cleaned or are they soft? Thanks for sharing the info!!!

  10. Awesome! I can’t wait to try this! I just told my hubby to save all the milk jugs for use in this. Just to confirm, if we use the same recipe as listed in the video and instead of using 1 cup of the finished soap, just use 1/3 cup of it, that will be the correct amount for our HE front loader?

    p.s. I posted today about seeing your garden on the tour on Saturday. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to you, but you were busy and then my kiddo crashed and burned on the pavement. The wailing cleared all other priorities!

  11. Jon in Denver says:

    I see somebody asked above, but didn’t see an answer…

    About removing smells and getting the clothes really clean. Also, does the borax kill your blacks? Somehow over the years more and more of my wardrobe is turning black, and it breaks my heart to see perfectly good clothes slowly turning grey.

    I’d hate to have 10 gallons of detergent that didn’t get the job done – or got it done too well.

    Also, I hope you’re relabeling those juice bottles in a manner that the little ones know it’s not OK to drink?

  12. tina says:

    I have been using and making this soap for 2 years! WE LOVE IT! If I want to add a scent to it I use essential oils, use about 8-10 drops of what ever scent you want. more or less according to your desire. I make mine in a 5 gallon bucket and leave it there. I fill a laundry soap jug left over from when I started this 1/2 full and fill it with water to the top and add the scent drops. This way I am using less space and it still is diluted. 🙂

  13. tina says:

    I also use my food processor to grate the bar soap, you can use Castile soap or even ivory soap to make this. I put the soda and the borax into the pan with the grated soap and stir it on low heat until it is all dissolved it will foam a bit but if you do it on low and stir stir stir it wont over foam (use a large pot). I store my 5 gallon bucket under my wash sink next to the washer. So there is no space issue.

  14. tina says:

    You can use a food processor to grate the bar soap, you can also use Castile soap or even ivory soap to make this. I put the soda and the borax into the pan with the grated soap and stir it on low heat until it is all dissolved it will foam a bit but if you do it on low and stir stir stir it wont over foam (use a large pot). I store my 5 gallon bucket under my wash sink next to the washer. So there is no space issue.

  15. Holly says:

    I found all 3 products at Walmart. I’m going to try the 5 gallon concentration and use 1/2 cup/load. The Arizona tea jugs are sturdy for storage and then I can pour into detergent jugs with measuring caps when I’m ready to use. We have lots of minerals in our well water so will see how clothes come out. Inexpensive gamble and looks like fun.

  16. Missy says:

    I just made this today but I used the Dugger family recipe and it was opposite amount. 1 cup Soda and 1/2 cup or Borax….which is correct I wonder?. I hope mine gels and works okay, Would hate to have such a large amount

  17. Bernard says:

    We have been using this recipee for the past 2+ years. We make just the 5 galons and use the soap as a concentrate. The soap does not have any effect on my wife’s skin (who is sensitive to laundry detergent) and it worked great on my baby’s skin as well including on all his dirty cloths.

    We just put it in a 3X concentrate bottle (so we reduce the water to make it 3.33 galons) and use the same amount as the bottle recomended for the regular detergent.

  18. Carys says:

    I can’t view videos (very low bandwidth internet connection) but do want to mention in case you don’t mention it in the video that if one uses borax in homemade laundry soap that it’s best to not use the resulting grey water on plants because borax is toxic to most of them.

  19. Heidi says:

    Could you post the Recipe in the comments, please? My slow connection is making it hard to watch the video to get the details. Thanks!

  20. Kyla says:

    Seems like it might be a good idea to put a tap in your 5 gallon buckets so you could just store it and use it from those rather than having to divide it up into so many storage containers.

  21. Your recipe is very economical but but borax is toxic in the environment and naphtha is much much worse. Naphtha is a highly flammable petroleum distillate. Our local coop sells powdered detergent in bulk. It takes us a year to go though a pound so its also very economical and much more environmentally sustainable.

  22. Ryder says:

    One question… HOW MUCH bar soap???? I see “one bar”… but… it’s never explicitly stated, and it looks like a mammoth size. I have smaller bars… so if I knew the total oz. required, I could get this right.

  23. Bonnie says:

    Can I use this on cloth diapers?

  24. Lauren Stair says:

    FYI to all you HE users out there. The reason there is a special detergent for HE washers is bc of the amount of water to suds ratio. They can’t handle too many suds. The best thing about this detergent is its very low suds! So no issues what so ever with the HE. Here is a link to one woman who has figured out how to make this detergent smooth.

    The best thing about this recipe is you can change it around til your happy with the results. I use 1 cup Washing Soda 1/2 Cup Borax and Half of a Fels Naptha Bar of Soap (2 .75 oz a full bar is 5.5 ozs) to 2 gallons of water. and then if you want a smell you can add 10-15 drops of essential oils

  25. Ruth says:

    I’d like to know if this soap is safe for septic systems?

  26. Roxanne says:

    Does this work with cold water? and is ti possible to add vinegar to the wash to fix the colors?

    Thanks. I’m hoarding milk jugs as I type.

  27. All the comments I have found about washing powder are positive . are there any negative or potentially harmful aspects I am missing ?

  28. Nancy says:

    I have been making this for over a year and, for the most part, it’s great…BUT my whites are getting gray..I use bleach with the laundry detergent and I have a front loader HE….any advice?

  29. tmso says:

    Can you scale down the recipe by just cutting everything in half?

    Thanks for sharing, by the way.

    • Mayda Sanchez-Shingler says:

       If you do not dilute the 5 gal. by adding water you can use just one half cup per load. That’s a concentrated detergent.

  30. Pete says:

    Washing soda or socium carbonate can be easily made from Sodium Bicarbonate which is available at Sam’s Club in large quantity. Put the Bicarbonate in some sort of open container and heat it for around an hour at 300 degrees. CO2 is released and you will have sodium carbonate. Weigh it before and after heating, I was amazed at the weight lose. Put into sealed containers as it has an affinity for water vapor.

  31. I have decided to try this out.  I’m sure I’ll love it, convincing my husband will be the hard part lol.  I was wondering if it’s ok to put scented oil in it to make it smell good.  That way I may not even have to tell my husband! He’ll never know the difference, I’ll just put it in the tide container! 🙂  Also, food coloring? Because you know, tide is blue!

  32. Don Cummings says:

    can this be used in HE machines?

    • Sharon Henriksen Hertzig says:

      If you use it in an HE, I would only use about 1/4 cup instead of a full cup since an HE washer is so efficient. Then adjust it from there, but no more than 1/2 a cup total.

  33. nanaforrester says:

    Just made my 1st batch. can’t wait to try it. really super easy to make.

  34. Can you use any Bar Soap?

  35. Suzanne says:

    Does anyone have any issues with your towels and things no longer being absorbent?