As I wrote in a previous post A has super sensitive skin so we make our own laundry detergent. While I am pretty happy with my current formula, sometimes the powder doesn’t dissolve completely and that is really kind of annoying. So today I set out to make some liquid laundry detergent. Because of my previous lye soap making experience (that’s right I make soap with lye just like the pioneers) I know the basics of turning a bar of soap into a liquid soap*. The process is pretty easy, but it is not an exact science because every bar of soap will react differently.
Here is what you will need to make your very own liquid laundry detergent:
- 1 bar Fels Naptha (You can also use Zote, Ivory, or really any bar of soap, but you may need more or less water.)
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Washing Soda
- 1/2 cup Baking Soda (this is a new additive I am trying . . . Supposedly it brightens whites and colors.)
- 2 Tbsp Vegetable Glycerin (This is optional, but you may have less separation issues if you add it, just ask for it in the pharmacy of you favorite store.)
- Essential Oils for fragrance (optional, but if you like smelly laundry soap this is the way to get it)
- 8 liters of Water (you may need more, but this is a rough estimate)
- 1 large pot
- 1 5 gallon bucket or other large container for mixing
- Clean containers to store finished soap (milk cartons or old laundry soap containers work well)
- Boil 4 liters of water in a large pot.
- Grate your bar of soap and add it to the boiling water along with the glycerin if you are using it.
- Stir soap and water frequently until all of the soap has dissolved.
- Add the borax, baking soda, and washing soda to the pot and stir until dissolved.
- If adding fragrance, incorporate Essential Oils until you get your desired scent.
- Poor soap mixture into your bucket and add 4 liters cold water.
- Stir mixture and let sit until cooled, about 8-12 hours.
- You may want to cool a small portion of your detergent to see how it sets up. If the mixture is too thick you can add more water.
- Pour cooled soap into containers for storage, a funnel sure comes in handy for this step.
- Use about 1/2 cup per load
*Just note, this method may not yield completely liquid soap, it will probably still need to be shaken before use. Why you ask? Here is a fun science-y, but quick explanation . . . Bar soap is made using sodium hydroxide whereas liquid soap is made using potassium hydroxide. Since the chemical make-up of bar soap is different, it never completely dissolves in the water.