2011. It was a so-soap year.

I didn’t have anything particularly devastating happen in my life in 2011.  I didn’t have anything extraordinarily wonderful either.  Unless you count getting back in touch with my brother whom I haven’t spoken to in almost 5 years.  Or maybe it’s just that I can’t remember past the last few months.  Either way, I’ve decided that in 2012 we are going to try to be more green and more frugal.

I’ve always had this propensity towards homesteading tasks and making things “ye olde fashioned way.”   I’ve always wanted to try churning butter, making soap, cheese, bread, raising chickens for eggs, etc etc.  Well, we did get two ducks, who will probably eventually maybe produce eggs.  But Rowan ducks aren’t prolific egg layers, so I’m not counting on very many.  I’ve tried making goat cheese, which I was afraid to eat.  I have a sourdough starter in the fridge that I made several batches of sourdough out of, but is now sitting in the fridge on “hold” (Sorry David).  We have canned and preserved and dried and dehydrated.  Frozen and brewed and gardened.  So I’ve done OK but hadn’t thought anything about making my own laundry soap.  Until last week, at my daughter’s day care, I walked in and was hit by a wonderful citrus clean smell.  I asked what it was.  She said it was her laundry.  Her husband’s boss’s wife made her some homemade laundry soap.  So that got me on the kick and I HAD to make some.  And dishwashing soap.  And soap for the dishwasher.  And hand soap. And body soap. You get the idea.  I go big or I go home.

So for 2012, this is my first official batch of homemade laundry soap (which my husband is still skeptical of) and so far, I do like it.  And I thought I’d share this recipe with you.  I used this recipe because it said it was ok to use with HE washers, which we have.  This is the recipe from the condo blues blog with a few additions/changed by me.


Making Laundry Soap

What you will need to make this recipe


Start (sort of) Quote

Make Your Own Green High Efficiency Laundry Detergent

You will need:
1 bar of soap (You can use either a laundry soap like Fels Napthaor Zote or a Castile Soap like Dr. Bronners
Knife (optional)
½ cup of borax
½ cup of washing soda (not baking soda)
Cheese grater or food processor
Container with a lid
Measuring scoop (for finished product)

Make it:
1.Grate the bar of soap using the food grater or by cutting it into sections with the knife in order to grate it with your food processor.

  • If you’re using laundry soap, use 1 full (5.5 oz) bar
  • If you’re using castile or other hand/body soap, use the equivalent.

2. Mix the finely grated soap flakes into a container with ½ a cup of borax and ½ a cup of washing soda.  I mixed them together and processed them again in the food processor with the regular blade.

After the first grating

After the second grating


Condo Blues blog recommends 3 tablespoons per load.  We just used the scoop that came with our charlies soap and used three of those scoops.  This soap does not suds up like other detergent soaps, because it doesn’t have a “detergent” in it.

The fels-naptha is known for dissolving oils and lipids, according to the website, it was originally used to treat contact dermatitis from poison ivy and poison oak.  They say it’s also particularly effective for removing chocolate, sweat stains, make up, and baby formula.

  • The ingrediets are:
  • Soap (sodium tallowate*, sodium cocoate* (or) sodium palmate kernelate*, and sodium palmate*), water, talc, cocnut acid*, palm acid*, tallow acid*, PEG-6 methyl ether, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium chloride, pentasodium pentetate and/or tetrasodium etidronate, titatium dioxide, fragrance, Acid Orange (CI 20170), Acid yellow 73 (ci43350) *contains one or more of these ingredients


There are a few things about this recipe that I didn’t like right off the bat. 

  • A double batch only makes about a quart of finished product.  Which will probably last a while.  I don’t really know yet.  But still.  But I guess that’s OK too since I’ve heard that some recipes make up to 5 gallons at a time, which is toooooo much – unless you’re sharing.
  • Unless you use a fine grater, the soap comes out like a bag of shredded cheddar cheese.  And the borax and washing soda and the soap don’t combine well.  So I mixed it all up, then I put it back into the food processor on the chop cycle, and it made the soap finer which made me much happier.

There are also a few things I do like about this soap versus other soaps.

  • It’s green!  And natural.  And dirt frigging cheap.  And SUPER easy to make.
  • It is low-sudsing
  • If you don’t like it in your wash, you can use it to wash your dishes (I did it tonight..worked great)
  • To be completely honest, I feel a real sense of accomplishment and pride in using things that I make myself.  I received a couple of hand knitted washing cloths as a Christmas gift, so I used them as well as my homemade soap.  Awesomesauce.
  • I can use any kind of soap.  I can make it vegan by using castile soap (which I love and use in the shower already) and I can add essential oils if I want.  The recipe is pretty versatile, and there are a hundred different ways to make it and about 7 bajillion websites telling you how.  Really.  Just google it.

Here are a few things I would change:

  • I think the next batch, I will use castile soap.  It’s quite a bit more expensive ($4.59 for Castile vs. $1.18 for Fels-Naptha) but I know that it doesn’t irritate my daughter’s skin, it rinses clean, it’s organic, it’s vegan (we are not, but I don’t like to use animal fats in my laundry soap because if you don’t clean your he washer it can get trapped in the seals and create mold) and it’s sustainable and ethically produced.
  • I would grind it again (as I stated above) after the ingredients are combined.
  • I would like to turn this into a liquid soap so the ingredients are equally combined for continuity in washing.

Comparison between the first and second grating

I’ll keep you abreast on how I feel about it.  I think I’ll be trying some other recipes after this one.  I’ll also post when I’m making my hand soap and dishwasher soap.


4 thoughts on “2011. It was a so-soap year.

  1. If you have a state sales tax you can try to buy your soap making ingredients from Frontier. I haven’t ordered from them in a couple of years, so I don’t know if their wholesale policy has changed. You can also order retail from them if you are not a business owner.

    Check out this blog if you haven’t already: http://www.zerowastehome.blogspot.com

  2. Thanks Amy! I actually have an account with frontier, but can’t remember my account number. And I would prefer to have a catalog. Going through the pdf is kind of a pain. I’ll check out the blog though! I realized that this particular recipe was made in 2009. And the load of wash we did with the soap the first time turned out OK but there was still soap residue in the washer, which I don’t like. Boo. I think perhaps because I have a front loading high efficiency washer and because we used too much soap. We will try again, with less scoops (like maybe one instead).

    • I was at Big Creek Market in MV a few weeks ago and a guy was bringing in little silver paint cans with homemade laundry soap in. He and his wife make it. It’s called Near Bayou Naturals. He said it was safe for HE machines and the label calls for 1tbsp per load. It has sodium carbonate, sodium tetraborate, castile soap, sodium bicarbonate and essential oils.


      The castille soap is granular instead of liquid.

  3. Pingback: My Favorite Laundry Soap « Bipedal Madness

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