Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade laundry detergent...does it work?!?

Ok, so I'm finally getting a chance to do this.  Most of you probably know that I've been making and using homemade laundry detergent for probably about 2 years now?  Anyways, can't remember the exact time, but a while.  I have messed around with recipes several times because I'm always thinking something can always be better even when its already good.  I started out making the powder, but this actually costs a little more money than making it into liquid.  So then I went to making the liquid and I like it much better.  My first recipes called for grating up soap, then adding borax and washing soda.  I started making laundry detergent before my soap adventures began and it was actually what made me want to make my own soap!  I began with Fels Naptha, which smells great, but didn't clean as well as I'd like.  Then I found Zote, which is a huge bar of laundry soap by the way, for like $0.90 at Big Lots.  Fels Naptha and Zote are specifically made for laundry, please don't purchase these and use them on your skin.  So I began to use Zote for liquid laundry detergent.  I would grate the soap up, melt in on low heat with about a quart of hot, boiling water until it was dissolved.  Once dissolved, I would put it in my 1 gallon glass jar, add 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, and 1/2 cup baking soda.  I have tried the recipe without baking soda (and NO you can not substitute baking soda for washing soda, not the same chemical compound) and found the baking soda give a good boost to the laundry detergent.  Once the dry ingredients were dissolved in the liquid soap, then I would add cold water til the jar was full.  I'd sit it on the kitchen counter and give it a few stirs throughout the day, and let it sit overnight.  Usually in the morning, I'd wake up to a gloppy-gel detergent.  Sometimes, the water would seperate, but a few more stirs just put things back together. 

Well, THEN I came across a no-shred laundry soap recipe from Mike on  So I had to give it a try!  The recipe is:
500g coconut oil (or you can use lard, just run it through your lye calculator because it has a different SAP value)
2L cold water
92g NaOH (sodium hydroxide)
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1.25L hot water
EO or FO for scent (optional)

I put it together first by measuring out my lye and water (I still used distilled for the cold water).  I took a little of the water, about 10 oz and used this to mix my lye into.  Remember to always pour lye into water, never the other way around!  Once this was dissolved, I began to weigh and melt my coconut oil.  Once the coconut oil was melted, I put in my 1 gallon glass jar.  I then added my lye/water solution to the coconut oil, stirring slowly with my stick blender without pulsing.  I gave this then a few pulses with my stick blender, just to incorporate and get the saponification process started.  I didn't stick blend to trace.  After this I added the rest of the cold water and stick blended.  Then I added the borax and washing soda, stick blended until dissolved.  Then I added the hot water.  I used tap water, but I boiled this for a while to kill buggies.  Stick blended again for a little bit, added my fragrance oil, and stick blended some more.  Then I just put it on my kitchen counter with the lid on, and watched the experiment.  LOL

At first all the soap solids seperated from the water and settled on top, while on the water was on the bottom.  So before I went to bed, I gave it a good blend with the stick blender.  In the morning, I still had soap solids on the top and water on the bottom; however, there was much more soap on top than before, so I knew it was working.  So I stick blended everything again.  This time, about 75% of the jar was soap and only a little water left on bottom.  This soap takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 days to set up.  You have to stick blend 2-3 times a day, or whisk.  Each time I stick blended, I got more excited (I know, sad, right! LOL) because it was soooooo creamy and smooth.  Not gloppy like all the other I had made from bar soap!  Mine set up in about 2 days. 

I chose coconut oil because it has high cleansing properties, plus I have made 100% lard laundry soap bars for my laundry soap and I didn't find they cleaned as well as the store bought. 

Here is what it looked like after my last stick blending, if you are a soaper, it'll look like soap does when you have reached trace. 

It will get a little thicker, like pudding or custard, but so smooth!  Here is what it looks like today after I gave it a stir with my handy dandy wooden spoon :)

The measuring cup I'm using is for 1/4 cup.  This recipe you'll use anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup depending on how soiled your clothes are and your water conditions.  We have a salt water softner.  This will have to be your experiment to determine what's the right amount for you. 

Here is to give you an idea how it suds....none.  This would be great for a front loader.  I put it in my water before adding my laundry.

I thought I would test on towels and bibs, my dirtiest laundry!  For this experiment, I did NOT pre-treat any stains or add oxygen bleach.  The bib in the next picture has sweet potatoes set in, this is not fresh, but I think from yesterday.

So all I used was 1 cup of my new homemade laundry soap and warm water.  I dissolved the soap in the water before adding my laundry.  Oh, and I use white distilled vinegar in the rinse using a downy ball.
Here is the wash a few minutes in.  You can see that its working by the looks of the water.

And yes, when it come to towels, bibs, and everyday used blankets, it all gets thrown together.  I've got too much to do to be that particular!  LOL
Here is the wash about 10 minutes in:

Look at that water!  So far, I'm impressed!  Wow, this picture really shows my broken softner compartment, sorry!  Hence, why I use a downy ball now!  :)

When the wash and rinse were done, my laundry smelled amazingly clean and like my fragrance oil.  And yes, I sniff my laundry continuously when taking it out of the washer and putting it in the dryer.  I think being a cloth diapering mama has developed this habit!
Here is the bib afterwards:

Still can see some staining, the picture shows it alot more than in actuality.  For no pre-treating and/or using a bleaching agent along with the detergent, I'm impressed!  I have also washed some of Eric's work shirts and white undershirts, along with some of my shirts.  I always do the armpit sniff test on shirts to make sure they're clean, and all of them smelled great!  No BO or deodorant smell, they just smell like my laundry soap!  Deodorant can be a PAIN to get out.  Again, impressed!

So there you go, my 2 cents of me on my soapbox regarding this new laundry soap concoction.  Thanks to Mike for sharing his recipe!

On a side note, this has alot of water in it.  I didn't use a preservative because we will use this quickly around here, and I've never used a preservative even with making laundry soap with bar soap which uses alot of water as well.  Plus the preservative I use Optiphen Plus wouldn't work because it has to have a pH of 6 or less, and soap is alkaline.  But if you feel like it needs a preservative, by all means, add it, just make sure the preservative your using is suitable.

Happy Soaping everyone!