FTM Friday…Homemade Laundry Detergent

by Janelle Hanchett

Hello…FTM Friday! Remember me?

Yeah, I don’t either. Whatever.

So this week we’re going to A.) Move away from body products (but only temporarily! I have way more recipes people.) and B.) Pretend like it hasn’t been three weeks since I did one of these posts.

Mmmkay?laundry detergent recipe, www.renegademothering.com

And now you must get really, really freaking excited, cause I’m going to share with you a recipe for laundry detergent. Now, most of the recipes here on FTM Friday are of the chemical-free variety. This one is more of the cheap-as-hell variety. Check it out: Since January, I’ve spent approximately $8.00 on laundry detergent. Put that in your pipe and fucking smoke it.

(the concept, not necessarily the laundry detergent.)

Anyway I haven’t done a bunch of research on Fels Naptha or Zote soap, borax or washing soda, so I really don’t know how many chemicals are in them. I do know, however, that I cannot afford the organic chemical-free kind (can anybody?) and I’m SURE there are fewer chemicals in this stuff than the cheapest brand at Costco (which is the alternative for me).

So this stuff is super cheap, works well (my husband is an ironworker. The man is dirty.), and does not destroy HE washers. I did research this stuff in advance to make sure it works for HE washers, and everybody said “yes,” but I wanted to give it a few months so I could report back to you.

Anyway here’s the recipe. DO IT.

Stop being a lazy ass and fucking TRY IT.

(I got the recipe from this website, which is rad by the way, but I double the recipe and added a bit of essential oil, cause I’m wild like that.)

Homemade Laundry Detergent

–          2 Bars (14 oz) Fels-Naptha or Zote Soap

–          4 C Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda people)

–          4 C Borax

–          Some lavender essential oil (I dunno, 40 drops?)

So the first thing you do is get your food processor out. Apparently you can grate the soap by hand but SCREW THAT NOISE. I’d rather pay the extra $20. Anyway I’ve tried both Fels-Naptha and Zote soap. I prefer the Fels-Naptha because it grates easier in the food processor. However, the Zote is pink. So honestly, it’s a bit of a toss-up.laundry soap recipe, www.renegademothering.com, FTM Friday

Also, this recipe makes enough detergent for a few months. I’m not interested in getting my food processor out every 2 months, so that’s that. Cut it in half if you just want to try it.

Anyway cut the soap into three of four pieces and use the “pulse” setting to grate them. Make them small (see photo). I don’t know, like steel-cut oat size? Whatever. Then stir it up with the borax and washing soda. Then use it. I use 2 tablespoons for standard nastiness and up to 4 for “What the fuck happened here” loads.

Also, I also used a recipe that was 1 to 1 to 1 (1 bar soap, 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda). That worked just as well, but I thought I’d share this one with you since it’s the one I’m currently using. Try both of them, use your favorite.

The point here is that we become more self-sufficient, more chemical-free, and more economically sound.

So quit your goddamned whining and make some laundry soap.laundry soap recipe, www.renegademothering.com, FTM Friday

Where the hell do I find this crap? Well, if you don’t mind burning eternally in HELL, you can get it all at Walmart. If you’re in California, CVS drug stores sell it. Maybe Target? Haven’t looked there. Do not buy it off Amazon. The bastards charge obscene amounts. If you know where to buy this other than Walmart or CVS, please comment and share your knowledge.

And you know I love you. I only talk like this because I care.

Now fucking do it.

It’s a family affair! Bonding! Time together!

(No seriously the stirring sucks. Make somebody else do it.)

laundry soap recipe, www.renegademothering.com, FTM Friday


27 Comments | Posted in FTM Friday, Uncategorized | May 31, 2013
  • Bonnie

    I made the liquid stuff. With the Zote. Because it is pink. You can find all necessary ingredients at most Mexican grocery stores. I find these things out because I like burritos and rotisserie chicken. Totally cultured. I made a 5 gallon container of the liquid stuff back in Feb. Still have about a 1/4 of the bucket (after I gave out several mason jars full to friends). The liquid is also cool for HE washers. I was stoked that it worked! And that it is sooooooo cheap! The first batch cost me about $8 including my investment in the borax, washing powder & zote. I still have lots of the borax & powder left (you don’t use a whole lot in the liquid version). So for each 5 gallon container, going forward, less than $2 BITCHES!

  • Denier

    I just made some the other day! I heard the tip of microwaving the Zote, let it dry and then it’s supposed to crumble. Easy peazy, right? Oh hell no! Took me 3 days to crumble that crap. Next time I’m using a food processor!

  • Jennifer

    Been doing this one too! Wish the zote & fels didn’t have the fragrances in them. Thus far I prefer the yellow fels. The white zote (currently using) smells sorta weird. Also I throw dry ingredients in the processor with the bar soap. Slick! Just don’t breathe the dust. Probably bad for you.

    • Jennifer

      Hey also Wisconsinites we can get everything at Woodmans.

      • christie

        Hey here in florida I can get the borax at dollar general ,and the zote soap at sav a lot food store and the washing was a bit harder to find – yes I *could* go to walmart but I honestly wont go that place till freezes over lol so I googled how to make it and it goes like this
        place BAKING SODA on a cookie sheet and heat for 30 minutes at 400 degrees ! the heat changed the chemical compound of the baking soda to the chemical compound in washing soda the are only a few molecules off the begin with so viola! there ya go!

      • Helen Scottsburg

        Damn I miss Woodman’s SO MUCH.

  • Carlisle

    How very Tyler Durden of you…
    is this the part where you kiss our hands and pour lye on us?

  • Angela

    I buy all my laundry soap making supplies at Win-Co. I’m pretty sure the Naptha bar soap is $1.00.

  • Shan

    The detergent we use is a 2 x 2 x 1 mix of washing soda, borax and oxi clean free.

    If you have a hard time finding washing soda, you can actually convert baking soda. By baking it. No, I’m not kidding. Baking soda is washing soda with a higher water content (or something like that). Stir periodically until the texture changes. I buy our washing soda at Winco, so I’ve only done this twice with maybe a cup of baking soda at a time. I want to say it took about an hour.

    • Johnette

      James. This sounds like a wonderful alternative to AA and I think both programs work quite well. There has long been a need for an alternative b/c yes, some people can’t get the AA way. I’m in favor of encouraging people to find something that works for them. And I support you in your choice. As Spock would say, “Live long and pr2#per,&s8o21; dear friend.

  • Anin

    You know that washing soda is a really harsh chemical, right? It’s caustic, which means basic, which means burns skin and eyes. Make sure you use a vinegar rinse to neutralise any residual soda. Surfaces kind of end up with a ‘charge’ of what was in the water, you want an acidic charge, not a basic one. (there’s a more in depth explanation which I’m not typing in a comment box, but trust me, I’m an industrial chemist). Borax is a toxic chemical, but toxic rather than just the wrong pH. Don’t get it on your skin or other mucus membranes.

    That’s not even touching on the fact that every thing in the world is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Lavender oil is a mix of many chemicals, soap is a chemical, the fragrance in the soapis a chemical. You get the picture.

  • Amy

    I live in ohio and can get all of the ingredients at Kroger or my local mom and pop grocery Eikenberry’s IGA. Both offer them at a fair price.

  • Cinder

    I’ve been making homemade washing liquid for about six months now and LOVE it; will NEVER go back to store bought again! I’ve used both Fels Naptha and Zote; both are very good so I alternate between batches. I have had any problem with film residues from either the Zote or Fels Naptha that I’ve read others have had on other forums. We have well water with use of a Kinetico water filter/softener system; and even when the salt tank runs out the recipe works fine until the Hubby gets the salt replenished.

    Here are my recipes as I will double mix, making a concentrate most of the time, but the one bar mix works fine also. The ingredients are so cheap for a five gallon bucket that I pretty much stick to the concentrated recipe and simply adjust scoop size as needed. *essential oils are optional if you prefer a different “odor”, but I just like the smell of the soap, leaving out the essential oils, which also saves on overall cost. For a five gallon bucket of “regular” approx. $2.25 for 540 loads = less than a penny a load. Concentrated approx. $3.00 per five gallon bucket = still less than a penny a load 🙂

    REGULAR: 1 bar Fels Naptha OR Zote
    1 cup Borax
    1 cup Washing Soda
    * I fill my five gallon bucket half full of hot tap water and go ahead and add my Borax, stirring to mix, while my grated soap is melting. Once soap is melted add it to the bucket and stir well. Then, add the Soda lastly for it seems it’s the Soda that activates the “gelling”; stir well (actually, I use my electric hand mixer as I get tired of the stirring). Then while “stirring” I fill my bucket with water to about three inches below the rim, loosely put on the lid and wait 24 hours. When you open the lid the mixture will be quite gelled .. here again, I use my electric hand mixer and a long stick/yard stick to bring the gel off the bottom of the bucket to the mixer .. mix until creamy and enjoy the savings 😉

    CONCENTRATED RECIPE: same directions as above but I use two bars Fels Naptha or 1 and 1/2 bar Zote, 1 and 1/2 cup Borax, and 1 and 1/2 cup Soda = use same directions as above.

    I prefer the concentrated version as it takes less and you can thin it with1/2 water into gallon jugs to share with friends. Like I said “I will NEVER go back to store bought washing soap again” !!!

  • Cinder

    THAT SHOULD READ “I have NOT had any problem with film residues from either the Zote or Fels Naptha that I’ve read others have had on other forums”.

  • jessika

    boil the zote in 4 0r 6 cups of water makes things alot easier

  • Leah

    wanted to check in with success!!! big boy grass stains on jeans AND white shirt…GONE! never again going for the mass marketed crap!

  • Patience Pecoraro

    I’ve been making my own dry laundry soap for about a year now. I’ve used zote and fels naphtha. I feel the zote is better for cold water washing and fels needs a higher temp to dissolve. Also depending on your washer(mine is a little stand up) either way I suggest adding the soap first before any clothes. I keep a big wooden spoon by the washer and stir after I add soap and water is filled. Then add clothes and swirl them around. I wonder if anyone has used dr bronners bar soap??

  • Adrienn

    Does this detergent recipe work for washing on cold water? Thanks for sharing!

  • Kim

    A friend told me that a square of aluminum foil, about 12″x12″, in the dryer instead of a dryer sheet would take care of static. And what do you know it works!! She said one piece of foil will work for 6 months! I never use fabric softener, so we had enough static electricity to power Cleveland for weeks!
    PS I use vinegar instead of liquid softener.

  • Kim

    A friend told me that a square of aluminum foil in the dryer instead of a dryer sheet would take care of static. And what do you know it works!! She said one piece of foil will work for 6 months! I never use fabric softener, so we had enough static electricity to power Cleveland for weeks!
    PS I use vinegar instead of liquid softener.

  • Erin C.

    Thanks very much for your instructions, Cinder. I’ve read so many complicated versions. Thank you for explaining it short & sweetly!
    (I’ve also read that it’s either Borax or it’s Washing Soda, one or the other, but not both? Hmm. I wonder what the difference would be. Anyway, I’ll be following your instructions in just a couple minutes here.)….. Oh, one question – have you tried the powdered version? Because I also read that the liquid version causes the cleaning power to lessen over time, while sitting?

    Thanks again, Cinder. Happy cleaning =) – Erin

  • laura

    Homemade detergent is the bomb! Another trick to make it easier – FREEZE THE SOAP! Then take it (bar by bar) through the food processor. Keeps it from clumping. 😉

  • Susan

    okay, need to find who supplies similar products in Australia – Excited!!!

  • Jayne Marie

    To make stirring suck less…insert your wooden spoon into a drill….

  • Spacy

    I have found a way to cut my laundry detergent cost even further. I buy baking soda in bulk at our local feed store. Instead of buying washing soda for $3 somehing a box, I simply bake the baking soda @450 degrees for 30 min stirring a couple of times until it loses it’s shine and clumps. Baking causes a reaction that causes the baking soda turn into washing soda. Tada!!!

  • Fredamay

    Just made dry Zote detergent this morning.. Love it! If u will leave the soap out for a day or so it will dry out and I I just shaved it using a potatoe peeler one evening in front of TV.. It was easy to do and then I left out to dry more until I was ready to make detergent. Using processor… My favorite kitchen appliance!! Put dry ingredient in first and then shaved Zote and I added some orange essential oil I had.. Worked great in just a couple of minutes.. Smelled wonderful!!! Just love keeping my money instead of giving it away for a expensive commercial products!!! I make my own deodorant, yogurt, my own shampoo and conditioner using only baking soda and cider vinager!! Love it!

  • Brandy

    So if you didn’t know you can mix a little vinigar in till it’s the consistency of sand and put it in ice cube trays(I do this in small batches and use the cute silicone ones I get at the dollar tree) and then after they dry out u have tablets… Ps my kids love doing this it’s like play dough time!!!