Author Topic: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)  (Read 143234 times)

Offline healthybratt

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Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« on: March 27, 2006, 08:40:03 PM »
After much research, the recipe I've decided to try is belo

(edited for 2nd batch to make stronger soap)

Water
1 Large Bar of bath soap (like Ivory, Dove or Fels Naptha)
(2 bars of soap)
5 Gallon Bucket
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Washing Soda
4 1/2 Gallons Water


[NOTE:  My last batch I actually doubled everything except the water.  My soap is almost a solid gel in the bucket, but I use half as much and it lasts twice as long.  5 Gallons has lasted me (can't remember exactly) but I think pretty close to a year?]


Place grated soap in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat on low until dissolved. Fill bucket with hot water, and add soap. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup washing soda and mix well. As it cools it will thicken. May be used immediately. Use 1-2 cups per load.

I've not had a chance to prove the effectiveness of this recipe.  I've had some trouble finding the washing soda, so I did some more research.  Arm & Hammer makes this product and you can buy it online.  I have had no luck in the retail stores as of yet, but this product is simply Sodium Carbonate (not to be mistaked for Sodium Bicarbonate -- Arm & Hammer Baking Soda).  You may be able to find this product at a pool/spa retailer as it's used to raise the pH level in swimming pools.  I've also recently discovered that it may be the sole ingredient in Calgon bath.  I've not yet confirmed this, but just think, if you find it, you can make laundry soap and take a luxiourious bath as well for a lot less $$.  If I am unable to find washing soda, I've found enough evidence to support that I can make the soap without it.  This ingredient is supposed to help with the pH level and the hardness in the water which will allow the laundry to rinse cleaner.  There is another solution to cleaner rinsing.  The expert frugal moms recommend vinegar in the rinse cycle (a downy ball is supposed to work) to replace your fabric softener to control static and softness.

Here are some of the links I used to find this recipe.

http://frugalliving.about.com/cs/laundry/a/082801.htm
http://www.stretcher.com/stories/990201k.cfm
http://www.thefrugalshopper.com/articles/detergent.shtml
« Last Edit: April 28, 2008, 08:09:45 AM by healthybratt »
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2006, 06:57:57 AM »
I had some trouble finding the washing soda...I've also recently discovered that it may be the sole ingredient in Calgon bath....


I found washing soda at the local smalltown grocer's yesterday.  Going to try my hand at the laundry soap soon. 

It was not Calgon bath that contained this ingredient, but Calgon Water Softener.  It was sitting right next to the washing powder in the laundry section.  The interesting thing is this.  Calgon and Arm & Hammer have the same primary ingredient and the A&H cost me $1.89 and Calgon was $4.99 and the A&H box was slightly larger (I didn't check the oz.)
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Offline 6littlelambs

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2006, 03:44:00 AM »
You should be able to find washing soda in the laundry section at walmart or meijers

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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2006, 06:23:59 AM »
Thanks for the extra info.  They didn't carry it at our local Walmart and I've never heard of Meijers.  I'm sure it depends on the locale and the people willing to purchase it.  That's why I think the small town grocery had it.  There's a lot of farmers and boonies around here  ::)
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Offline MQM

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2006, 09:51:25 AM »
Please update as to how this soap works for you.  I am interested in how it compares to the industrial soaps in effectiveness, cost, preparation time vs. grabbing merchandise from store, etc. I just purchased some perfume & dye-free "free clear, allergen fighter" detergent (ALL brand)because of my daughter's eczema.  However, ideally I would like to make my own.  I know there is a lot out there and I would like more info before I spend my husband's money.  He wants to know that it is worth it all the way around.  Thanks for the info!

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2006, 09:56:24 AM »
What about adding some pure essential oil to the mix for scent? Like Lavender or Juniper Berry? I'm going to try it...

 8)
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2006, 04:52:39 PM »
Please update as to how this soap works for you.  I am interested in how it compares to the industrial soaps in effectiveness, cost, preparation time vs. grabbing merchandise from store, etc. I just purchased some perfume & dye-free "free clear, allergen fighter" detergent (ALL brand)because of my daughter's eczema.  However, ideally I would like to make my own.  I know there is a lot out there and I would like more info before I spend my husband's money.  He wants to know that it is worth it all the way around.  Thanks for the info!


I'll definately let you know as soon as I do.  I just cleaned my 5 gallon bucket, so I'm thinking I'll make it this weekend.

Check the label on your "free & clear" detergent.  You'll find many ingredients that will not be good for your daughter's skin.  For more info, read my other post on this at

http://welltellme.com/discuss/index.php/topic,39.0.html
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2006, 04:55:16 PM »
What about adding some pure essential oil to the mix for scent? Like Lavender or Juniper Berry? I'm going to try it...

 8)

I'm pretty sure, I read a suggestion similar to this somewhere.  I'm sure it would work well. 
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2006, 06:18:08 AM »
I tried making this recipe this weekend.  Here's what's happened so far  :-\

First I boiled the water and mixed everything.  No problems.

The next day after it cooled it had "boogers" of soap floating in it.  This means the soap was not mixed well and the proportions would be off if I tried to use it this way.

I did some more research and found some troubleshooting tips that said I should stir the soap frequently as it's cooling. 

So, I put it back on the stove.  I could only fit 4 out of the 5 gallons in my canning pot and I tried to scoop most of the "boogers" into the pot as well.  I reheated and stirred until it was smooth and cloudy again and poured it back into the bucket with the remaining cold gallon and mixed.  All is well again, except, I had to go to town and did not manage to get enough stirring in before it cooled completely.   >:(

So, I put it back on the stove, yet again...I stirred it about once an hour until I went to bed and then again this morning.  It seems a good consistancy.

 :-[ One more problem.  My spoons were not long enough to stir the mix so I stole a scrap piece of lumber from hubby's garage (a piece of oak trim) and used this instead.  I left it sitting in the mix in between stirrings to avoid a mess, but it seems the stick has turned my soap a dingy red/brown color - YIKES!   :o

So, I am trying to decide whether to use it as is or throw it out and start all over with a SMALLER batch.  (I don't know why I didn't cut the recipe in half in the first place - UGH!) I'm also considering making it more concentrated to improve the consistancy and save space.  I'm thinking maybe half the water called for. 

I also found another website that had a recipe for powder using the same ingredients.  I may try this one but the lady recommends a food processor and I don't have one - YET  ;) !
« Last Edit: April 10, 2006, 06:24:21 AM by healthybratt »
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2006, 08:13:15 PM »
HOMEMADE LAUNDRY SOAP UPDATE  ;D

(edited for 2nd batch to make stronger soap)


The soap was not discolored after all (shadows in the bucket).  The stirring went well.  The soap only separated a tiny bit.  A quick stir before using did the trick.  Others recommend putting the mixture into smaller containers while still mixed so that you can shake your mix easier each time you wash.  One suggestion was a detergent bottle and another was a plastic juice concentrate container (more containers but easier to shake).

I used about 1 1/2 1/2 to 3/4 cup of my new soap and my clothes smelled like....clothes!  HA!  No scents...just clean! 

I used my downy ball as well with apple cider vinegar to the mark and NO fabric softeners at all in the washer OR the dryer.  My clothes were fresh, soft and static free and no soap residue left behind.

SUCCESS!!!   :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o

A quick approximate price check.

2 bars soap       $ .44 (found bulk at Walmart for $ .22 a bar)
1 c Borax          $ .40 ($4/box 7-8 batches from one 76 oz box)
1 c WashPowd  $ .42 ($3/box 6-7 batches from one 55 oz box)

              TOTAL        $1.26 for 5 gallons of soap
                               
5 gallons / 3/4 cup = 106 loads of clothes
$1.26/5 = $ .26 per gallon

$1.26/106 = $ .012 per load
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My prices                    1 bar soap   $ .50
(aprox)                      1 box Borax $4.00
        1 box washing powder (A&H) $3.00

                                        TOTAL $7.50*

*keep in mind that the box of Borax and washing powders contain enough in each to make this recipe several times (probably about 15) before you'd have to buy more. So you'd have to add another $7.50 for the price of the bars of soap for the additional 15 remakes, bringing your total to $15.00 for approximately 40 gallons of laundry soap. The average price for a gallon of regular cheap detergent is about $3.00 per gallon or $120 for 40 gallons. You'll be using about 2 times as much soap as concentrated detergent, but this still means you'll be paying about $90 too much if you use liquid detergent instead. 

I'm still going to try to reduce the amount of water in my next batch to save space, energy on "shaking" and to "super concentrate my soap" so I don't have to measure out as much for each load.  It won't be soon because I just made 5 gallons  ;D, but as soon as I do, I'll let you all know how it goes. :P 
« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 12:18:24 PM by healthybratt »
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Offline mrsroeser

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2006, 01:07:43 AM »
Thank you Healthybratt for doing the trial run for all of us!!  Hopefully we won't make the same mistakes you did.... I have been dying to find out how to make my own laundry soap since I've been joined my local organic food co-op.... I've gotten rid of all my other cleaners and have been cleaning with vinegar... I have no idea why it took me so long to do this... ugh... sigh... oh well... better now than never... So I'm almost out of laundry soap and was going to buy some today.. but I think I will try to make some!!   How wonderful!  I will let you know how my whirl at things turns out...

Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2006, 08:04:27 AM »
Thank you Healthybratt for doing the trial run for all of us!!  Hopefully we won't make the same mistakes you did.... I have been dying to find out how to make my own laundry soap since I've been joined my local organic food co-op.... I've gotten rid of all my other cleaners and have been cleaning with vinegar... I have no idea why it took me so long to do this... ugh... sigh... oh well... better now than never... So I'm almost out of laundry soap and was going to buy some today.. but I think I will try to make some!!   How wonderful!  I will let you know how my whirl at things turns out...

I'm rooting for you.  I also found some other stuff on natural cleaners.  Vinegar WAS at the top of this list, but if you want that clean FRESH smell, you can incorporate lemon juice into your cleaners.  Do a google on homemade cleaning products and you'll find lots of suggestions.

Here's just a couple of the ones I found.

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Offline Charis

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2006, 04:49:52 PM »
What about adding some pure essential oil to the mix for scent? Like Lavender or Juniper Berry? I'm going to try it...

 8)

Great idea BeeyoutifulgirL! I thought the same thing. Can you get these good smelling oils at healthfood stores? Also I found washing soda at Publix.
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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2006, 11:48:43 AM »
i have a box of Rain Drops water softener and it says contains sodium carbonate.  i don't think there is much else in it, do you think i could use it for the laundry soap?  i'm thinking about putting a bar of soap in the food processor--have you tried it??  will any soap do?  i think i have some dial upstairs.....this should be interesting!!   ;D\

I think your Rain Drops would probably work, but it's more expensive than the A&H.  If you decide to try it, please post on the laundry soap thread and let us know how it turns out.  8)

I haven't tried the food processor, but I posted something on a dry recipe on this thread, and this lady used hers and made powdered soap instead.

Any soap should work, but I would recommend against deoderant soaps.  I would use plain white soap - Fels Naptha, Ivory, Vel, Dove or something similar (Dial too if they have plain white soap).

The vinegar works well (apple cider) for fabric softener - at least I like it. 
« Last Edit: April 18, 2006, 11:50:22 AM by healthybratt »
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Offline Leah IL

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2006, 12:38:07 PM »
You can definitely add essential oils and it will smell wonderful while you are doing the laundry but the fragrance goes away after the clothes dry.  I use eucalyptus oil in mine because I have read that it kills dust mites (not sure if it's true or not but it can't hurt,right?).  Just don't overdo it if you use eucalyptus oil- I put an ounce in mine last time and WOW- talk about nasal clearing action!!  We were all breathing freely everytime I threw in a load :)
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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2006, 02:05:10 PM »
ok gals!  wondering what i did wrong!  i used the apple cider vin. w/ water rinse on mine and daughters hair this am, and it feels like straw!  i have fine hair and she has thick but fine curly hair.  hers is slightly frizzy.  we washed and cond. then used the vin and didn't rinse it out.   ???

I posted your quote and my answer in the Hair/Skin/Scalp thread.
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Offline Chadycake

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2006, 10:53:49 AM »
The vinegar works well (apple cider) for fabric softener - at least I like it. 

I got a downy ball to put the ACV in when I start a load, but I noticed the package said not to use it in a front-loader washing machine.  Does anyone know why?  How would I use the ACV in a front-loader?  We don't have one yet, but are planning on getting one by the end of the summer.  Thanks!

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Offline 4myhoonie

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2006, 11:20:38 AM »
hey everybody, i made the powder laundry soap with Ivory, borax and water softener.  after the wash is done it still has the shavings of ivory in it.  just thought i'd post that so others would know the powder doesn't work so well.  i plan on trying it in the dishwasher and making the liquid instead.   :-\ 
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2006, 11:56:24 AM »
How would I use the ACV in a front-loader? 

I've never owned one of these but I used to do the "laundromat" thing a long time ago and most of their jumbo front loaded machines had fabric softener dispensers on top of the machine under a little door.  If you haven't bought one yet, this would probably be an option I'd be looking for in my new machine.  ;)
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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2006, 11:59:08 AM »
i made the powder laundry soap with Ivory, borax and water softener.

I haven't tried this yet, but the link I found said it needed to be microfine powder (better to do in a food processor); however, in the past when I've used powders from the store, I always had soap crud on my clothes unless, I run water first and let it dissolve under the clothes.  I do this with my liquid too else I have soapy boogers on top of my clothes.  :P  Maybe this will help.  :-\
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Offline Maria/NHM

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2006, 01:11:32 PM »
I made the soap yesterday and it seems to work really well. It passed the washing dirty diapers test anyway:) I doubled everything except the water to make it more concentrated. It ended up pretty jelled but seems to dissolve just fine. I love that my clothes don't have a detergent smell Thanks for the recipe!!

About the vinegar for a fabric softener. Is that distilled or apple cider?

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« Last Edit: April 27, 2006, 02:03:16 PM by healthybratt »
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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2006, 02:11:55 PM »
I made the soap yesterday and it seems to work really well. It passed the washing dirty diapers test anyway:) I doubled everything except the water to make it more concentrated. It ended up pretty jelled but seems to dissolve just fine. I love that my clothes don't have a detergent smell Thanks for the recipe!!

About the vinegar for a fabric softener. Is that distilled or apple cider?

Maria

I use the cider vinegar, but there is some thought that this might dingy your clothes over time.  I think it's preference.  However, cider vinegar is made from grains (I didn't know this before), and cider vinegar is made from apples, so there may be some differences that I don't know about.  There are so many uses for vinegar, I think I'll start a new thread devoted only to vinegar.  I'll post the links I find there and you can decide for yourself.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2006, 02:53:36 PM by healthybratt »
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Offline ForeverGirl

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2006, 09:09:37 AM »
I made some laundry soap (above recipe) about a week ago and used lemon and lime oil for scent. I also used 1 bar of ivory and 1 bar of a natural soap made with olive oil as the fat base. I also used A&H baking soda, as I could not find washing soda, and the back of the box said "to be used for washing and..."

My laundry soap turned out fabulous. I stirred it occasionally for two days, and it became thick and great smelling - just like store bought soap. It cleans my clothes really well, and they smell SO great.

Gabe has rigged up our gray water (wash water) to run out and be irrigated across our front yard. We live in the desert and green grass is rare. Our yard is greening up very nicely.

I wanted to use a laundry soap that we could "eat" - so I can eventually plant veggies in the gray water run-off. I just realized that borax is not edible... so I may try a batch without borax in it. Any experience with making this soap WITHOUT borax?

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Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2006, 09:27:44 AM »
I wanted to use a laundry soap that we could "eat" - so I can eventually plant veggies in the gray water run-off. I just realized that borax is not edible... so I may try a batch without borax in it. Any experience with making this soap WITHOUT borax?

In my research, I've found that you can use soap and nothing else.  Back in the olden golden days of our grandparents (and even our parents) they used soap flakes - basically the same thing we bathe with. 

The baking soda is a good switch if you want edible soap.  It's sodium bicarbonate which is safe to drink, but sodium carbonate (washing powder) is not.

I haven't had any trouble with most "dirt" with the borax included.  I've even cleaned pee-pee sheets that were more than a day old with no trouble, but I was having trouble with sour dish cloths, so I started a borax bucket in my laundry room.  I just toss all of my wash cloths in the bucket of water (about 2 gallons water and 1/4 cup borax) and leave them there until laundry day.

If you make this edible soap, please share, it would make the price of making the soap even less than it already is.  Do some tests on the "smelly stuff" and let us know how it works.  You could wash your laundry for pennies a load. 

Did you use the vinegar?  This is very good at getting the soap out of your clothes and softening them in the process (anti-static too).  Of course if you're using lemon juice in your detergent, the vinegar may not be necessary.'

Let us know, I'm just about ready to make my second batch :)
« Last Edit: May 07, 2006, 09:38:35 AM by healthybratt »
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Offline mrsroeser

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2006, 09:29:10 AM »
I made my first batch of laundry soap yesterday and stirred.. and stirred.. and stirred.. then I went to bed and it was still a slight bit warm... I just now stirred it again this afternoon for the first time since last night and found it to be a bit lumpy.. woops!!  Now what do I do?? Will it be okay like that??  or should I try to reheat it somehow?? maybe by putting the bucket into some warm bathwater??? hmmm.. any suggestions?? :-\

I had the same problem.  If it's full of boogers (bigger than pea sized) then you might want to reheat, else your ingredients won't be evenly mixed throughout.  If you made a 5 gallon batch, then just find the biggest pan you have and almost boil what will fit in the pan until smooth again.  Then dump this back into the big bucket and stir all the lumps out.  Stir every hour or so until it's cool.  After this, you may have to stir or shake it slightly as you use it, but it won't be near as gooey as before.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2006, 09:41:17 AM by healthybratt »

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2006, 10:56:17 AM »
Quote
If you make this edible soap, please share, it would make the price of making the soap even less than it already is.  Do some tests on the "smelly stuff" and let us know how it works.  You could wash your laundry for pennies a load. 

Did you use the vinegar?  This is very good at getting the soap out of your clothes and softening them in the process (anti-static too).  Of course if you're using lemon juice in your detergent, the vinegar may not be necessary.'

Let us know, I'm just about ready to make my second batch :)

I followed your directions exactly, except I used an extra bar of soap - a olive oil based natural soap that my sister-in-law sent me. I didn't measure the lemon and lime oil, I just kept shaking it in the mix until it smelled right to me.
I made it in the morning so I could stir it on and off all day until it cooled down.

I guess I did more than "just cover" the grated soap with water when I was heating it to melt. I probably covered it and had an extra pint of water in there. I heated and stirred until it was completely lump free.

Yes, the baking soda is edible, and regular soap is edible too (without detergent) in small amounts. It's not food, of course - but it's not dangerous to eat - as far as I have read. Tell me if I'm wrong.

A natural goat milk and beeswax soap would probably be best, of course.

We used to use lye to soften corn for grinding (tortillas) so I think lye and lard soap should be fine.

Just minus the borax.

Good luck with the next batch!

Rebekah
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Offline dara

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2006, 11:06:36 AM »
(I've been wondering about the borax question too.)

        I wanted to mention that the book "Gaia's Garden- A Guide to Homescale Permaculture" by Toby Hemenway, has a GREAT chapter on water conservation which has a neat, small scale, plant based greywater cleansing system that is small, and easy to build. We want to try it ourselves, but I haven't (until now) known how to make, as you call it, edible laundry soap. I haven't tried making it yet, but I want to. Do any of you have an estimate of how much your whole soap project cost, and about how much it makes? Thanks. This forum is awesome!
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Offline mishy

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2006, 11:49:52 AM »
Frugal tips:
Until you get your wash water "edible", you can use it for other things- like washing your floors. :)  that's what I do. 
My dishwasher is a portable one, so it empties in the sink.  If the timing is right, I use that rinse water to wash my dishes that don't go in the dishwasher. 
If you want to go a step further, my mom at one time used the dirty dishwater to water her plants. 
 8)

Offline healthybratt

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #28 on: May 07, 2006, 01:01:22 PM »
Do any of you have an estimate of how much your whole soap project cost, and about how much it makes?

Check this post earlier in the thread.
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Offline petrimama

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Re: Homemade Laundry Soap (Detergent Free)
« Reply #29 on: May 07, 2006, 01:24:30 PM »
also as far as natural cleaners i was thinking of trying the grapefruit seed extract in water in a spray bottle as a bathroom cleaner.  gabe mentioned that it would disinfect.  i'm wondering how many drops per quart, if you know--i'd like to, if not i'm gonna look it up at some later hour! ;D

I think 3 drops GSE per 8 ounces works.   ~L