I hesitated for a while because I thought that it would be too time consuming or beyond my scope of ability. But trust me, if I can do this, you can. It only took me about 15-20 minutes to prepare, once I had all the ingredients.
I'm including a picture of what I used so that I can prove to you that there IS such a thing as WASHING SODA. It is NOT the same as Baking Soda!! The hardest thing about making my own laundry detergent was convincing the local Walmart employee that there was such a thing. It was pretty funny because after going to a couple stores that told me they had it only to find out that it was "out of stock" when I got there, I finally started calling around and having them check the shelves. When I called the Walmart I ended up purchasing it from, they told me I meant Baking Soda. I said, no, I need WASHING SODA to make soap. They said, "Oh... yeah, we have a 5lb bag of Baking Soda right here!" and I responded, "No, I need WASHING SODA." Finally, I had to instruct the guy from the cleaning department to check next to their Borax to see if it was there. Three minutes later the employee got on the phone. "Um, yeah. We have Washing Soda. Lots of it." Glory Hallelujah!! So, moral of the story: remember that WASHING SODA is next to the Borax in the store! ;)
Here is a link to the recipe I used: Homemade LIQUID Laundry Detergent Recipe
(See bottom of page for EASY PEASY Laundry Detergent Powder!)
The ingredients I actually used:
I spent under $3 for a 55oz. box (this may change depending on time/location). Buying this online is much more expensive because of the weight. Usually available at grocery stores, Target/Walmart, etc., but I'd recommend calling first before driving all over Kingdom Come. ;)
I spent under $4 for a 76oz. box (this may change depending on time/location). Buying this online is also more expensive because of the weight. This tends to be easier to buy than Washing Soda. Available at almost all grocery stores, home improvement stores, and Target/Walmart.
I purchased Dr. Bronner's "Citrus Orange" scented soap and LOVE it. It leaves my clothes spelling fresh and clean without being artificially overpowering. It has down-to-earth, simple ingredients that we would use if we made the soap ourselves (I'm not brave enough to do that yet without instruction from someone who has done it before!!). Unfortunately, since I purchased it on Amazon the price has gone up, but I did see that some Target's and local health food stores sell it for about $4.50/bar. More expensive than your typical soap, but you are only using 1/3 of it for 2 gallons of laundry detergent! It is SO much cheaper than buying all-natural laundry detergent.
8/16/2013 UPDATE: I've recently started using laundry-grade soap from Olivia's Natural Handmade Soap, and it is working beautifully. The soap I received from her was unscented, so I added a bit of lemon essential oil and now every time I do laundry it reminds me of lemon curd (which reminds me of my beautiful trip to Ireland when I was 17 and had lovely Lemon Curd Pancakes at one of the B&Bs we stayed at in Killarney... ok, as I was writing this I couldn't resist and actually found the place we stayed online - ah, still looks beautiful and even though it was over 10 years ago I can taste the pancakes like it was yesterday! Take a peak and dream with me: Crystal Springs B&B). :) :) :)
Technically, this is not something that you need, but I find it to make all the difference in what I make. I am lucky enough to have an RO (Reverse Osmosis) system in my kitchen, so I make everything with purified water (chicken stock, laundry detergent, etc.). There is a lot of junk that is left in the water when it gets to our tap, so the more purified it is the better. You can also buy purified water from your local grocery store. It's usually under $1/gallon.
What you will need, in addition to ingredients:
Big Stock Pot:
You probably already have one - it just needs to hold at least 2 1/2 gallons.
2 Gallon Bucket with Lid:
I bought mine at Home Depot and it is reusable. Make sure to grab the lid when you buy it! They stack the buckets and usually have the lids next to them, so if you don't grab it you will be in big trouble! ;)
I washed the container I had from my last all-natural laundry detergent that I had purchased. Remove the label and just mark it with a permanent marker. I also wrote on it how many pumps equal 1 load of laundry in case I forgot or I was lucky enough to have someone else do the laundry for me! :)
This is not mentioned on the recipe but was VITAL for making homemade laundry soap. Due to the lack of chemicals to keep the soap smooth and have a perfect consistency, I found that after allowing the soap to set 24 hours I needed to use my hand mixer to smooth it out, as well as between refills in my dispenser. Using a hand mixer before refilling the dispenser took care of most of the clumping, though there are usually a few clumps that gather at the bottom of the pump but it has never caused a clog.
Another Option - Making Laundry Detergent Powder:This is EASY-PEASY but more expensive than making the liquid version. Just combine 1 bar soap (finely grated), 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Washing Soda. Use 1 tablespoon per load. No, that is not a type: 1 tablespoon.
That's it! So cheap and easy and I will never go back to store-bought laundry soap. Have fun and tell me what you think!
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the recipes listed above are only all-natural if you use an all-natural soap. If you use the typical bar soaps like Ivory, Dove, etc., they are not environmental friendly or chemical free.