Preparedness blog

Make a Year Supply of Laundry Soap for Less than $20

By Ready Expert
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Making your own natural laundry soap is a great way to save money and become more self-reliant.

The great part is that it’s easy to do and doesn’t cost much! In fact, you can make a year supply of laundry soap for under $20 with a little bit of searching and 5 minutes of mixing time. Here are some things you’ll need:

Fels Naptha Soap. This brand of soap has been around for decades and has proven itself as a reliable cleaning agent. You can usually find it in your laundry aisle at most local grocery stores. You can also use Ivory soap if that’s more readily available.

The other great thing about Fels Naptha is that you can use it for other purposes like treating exposure to poison ivy, poison ivy or other skin-irritants. Washing the area with a very small amount of Fels Naptha will breakdown the oils that carry the toxin. However, using the soap has been known to cause irritation to people’s skin.

You can buy a typical bar of Fels Naptha soap online for $1.99 or so. Usually, you’ll be able to find it cheaper in the stores though.

Price: $1.99

Washing Soda. Not to be confused with baking soda, washing soda, or soda ash; is a white powder that is used to remove dirt and odors. Arm & Hammer makes a high-quality washing soda that can usually be found in your local laundry aisle.

You can also make your own washing soda. Pure baking soda has a chemical makeup of NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, 1 carbon and 3 oxygen molecules). When heated to high temperatures, it breaks down to become Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). All you have to do is spread baking soda on a pan and bake it at 400 degrees for about a half hour. Stir it occasionally until you can tell a change has occurred. Baking soda is more powdery and clumpy like small salt crystals. You’ll be able to tell it changed when it becomes dull in color, opaque and is separated into grains.

Price: $2.99

Borax. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that is great for whitening and deodorizing. One of the most popular kinds of borax is made by 20 Mule Team and usually comes in 76 oz. boxes.

Borax is a little harder to come by compared to the other two ingredients. However, you can usually find it with a little searching.

Borax can also be used for cleaning pots and pans, cleaning carpets, bathrooms and more!

Price: $5.99

Total Cost: $10.97

Combining the Ingredients
After you collect the ingredients, combine all the ingredients in large resealable bucket. Combine:

• 3 Bars of Fels Naptha Soap (grated)
• 1 Box of Washing Soda
• 1 Box of Borax

You can also add essential oils like lavender to add a bit of good smell to the mixture.

The mixture will make a large amount of laundry soap that will last about a year. When you toss in your wash, throw in 1 tbsp of the mixture into the mix or 2 tbsp for large loads. From the breakdown of the costs above, that’s about $0.03 a day for your wash! That’s pretty good!

The soap works just as well as other laundry soaps for everyday laundry washing. If you have a particularly stinky or dirty piece of clothing, you might need to add some laundry boost. But we've found that using this recipe keeps our clothes clean and fresh!

11 years ago
11 years ago at 6:27 AM
I only wash in cold water. In winter, it's really, really cold. Will this dry powder dissolve and work well?
11 years ago at 6:34 AM
Is this safe for use in the newer machines that specify "he" soap for them. There is an energy efficient symbol on the detergent containers that indicate they are for use in the newer machines (he). These machines have more tumbling, use less water. Thanks.
11 years ago at 8:31 AM
The recipe seems to be lacking. I am assuming you add water,,, how much? Do you melt the bar of soap, cook the mixture?
Fermin Nevarez
11 years ago at 8:36 AM
Thank you very much. I am going to try it. All our laundry is really just sweaty and dirty from kids playing outside.
11 years ago at 9:20 AM
Hello: Wow, @Adrienne...interesting: just FelsNaptha! I made my own too, with all the goodies mentioned here, plus, fragrance crystals. I love it. The hard part was the grating of the bar, but once
linda hargroves
11 years ago at 9:38 AM
s this safe for h e machines and septic tanks?
11 years ago at 10:17 AM
can this be used in an he washer?
11 years ago at 4:06 PM
I've made this with Zote (any color). We prefer the citronella smell over Fels Naptha. Other recipes I've seen say you can use any soap that does not irritate your skin when you bathe if you have very sensitive skin.
11 years ago at 10:40 AM
Is this safe for HE washers?
11 years ago at 8:21 AM
I made a batch of this and love it!! I also made a liquid batch in a 5 gallon bucket!:)
11 years ago at 3:03 PM
What do you add to powder to make it a liquid formula? With that I assume you could add your essential oil for fragrance?
11 years ago at 9:59 AM
Is this used as a laundry detergent or as a detergent additive? If used as a laundry detergent use only 1 or 2 tbsp?
11 years ago at 12:28 AM
I was very interested in this information. I am interested enough to try the process of making my own laundry soap. However, I am wondering how we can do this without an answer to the many quest- ions above. They seem like very good and appropriate questions that we all would benefit from. Thanks.
Vijayakumar K
11 years ago at 3:36 AM
Ofcourse, it seems quite cheap...what is the total weight of powder that we can get output?
Name Dolly
11 years ago at 12:59 PM
go to put in the search bar, Home Made Liquid Laundry Detergent. you will see the recipe for the liguid version of this recipe..........
Name Dolly
11 years ago at 1:02 PM
Oh by the way.....I really like the liquid........ does a fine job.............
11 years ago at 7:16 AM
I have used this recipe to make the powdered laundry soap for over 6 months now. I have extremely sensitive skin so I do not use the Fels Naptha. I purchase a very hard packed soap like a "French Milled" kind. You can also use Ivory or Pure & Natural. When I make up my batch I make it in smaller amounts so I do not have to store it in a huge bin. I take the bar of soap and grate it in my food processor with the grating blade then I take it and continue to chop it finer into smaller granules with the double blade. Do this in smaller amounts till all of it is done. (I take about 2-3 Tablespoons at a time then when I have it to the right consistency I pour it out of the food processor and do the next amount so I do not have it starting to melt from all the weight). When I have all the bar of soap finished grated into fine granules, I add 1 cup of Washing Soda and 1 cup of Borax into a large mixing bowl. Mix till all ingredients are well blended. Then I store in an old fashioned jar that has the clamp with rubber washer seal. I have a HE washing machine and I've tried using the powder where you are supposed to pour the liquid laundry soap and it only clumps up and doesn't dissolve completely. So I've learn to take and sprinkle (I use about 1-2 Tablespoons) of it all around the bottom of the washer along with my powdered Oxy Clean clothes come out really clean and soft. I also use my homemade fabric softener made with hair conditioner. I also stopped using store bought bleach and color bleach, and made my own of lemon juice, white vinegar and water mixture. It not only get any excess soap residue out of clothes but it also helps keep the washing machine clean from excess built up as well. Clothes when dried in the dryer feel super soft and smell wonderful. I also use about 2-3 (depending on the size of load) balls of crumpled up foil in the dryer instead of dryer sheets this also helps to fluff up everything (especially towels). Hope any of you out there who have the HE brand of washers give these a try. You will never go back to using store bought laundry stuff ever again!!!! My only regret is that I didn't start doing this when my kids were little. I would've saved myself so much time and hassle avoiding getting medication for my kid's skin since they are just as sensitive as I am to the harsh chemicals in the store bought brands.
11 years ago at 10:38 AM
The recipe is lacking. First, a box is not a standard unit of measure. Second, the soap does not dissolve readily in any but hot water. The recipe I have used for several years consists of two parts each of baking soda & washing soda with 3 parts borax. If mixed thoroughly and granulated, it dissolves well. I liquify the soap separately - one ounce wt in enough h2o to make 1/4cup. That with 2 Tbs. of powder is plenty. I use warm h2o to prevent residue on clothing.
11 years ago at 8:49 AM
You can get "washing soda" (sal soda) at the hardware store with the pool maintenance supplies; I got a 15# bucket at the end of summer "clearance" sale for ~ $17 (reg price was $22).
11 years ago at 8:53 AM
sorry-- hit the wrong key... "Washing soda" is no longer available at local markets, and even when it was, it was about $5/box, not "$2.99". Not sure where (or when??) the author got that price info.
11 years ago at 10:53 PM
Arm and Hammer Washing Soda is still available in my part of the country. I saw it displayed, along with Borax and Fels Naptha, in Walmart, as if they were catering to people making this DIY soap, just this week. I just don't remember the price.
jess t
11 years ago at 5:28 AM
Borax is extremely bad for the environment. (It gets an "F" rating from EWG). (Fels rates a "C") This will pollute your water table. There are much safer options out there.
10 years ago at 6:26 PM
Okay, I patiently read all the way down the list and can't figure out what H E washers are. could someone please enlighten me?
10 years ago at 9:07 AM
I made a batch of this soap using Ivory bar soap, that is the only bar soap my husband can use. While it works really well, I don't know how it could last 12 months. Even with only 3 people in my family it only lasted 3-4 months. I am using only 2 tablespoons per large load. The only way it lasts a whole year is if you hardly do any laundry. The laundry soap I buy is $20 per 220 loads. Say its costs me $120 per year. It cost me around $10 for the batch. So I would save $60? I bet most people would save more money by looking at how much they spend on cell phones and cable. Switching from a contract phone to a pay as you go and downgrading cable service will save way more than $60 per year.
10 years ago at 7:23 AM
HE washers are high efficiency washers andcome in both front loading and top loading. They dont have the tower agitator like older washers. They have a plate style agitator and use less water. This detergent would be perfect for he washers because they use non-sudsing detergents.
10 years ago at 9:38 AM
Liquid Laundry Soap This is my best version so far. Recipe can be cut in half to make 5 gallons 1 Bar Of Fels-Naptha Soap, Shredded, plus any leftover soap slivers you have saved 1 Cup Washing Soda 1 Cup Borax Powder 3 Tablespoons Essential Oil (Optional) 1 Five Gallon Bucket 10 (One Gallon) Recycled Vinegar Or Other Jugs, such as leftover liquid laundry jugs you have saved. (Do not use milk jugs) Grate soaps and pour into a large stainless steel saucepan, along with some hot water; bring to a gentle boil, then turn down to a simmer and whisk until completely dissolved;. Let cool slightly. Blend soap mixture in increments with hot water in the blender; or skip blend step and use an immersion blender right in the pan. Pour into a five gallon bucket, rinsing blender and pan., and add choice of essential oil, if using. Add the washing soda and the borax, mixing well. Whisk or use the immersion blender again until all is dissolved. Add enough hot water to equal five gallons (make a mark to indicate the 5-gallon level for future use). Use the bucket in-between times to mop with if you don't have little kids around. Stir well, then allow to sit, covered, for 24 hours; the soap will gel up and look like egg whites. Stir well again, or use immersion blender. Decant into jugs, filling each jug half full with water (8 cup mark), then finishing with liquid soap to 16-cup (1 gallon) mark. Use 1/2, 3/4 or 1 cup per load, depending on size of load, (small, medium or large), cool or hot water, and amount of soiling. Shake well before each use This solution will not suds up, but cleans great and makes the clothes smell fresh. Using 1/2 cup for each load, this recipe will make about 320 loads.
10 years ago at 11:24 AM
I've been using this for a year. I usually grate a bar of fels naptha and then add it to a food processor with a cup each of borax and washing soda. It helps blend them all together, and makes it a nice fine powder. I use just a tablespoon in my he washer, and my clothes are always clean.
10 years ago at 12:57 PM
Yes, this is save for HE washers. I have one and use this each week to do my laundry. You can make a liquid version which works as well: 1/4 cup washing soda 1/4 cup borax 1/4 cup dawn dish detergent (any color or scent) Pour ingredients into a bowl. Add 2 cups of boiling water and stir until powder disolves. Pour into a gallon jug or old laundry detergent bottle. Fill to equal 1 gallon. This will seem to be little more than water but that's the way it is supposed to look. I use the old laundry detergent bottle for my soap and when I do a load, I just use the measuring cup on top to measure for a load like I would store bought soap.