Pin Busters! D-I-Y Laundry Soap

I saw this on Pinterest and was totally intrigued. I never really thought about making my own laundry soap, but this one sounded pretty nice. It's originally from How Does She?, which happens to be a blog that I follow. Here's a link to the original "recipe" and instructions.

A few things about laundry & me:
  1. I like it done "my way"
  2. Entire process must be as easy as possible because I do a lot of laundry
  3. Clothes must be clean, very clean
  4. Clothes must smell very, very good, but not perfume-y
I usually buy Tide and Gain in the large 150 oz. containers for around $18/each on sale at Target or Kroger. (Is anyone else shocked by the high prices on Amazon??) I use Tide for clothing and Gain for towels. The bottles say they're good for 96 loads, but that's only if you do medium-size loads. That doesn't happen often around here. I buy them around 5 times/year. I love the smell of original Gain & original Tide (and original Downy) - to me, that is the epitome of clean laundry - and they get the clothes clean.

If I can make my own laundry soap that cleans as well as Tide & Gain and smells as good, plus costs less - I'm all for it. But can it be done?

This is what I used to make my D-I-Y laundry soap. (I'm including links to so you can see the products. I don't receive any compensation for you clicking on the links or buying from Amazon - I just wanted you to be able to see the actual products. If your local prices are similar to mine, you'll find it much cheaper to shop locally anyway.)

(This post contains some affiliate links which were added to make it easier for you to find the items. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). You are free to use the links or not - if you do, I thank you!)

1 (4 lb. 12 oz.) box of Borax- at my store it's on the bottom shelf, under the fabric softeners, instead of with the laundry soap; it was much cheaper at my local store than on Amazon. (Update: I buy this at either my local Kroger or Walmart.)

1 (3 lb. 7 oz.) box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda- at my store, it's next to the Borax; again, much cheaper at my local store than on Amazon. (Update: I buy this at either my local Kroger or Walmart.)

1 (3 lb.) container of OxiClean- also in the detergent aisle. Amazon's price is comparable. (Update: I buy the generic version of this at either my local Kroger or Walmart.)

2 (14.1 oz.) bars of Zote Soap- my local store didn't have this, so I purchased on Amazon. According to the original instructions, you can also use Fels Naptha, which was in the detergent aisle with the laundry soap. (Update: I buy this at either my local Walmart for 97 cents/bar.)

1 (4 lb.) box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda - this was in the baking aisle of my local store. They didn't have 4 lb. boxes, so I bought two 2 lb. boxes. They were much cheaper locally than on (the link is a 1 lb. box - almost $5 for a 1 lb. box? I paid a little over $2 each for my 2 lb. boxes!!) (Update: I found 4 lb. boxes at my local Walmart.)

2 (13.2 oz.) bottles Gain Fireworks "Sweet Sizzle" In-wash Scent Booster - found with the laundry soap & fabric softener in my local store. This was the most expensive ingredient, and is entirely optional. You could just use one bottle or none at all. (Update: I watch for this to be on sale - they also have a great new scent - Moonlight Breeze! I also like Downy Unstoppables in the "Fresh" scent.)

The original instructions also called for 1-2 (55 oz) bottles of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener instead of the Gain Fireworks. I checked the scents of all the different crystal fabric softeners, but didn't like any of them, so I used the Gain Fireworks Scent booster for a nice scent, and just continue to add liquid fabric softener as needed to the washing machine. I don't like to use fabric softener on my towels, so keeping it separate is probably good for me - unless I divided the batches of D-I-Y laundry soap into with/without fabric softener. But first, I'd have to find a crystal version that I liked.

I used a large Rubbermaid container as my mixing container. Gus grated the two bars of Zote soap for me - he just used a kitchen hand grater and was finished in less than 5 minutes. I added half of everything and stirred with a slotted spoon until evenly mixed. Then I added the rest and mixed again. Super easy! Just don't stick your face too close while mixing, because there is a fine, powdery dust that gets kicked up.

How to use:
According to the directions, you only need to use 1-2 TBSP. per load of laundry, so I measured that out, checking it against the markings on the OxiClean scoop and also on the lid of the Gain Fireworks bottles. Luckily, the #1 line on the OxiClean scoop is 1 TBSP., and the #2 line is 2 TBSP. Same with the Gain lid - first line, 1 TBSP., second line 2 TBSP. So I opted to used all three of those containers to store some of the laundry soap for immediate use, and left the rest of it in the large Rubbermaid container.

I admit, I was worried about using a powdered laundry soap. I have always preferred liquids - mostly because I don't have to worry about whether or not they have dissolved completely. But this stuff dissolves almost instantly - no worries!

Cost analysis:  
Utilizing girl math Crunching the numbers, this is what I came up with (all numbers are approximate):
DIY version:
cost per average load - $.17
average yearly cost - $110

Store-bought version:
cost per average load - $.30
average yearly cost - $180 (assuming it's on sale)

Yearly D-I-Y savings: $70

Not bad! I can buy a lot of Starbucks for $70...or a really cute pair of shoes (or two)...

Verdict: definitely Pin-worthy.

  • easy to make - even grating the soap is easy
  • gets the clothes clean
  • clothes smell great
  • very low suds, so it could probably be used in HE machines
  • dissolves easily in any water temperature
  • cheaper than the good store-bought stuff

 So - are you going to give it a try??

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