A couple friends of mine wanted to know after several months what effect homemade soap has on my laundry. It has been great! I don't feel that the clothing has faded and I haven't had a problem with stains not coming out, unless they're heavy duty stains with permanent marker or something to that effect. We did notice that heavily stinky clothing needed a bit more soap to come out smelling nice, or a bit of vinegar, which I had been using regularly anyway before I started using my own homemade laundry soap. In the end, I use less vinegar in my laundry, and I save a ton of money by not buying commercially made soaps. I know what is in our laundry soap and I don't have to worry about artificial stuff. Just in case you're wondering, I do still use dryer sheets, and have recently learned that they can be used more than once!
The recipe I use is very easy. Here's the small formula:
1 bar soap grated (I use Fels Naptha)
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 cup oxi clean
Use 2 TBSP of laundry soap per load
This is a low foaming mixture and works fine in front loader machines!
The Oxi Clean really helps with keeping the stains under control. Some recipes don't call for it and admittedly, it is the expensive part of the homemade laundry soap, but with three boys in the house, it is well worth it to me. I wait to buy it 'til Costco has a coupon for it, usually $4 off a huge box of it, which is basically a year's supply for you laundry soap.
You can use any kind of bar soap EXCEPT ones that have added oils in them. This gives you the option of choosing the smell of your laundry soap. I used Dial in my first batch, but decided to try the Fels Naptha this time around because it is meant for removing stains (again three boys, plus the hubby equals lots of stains to remove). The Fels Naptha bars are huge, so I actually double that recipe and only use one bar of soap.
The easiest way to grate the soap is to put your small grater attachment on your food processor or Kitchen Aid and grate away! I do hope you have one of those. If not, borrow one. I would seriously hate to grate many bars by hand.
To make a larger batch, try to purchase your boxes of borax, oxi clean, and washing soda to equal the same weight. For example, 1 box of borax is close to the amount of 2 boxes of washing soda. Then if I'm using the Costco size Oxi Clean, I would use about half of that box. This would require 7-8 bars of Fels Naptha. So instead of measuring everything out by cup, layer your ingredients into a bucket or a couple of large bowls and mix it with a wooden spoon. This example fills two cereal size storage containers and lasts me 6-8 months with a family of six.
If you prefer liquid soap, this same recipe works to make liquid soap as well. Shake the google tree for homemade laundry soap, and follow the directions to melt your mixture down with hot water, which then forms a gel!
I have found the ingredients to be cheapest at Walmart. For example, a bar of Fels Naptha at Walmart is $1. I priced them at Smith's yesterday and they're $1.69. That .69 adds up when you're buying 8 bars at a time. Borax and Washing Soda were also approximately $1 more per box at Smith's than at Walmart. I'll have to check Winco to see if they're any cheaper there.
Oh, and in case your wondering, Washing Soda is a lot like Baking Soda, except that Washing Soda has a stronger PH balance, which works better as a cleaning agent. So keep your baking soda for cooking and buy Washing Soda for cleaning!