Experimenting with Laundry Detergent

I have been making my own laundry detergent for almost two decades. I switched to using a powdered version instead of a liquid version because it takes so little time to make and requires almost no storage room. However, in the last year or so, I have noticed a white residue on my clothes and I don’t think my homemade detergent is rinsing out.

Time to try a new variation. 

I used the recipe and directions found at Budget 101, with a few modifications:

Fels Naptha soup is not sold in Canada. In the past when I have made my own laundry detergent, I have used a bar of Sunlight or Ivory soap with great success. A bar of Ivory can be powdered by letting it expand in the microwave. This is a fun activity for kids. I have also used the soap I got from hotels and as internet freebies. This time I used up some old fashioned lard soup that I made a couple of years ago. I have a jar of soap scraps in the cupboard and if this works out, I will use them for my next batch.


  • 5 ½ ounces of soap. I used my kitchen scale to get the right amount of homemade lard soap.
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 4 cups of hot water

IMPORTANT NOTE: Washing soda is not the same thing as baking soda.


  • Blender
  • Slow cooker
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups
  • Four pint jars (or two liter (quart) jars. I tried to use ones without shoulders so that it was easier to remove the soap mixture after it gelled.
  • Mixer. I used an immersion blender but I imagine an egg beater would work as well.

The directions at the Budget 101 website are very good and they offer many valuable tips. I strongly suggest reading them before you start.


I cut up my bar of soap before adding it to my blender.

I cut my soap up and then I put it into my blender and blended away until it had turned into a fine powder. Keep the lid on your blender for a while to let the dust settle.

I have an old crock pot that I got from the thrift store that I use for making soap or for other non-food experiments. I put my powdered soap into this crock pot and covered it with 4 cups of hot water.

I set my crock pot to low and left it for about 2 ½ hours. I did poke at it and stir it ever half an hour or so.

In a separate bowl, I mixed the borax and washing soda together. When the soap was completely melted, I dumped the washing soda/borax mixture and stirred with a wooden spoon for about 5 or 10 minutes until the mixture had dissolved and I could not feel any grittiness on the bottom of the crockpot.

I divided the mixture between my four jars. I wanted to leave enough headspace to account for the heat from the hot soap mixture.

I put the lids on the jars and flipped them over and let them sit for four hours.

After four hours, I dumped the contents of the jars into a bowl and whipped it with my immersion blender.

To ensure that I was using the correct amount, I found an old scoop from a jar of cleaner and measured out exactly one tablespoon. I marked the level so I will always know how much soap to add to the washing machine. This bright idea did not work out. I am using a spoon instead. The high edges on the scoop meant that it was really hard to get the laundry detergent out and into the washing machine – live an learn.

I recommend using a wide mouthed jar to store this laundry sauce. It is pretty thick and you may need to get your whole hand into the jar to get at the sauce.

I am day dreaming about finding something like this at my local thrift store:

Although maybe I could do something with these spoon clips.

Update: I found the perfect jar at the thrift store!

Budget 101 recommends putting your spoon full of detergent under the stream of water entering your machine (top loader) and adding it to the clothes if you use a front loading machine.

I have washed my first load of laundry and so far, I have to say that I am pleased.

Hanging the laundry


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