Homemade Laundry Detergent
Become a More Self-Sufficient Prepper by Making Your Own Homemade Laundry Detergent
As Josh previously explained in one of his articles, being self-sufficient as a prepper is just as important as having items stocked up for an end of the world scenario. And as I previously stated, I’m hoping to be able to test out lots of different DIY products. Most people tend to make their own goods because it’s better for the environment, better for the individual as it doesn’t contain chemicals and carcinogens, etc. But I am making them because they’re usually cheaper to make than they are to buy and because I feel it’s important to understand how to make my own goods if I ever needed to in a TEOTWAWKI situation.
I was really excited to try out this first DIY project as I have heard a lot of great things about homemade laundry detergent—how easy it was to make, how inexpensive it is and how well it worked. So, I’m happy to be sharing my experience with making it, the ingredients and instructions on how to make your own and I’ll also include a couple of tips on what I would do next time to make the process a little better and smoother. I think in general, making homemade laundry detergent is a learning process and I’m sure that I’ll improve with every time I make it. But overall, I’m very pleased with the way my first batch turned out! Below, are the ingredients for the detergent, along with the tools you’ll need and the instructions. We found all of the items we needed at Wal-Mart at a very reasonable cost, but the items can also be found online if that’s the easiest way for you to purchase your items. I personally have an Amazon Prime account and it is one of the best investments you can make each year. I believe it costs $79 for the year, and you can get free two-day shipping on Prime eligible items, and most items have an option for the free two-day shipping. And side note for any of you reading junkies out there like me, you can borrow one book for free every month, there are four books at the beginning of every month that you can have for free (you can only choose one though) and most books have a cheaper rate for Prime Members.
For all of the tools below, I would recommend that you purchase them separately from the ones you use for cooking. All of the ingredients are natural and will not harm you, but if you’re like me and most of your kitchen items are newish (because we got married only a little over a year ago and got almost all of these items as gifts), you might prefer to have cheaper, old stuff to use. We bought our items at thrift stores to keep the cost down. Plus, I always like to support the thrift stores that I know donate to good causes.
Anywho, here are the tools we used and we would recommend:
- 6 qt. saucepan
- Stirring utensil (long and regular-sized as you’ll see below)
- Cheese grater
- 1 c. measuring cup
- 1 large mixing bowl for the powder detergent
- 5 gallon bucket
- Funnel (clean car oil funnels work the best)
- Gallon milk containers or used laundry detergent containers
The ingredients are simple, inexpensive and relatively easy to find. All items are in the laundry detergent section of most stores. We did have a difficult time finding all three items at every store, so Wal-Mart will probably be the place to go to get them all in one location. The ingredients themselves only cost us a total of about $8, but, there will be a lot of Borax and washing soda left over after making one batch (5 gallons of liquid detergent and about 5-7 cups of powder detergent depending on which bar of soap you use and how much of it you decide to use).
Ingredients for Liquid Detergent:
- One bar of laundry soap (we used ZOTE, but Fels Naptha is also a popular choice)
- 1 cup of Borax (not be confused with boric acid)
- 1 cup of Washing Soda (made by Arm & Hammer)
- 30 drops of your favorite essential oil (we used Lavender)–Optional
Ingredients for Powder Detergent:
- One part laundry soap (same as above)
- Two parts Borax
- Two parts Washing Soda
Instructions for Liquid Detergent:
- Fill your 6 qt. saucepan with 2 qts of warm water
- Grate your bar of soap into the water as the water heats up on the stove top
- Stir the mixture until the soap is completely dissolved
- When that is complete, pour 4.5 gallons of hot tap water (we put a little less water in it for fear that the container would overflow) into your 5 gallon bucket. We used the gallon milk jugs to fill the bucket with the water as it was easy to measure the amount of gallons being put in the bucket
- Stir 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Washing Soda into the bucket of water (this is the first time that your long stirring utensil really comes in handy) until completely dissolved
- Pour soap and water mixture into the mixture and stir well
- Add the drops of essential oil and mix. We only used 20 drops of the lavender oil and I would highly recommend using a little more because the laundry soap smell overtook the lavender smell
- Cover the bucket with a lid and let sit over night
- You’ll notice that the mixture will become gel-like and very thick as it sits over night, and this is what it should do
- From here, you’ll want to stir the mixture again and this is another time the long stirring utensil will come in handy. We ended up using a paint mixer on our drill as that was the easiest way to combine all the ingredients again in that deep bucket, but I think just a regular long paint stirrer would work well too
- The last step is to use it! Use ½ cup for regularly soiled laundry and 1 cup for highly soiled laundry
Josh and I decided that the easiest way for us to use our liquid detergent was to pour it from our 5 gallon container into a previously used detergent container we had. We plan to do this as needed, so we continue to keep the excess detergent in the 5 gallon bucket. If you don’t necessarily have the space to store a 5 gallon bucket indoors, you can also transfer the detergent into the clean gallon-sized milk jugs. This is where the clean oil funnel comes into play. It is MUCH easier to transfer the detergent using the funnel than by simply pouring it. That could and probably would be a disastrous mess.
Next, I’ll move on to the powder homemade laundry detergent. Instructions are as follows:
- Grate one part laundry soap into a large mixing bowl
- Mix in 2 parts Borax and 2 parts Washing Soda and stir until well combined *Note: you can use a food processer to make the mixture finer*
- Store in a closeable container such as a large pyrex container or a plastic Tupperware container
- Last step here is to use it as well! Use 1/8 cup for regularly soiled laundry and ¼ cup for highly soiled laundry
As you can see, the powder laundry detergent is a little simpler to make and you use less of it at a time, but when I was researching the perks and downfalls of homemade laundry detergent, I found that most people had difficulties getting the laundry soap to completely dissolve well when washing your clothes in cold water. As a conserver of money, I tend to wash the majority of my laundry in cold water, so I was a little concerned with the soap leaving residue on my clothes. If you’re the type of person who prefers to use hot or warm water in your laundry, the powder detergent should work just fine.
As you can see, you will have a good amount of Borax and Washing Soda left after making one batch of homemade laundry detergent. If you want to have the opportunity to have a lot of laundry detergent on hand at a moment’s notice for a TEOTWAWKI situation, you could always have 4-5 bars of laundry soap on hand. Also, many of the other recipes for homemade products I’ve been researching use both Borax and Washing Soda, so they’ll certainly be used in future DIY products that I’ll be making.
And there you have it! I hope inspired you to try it for yourself and give you a new idea on how to become a more self-sufficient prepper! If you have any questions, leave me a comment! Thanks for reading.