If someone had stopped by my house Friday afternoon, they would have found me, hovering over a pot of sudsy water, with a huge wooden spoon while vapours of fresh soap steamed up all the windows.
“Come on in,” I would have said, pushing my long braids out of my face, “I’m just making up a big batch of laundry soap fer the washing. Set yourself down and I’ll go out to the pump and get some water to make coffee. Do you mind keeping your eye on the fire for a minute?”
Let’s be honest: making your own laundry soap sounds a bit too “Little House on the Prairie” for most of us to attempt. But it’s actually a fast, and really fun science project, done in 1/2 an hour thanks to modern conveniences. Of course the real point of making it is not to play chemist in the kitchen, but to save big bucks. Here’s the break down:
I buy tide because I’m brand loyal. I just like it. It costs me $34.96 for a 96-load jug
This Laura Ingles soap costs me exactly a tenth of the price: $3.45 for 96 loads. And I’m suddenly not so brand loyal.
This recipe is adapted from one I got from my almost-sister-in-law Michelle Young. (Meghan’s real-sister-in-law)
I found everything I needed at Fred Meyer for a total of $13. I’d imagine Wal-mart, Target or any big chain store will have the ingredients.
Here’s what you need:
– 1 bar of soap (whatever kind you like; I used a white bar of Ivory soap because I had it around, and I liked the smell)
– 1 box of washing soda (look for it in the laundry detergent aisle – it comes in an Arm & Hammer box and will contain enough for six batches of this stuff)
– 1 box of borax (this is not necessary, but I’ve found it really kicks the cleaning up a notch – one box of borax will contain more than enough for tons of batches of this homemade detergent)
– A five gallon bucket with a lid (this is the most expensive part, but of course you’ll only buy it once)
– Three gallons of tap water
– A big spoon to stir the mixture with
– A measuring cup
– A knife
Step One:Put about four cups of water into a pan on your stove and turn the heat up on high until it’s almost boiling. While you’re waiting, whip out a knife and chop up your bar of soap as finely as you can. The finer the pieces, the less time you will be waiting for it to disolve in the water. Add the soap gradually, stirring into the hot water until the soap is dissolved and you have some highly soapy water.
Step Two: Put three gallons of hot water (11 liters or so) into the five gallon bucket – the easiest way is to fill up three gallon milk jugs worth of it. Then mix in the hot soapy water from step one, stir it for a while, then add a cup of the washing soda. Keep stirring it for another minute or two, then add a half cup of borax if you are using borax. Stir for another couple of minutes, then let the stuff sit overnight to cool.
And you’re done. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll have a bucket of gelatinous slime that’s a paler shade of the soap that you used (in my case it was just clear, since I used white soap). One measuring cup full of this slime will be roughly what you need to do a load of laundry. I used this much for a large load and was happy with the results.
So go braid your hair and get to work! This economy might just turn any one of us into Laura Ingllas.