Homemade Laundry Soap from the Heart
WARNING: Mom, don’t read this until after Christmas…Spoilers.
Please forgive my indulgence for posting on a topic that has nothing to do with diaper cake creations, but I simply had to share this year’s handmade Christmas gift.
Hands down, my most memorable Christmas ever was the last one with my father. Mom and Dad had retired three years earlier, I was a stay-at-home mom with three little ones (also known as having three overtime jobs), and my brothers were equally strapped for cash. Much to my OCCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Crafting Disorder) delight, we agreed to a handmade only Christmas that year. I was in heaven! It made for the shortest unwrapping session in our family’s history, but it was great to give gifts without having to pay them off or skimp on other expenses for the next few months. Well, except my brothers who gave gifts of service coupons. Suckers. I still have the wooden toys Dad made for the kids that Christmas, and I still have my love for giving gifts from the heart.
Anyway, this year I wanted to give a gift I know will be put to good use—unlike the apple butter gift I gave last year—when I stumbled on a handmade liquid laundry soap recipe on Pinterest. I knew this would be the gift choice of Christmas, 2012!
After much research, testing, and some tweaking to accommodate my grandbaby’s dry skin, I’ve come up with the perfect concoction made of natural ingredients. Why powdered soap over liquid? Well…
1) I’m way too busy to wait for liquids to cool down before starting the next step, plus without the cool down period it’s great for a Christmas crafts party.
2) Powder lasts longer than liquid.
3) I can ship it without the postal Nazi quizzing me about liquids in the package.
4) I love the way powdered soap looks in apothecary jars!
I think the recipe is finally just about perfect!
This recipe will fill four ½ gallon jars or two 1 gallon jars from Target. You can buy them online but you must get them in sets of two, so plan ahead.
You will need:
• One large stockpot or 5 gallon bucket
• One heavy duty spoon
• A flour/sugar sifter or wire strainer
• A food processor OR a blender OR a cheese grater
• 4 lbs. box of Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)
• 3 lbs. box of Super Washing Soda (sodium carbonate AKA soda ash)
• 4 lbs. box of 20 Mule Team Borax (sodium borate)
• Five 4 oz. bars of Kirk’s Original Caca Castile Soap (coconut oil, soap of coconut, vegetable glycerin, and water)
• Optional: 3 lbs. tub of OxiClean with the green lid—which is dye, perfume, and chlorine-free (sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide)
OxiClean with the yellow lid’s fragrance will compete with the natural fragrance of the Castile soap. It also has blue specks that keep the soap from looking fresh, clean, and uniform. Go with the green lid.
The first step is to process the bar soap down to a consistency that will go through a flour/sugar sifter or wire strainer. The goal is to get all the ingredients to the same consistency to so they blend well together in the jar and dissolve in cold water. To do this, choose one of the following options:
1) Fastest: Cut the soap into small chunks and add them to the food processor with two tablespoons of Baking Soda per bar. This prevents the soap from sticking to the blades. Process one bar at a time. Then, run it through a flour/sugar sifter or wire strainer.
2) Fast: Cut the soap into small chunks and add them to a blender with two tablespoons of Baking Soda per bar. The blender is less effective in breaking down the soap, but not everyone has a food processor. Run it through a flour/sugar sifter or wire strainer. Castile soap will work in the blender while other soaps stick to the blades.
3) Find a good movie to watch: Grate the whole bar of soap on the smallest grater side. That’s the side with four prongs that stick out. Sprinkle the grater with baking soda every once in a while to keep the soap from sticking. Although this is time consuming, it breaks down the bar to the perfect size. Just be careful or you’ll end up with blood in your laundry soap.
Next, slowly and carefully pour your processed/blended/grated soap and the contents of the boxes into a stockpot or 5 gallon bucket to prevent the powder from becoming airborne. Seriously, don’t allow the ingredients to become airborne. I don’t care how natural they are, I don’t want them getting up my nose and in my lungs. Mix slow and carefully! You can use a dust mask if you wish. Slowly mix the powdered ingredients with a spoon bringing the bottom up to the top. You can use your hands if you like. Ten minutes should do it.
Slowly scoop and pour the powder into the jars. If you’ve added OxiClean, you will have some left over.
These labels are made from peal and stick chalkboard paper. I used a stencil and blade cutter, but you can simply trace the pattern of your choice and cut it by hand. My husband wrote the labels with liquid chalkboard pen.
Add a one to two tablespoon scoop to each jar. Use one tablespoon for small loads and two for large loads or heavily soiled clothing.
These labels are made from These labels are made from Add a one to two tablespoon scoop to each jar. Use one tablespoon for small loads and two for large loads or heavily soiled clothing. It is very concentrated so don’t use too much.
Actually, this gift could be paired with a homemade diaper cake. It’s definitely going to need washing later so you can be sure your Christmas gift will be put to good use.
Some helpful tips:
1) The OxiClean is just an extra cleaning agent, but it’s not necessary. If you choose not to use OxiClean, you won’t be able to fill your jars to the top, but that’s okay because you’ll need room for the scoops anyway.
2) Search the internet and ads for coupons. There’s a coupon in the Oxi-Clean tub.
3) Most laundry soap recipes call for 5 ½ oz. Fels-Naptha bars, but this is a heavy-duty soap and I don’t like the smell. It also contains petroleum, doesn’t mix will in blenders, and its yellow color doesn’t blend well with the other ingredients.
4) If you’re looking for fragrance-free laundry soap, Kirk’s has a fragrance-free bar. Beware: it looks like the original.
I discovered Kirk’s fragrance-free bar soap while going through chemotherapy. I couldn’t tolerate any kind of fragrance and my skin was super sensitive. This was the only soap I could use. It’s hard to find, so look for a list of retail outlets on their website. www.kirksnatural.com
5) If you decide to use a different soap brand, try to find one that is white.
Common Questions about Homemade Laundry Soap Use:
1) Can it be used in High Efficiency (HE) Washers?
Absolutely. Advertisers do a great job convincing consumers to buy “special soap” for HE washers. The basic truth is, these HE front load washers use less water so they require soap with low suds. The good news is, this soap is very low suds and just fine for HE washers. You simply toss it in with the laundry.
2) Can it be used in houses with Septic Systems?
Yes. Most sources recommend using liquid soaps instead of powdered detergents for septic systems because powdered detergents don’t dissolve fully because they contain plastic or clay-based additives. This soap does not contain plastic or clay-based additives, or any phosphates either for that matter. If you follow the directions properly, your bar soap ingredient will be milled down to a fine powder, allowing it to dissolve even in cold water.
The University of Maryland Extension Service simply recommends using “normal amounts of detergents” as does the Arizona Cooperative Extension.
Furthermore, the following link addresses the negative consequences of the use of antibacterial products on the delicate, necessary bacterial balance that allows a septic system to naturally function properly. You don’t’ have to worry about that either because this soap doesn’t contain antibacterial properties.