Okay, so I’m doing a follow up post to my original post to answer a few questions and to give you the recipe for a larger batch. It’s really not much different than the original recipe found here, but I’ll do the difficult math of doubling the recipe so you can fill up a 5 gallon bucket (to the tippy top!).
First, you will need a 5 gallon (or larger) bucket with a lid. My husband picked one up for me at Home Depot because it gave him a reason to go. I’m sure you can get them other places.
To make the detergent, you will need: 4 TBSP Borax, 1/2 cup Washing Soda (not to be confused with Baking Soda), 1/2 Fels Naptha Bar, and a cheese grater.
To make a 5 gallon batch, first start by cutting your Fels Naptha bar in half. Store the other half in a ziplock bag for later use. Grate the Fells Naptha bar with a cheese grater. Put the grated soap in a pot with 2 cups of water. Cook on medium low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until all of the soap pieces have dissolved.
While your soap is cooking, add 20 cups of water to your bucket. Then add the cooked soap, 4 TBSP Borax and 1/2 cup of Washing Soda. Mix well. Then add 20 more cups of water to the bucket and mix well again. Put the lid on tight and let it sit overnight.
The next day, you will notice that your soap is more of a gel-like consistancy. This is completely normal. Stir it up, then add 40 more cups of water (this should take you right to the top of your 5 gallon bucket). Stir well. From here, you can transfer some into an old laundry detergent container or other container, and store the rest in the bucket until you need it.
You will need 1/4-1/2 cup of detergent per load, depending on load size.
You may want to shake up your small container of laundry detergent before each use, because it may seperate a bit. I never do this, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. But when you open up your large bucket to refill your small container, you will definitely want to stir, or shake it with the lid on, to make sure it’s mixed well.
Now to answer questions on cost, how long it lasts, and where to find ingredients. We’ll start with the ingredients. This was the hardest for me, and I definitely didn’t find the cheapest options at first, but now that I know where to get them, I’m a pro (thanks to a fellow twin mom, Lisa, who told me exactly where to go!)
One answer… WALMART!! I never shop at Walmart, so I scoured my local grocery store and Target a million times with no luck. I ended up finding the Borax at Target and Fells Naptha at my grocery store, but I paid more for them. At Walmart, they are all in one place, pretty much right beside eachother. You will find them in the laundry detergent aisle. All three are a little over $7.00 total. If you do a double batch like listed above, the Fels Naptha will last you for one additional 5 gallon bucket, but the Borax and Washing Soda will last you for a while.
I didn’t go crazy and break down the cost per load because that will vary slightly for everyone, but I will tell you that the first batch I made was only a single batch (approx. 2.5 gallons). It lasted me 4 months. I would imagine the double batch will last me about 8 months. So basically, buying 1 Fels Naptha bar, a box of Borax and a box of Washing Soda (total cost of say $7.50 at the most), will last me a year. And after this, all I will need to buy is another bar of Fels Naptha ($0.97 if I go to Walmart, or $1.99 if I buy it from my grocery store). So next year, I will spend less than $2.00 on laundry detergent. And I should also mention that I do at least one (usually more) load of laundry a day. I have 2 infants, a toddler, and my husband and I to do laundry for. I feel like my washer is constantly running. Lots of food stains from the babies. This stuff works great. There has been the occasional onesie that I just couldn’t get clean with food stains, but that’s part of having babies. Not to mention it’s safe, gentle, fragrance free, and doesn’t cause any sort of reaction in delicate baby skin. Are you sold yet?
Stay tuned for more recipes for homemade soaps/cleaners you can use around the house. I stumbled into these more to provide more safe, natural options as opposed to chemical containing cleaners in my house, and soon discovered that not only do they work just as well, if not better, than chemical cleaners, but they also save a lot of money.