Laundry soap help

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

rhiamom

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
6
Reaction score
1
Last summer I made a simple cold process lard and lye soap, no superfatting, for future use as a laundry soap. The soap is fine; a bit soft and crumbly, but as expected for no superfatting. It grated beautifully a couple months ago.

Yesterday I made laundry soap using this simple recipe I found online:

2 cups grated soap dissolved into 1 quart boiling water. Add 2 cups washing soda, 2 cups borax and mix well. Add 2 gallons of water and let sit.

This morning I checked it and I seem to have a about 2 or 3 quarts of semi-solid soap floating on top of over a gallon of liquid. I was under the impression that it all would gel and need stirring, but this is ridiculous. It does not want to dissolve back into the water with stirring, it just breaks into smaller chunks.

Now, my water is very, very hard, in case that matters. As in 360 ppb of primarily calcium. I do not use it to make soap, I buy distilled or filtered water for that. But I used it to make the laundry soap mixture. Would it be helpful to use my immersion blender on this mixture? Do I need to heat this solution to make it blend together?
 

Earthen_Step

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2014
Messages
394
Reaction score
308
Location
New Hampshire
I've never tried liquid. From what I've gathered for liquid soap going water, borax and grated soap works to make a gel. I make powder soap and go 1 part soap to 1 or 2 part washing soda. I do 2 parts soda with dirtier stuff. I don't know if the washing soda in the liquid is causing any problems but maybe. Someone will probably come along with some more details on what's going on with your liquid soap. Hope this helps some.
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,998
Location
So Cal
Try a paint mixer or stick blender?

I've never had any luck dissolving solid soap into water. It either separates, or turns to snot. That's why I use powdered laundry soap (grated 100% CO soap, washing soda, borax). If I wanted a liquid laundry soap, I'd make a liquid soap with KOH. But dry takes less room.

I use citric acid in my soap for my hard water, some use tetrasodium EDTA, search some laundry soap threads to get an idea.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,469
Reaction score
19,378
Location
USA
Most people who make laundry soap will process the soap while it's freshly made. Well cured soap, especially one high in palmitic and stearic acids like lard soap, is going to take time to absorb water and become softer, so you might give it a few more days.

Lard soap at zero superfat give a few percent either way should have a firm, hard, waxy consistency. Or at least that's been my experience. Not sure what's going on there -- but it really truly shouldn't be soft and crumbly.

Washing soda does not remain effective in water past a few hours. You need to add it to each load of laundry as you wash, rather than add it to a liquid laundry soap mix up front.

If your water is so very hard, do you have a water softener or do you add a water conditioning agent to the laundry water? If not, the soap scum formed when lye soap and hard water react is going to make your clothes feel harsh and will cause your whites to become gray. Synthetic detergents don't form soap scum like lye soap does.

I make a powdered laundry mix. My soaper friend Renae makes a liquid mix, but her's is a gloppy stringy gel. She says it works well for her, but I'm not too enthused about it.

One addition you might make to your soap is to add a chelator to bind up some of the hard water minerals. You can use either sodium citrate or tetrasodium EDTA, but I have to say with water that hard, a chelator alone may not be as effective as you might like.
 

topofmurrayhill

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 11, 2015
Messages
1,183
Reaction score
1,420
Location
New York City
Washing soda does not remain effective in water past a few hours. You need to add it to each load of laundry as you wash, rather than add it to a liquid laundry soap mix up front.
Sodium carbonate in water will, after a few hours, still be sodium carbonate in water. No?
 

kdaniels8811

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
234
Reaction score
159
Location
Ohio, USA
You made laundry butter. It needs to be whipped and will be thick like yogurt. I use a paint mixer as it is rough on immersion blenders. Use a tablespoon per load. This stuff works great, I sell a ton of it. I scent with a tiny bit of lemongrass.
 

TBandCW

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2015
Messages
513
Reaction score
251
Location
Near beautiful Lake Tahoe, Nevada
I use a sb to mix in. I then transfer to laundry soap dispenser and shake it well before I put it into the machine.

I've always used melt and pour for my laundry soap, the one time I made a 100% coconut oil soap for laundry it didn't work for me. Maybe the uncured soap suggestion will work for me too!
This is my recipe:
4.5-5 oz grated soap
4 cups hot tap water
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Additional hot tap water

Grate soap, add to saucepan with 4 cups hot tap water, stir over low heat till dissolved.
Fill 5 gallon bucket half full with hot water, pour in dissolved soap, washing soda and borax, stir well till all dissolved. Add additional hot water to fill bucket 2/3 full, stir, cover overnight to thicken.
Stick blend the next day. Use 1/2 cup for top loaders, 1/4 cup for front loaders.
My total cost ends up being $1.12 per gallon!!

note: my son uses this and he has two boys, it works great even with well water.
 

rhiamom

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
6
Reaction score
1
Thank you all for your replies. I checked the soap again tonight, and it had separated again, but not as much, the top layer was softer and stirred back in better. I'll give it a day or two and see what happens.

I was expecting the stringy goopy result. I want a liquid laundry soap because I like to wash in lukewarm and cold water. I have no water softener, nor place to put one. The borax and washing soda in the recipe are supposed to condition the water.

In a few days I will have at it with a stick blender and see what happens.

I am currently stuck with an HE top loading washer, because the frontloader I bought walked across the room. I found out too late it was not my new manufactured home being too unstable, but the high-end Frigidaire Affinity washer. Live and learn; in another 7 years or so I will replace it with the frontloader I prefer. This washer doesn't fill with enough water to even cover the clothes; I hate it. I cheat by doing a rinse only cycle to make the clothes heavier so it will use more water. I use the soak cycle to good effect, and I always use the extra rinse cycle and never use fabric softener.
 

penelopejane

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2015
Messages
5,460
Reaction score
4,250
Location
Sth Coast, NSW, Australia
I have one of those smart top loaders. I never put it on auto. I set the level myself. Before I turn the water on I also only fill the tub to the top with dry clothes and that seems to be the right amount for it. Then I turn the water on.

Oh for the good old days when washing machines were not smart.
 
Last edited:

TeresaT

I see you.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 7, 2015
Messages
2,269
Reaction score
2,456
Location
Chatta-Vegas, TN
One addition you might make to your soap is to add a chelator to bind up some of the hard water minerals. You can use either sodium citrate or tetrasodium EDTA, but I have to say with water that hard, a chelator alone may not be as effective as you might like.

DeeAnna: This just struck a chord with me. I have hard water and dingy whites. (TMI?) I never thought about the hard water being a factor since I don't use soap. I use a commercial detergent (one of those Arm & Hammer POD things). But I also add an oxywash, baking soda, white vinegar and borax to each load. (I cannot use bleach, and with four dogs, this is my best bet at deodorizing and de-funkifying the stuff.)

My question is, do you think these are adding to the problem of graying whites or should I add some sodium citrate to the mix, too? I can't afford a household water softener at this time. I love crisp white starched shirts, but they're not white for long and I'm too lazy to take them to the dry cleaners.

Thanks for any insight you can give.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,469
Reaction score
19,378
Location
USA
I can't say for sure what might be happening, Teresa, but I can suggest a few things for you to think about --

I would leave the vinegar out of the wash water. Put it in the fabric softener compartment instead so it's added to the final rinse after the wash is done. You want your wash water to be somewhat alkaline for best results. Vinegar, being an acid, will neutralize some of the alkali.

If your water is rock hard, you might also want to try a zeolite additive to soften your wash water. It would be an alternative to using the citrate. Calgon makes a zeolite based water softener -- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004VL3ZPQ/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20. It's rather expensive, but it works. There are "calgon clones" out there that are a lot less expensive, but the one I checked out was not based on zeolite -- it was fancy smelling washing soda.

I would also switch from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to washing soda (sodium carbonate). Even though it doesn't seem like a big change, I think you'll see better water softening, whitening/cleaning, and deodorizing performance from the washing soda.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

TeresaT

I see you.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 7, 2015
Messages
2,269
Reaction score
2,456
Location
Chatta-Vegas, TN
Thanks, DeeAnna! I'll give your suggestions a try this weekend and see how it goes.
 

lenarenee

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2014
Messages
3,704
Reaction score
3,317
Thank you all for your replies. I checked the soap again tonight, and it had separated again, but not as much, the top layer was softer and stirred back in better. I'll give it a day or two and see what happens.

I was expecting the stringy goopy result. I want a liquid laundry soap because I like to wash in lukewarm and cold water. I have no water softener, nor place to put one. The borax and washing soda in the recipe are supposed to condition the water.

In a few days I will have at it with a stick blender and see what happens.

I am currently stuck with an HE top loading washer, because the frontloader I bought walked across the room. I found out too late it was not my new manufactured home being too unstable, but the high-end Frigidaire Affinity washer. Live and learn; in another 7 years or so I will replace it with the frontloader I prefer. This washer doesn't fill with enough water to even cover the clothes; I hate it. I cheat by doing a rinse only cycle to make the clothes heavier so it will use more water. I use the soak cycle to good effect, and I always use the extra rinse cycle and never use fabric softener.
I hear ya - I keep a 2 qt pitcher in the laundry room for pre-dissolving my homemade detergent, then refill it and pour it onto the waiting laundry to add more weight!
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,469
Reaction score
19,378
Location
USA
I want to add a thought to my earlier reply to Teresa --

I said "...If your water is rock hard, you might also want to try a zeolite additive to soften your wash water. It would be an alternative to using the citrate..."

Actually I should have said the two will work well together, not one be an alternative for the other. A zeolite water softener will soften all the water in the washing machine. It's an alternative to a water softener to reduce water hardness in a larger amount of water (washing machine, bath, dishwashing, etc).

A chelator in your soap can soften some water, but it's impractical to put enough chelator in soap to soften ALL the water in the laundry. You'd have to put so much citrate (or EDTA) in the soap that it might never firm up or function well as a soap.

A chelator really shines when you use a soap in the shower, for hand washing, spot washing dishes, or any time the amount of water is small in proportion to the amount of soap used. The soap suds (and the chelator in the suds) will encounter only a small amount of hard water as you wash, so the chelator can do a good job of binding up the hard water minerals. In the laundry, bath tub, or kitchen sink where the amount of water is large in proportion to the amount of soap, a chelator will always be helpful, but it's not going to be enough if your water is hard. You will need bigger guns to deal with that!
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,905
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Picture?

I did something similar - my soap was probably 6 months old when I grated it for laundry soap. 70% coconut, 30% lard, 0 superfat. I used Borax only at Deanna's suggestion.

1) Melt 24 grams of soap shreds in 3 cups water
2) Add 1/2 Cup borax
3) Add 2 cups hot water
4) Add 11 cups water

1/2 c per load

I like it. It has one huge advantage over the dry mix in that you don't have to use your food processor. It is stringy and snotty vs a gel, but I don't really mind that.

My suggestion would be to try a high coconut oil or all coconut oil soap vs lard.
 

rhiamom

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
6
Reaction score
1
What I finally did, after a stick blender had no apparent effect: I dissolved 2 more cups of soap in 2 cups of boiling water. I added that to the non-gelling laundry soap. I got a nice creamy liquid that I found acceptable. After letting it sit for a week or so, I have a thick creamy laundry soap, thick enough to hold a spoon upright. I am very pleased with this result. Now to see how it works in my very hard water.

To Teresa, a fellow hard water sufferer: extra rinsing helps a lot. So do borax and washing soda. In my dishwasher, I use a special rinse aid, brand name Lemi-Shine. It also comes as a powder that I use to get the calcium rings out of the bottom of glasses.
 

Nikolye

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2014
Messages
95
Reaction score
29
Location
New Zealand
Most people who make laundry soap will process the soap while it's freshly made. Well cured soap, especially one high in palmitic and stearic acids like lard soap, is going to take time to absorb water and become softer, so you might give it a few more days.

Lard soap at zero superfat give a few percent either way should have a firm, hard, waxy consistency. Or at least that's been my experience. Not sure what's going on there -- but it really truly shouldn't be soft and crumbly.

Washing soda does not remain effective in water past a few hours. You need to add it to each load of laundry as you wash, rather than add it to a liquid laundry soap mix up front.

If your water is so very hard, do you have a water softener or do you add a water conditioning agent to the laundry water? If not, the soap scum formed when lye soap and hard water react is going to make your clothes feel harsh and will cause your whites to become gray. Synthetic detergents don't form soap scum like lye soap does.

I make a powdered laundry mix. My soaper friend Renae makes a liquid mix, but her's is a gloppy stringy gel. She says it works well for her, but I'm not too enthused about it.

One addition you might make to your soap is to add a chelator to bind up some of the hard water minerals. You can use either sodium citrate or tetrasodium EDTA, but I have to say with water that hard, a chelator alone may not be as effective as you might like.
I found this thread tonight when i was thinking about making a soap bar for my laundry soap. I use a soap called "Lux Flakes" at the moment here in New Zealand and its plain but the ingredients are listed as "soap and perfume" and it smells terrible. I hate fragrance. I get fresh sheep tallow from my neighbor and i'd like to try that with coconut oil 50:50, I've always made liquid laundry soap and I find it interesting that washing soda loses its power in water, three years i've been doing this!! at any rate, we got a new washing machine and it works best with dry ingredients, so im happy to make dry again. my question was when you say "process the soap when its freshly made" do yo mean laundry soap is usually made before a long cure? or a light cure of like 4 weeks? I've never used my soap for the laundry soap so im curious. is 0% super fat good? is that lye heavy enough? I'm stoked to try, it will mean i can get rid of the weird store bought flakes that are hard to find! My husband is worried our clothes will smell of sheep fat, but now i can tell him his clothes will be ten times cleaner then in the last three years of ruining the washing soda power!!! plus theres nothing a few EO's can't kill!! :mrgreen:
 

shunt2011

Moderator Emeritus
Moderator Emeritus
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
15,447
Reaction score
9,735
Location
Michigan
I usually grate my soap soon after cutting. I've only used 100% CO with 0% SF and that stuff gets rock hard if it sits too long. I then lay out the grated soap on a lined cookie sheet or two and let it dry out for a few days then process in my food processer with the other ingredients I add. I do add a bit of orange EO to my soap but it doesn't survive after the wash or dryer. It smells nice in the container though.
 

Susie

Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
9,713
Reaction score
9,214
Location
Texas
Like Shari said, as soon as you unmold it and cut it, grate it. Then let it dry out.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,469
Reaction score
19,378
Location
USA
Yep, what the others say -- just as soon as it can be unmolded and cut. That is usually be less than 24 hours after the soap was poured into the mold, although my last batch stayed softer a little longer than normal, so I had to give it a few more hours to firm up before it could be grated. I break the soap down into powder right after it has been grated.

ETA: I also use zero superfat -- lye heavy soap is hard on natural fibers, but unnecessary fat reduces cleansing. As far as using washing soda in liquid soap, use it if you want -- it's not going to hurt anything. But also take a look at the ingredients lists for the commercial brands to get clues about what works. When I look, for example, at the ingredients in Tide Liquid Original and Ultra Tide powdered detergent -- versions I think come closest the soap-based laundry mixes we're making -- I find borax in the liquid product and washing soda (sodium carbonate) in the powder, but not both, and not vice versa.
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top