laundry soap powder questions

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Well-Known Member
Mar 20, 2016
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Pennsylvania, USA
I've made my own laundry soap powder for years from Fels, washing soda, and borax, plus a small amount of oxyclean. Now I'm reading that 100% CO soap at 0% superfat powdered in a food processor soon after cutting works great as well. Also not to use borax, but only washing soda. So I think that the last batch of laundry soap I made I used 2 bars of Fels and 2 or 3 bars of Ivory, plus an entire box of washing soda and entire box of Borax and the small bottle of oxyclean. This soap works fantastic in my top loader and even gets out grease from my jeans when I work on the car, which actually quite surprised me. Also, grass stains and blood! I only use an oxyclean scoop per load too, which is about 2 tbsp.

So, experienced laundry soap makers from homemade soaps, will the 100% CO soap with only washing soda and oxyclean work this well? My other questions is, why is it that the CO soap has to be powdered soon after cutting? I would think that the harder it got as it aged, the easier it would grate/powder up? No? I thought that was why the Ivory soap grated so finely, because it was old and very dry. I was planning to make a huge batch of CO soap and just store the bars for future use in making new laundry soap.
I just grate my 100% CO, 0% SF soap, not powder it. It's easier to do when it's fresher, but you certainly can hold the bars and grate later. Don't forget to save some as stain sticks.

I use 2 parts soap : 1 part borax : 1 part washing soda (by volume). DeeAnne says I don't need the borax, and I bet she's right, but I'm still using the borax mix. My clothes get really disgusting, and this works and I'm scared to change it. Oh and I usually add oxyclean, and vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. This works the same for me as the feels naphtha mix, just doesn't have the same smell.
It won't hurt to use borax in dry mix and it won't hurt to use washing soda in liquid mixes. Reputable dry commercial laundry detergents I've checked contain washing soda and the liquid products contain borax, not both and not vice versa. I'm taking my cue from them, but everyone has to make up their own mind about what works.

You can grate the soap pretty much any time you want -- fresh, cured, whenever. It's getting it into a fine powder that's the problem. My soap is different than Ivory -- it's dense and waxy-firm. Ivory has air beaten into it (the reason why it floats!) and it's more brittle. If your soap is more like Ivory, by all means let it cure. I don't dare do that with mine.

If I wait too long and the soap dries out too much, the soap gets too hard and it breaks down into a coarse powder more like cracked pepper. In my experience, the soap just won't break down further regardless of how long I process it in my food processor. I've found that chunks that size are too big to dissolve fast in a cold or warm water wash.

If I let the soap sit just long enough so it's nicely firm but no longer, it will still be tender enough to break down into a fine powder. I want particles no bigger than coarsely ground pepper. In my experience, the soap is ready to be powdered about 12 to 24 hours after the soap is unmolded. I also add some of the powders (washing soda and/or oxy bleach) to each batch in the food processor along with the grated soap. The powders really help with the powdering process -- they keep the soap from heating up and gumming together.
Thanks DeeAnna! I didn't know that about Ivory having air in it.... Makes sense, although doesn't that make the "so pure it floats!" advertising false? Should be, "so airy it floats!" or something? Ha!

I rarely use anything other than hot water to do laundry so perhaps it's not as important for me to get a fine powder. I usually only grate the Fels into long thin strips and it works fine, although I would prefer it to be more of a powder. I tried food processing it before but never thought to add any of the other powders while doing that so it would just heat up and get sticky. I COULD also just make a smaller batch of soap and powder it all at once. It's not like I have to wait for it to cure, after all, which I think is what I was thinking about with the huge batch. Hmm, I think I am learning to think first and soap later. :mrgreen:
I rarely use hot water unless I'm strictly washing whites. I use 100% COLS to wash with. I also use borax/washing soda mix and oxiclean. However, for the rinse I use a little bit of store fabric softener with a lot of vinegar mixed in. I can tolerate the scent in my clothes better this way than if I used 100% fabric softener (I'd be itching up a storm).
I tried using 100% coconut oil soap and it didn't work for me. I am now using my soap that I sell and it works fine. I used melt and pour for years and that also works.

What didn't work? Did it not clean, did it not dissolve so it could clean? I've not made 100% CO soap yet so I'm curious.
What didn't work? Did it not clean, did it not dissolve so it could clean? I've not made 100% CO soap yet so I'm curious.

I got it to dissolve in the hot water (I make liquid laundry soap) and made the laundry soap, but it didn't clean well and clothes didn't feel the same. I wash mostly cold water. The CO soap was very hard. :think:
I use 100% CO with 0 SF and add washing soda and oxyclean. It works great for us. I only use Cold water unless it's whites. I wouldn't use my regular soap due to the SF and I don't want extra fats in my wash.