Laundry soap recipe - by weight?

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
So, doing a lot of Googling and reading threads here, it looks like laundry soap is 2 parts grated soap (mine is 70% coconut, 20% lard, 0 super fat), 1 part Borax and 1 part washing soda. By volume. The whole "2 cups of grated soap) makes me nervous. Anybody do this by weight instead of volume?
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,448
Reaction score
19,272
Location
USA
I do it by weight too. Mine is a dry mix using about 1 part high or all CO soap, 1 part washing soda, and optionally 1 part oxygen bleach (oxyclean). I made my last batch this past week with an 80 oz batch of soap (weight is on a pure soap basis, meaning fat + lye only, not including water), one 55 oz box of washing soda, and one 80 oz container of oxygen bleach. So this batch was a little light on the washing soda.

The borax basically does the same thing as washing soda, so IMO use one or the other but not both. Borax is best for a liquid product; washing soda is best for a dry product.

Grate the soap either by hand or with a salad shooter or food processor. Fit the food processor with a blade. In the processor bowl, mix a large handful of soap shreds with about the same amount of powdered ingredient. Process the soap into a powder, as fine as your processor can break it down, about 20-30 seconds per batch.

Use 1-2 TBL per load if just soap and soda, 2-3 TBL per load if using all three in the mix.
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
For a liquid product, how much water do you add? I think I want to make some dry and some liquid and try them both.

Also, do you use Oxyclean in both types? So would it be:
Dry soap:
1 part soap
1 part washing soda
1 part Oxyclean

Liquid:
1 part soap
1 part Borax
1 part Oxyclean
 
Last edited:

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,448
Reaction score
19,272
Location
USA
That's the direction I would head, Dixie. I want to clarify that I only make the dry mix -- I should have said that clearly in my first post, and I apologize for not being clear.

I have to say I am not quite sure if oxyclean will stay effective if turned into a liquid; that's something I would have to research if I was going to make a liquid version. (Or just add dry oxyclean to each load if needed.) But I would definitely use borax if making a liquid, not washing soda.
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
I'm looking around now for a liquid laundry soap recipe that will let me mix the soap and borax together as a powder, and then add them to water to make the goop. I'm blown away that most of these recipes are for 5 gallon batches!
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Got a big bag of dry laundry soap I'm waiting to try! Next is liquid! Here's the recipe i'm trying:

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

1/2 c per load
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,448
Reaction score
19,272
Location
USA
"...most of these recipes are for 5 gallon batches!..."

That blows me away too, especially since a lot of the "5 gallon" recipes also say to use only a tablespoon or two of the liquid per load. That only puts a smidgen of soap and the other active cleaning agents into the wash water. I suppose if the person works in an office and is a really tidy eater, a tiny bit of soap per load might be okay, but that's not going to get clothes clean if someone has a get-your-hands-dirty kind of life like mine.

If I would translate my recipe into a liquid version, I'm sure I'd be using considerably more liquid soap than that per load -- probably more like the 1/2 cup you list in your previous post.
 
Last edited:

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,996
Location
So Cal
Yeah that's why I like the dry laundry soap, more cleaning power per scoop. Since I have no problems with it dissolving, I can't think why I'd want to dilute it. And I have a grubby grubby job, life, and house :)
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
I think the liquid is better for cold washes? Made both of them yesterday. Did a load with the dry mix and it worked great! The liquid is still liquid and hasn't thickened at all.
 

PuddinAndPeanuts

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2014
Messages
384
Reaction score
199
How does it compare to a good store bought brand like Tide? Good at getting stains out?
Sorry! Another question.... (Probably a dumb one). Does the performance of laundry soap change with a long cure, or can it be used sooner? I assume it has to cure?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,448
Reaction score
19,272
Location
USA
Dixie -- I use the powder with cold water. As long as the soap is powdered finely enough, it dissolves quickly and the mix works fine. The only way I know of to powder soap finely enough is to use a food processor with a blade and to break the soap into powder at the right moment when it's firm enough to handle but waxy enough to break down easily. If you don't have a food processor or wait too long to process the soap, the soap bits stay too coarse and the soap won't fully dissolve, especially in cold water. In that case, you may need to use warm water for washing or pre-dissolve the powder before use.

Other caveats to keep in mind for others who might be reading this -- Use a very high % of coconut oil or pure coconut oil to make the soap so it is fast dissolving. Grate and powder the soap just as soon as the soap has firmed up enough to grate and powder. If you wait too long, the soap will be too hard and too dry to powder well. I use gloves to handle soap this young, because the soap can still have some excess lye at this point and is irritating to the skin.

PandP -- I think homemade laundry mix does a good job as long as I keep some things in mind.

1. Deal with hard water. The laundry mix recipe we've been talking about is based on soap, not synthetic detergent, so it won't do a good job in hard water. Soap scum that forms when using soap in hard water will turn your white clothes grayish. You either need to add a separate water softener product (Calgon makes one) to the wash water or use a home water softener. Adding a chelator (sodium citrate or tetrasodium EDTA) to your soap recipe will also be very helpful. I don't view a chelator as a substitute for softening the water, but it sure helps.

2. Use enough of the mix to actually clean. Many recipes out there in the internet blogger land say to add ridiculously small amounts of the laundry mix to the wash load. For clothes that only need a freshening, that might work okay, but for truly dirty clothes, this is just plain not going to work. You will need to experiment with how much to use to get the results you want. With my laundry mix (1 part soap, 1 part washing soda, 1 part oxyclean clone), we get good results with 2-3 Tablespoons per typical load, maybe another TBL for a really dirty load.

3. Use the right water temperature. Commercial laundry detergents (Tide) work well in cold water. Homemade laundry soap mix often works pretty good in cold water, but for especially dirty loads, soap is even more effective if you use warm water.

4. Pretreat stains. Commercial laundry detergents include enzymes to break down blood, grass stains, etc. and homemade mix doesn't include these ingredients. If you want to efficiently remove stains like these or heavy greasy stains, you will want to pretreat stains with a homemade stain stick or a commercial pretreat product (Shout).

I do not cure my laundry soap mix -- once it's ready to use, we use it. Curing helps bath soaps to be as mild as possible to the skin, be as long lasting as possible, and develop a lather quickly and easily with a wash cloth or against the skin. Laundry soap has a simpler job -- it needs to dissolve fast in a large-ish amount of water and it needs to clean clothes -- kind of a different situation.
 
Last edited:

PuddinAndPeanuts

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2014
Messages
384
Reaction score
199
Dixie -- I use the powder with cold water. As long as the soap is powdered finely enough, it dissolves quickly and the mix works fine. The only way I know of to powder soap finely enough is to use a food processor with a blade and to break the soap into powder at the right moment when it's firm enough to handle but waxy enough to break down easily. If you don't have a food processor or wait too long to process the soap, the soap bits stay too coarse and the soap won't fully dissolve, especially in cold water. In that case, you may need to use warm water for washing or pre-dissolve the powder before use.

Other caveats to keep in mind for others who might be reading this -- Use a very high % of coconut oil or pure coconut oil to make the soap so it is fast dissolving. Grate and powder the soap just as soon as the soap has firmed up enough to grate and powder. If you wait too long, the soap will be too hard and too dry to powder well. I use gloves to handle soap this young, because the soap can still have some excess lye at this point and is irritating to the skin.

PandP -- I think homemade laundry mix does a good job as long as I keep some things in mind.

1. Deal with hard water. The laundry mix recipe we've been talking about is based on soap, not synthetic detergent, so it won't do a good job in hard water. Soap scum that forms when using soap in hard water will turn your white clothes grayish. You either need to add a separate water softener product (Calgon makes one) to the wash water or use a home water softener. Adding a chelator (sodium citrate or tetrasodium EDTA) to your soap recipe will also be very helpful. I don't view a chelator as a substitute for softening the water, but it sure helps.

2. Use enough of the mix to actually clean. Many recipes out there in the internet blogger land say to add ridiculously small amounts of the laundry mix to the wash load. For clothes that only need a freshening, that might work okay, but for truly dirty clothes, this is just plain not going to work. You will need to experiment with how much to use to get the results you want. With my laundry mix (1 part soap, 1 part washing soda, 1 part oxyclean clone), we get good results with 2-3 Tablespoons per typical load, maybe another TBL for a really dirty load.

3. Use the right water temperature. Commercial laundry detergents (Tide) work well in cold water. Homemade laundry soap mix often works pretty good in cold water, but for especially dirty loads, soap is even more effective if you use warm water.

4. Pretreat stains. Commercial laundry detergents include enzymes to break down blood, grass stains, etc. and homemade mix doesn't include these ingredients. If you want to efficiently remove stains like these or heavy greasy stains, you will want to pretreat stains with a homemade stain stick or a commercial pretreat product (Shout).

I do not cure my laundry soap mix -- once it's ready to use, we use it. Curing helps bath soaps to be as mild as possible to the skin, be as long lasting as possible, and develop a lather quickly and easily with a wash cloth or against the skin. Laundry soap has a simpler job -- it needs to dissolve fast in a large-ish amount of water and it needs to clean clothes -- kind of a different situation.

Thanks so much!!
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
How does it compare to a good store bought brand like Tide? Good at getting stains out?
Sorry! Another question.... (Probably a dumb one). Does the performance of laundry soap change with a long cure, or can it be used sooner? I assume it has to cure?
I am also curious about long-term performance. Maybe somebody needs to do a Consumer Reports style experiment and get 2 items (like 2 pairs of jeans), then wash one pair 30 times and compare them.

I am assuming cure is needed on the soap itself. I made the soap part (30% lard, 70% coconut, 0 superfat) in July. I just now around to make the laundry mix with it.

On this thread: (it's an old thread, please don't bump!)
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=36589

One poster said this:

"Most of the recipes going around for laundry soap, liquid or flaked/granular, call for appallingly large proportions of alkali such as washing soda and borax. At the time soap powder was state of the art for laundry detergents, these would've been considered cheap, low quality formulas that would tend to degrade fabrics unnecessarily. Nothing wrong with adding a little alkali to laundry detergent, just that it shouldn't make up most of the mixture. Laundry soap should be mostly just that: soap."

I am wondering if this is correct? I do think it's weird that the mixture has such a high proportion of alkali (washing soda and/or Borax)
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Stumbled across this, might try it next:
PDX Mike’s Laundry Soap

1 gallon heavy plastic or glass container with wide mouth
1/2 gallon cold water
2.25 ounces lye
1 lb lard, melted
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax (up this to 1 cup if you can't find the washing soda)
Fragrance oil or essential oil of your choice (optional)
Hot water to fill the container

Add cold water to container. Add lye; stir well (this barely gets warm because lye is so diluted) Add lard, washing soda, borax, fragrance oil. Add hot water to finish filling the container and stir well with a wire whisk.

Whisk (Stickblend) 3 times a day or so until set up. Initially, it will start with a glob of soap on top but will set up more each time you whisk it. After three days or so, you will be left with a nice, powdery liquid that you can use in your laundry. (I refer to it as white custard)

Add 1/2 - 1 cup for a top loading machine. Dissolve in hot water before adding to a very cold wash. Otherwise, just add it while the machine is filling. Use less in a front loader; this one WILL suds if you add too much.

I like the idea of a higher percentage of soap vs the alkali. (The discussion is on the The Sage's forum, not sure if I'm allowed to post a link?)
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,996
Location
So Cal
I am also curious about long-term performance. Maybe somebody needs to do a Consumer Reports style experiment and get 2 items (like 2 pairs of jeans), then wash one pair 30 times and compare them.

I am assuming cure is needed on the soap itself. I made the soap part (30% lard, 70% coconut, 0 superfat) in July. I just now around to make the laundry mix with it.

On this thread: (it's an old thread, please don't bump!)
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=36589

One poster said this:

"Most of the recipes going around for laundry soap, liquid or flaked/granular, call for appallingly large proportions of alkali such as washing soda and borax. At the time soap powder was state of the art for laundry detergents, these would've been considered cheap, low quality formulas that would tend to degrade fabrics unnecessarily. Nothing wrong with adding a little alkali to laundry detergent, just that it shouldn't make up most of the mixture. Laundry soap should be mostly just that: soap."

I am wondering if this is correct? I do think it's weird that the mixture has such a high proportion of alkali (washing soda and/or Borax)
Think Ive done enough long term with my laundry soap (1 part 100% CO soap / 1 part Washing Soda / 1 part Borax) for almost 2 years now to tell you I don't see any increased fabric damage. In fact I use the same formula for my silks, woolens, hand washables and down comforters and they are all fine.

DeeAnna says I could do without the Borax, so I'm going to try that on the next batch, and sub with washing soda. I have tried less alkalais and more soap in the past, and it seemed that things didn't get as clean. But I work in a totally disgusting marine environment with cable grease and fish guts, plus my cats will only barf on fabric things, so we need a LOT of cleaning power in our lives. I do add oxyclean clones to most loads, and pretreat stains with stain sticks, Awesome or shout.

I will also say that hubby was on travel for 5 days, and I don't know if it was the hotel soap, or detergents they use on the sheets, but he came back with the worst breakout and hives on his back! Its almost gone now, so I'm not changing nothing
 
Last edited:

Arimara

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Messages
3,423
Reaction score
2,533
I have to say I am not quite sure if oxyclean will stay effective if turned into a liquid; that's something I would have to research if I was going to make a liquid version. (Or just add dry oxyclean to each load if needed.) But I would definitely use borax if making a liquid, not washing soda.
It's better to keep it separated unless you're going to wash an insane amount of clothes. Oxiclean loses it's effectiveness after a set amount of time in liquid (the brand site says 6 hrs.) It's better to add it to dry laundry soap.
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,903
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Think Ive done enough long term with my laundry soap (1 part 100% CO soap / 1 part Washing Soda / 1 part Borax) for almost 2 years now to tell you I don't see any increased fabric damage. In fact I use the same formula for my silks, woolens, hand washables and down comforters and they are all fine.

DeeAnna says I could do without the Borax, so I'm going to try that on the next batch, and sub with washing soda. I have tried less alkalais and more soap in the past, and it seemed that things didn't get as clean. But I work in a totally disgusting marine environment with cable grease and fish guts, plus my cats will only barf on fabric things, so we need a LOT of cleaning power in our lives. I do add oxyclean clones to most loads, and pretreat stains with stain sticks, Awesome or shout.

I will also say that hubby was on travel for 5 days, and I don't know if it was the hotel soap, or detergents they use on the sheets, but he came back with the worst breakout and hives on his back! Its almost gone now, so I'm not changing nothing
Nice to here you like it for long-term use! No issues with your washer?

Makes me think of my 90+ year old great-grandmother who handwashed almost all of her clothing in her bathtub b/c she wanted to "keep them nice". I think the only things she machined washed were linens.
 

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
2,996
Location
So Cal
Nice to here you like it for long-term use! No issues with your washer?

Makes me think of my 90+ year old great-grandmother who handwashed almost all of her clothing in her bathtub b/c she wanted to "keep them nice". I think the only things she machined washed were linens.
The only time I truly handwash is when I'm on travel - for the rest I thank science for the delicate cycle on my washing machine :) I can't imagine getting out some of the disgusting things we get in our clothes without a few good agitating cycles...

I have a new front loading washer - the old one had a pump die after 10+ years of solid use. Neither seem to have any issues (soap scum, cracked gaskets, crud in the gaskets) with home made laundry soap.
 

DeeAnna

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Messages
13,448
Reaction score
19,272
Location
USA
"...I am assuming cure is needed on the soap itself. I made the soap part (30% lard, 70% coconut, 0 superfat) in July. I just now around to make the laundry mix with it...."

As I said before, to get the smallest particle size, you have to get it broken down and intto a powder (assuming you're making a dry mix) as soon as possible after making. I make laundry soap mix the day within 12-18 hours (even sooner if possible) after the soap was poured into the mold. When I'm done making the mix, the largest particle size is like a medium- to coarse-grind black pepper. Not cracked pepper -- that's too large for fast dissolving.

I've made laundry mix for just about 3 years now and we use it with all types of fabrics and clothes, from wool sweaters and DH's dress shirts to muddy dog beds and dirty jeans. I concede I don't wear dress clothes anymore, so I can't speak about delicates like silk. Colors don't fade excessively, fabrics hold up well. My middle-aged HE top load washer does fine with it. Had some bearings replaced this summer, but that's not soap related. What is soap related is that I have FAR fewer problems with odor than when I used Tide.
 

Spice

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2014
Messages
676
Reaction score
227
Location
NorCali
I read all the post, I have been wanting to do my own laundry soap, I just didnt have a recipe. Can I use all/part of these recipes and it would be ok for an HE washer?
 
Top