Yes, I'm very excited about my new laundry soap. My all natural, homemade laundry soap, that is! I know, I'm weird, but it's so stinkin' cool.
So, as you might have read recently here on the blog, I'm going all-natural in the cleaners department. I have been happily using my homemade spray cleaner, not-so happily using baking soda (more on that later) and switched to an all natural goat's milk laundry soap which I bought from www.goatmilkstuff.com. I really liked the soap, and I even noticed that my dish towels (which I used to bleach) looked a little cleaner and brighter than usual.
Then, I had a revelation: I turned over the package of the laundry soap and read the ingredients: borax, washing soda, soap. Why couldn't I make my own? It seemed easy enough. I researched a bit online and sure enough I found the same formula over and over: 1 cup grated soap flakes, 1/2 cup each of Borax and washing soda.
So, I started with a bar of goat's milk soap that I bought from the above website (one formulated just for laundry), used the Borax I already had, and bought some Arm & Hammer washing soda online (not to be confused with baking soda, it's hard to find. I got mine at www.drugstore.com. A friend of mine who makes her own laundry soap told me that there is an Albertson's market in Santa Clarita that carries it.) You can use any bar of soap you like (of course, use all natural soap if you want your laundry soap to be all natural). Online, I found a lot of people use Fels Naptha, an old fashioned soap bar. But, I wanted my soap to be all natural, so I went with the goat's milk bar. I think I might try Dr. Bronner's castille soap bar next time I make it, I saw it at Trader Joe's, and it is even certified organic! Oh, and another tip with the laundry would be to put vinegar in the fabric softener compartment of your washer. Vinegar removes soap scum and mineral deposits in your washer and your clothes.
It couldn't have been easier. The bar of soap yielded 4 cups grated soap (I just used the fine side of my cheese grater), so I added 2 cups each of Borax and washing soda. I gave it a good stir, then decided to give it a whirl in the food processor to bring it to a consistent powder form (the picture below was before processing - you can see the soap curly-cues). I put the mixture in a Tupperware container. You use only one tablespoon per load, so I dropped in a metal tablespoon for easy measuring. The batch I made in 5 minutes will last 128 loads! The cost is hard to figure exactly because I only used a fraction of the boxes of Borax and washing soda. The soap bar was $7 (you could definitely use a cheaper bar, but keep in mind that mine was double the size of a regular bar, so it was really about $3.50 a bar). I am guessing I used maybe 1/10th of each of the boxes of Borax and washing soda? Hard to know. If that is the case though, I probably got 128 loads for approximately $9 total. I think that's about 1/2 the price of the Costco brand I've been using. And, of course, mine is all natural! And, if you're wondering, this soap is safe to use in he (high effeciency) machines, because it's low sudsing.
So.... you know what? Now, I want to make my own soap... I've been chomping at the bit for years to make it, but have been terrified. We LOVE bar soap (I have soap dishes in each bathroom and the kitchen) and I drool over homemade soap. My good friend in Washington has sent me these amazing goat's milk soap bars that her friend makes with her own goat's milk, and I am completely addicted to them. The goat's milk is super emmolient and great for people who wash their hands about a zillion times a day, like I do. I ran out of my stash recently so I ordered some bars from Goat Milk Stuff, but I can't go on paying $6 a bar for soap! (Incidentally, that's how I got into candlemaking- to support my own candle habit. Now here I go with soap.) Of course, I don't have any goats of my own (nor know any) to get fresh milk from, but I have found recipes online that use canned and dry goat's milk to make soap, and the results are supposed to be comparable, so I'm going to give it a try soon. I am in the process of gathering all the ingredients and tools. My goal is to have soap to give as Christmas gifts, and the bars take 4-6 weeks to cure, so I need to get on it soon. Of course, I'll keep you posted on my adventures.