You may remember awhile back (7 months to be precise) I wrote about how I was going to try making my own laundry detergent.  Well, I made it 7 months ago, but I’ve only been using it for 6 months as I was using up other detergents I had in the house.

I thought I’d write a bit on how that went.  First, my clothes were noticeably brighter with the first wash.  It actually made me blink with shock.  Second, my diapers instantly started not working as well.  They came out soft and clean, but I started getting leaking and smelling issues.

I looked a bit online and saw that others had some issues with this as well, and some did not.  The general consensus is that the Fels Naptha is the evil ingredient “clogging” my diapers so they didn’t work so well.  I read (although I did not confirm) that is because it is petroleum based, and petroleum clogs diapers.

I first fixed my diapers by boiling them to strip them, and then for regular laundering, I tried to counteract the residue that the Fels Naptha in my detergent left by adding a “glug” of vinegar to the fabric softener section of my washer.  This fixed the problem and I haven’t had an issue since.

Still, it was annoying to have to add the vinegar to every load, as that is something I had only done occasionally in the past, as vinegar is great for making diapers or washcloths work better and is really the only fabric softener that I use.

I talked with my friend Melissa who also makes her own detergent and also cloth diapers.  She pointed me in the direction of substituting Goat Milk Laundry Soap for the Fels Naptha in my recipe.  She said it made an enormous difference in her detergent and is not petroleum based and does not leave any residue.

So I ordered some of the laundry bar soap, and just this week I whipped up another double batch that will easily see our family through until this summer sometime.  I’ve modified the recipe I used and changed pints/quarts for cups because I measure pretty much everything in cups.  My own instructions based off of my own experience are included:

This is for a single batch for a 2 gallon bucket.  I double this and fill a 5 gallon bucket and not fill it to the top.

6 cups of water (the more I think about this, you wouldn’t have to use 6 cups when doubling.  It made my pot too full.)
1/3 bar (2/3 cup grated) of Goat Milk Soap
1/2 cup of washing soda (NOT to be confused with baking soda)
1/2 cup of Borax
4 cups of hot water
Lots more hot water

Grate up the Goat Milk Soap (it grates beautifully) and put with the 6 cups of water in your pot and heat on the stove until boiling.  Add the soda and Borax and stir until it seems completely dissolved.

(Note: if you are like me and you are using an OPEN box of washing soda left over from the previous detergent batch and you happen to have stored it in a humid room or climate, it may have solidified into a big block and need to be chipped to get it out.  If this happens and you pick something like metal tongs to help you chip, be sure to chip away from your face.  If you chip while you’re looking in the box, the powder can easily fly up into your eyes.  If this happens you’ll likely have to run to the sink and run cold water over your eyes.  While you enjoy that simultaneous feeling of burning eyes and freezing water, you may remember that you have a little eye wash in the first aid drawer upstairs.  

Note: if you do run upstairs to get the eye wash, be sure to turn the stove off first.  If you do not, the soap boiling on the stove could easily boil over all over your theoretical glass top stove.  When the stove top has cooled and you are cleaning up this mess, the cooled soap mixture looks like long strings of clear snot and it’s pretty gross.  So don’t do that.  Just sayin’.)

Pour the 4 cups of hot water in your bucket.  Then add the mixture in your pot into the bucket.  Then bring the bucket to the sink and fill it with hot water.  Cover and let it sit for 24 hours before using it.

Use 1/2 cup per wash.  It will look gloppy.  It will work great.  I use a front loader HE and love it.  If I had a top loader I’d probably use some dry powdered mix recipe online as those are even more simple.  My washer isn’t a fan of the dry detergent, though.

Here is an update on laundry cost comparison:

Previous cost of store bought detergent.  Cost per month: about $12 worth x 6 months= $72. (roughly)

First double batch of homemade detergent…lasted 6 months=
1 Fels Naptha bar soap: $.97
1 box of washing soda: $2.77
1 box of borax: $2.98
Total: $6.72

Second batch of homemade detergent=
1 bar of Goat Milk Soap: $7.50
soda left from previous batch: free
borax left from previous batch: free
Total: $7.50

(I still have enough soda and borax for about 2 more double batches…at least.)

Savings for 20 minutes of work every 6 months: approximately $65.  (Well, it may be an hour’s work if you didn’t follow my instructions and have to spend time washing out your eyes and cleaning your stove.  Learn from me, people, or it’s all in vain.) Notice that the Goat Milk laundry soap is more expensive than the Fels Naptha.  However with the money that I’m saving, I think it’s worth the luxury.

Next math problem is how much chocolate can I buy with the money I saved…


  1. says

    It’s been working for my HE machine, so I’d have to say yes. It’s unscented, so you could add some scenting oil if you wanted. I’ve got 2 people in the house with sensitive skin, so I go with unscented stuff as often as I can.

    The goat milk soap ingredient smells very fresh and a bit creamy, but I wouldn’t call the detergent “scented” at all in the traditional sense.

  2. says

    When I get home I will definitely be trying this! Are you on well water? Our well water is so hard and leaves stains on whites so I’ll be interested to see if this works.

    On another note. I mentioned you in one of my posts as my cousin who is an excellent writer. Wish the Whalon writing genes had been passed to me.

  3. says

    HI Gretchen. I’ve been hopping back and forth all over your posts. I love the idea of making my own soap. I have pretty sensitive skin and have run into problems with everything from shaving cream to dish detergent. No one has ever mentioned making my own, just refered me to the even more expensive specialty soaps. Gotta give this a whirl. Then I too might be able to buy more chocolate.

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