Cutting back on commercial consumption- DIY laundry soap

The American mentality is to spend spend spend. Buy new, bigger, better things- all the time, you need to.


Buy brand name because labels are just as important as the product.  A new version of your phone hits the market? Upgrade! Your friends just had their kitchen remodeled? Maybe you should put a pool in.  Americans, we are so weird.  Appearances are everything.


I worked at a homeless shelter for years and you would never guess that most of my clients were broke.  Almost all of them had cell phones, smoked cigarettes, and wore brand-new expensive sneakers.  Our version of poverty is so very different than other countries versions of poverty.


Phil and I are making a concerted effort to consume and accumulate less.  We’re obviously cutting back on spending so we can save up for our move abroad.  So the obvious money saving moves is cutting back on luxuries like going out to eat and drink, getting rid of your cable subscription, etc.   One of the things I began doing to save money that you might not automatically think about doing is making my own laundry soap.  I will never buy commercial detergent again!  Making your own laundry soap is simple enough and a batch yields so much soap you’d only need to make it a few times per year.  Oh, and it’s CHEAP! Obviously.  You only need 3 ingredients- a bar of soap, washing soda and borax.  Here’s the recipe:

1.Grate one bar of soap (if you can find it use Fels-Naptha or Zote- they’re “laundry bars” but any soap will do; a good old bar of Ivory soap is what I used in my first batch and it was great) with cheese grater or food processor.

Fels Naptha

2.Put grated soap in pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.
Shredded Soap

3.Put 4.5 gallons of really hot tap water in a 5-gallon bucket (available for free in bakeries at grocery stores, just ask them) and stir in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda until completely dissolved.
washing soda

4.Pour soap mixture from pan into 5-gallon bucket. Stir well.
Hot mix

5.Cover and leave overnight.

Cover it Observe

6.Shake or stir until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers.


even the cat is impressed with the about of laundry soap we made

even the cat is impressed with the amount of laundry soap we made

7.Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load. (I use a lot less in my HE washer.  Sometimes I’ll use some white vinegar in place of fabric softener.  It’s an all-natural substitute and it gets rinsed out so it doesn’t leave behind a weird smell or anything)

And there you have it!  There are a bunch of home-made laundry soap recipes on the internet but this one is easy, cheap, and it works so that’s why I use it.  Check out for other all-natural DIYs like the solid lotion bars I make. 


About the author

Megan Rodden

never met a vacation she didn't like. Megan is a self-centered, snarky, unambitious derelict... like most of her peers.

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© 2014 Megan Rodden and Phil Nagengast.