Sunday, September 30, 2012

homemade laundry soap

**The Brown Needle is now Sewlio. As of 5/1/13, all new blog posts can be found at . Hope to see you there!**

This isn't a glamorous post, but many of my friends and family are always trying to either save a buck or make choices that are more environmentally friendly. About two years ago, I decided to try making my own laundry detergent as a way to save money and cut down the amount of chemicals that I expose my family to.

Over the past two years I have used three different recipes and I can honestly say that I have finally decided that the one I'm currently using is worthy of sharing with you! Not that the others were bad, It's just that this one is so much better!

When I first decided to try making laundry detergent, I thought that I for sure needed to make a liquid detergent. I had purchased liquid for years because my hubby preferred it. So for the first year, I made liquid detergent. I liked it, but it was messy and I dreaded the day I had to make it. It seemed like a big ordeal and I had to store it because with over 2 gallons of water that I had to add, it took up a lot of space.

Then, one day I decided that I would try powdered detergent. Come to find out, I could make powdered detergent with the same ingredients that I used to make my liquid, minus the water! So I made the powdered detergent. I soon discovered that it didn't dissolve very well in cold water. Bummer. It's not very energy friendly, if I have to wash every load in warm. So once that detergent was gone, I decided to find yet another recipe.

This is the recipe that I'm using now. It's a powder. It takes at most 10 minutes to make. There isn't a lot to store. It dissolves wonderfully in cold water and it smells good!

I had to change the original just a bit, so here's my recipe:

What you need:
    2- 4 oz bars Kirk's Original Coco Castile Bar Soap (the photo only shows one)
    2 cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
    2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
    Coarse cheese grater
    Food processor
    Storage container

How to mix it:
     Using a cheese grater, coarsely grate both bars of the Castile Soap. Then, put them in a food processor and pulse until the soap is powder. In a clean, dry container (I use a zip bag), mix the powdered soap with the washing soda and borax. Mix well.

How to use it:
     Use 1 tablespoon for a small to medium load and up to 2 tablespoons for a large load. 

This bag will last me just under 3 months for laundry for my family of 4, including weekly bed linen washing and all the extra loads I do for fabric and quilts. I estimate that it only costs me around $8 per batch. Now that's some serious savings!

My son and I also have extremely sensitive skin and cannot tolerate any kind of fragrance. We have absolutely no trouble with this soap!

Let me know if you try my recipe or if you have any tips of your own! Once I switched to handmade, I knew I'd never go back to purchased!

*** addition to original post***
One of my readers posted that silk should not be washed with detergent containing washing soda. As I have no personal experience with washing silk, I did a quick Google search to verify this. What I have found is that washing soda takes the shine out of silk. I also found a couple of sites that mentioned that it might not be good for wool either. We're pretty much a casual family-jeans, t-shirts, etc.- so I do literally wash everything in this detergent and have had no bad outcomes; however, if you are going to use this recipe and you have more delicate items, please do your own research on fiber content prior to washing!


  1. Thanks for the post! I will have to try this out!

  2. Thank you so much! I already used Kirk's castile in the shower! Looking forward to using this recipe--and glad to know it's what you use to wash your fabrics and quilts with, too :)

    1. I have never used castile in the shower, but it did cross my mind to give it a try this time when I was making my batch of soap.
      As for the detergent, I just got a tip not to use the detergent on anything with silk. I don't have any personal experience with washing silk because I don't own any silk, but I thought you might like to know if you try it out!

  3. Great tip! I'll have to give this one a whirl... Just a heads-up, I've heard washing soda isn't safe for anything with silk in it so avoid it for those items.

    Just got caught up on your blog - Hannah's block is gorgeous and I love that colourful quilt top you did last month. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

    1. Thanks for the tip on the Washing Soda. I hadn't heard that, but I also don't own any silk either! :)

      The quilt top is finished. Just waiting for a decent non rainy day to take a photo! I hope to have it on the blog soon! Thanks for your kind words. :)