Homemade laundry detergent is popular right now in the DIY blog world! And rightfully so! It is super easy to make and is better for you than commercially produced detergents. At least in my opinion. 🙂
Most tutorials tell you how to shred down a bar of soap to mix with borax and washing soda. To make your handmade laundry soap even cheaper, you can make a suitable bar soap yourself!
I prefer to use a 100% non-superfatted coconut oil soap for my soap shreds. You can also use a 100% lard soap, but I’ve found that because coconut oil soap is super cleansing, you can use less in the final recipe. When you run your recipe through a lye calculator, you will select 0% superfat. We don’t want any oils left over unsaponified to gunk up our washing machine. This will be a high cleansing soap, so don’t use it on your body.
This recipe and tutorial assume that you have basic knowledge of cold process soap and have made a few batches. If you are new to soapmaking, please check out our basic tutorials to learn more detailed information. Our basic soapmaking eBook is an excellent resource for learning the basics of soapmaking. If you have some soapmaking experience, you can probably follow along with this tutorial.
My favorite places to buy coconut oil are from Soaper’s Choice and Bramble Berry (affiliate link). Bramble Berry is great because their 7 lb coconut oil comes in an easily managed bag you can boil or microwave to melt. How awesome is that!? Make sure you get Coconut Oil 76 Degree. Never use fractionated coconut oil.
100% Coconut Oil Laundry Bar Soap
Coconut oil – 32 oz.
Sodium hydroxide – 5.8 oz.
Water – 12 oz.
*Don’t add fragrance or essential oils. We’ll add that to the actual laundry powder.
Wearing safety gear, make your lye solution by weighing out the lye and water into separate containers. Sprinkle the lye into the water while stirring. Stir until dissolved and set aside to cool.
Weigh 32 oz. coconut oil into a heat-safe container and melt.
Check the temperatures of your lye solution and oil mixture. Each should be under 90 degrees F. If not, let cool a bit longer. The hotter the mixture, the faster it will get thick and possibly cause issues.
While stirring the coconut oil (with stickblender off), pour lye solution into the coconut oil.
Using short bursts with your stickblender, mix until trace has occurred. It should happen quickly with a 100% coconut oil soap. You can even stir with a whisk instead of a stickblender if you prefer.
Pour the soap into your mold. This recipe fits perfectly into a 10″ silicone loaf mold (affiliate link) from Bramble Berry.
Allow to sit and harden overnight. Cut the next day. Sometimes you can cut 100% coconut oil the same day.
Alternative Method: When you get good at making this soap, you can experiment with making your lye solution, scooping out the coconut oil that you need, adding the hot lye solution to solid coconut oil to melt and mixing to trace. This is an advanced method and should only by used after you’ve made several batches of soap.
*This coconut oil soap does not need to cure before you turn it into laundry detergent.
Let’s make DIY Natural Laundry Detergent!
Homemade laundry detergent is made by mixing shredded bar soap with borax and washing soda.
Soap – Soap is an emulsifier and surfactant. You’ve probably heard of the term emulsifier. An emulsifier is a substance that creates an environment in which water and oil can mix. Soap suspends oil and dirt so that it can be washed away during the rinse (or during your shower).
Borax and washing soda are laundry boosters. They contribute to an ideal environment in which soap can do its job. Washing soda acts as a solvent to help remove stains and helps treat hard water by binding to the minerals.
Shred your bar soap.
You don’t have to wait for your bar soap to cure. You can shred immediately and allow it to dry out. I like to run my bar soap through a salad shooter. Lay it out on a tray to dry for a day or two and then pulverize the shreds in a food processor or coffee grinder to make a powder. The finer the soap powder/shreds, the easier they will dissolve in the washing machine. Below is a picture of soap shreds on the left and powder on the right.
Warning *When you powder your laundry shreds you have to wear a mask or respirator. You don’t want soap powder in your lungs.
Natural Laundry Detergent Recipe
1/2 cup fine soap powder (* I use less soap than most recipes because I use powder. If you just shred your soap then you would use closer to 1 cup of soap shreds.)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 mil essential oil blend (use a plastic dropper)
(My favorite essential oils to use include lavender, rosemary, tea tree, peppermint and orange.)
Mix everything up and package in a bag or jar for use.
You can play with different amounts of soap powder, borax and washing soda. Sometimes you have to tweak the recipe for your water.
To use: Scoop 1 tablespoon of natural laundry soap directly into your clothes washer. Use vinegar in the rinse cycle to help prevent soap scum or buildup.
Enjoy your natural laundry soap!
Happy Laundry Soap Making!