Does the Duggar Family Homemade Laundry Detergent Really Work? A Soap Recipe Review
Is Homemade Laundry Detergent As Good as the Commercial Brands?
With two small children in the house and laundry creating piles the size of Mt. Whitney, we go through a lot of laundry detergent. I decided to try the Duggar family laundry detergent recipe to see if it was as effective as the name-brand detergent we normally purchase.
The Duggar Laundry Detergent Recipe
- 4 cups hot tap water
- 1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
- 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
- 1/2 cup Borax
- Add 4 cups hot water to a small saucepan. Grate the Fels Naptha soap and add it to the saucepan. Heat over low heat until the soap is melted. Stir the melted soap and water to mix the solution.
- Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/2 way with hot water. Add the melted soap, Borax, and Washing Soda. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water. Use a large wooden spoon to stir the mixture. Let sit overnight to thicken.
- Stir, and dispense thickened soap into cleaned laundry soap dispensers (use empty containers from commercial brand laundry detergent): fill each bottle 1/2 way, then top the container off with water. Shake before use.
This liquid laundry soap recipe yields 10 gallons. For HE machines, use 1/4 cup per load. For top-loading machines, use 1/2 cup per load.
Does Homemade Laundry Detergent Work?
I made the laundry soap recipe according to the Duggar Family Website, and let it sit overnight to cool and thicken. I was concerned when I saw little gelatinous lumps floating in the bucket. I stirred the laundry soap, filled an empty laundry container 1/2 way with the soap, and topped it off with water.
I ran the first load of muddy, stinky little boy jeans, and the pants came out of the washer smelling fresh and clean. All traces of mud were gone! In addition, my kitchen towels came out cleaner than the commercial laundry detergent load.
Since that point in time, I have not bought one gallon of commercial laundry detergent. The homemade laundry detergent version works just as well (or better)!
Save Time Making Laundry Soap
Instead of grating the Fels Naptha soap, try microwaving the slices of the soap for approximately one minute (or until the soap swells). Allow the soap to cool, then simply crumble the soap into hot water.
Homemade Laundry Soap: Time Required
Many people are concerned about the time required to make a batch of homemade laundry detergent. The entire process takes very little time: the longest process is grating and melting the bar soap in the heated water. Ivory soap melts much faster than Fels Naptha. If melting Fels Naptha bar soap, the melting portion may take up to 20-30 minutes. Ivory soap will melt within 10-15 minutes.
The rest of the homemade laundry soap comes together in seconds: simply dump in the melted bar soap, borax, and washing soda: fill to the top with hot water, and stir. It is extremely simple, and the large quantity of cheap laundry detergent more than justifies the half hour spent melting soap!
The Benefits of Homemade Laundry Soap
Better for the Environment
The materials in homemade laundry soap have no phosphates. Borax and Washing Soda are naturally occurring compounds. The laundry soap uses recycled dispensers, and for every 5 gallons you make, you save 10 plastic containers from going to the landfill.
It is Much, Much, Cheaper
The estimated cost of homemade laundry detergent is approximately $0.01 per load. There is no commercial laundry detergent that can compare to the cost of the homemade version. A reader of this article suggests going to your local grocery store and asking for buckets from their bakery department. The icing arrives in 5 gallon buckets, and the grocery store will sell the buckets at a deep discount.
Safer for Sensitive Skin
I have substituted Ivory soap for the Fels Naptha, because my boys have eczema. The homemade laundry soap is fragrance free, and is gentle on their sensitive skin.
The bar soap portion of the recipe can be changed to Zote (pink), Ivory, or Fels Naptha. If desired, 10 drops of essential oil can be added per 2 gallons of laundry soap. Essential oils come in a variety of wonderful scents, so you can pick your own (and vary it by the season)!
To save money and get a great-scented homemade laundry detergent, Irish Spring soap may be grated and added to the detergent. Add a bar of grated Irish Spring soap and reduce the amount of Fels-Naptha to about 1/3 of a bar. Alternately, 2 bars of Irish Spring soap may be used (do not add Fels Naptha if 2 bars of Irish Spring will be used). Other "bath" soaps have met with success, including Dial and Ivory soaps. Take care, however, as some bath soap products contain oils which may stain clothing: avoid the "moisturizing" bath soaps!
Duggar Detergent Problems and Solutions
Detergent turns into solid gel
Use less Fels Naptha or add more hot water. You can also re-mix the solution with vigorous stirring.
I immediately decant my detergent into containers and dilute with water to prevent the gelling problem.
Detergent is runny and "gloppy"
Good job! This is the way it is supposed to look.
I can't find Fels Naptha
Look in the laundry section or buy online
This bar soap is located in the laundry section of most department stores.
I used bath soap and my clothes have oily stains
Only use Ivory, Zote, or Fels Naptha bar soap
Many "bath" soaps contain oils and perfumes that will stain clothes
I have hard water and my clothes are still dirty.
Add vinegar to the rinse cycle, or use oxyclean
Hard water can build up in machines and cause inefficient cleaning.
I am getting a rash from the laundry soap
Try substituting Ivory for the Fels Naptha or use Baking Soda instead of Washing Soda.
Ivory and Baking Soda are less irritating to skin than Fels Naptha and Washing Soda.
Natural Chemicals to Clean Clothes
Can I Use Baking Soda Instead of Washing Soda?
Baking soda and washing soda are different chemicals (sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate, respectively). Baking soda is slightly less effective at removing oily stains from clothing, but many people use it in homemade laundry detergent. Baking soda is slightly less irritating to the skin, so using it in laundry detergent destined for cloth diapers is a good idea.
I have always made the laundry detergent according to the Duggar recipe (which uses washing soda) and am pleased with the results. If you have members of the family with sensitive skin and don't have heavily soiled clothing, baking soda might be worth a try.