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Does the Duggar Family Homemade Laundry Detergent Really Work? A Soap Recipe Review

Updated on June 14, 2015

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

The Experiment: Homemade Laundry Soap. This version contains Ivory bar soap, and is white in color.
The Experiment: Homemade Laundry Soap. This version contains Ivory bar soap, and is white in color. | Source

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.

Customizable

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

Problem
Solution
Comments
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"
None
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

Use borax and washing soda in the laundry detergent. Baking soda will be slightly less effective in cleaning, but will be safer for sensitive skin.
Use borax and washing soda in the laundry detergent. Baking soda will be slightly less effective in cleaning, but will be safer for sensitive skin. | Source

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.

Laundry Detergent: Your Opinion

What Type of Laundry Detergent Do You Use?

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    • Writing_Wine profile image

      Writing_Wine 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      I didn't even know this was possible. Is it safe to use in HE machines?

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 6 years ago from Western New York

      It is totally safe in HE machines: you use 1/4 cup of the detergent instead of 1/2 cup.

    • profile image

      Shannon 6 years ago

      I tried the recipe and am currently waiting for my commercial detergent to run out! I like the slight fragrance the Ivory soap lends, but may add some essential oils. Can't wait to give it a shot!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Great report here. Thanks much.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 6 years ago from Western New York

      I really prefer the Ivory soap to the Fels Naptha. I think the Fels Naptha is a little harder on dark fabrics, and the Ivory definitely has a nicer smell!

    • FrugalGal profile image

      FrugalGal 6 years ago

      Great hub. Thank you. I love it when we stop sending packaging to the landfills.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 6 years ago from Western New York

      The best thing about this laundry soap is that you use recycled commercial laundry detergent bottles as dispensers, and it is made and stored in the same 5 gallon bucket. Want not, waste not!

    • jorjaclare profile image

      jorjaclare 6 years ago from Wherever there is a beach

      I love this idea. When we lived in Florida I always used soap nuts with some drops of lavender oil added to the water. My friends always laughed at me and told me I was completely British as I used to hang out my washing on a washing line instead of using the dryer. Duh! When you live somewhere like that, where there is so much sunshine, it's a no-brainer.

      I really fancy trying this out though when we return to Europe. I don't think I could get the Borax or Washing Soda here in Thailand though.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 6 years ago from Western New York

      We lived in Ireland for a while and dryers were not common appliances! We used to line dry our clothes in the summer, but it was a mess of soggy clothes on racks in the winter...it is definitely easier in sunny climes, lol!

      I'm not sure if you could get borax or washing soda in Thailand. Amazon sells the materials, but I don't know anything about the shipping policies to Thailand!

    • profile image

      Kim 5 years ago

      If using ivory instead, do I use 5 oz like the size of the other bar?

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Kim, I simply use the regular bath-sized bar of Ivory soap. It has worked well, and I think a bigger bar of Ivory might leave some soap residue on the clothes.

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      I make and use this laundry soap. Absolutely am thrilled with the results and wonderful fragrance that fills my kitchen and adjacent rooms. Two thumbs up -- Voted up & useful! Hope your readers try this recipe, it is wonderful & a great way to help convert your home into a "natural" based home. BTW - I am a mom of a 12 year old girl, 10, 6, 5 & 3 year old boys -- and this detergent WORKS on their tough messes -- and I find my clothes are softer than when I had used commercial brands.

      Warmest regards ~

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Thanks for the comment, breathe2travel! We have a 4 year old boy and an almost-6 year old boy - it really does work! We couldn't get our kitchen towels clean with the commercial laundry detergent, but the homemade laundry detergent really works!

    • profile image

      Jessica 5 years ago

      Hello! I would love to try this, however I do not have a 5 gallon bucket. Is there any way I can make a batch just big enough to fill a used laundry soap container and not have to store the rest in a 5 gallon bucket?

    • profile image

      Teri 5 years ago

      I started using this in February, totally love it, many of my family members have started using it. I like not having to spend $20. on detergent.

    • profile image

      To Jessica 5 years ago

      Jessica, I bought a 5 gallon bucket at Lowes for $2.98. WalMart has them for $5. I'm not fond of storing the soap in the 5 gallon bucket, but saved old soap containers and use them. I also got some from my mom. Just ask people to save theirs for you, until you get enough.

      Today, I made my 3rd batch. I love this stuff!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Jessica - it is possible to cut down the recipe. The recipe above makes enough for 10 gallons when diluted (the 5 gallons in a bucket is a concentrate). Just divide the amounts above by 5 to get enough for a 1 gallon container. Add it to a laundry detergent container and add an equal amount of water to bring it to the usable concentration.

      The 5 gallon buckets are pretty cheap at Home Depot or Walmart. I have one and use it to mix the detergent, and I asked all my friends to give me their spare laundry detergent containers. Now I mix the detergent, then pour it into the laundry detergent containers so that I have 10 bottles, ready to use.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is very helpful to me...I am going to try it. I am a little nervous as I am considered by some, small community of those who know me to be the queen of stain removal. So, naturally I am anxious to give this a try.

      I am newly retired and every dime must stretch even further than it did before...thanks for sharing this!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Definitely give it a try, pstraubie48! It really does work - the Fels Naptha is stronger than the Ivory, particularly for greasy stains. You can also pre-treat stains by rubbing some Fels Naptha bar soap over the stain. I haven't bought laundry detergent in over a year. I started out making the Ivory soap version, but now I stick to the Fels Naptha - it works a bit better on the really nasty clothes (I have two hockey players in this house)!

    • profile image

      Lindsey 5 years ago

      So I have a top loading HE washing machine, do I use 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup? Thanks for all the tips!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Lindsey, most HE washing machines will take 1/4 cup (even if they are top loading). I would try the 1/4 cup with a "test load" - if the clothes don't seem clean enough, you can always increase the amount to 1/3 or 1/2 cup. We have an older front loading HE machine, and we use about 1/4 cup. To be honest, I just saved the bottles from our commercial HE detergent and refill them with the homemade stuff (our neighbors have given us their used bottles, too). I use the lid/measuring cup as the dispenser, and it works very well for us! I hope that helps!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This is fantastic! When I was growing up in Wisconsin my mother always used Fels Naptha for stubborn stains. She would rub it on the stain prior to washing the clothes and then hanging then on the lines to dry outside. In the winter she had lines strung in the basement that she could use. Once we moved to Texas she got a dryer and from that point on used it. But I loved that fresh air smell. No dryer sheet can replicate it!

      Going to bookmark this, tweet it, FB it and vote it up and useful. Thanks!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      This is a fantastic Hub! I love your table of possible problems that may occur. I'm getting low on detergent right now. I think I'll try. How long will the 10 gallon batch last on the shelf? Do you put all of the detergent in dispensers, or do you only fill one dispenser and leave the rest in the bucket? Thanks!

    • claptona profile image

      John D Wilson 5 years ago from Earth

      Very interesting Hub, leahlefler.

      I am a single guy and doubt that i'll ever not so lazy as to do this.

      But, for a family of 4, this is great.

      Your personal touch with your experiences really added to the quality of the Hub.

      Great job.

      Cheers

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Thanks, Peggy! The Fels Naptha is good stuff - it really gets out oily stains (especially if used as a pre-treatment)! It works really well in the laundry detergent, too. Interesting side note: fels naptha is one of the only soaps that will denature the oils found in poison ivy - if your clothing gets contaminated, the "duggar detergent" will be able to neutralize the itch-causing oils!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Robin, the 5 gallon batch (undiluted) will last indefinitely. I have some sitting in a bucket from a demonstration I did six months ago, and it is still fine. It will need to be stirred before I add it to a container, but it will be fine.

      I used to store mine in the bucket, because I didn't have enough recycled detergent containers. I finally have enough commercial containers to store my stash of homemade detergent, though! If you store it in the 5 gallon bucket, make sure you have a secure lid on the bucket at all times (I always worry about drowning accidents with small children around the house).

      If you aliquot it into containers, you'll need about 10 one gallon containers. Fill each one halfway full of the concentrate, then fill to the top with water (leave enough headspace to shake the container before each use).

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      claptona, this detergent makes such a large quantity that a single guy may never use it up! Each batch lasts us (family of four, two are hockey players) for about six months. Thanks for the comment!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Perfect. Thanks for the great response. I only have one container right now, but I'll start collecting from friends. I really appreciate the Hub!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 5 years ago from USA

      Hi LL - No wonder Mr. Clean had no hair! Enjoyed this article for its nice clean recipe. The last box of powdered detergent we bought cost right near 30 bucks. This goopy wet stuff surely does sound like relief from that kind of spending. Thanks.

      Gus :-)))

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I hope it helps, Robin! If anyone in the family has sensitive skin, switch to Ivory (I have to use that formulation with my kids in the winter). It doesn't have the same "feel" as the commercial detergent, but it works!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Gus, it really does work (and it is a LOT cheaper)! I also use the "cheap" method for fabric softener. Pour a container of softener into a bucket, add two containers' worth of water to it, then throw in some sponges (cut in half). When you need to dry some clothes in the dryer, wring out a sponge and throw it into the dryer - works just like a dryer sheet (this also lasts forever - works better for a family that goes through detergent/softener quickly)!

      I love saving the money (I prefer the term "frugal" to "cheapskate," haha). Mama's getting a tablet PC for Christmas with the savings :)

    • xethonxq profile image

      xethonxq 5 years ago

      I am always looking for ways to ease the strain on my wallet and this sounds like an awesome one!! I doubt I'll have to work very hard to convince my family to try something new. Thank you so much for sharing this leahlefler!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Thank you, xethonxq! I was leery of trying a homemade version, but I banked on the fact that a family of 20 people would have to use something that worked. I tried their recipe, and it worked wonderfully! It really does save a lot of money, especially over the course of a year.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      I recently got a HE machine and I love it. it works well, handles a bigger load, and spins so much dryer that even when I use my dryer it takes far less time. The one thing that I didn't like was that the HE detergent seemed so much more expensive-- even with using less.

      Thanks for the alternative. 1/4 cup right? Maybe I need to make a half recipe for two people.

    • Just_Rodney profile image

      Rodney Fagan 5 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Well done, especially in today's economic climate.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Rochelle, the 1/4 cup works well for us (we have an older HE machine). You can adjust the amount if it seems to be too much (leaves residue) or too little (clothes don't get clean). The price on the commercial detergent for HE machines is staggering!

      The HE formulations use a low-foaming detergent. The Duggar detergent is already "low foaming" so it works well with HE machines.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Thank you, Just_Rodney - we have found that it saves money over the long run. Now, if I could only grow my own coffee (that would REALLY save money)! :-)

    • profile image

      Vanessa 5 years ago

      I"m a bit confused. Do you melt the soap without the water and then add the hot water, the article made it seem like add water to a small saucepan, melt the grated soap and then add the hot water to it. Maybe I just misunderstood.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Vanessa - Add 4 cups of water to a saucepan, then add the grated soap to the saucepan. Heat the soap and water until melted. Then add that melted soap mixture to the big bucket (which has hot water and borax/washing soda). I see where the confusion comes from - I'll fix that sentence in the article! Sorry about that!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, leahlefler

      How cool! I had never heard of the Duggar family detergent. This is a really awesome hub - I'm surprised it didn't get a Hub of the Day sometime. It certainly would have deserved it. I look forward to reading more.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Thanks, Chaplin Speaks!

      I've had a few hubs make Hub of the Day (a tutorial on making black/white/color images - on the carousel prior to the official HOD system, one on infant seat expiration dates, and one on reverse-engineering chickens into dinosaurs). I've certainly had a fair share of representation! Thanks for the compliment!

      The homemade detergent works really well, and saves our family a fair bit of pocket change. I was skeptical before I tried it, but now it is the only type we use (unless we go on vacation)!

    • profile image

      Monica 5 years ago

      Just curious, I made this and tried it on a test load. I have an HE machine and am used to the low sudsing, but this didn't seem to sud at all. Did I miss something? Maybe I didn't let the soap completely melt?

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Monica, mine never suds at all. Low-sudsing is better for HE machines, and this detergent is almost non-sudsing. It's normal for the homemade stuff - I should take a video of my laundry soap in action, so that people can see what is "normal." The clothes should come out clean, though - are your clothes coming out clean?

    • profile image

      Monica 5 years ago

      Leahlefler, Thank you for replying. Well, I didn't actually trust that the first load was clean (used mostly play clothes with permanent stains... (Chicken, huh?), but, the next load I did was clean. Now another question.... Please.... Is this soap ok for delicates?

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I would be careful with delicates, particularly with the Fels Naptha. I feel that the Fels Naptha can be a little hard on more delicate clothing - I haven't had anything "hurt" by it, but I haven't washed anything fragile, either. I do wash underwear and all of our regular (and work) clothes in it and they have always been fine. I would be careful with anything that has lace or a very delicate fabric, though. The Ivory version is gentler than the Fels Naptha. Some people use Castile soap, which is made from olive oil and is very gentle.

    • profile image

      Emily 5 years ago

      I made the recipe....& it came out pretty liquidly. Don't know what I could have done wrong! :(

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Emily, this detergent is very different from the commercial variety. It is usually VERY liquid - more like water with chunks of gloopy soap in it than anything else (particularly when it cools down). When it is still warm, it is very watery. Sometimes the fels naptha version will gel solid when it cools, and that is also normal. Don't worry about the consistency -try it in a load and if it works, you're good to go!

    • profile image

      Queenie11 5 years ago

      Do you recommend using this detergent in its gel form or diluted? Which is best on stains? Could I split the gel into another bucket and fill both the rest of the way with water and still get good results?

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Queenie, the Fels Naptha version of this detergent will SOMETIMES gel, but not always. It depends on the rate at which it cools (mine often turns into a solid gel in the winter time, and not as often in the summer time). The 5 gallon bucket is a concentrate, so when you use it in the washing machine it will need to be diluted in half. I make the 5 gallons of detergent and then fill ten gallon sized commercial laundry containers (obtained from friends) halfway. I top off the containers with water, and have ten gallons of ready-to-use soap. If the concentrate in the five gallon bucket does gel, you will need to remix it to get it back to a liquid consistency. I've only noticed the gelling issue with the Fels Naptha, and not with the Ivory or Irish Spring soap.

    • profile image

      Queenie11 5 years ago

      Is it ok to just use the gel form not mixed with more water in your wash? Would it be better on stains?

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      You could certainly try it - the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup (for regular machines) or 1/4 cup (HE machines) of the diluted soap. You could try using 1/4 cup (regular) or 1/8 cup (HE machines) of the undiluted concentrate. It should work the same way. If your clothes feel like they're covered in soap residue, then try using it according to the original instructions. Fels Naptha can be rubbed on stains as a pre-treatment, too!

    • Mary Stuart profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Washington

      I have always purchased my laundry detergent but no more. It never entered my mind to make my own. thanks you for such a great idea. I am thrilled to find yet another way to save money AND keep my clothes clean.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      I've been using the "Duggar Detergent" for well over a year now and it is wonderful. It has saved us a lot of money on laundry detergent and only takes a few minutes to make (and about a day to cool off) - with ten gallons per batch, it is well worth the time investment - thanks for your comment, Mary Stuart!

    • profile image

      lisa 5 years ago

      For those of you asking about the 5 gallon buckets...instead of paying $3.00+ simply call the bakery department at your local grocery store. I get mine for $0.75!!! They get their frosting in the 5 gallon pails so they are clean and food grade...perfect for this use!!

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Lisa, what a fantastic idea! You are absolutely brilliant - I am definitely calling our grocery store the next time we need a bucket. I used to work in biotech and could get buckets from my former work-place, but I didn't want to worry about getting all of the residue from old chemicals out of the buckets. The frosting buckets from a grocery store would be perfect for repurposing as laundry containers, though!

    • profile image

      Andrea 5 years ago

      I have been trying to use this for about 1 month now and I've been a little disappointed. I feel like I must be doing something wrong since so many people have had success. I find on my clothes where my baby spit up that it leaves a little greasy looking spot and doesn't clean it and I've had a few random items (boppy pillow cover and changing table sheet) come out with weird grayish spots on them. I also am using them on my kiddos cloth diapers and have been a little leery as I've read some things about not recommending soap for diapers but rather detergent (according to my research this recipe makes laundry SOAP not laundry DETERGENT which are very different things)... both kiddos seem to have a little more redness to their hineys than when I used Country Save. Any ideas/suggestions?

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Andrea - this is definitely laundry soap and not "detergent" (people search for the word "detergent" in google, hence the use of the word in the title). I would not use the fels naptha if you are using this for cloth diapers - my children both have eczema and very sensitive skin, so we use the Ivory version of this laundry soap recipe for their clothing. For cloth diapers, I'd try using Castile soap (which is extremely gentle) and baking soda substituted for the washing soda. By using Castile soap and baking soda, you should have a much gentler formulation. The gray spots are strange - I haven't ever seen that problem, so I am trying to determine where the gray spots are coming from!

      There are some items that I have to pre-treat when using the homemade recipe - my son has a g-tube and we have stomach drainage onto his tube pads. I have to pre-treat these with spray-and-wash prior to laundering. Spit up may have the same issue, since it contains stomach acid.

      What temperature are you laundering at? I wash Nolan's g-tube pads in hot water, and sometimes add bleach to disinfect (though the bleach may not be a good idea for diapers, since it may be harsh on a baby's skin).

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Andrea, another question - do you have hard water? I sometimes add vinegar to the rinse cycle because we have hard water in our area, which can leave whitish spots on clothing.

    • leahlefler profile image
      Author

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      OK - I looked up causes of gray spots on laundry - apparently, some people have problems with this when there are greasy/oily stains. Formula and breast milk has a high fat content, so the spit up might be oily: if you use a homemade soap with castile soap, you might try increasing the concentration to see if it will cut the grease, as the grease can be redispersed onto the entire load of wash if the amount of cleaning agent is insufficient. The same thing can happen if you are using liquid fabric softener in your washing machine (fabric softener is a waxy product). There is some information on the subject here: http://www.clorox.com/blogs/dr-laundry/2009/07/14/...

    • profile image

      etomala 5 years ago

      AS far as the essential oils, where would I find those? Do you mean the fragrance oils that you would burn in an oil lamp?

    • leahlefler profile image
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      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Hi etomala, sometimes drug stores will sell essential oils, but the only place I've been able to find them is online. Be careful if you use fragrance oils from lamps, because those sometimes include dyes and other ingredients you don't want in your laundry! Essential oils can be pricey, so I don't tend to use them (I use fragrant fabric softener, instead).

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      oceansider 5 years ago

      Thanks for the information. I've never tried to make my own laundry detergent, but now I'll give that some thought!

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      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      It really does work, oceansider, and saves a heap of money (especially when counted over the course of the year).

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      Serena 5 years ago

      What the heck is Fels Naptha? is that something they sell in the United States? I've never heard of it

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      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Fels Naptha is a laundry soap (a bar soap) that is usually sold in the laundry aisle of US grocery and big box stores. You can purchase it online if you can't find it in the stores. I had never heard of it prior to trying out the laundry recipe for the first time - now I have it in the laundry room as a staple! You can pre-treat clothes with it, too - apparently it was more common in the 1950's, prior to the introduction of the "spray and wash" style stain preventers. Fels Naptha is one of the only soaps that will remove poison ivy oils from clothing, an added bonus if you live in an area with poison ivy!

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      Gladys 5 years ago

      Is there a reason why you can't make the laundry detergent and leave it in the dry form? It seems like that would be easier than having to melt the soap and add the other ingredients.

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      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      There are several dry detergent recipes - I haven't tried the powdered detergent because I don't have a food processor, but I have heard (from friends) that those recipes work well. The dried versions usually use fels naptha that has been processed with the other dry ingredients in a food processor - the liquid version is really easy. The food processor step is simply replaced with a soap melting step, I would guess that the preparation time is similar.

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      taylorjoni 4 years ago

      I love the Duggar dry laundry soap. I am going to make some liquid also. I added Oxy Clean for a little whiter and use white vinegar in the softner dispenser. It is great and I save a ton of money on laundry.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I do the same thing with the vinegar - it really does work! Taylorjoni, how much Oxy Clean do you add? I wanted to try that because sometimes the whites get a little gray, but I've been using bleach instead. I'd like to try the Oxy Clean,though - I know you can make Oxy Clean by adding peroxide to baking soda...

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      Ryan Buda 4 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

      this is definitely something worth giving a try. Especially since I am moving out on my own this summer and will be living the meager life of a poor college student.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      It's pretty easy to make, Ryan - and it does save a lot of money. Storing it might be a problem in a small dorm or in a shared apartment, but if you leave most of it in the 5 gallon bucket it will take up less floor space!

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      monicamelendez 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

      I'm glad that I stumbled across this hub. I'm going to try this out. Always looking for ways to save some money!

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      It really works quite well, Monica. I've been using it for about a year and a half now!

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      nrw 4 years ago

      My daughter started making her own liquid detergent with a recipe she found on Pinterest. You don't have any soap to grate either. We had a stain that wouldn't come out and so she said to make a paste using a little bit of water and baking soda and leave it sit for several days. We left it sit for 4 days and ALL of the stain came out of my granddaughter's little shirt. Amazing :)

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      There are many laundry soap recipes out there, nrw - the Fels Naptha recipe is the one used by the Duggars. The grating does take a small amount of time, but there are several liquid and powdered recipes that require no grating. I have recently tried adding the scented laundry crystals to my recipe, but that increases the cost of the mix. Baking soda is wonderful, isn't it? It removes odors and can remove stains, too. I've been making my own laundry soap for about 2 years now and it really does save money (no matter which recipe you try)!

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      Ryan Buda 4 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

      How long does a batch take to make? What's the time consumption from beginning to make it until it is ready to use?

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Hi RyanBuda- the actual time to make the laundry soap is about 25 minutes - the greatest amount of time is spent grating and melting the soap. While it can be used immediately, most people prefer to let it cool and "gel" for 24 hours before using it. Sometimes I aliquot the concentrate into dispensing containers and add the water (1/2 the concentrate and 1/2 water) immediately, sometimes I wait for the bulk to gel first.

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      Anji McBride 4 years ago

      Hi, I am trying to talk my dad into letting me use this recipe for our families detergent use, I do the cooking and the cleaning for the family but he's the one with the money, I am still looking for work, but I am always on the look out for a way to save money, the thing he wants to know is, is this home made detergent harder on clothes than store bought detergent, also he and I have very sensitive skin, any thing we need to keep in mind when making our detergent?

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Anji, the Fels Naptha recipe can be a little hard on dark clothing (at least, in my opinion). The Ivory seems to be gentler on both clothes and skin, so I would recommend going with the Ivory soap formulation or with Castille soap if you have sensitive skin. You can try scaling down a batch and making a smaller amount to give it a try - only do one load and see how you react. My husband is sensitive to the Fels Naptha version, so we always have an Ivory recipe on hand for his clothes!

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      mommacervantes 4 years ago

      Hi, I really enjoy using this soap but I have found lately that my whites are coming out grayish looking :( I continue to use bleach, so I didn't know if there was a known reaction with mixing the two, do you know? What can I do to brighten my whites? Thanks so much.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Hi mommacervantes - I have noticed this as well. Over time, soap residue builds up on the clothes and will make them appear gray. I have managed to "fix" the problem by using vinegar in the rinse cycle (either add it directly or put it in the "softener" cup in your machine). If your clothes have a high amount of soap residue, try running them through the washing machine without soap and JUST use vinegar. Use about 1 cup of white vinegar for a load.

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      luvintkandtj 4 years ago from USA

      Great review! pinning this right away!

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Thanks, luvintkandtj. I have used this recipe for two years and love it. The only recipe I don't like is the softener sheets recipe. This calls for using sponges soaked in liquid softener (diluted with water), wrung out, and placed in the dryer as dryer sheets. My large bucket of softener developed mold growth at the bottom of the pail, so I would not recommend that (Duggar) recipe unless you make small batches at a time.

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      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Hello. I wanted to tell you that I have been making my own laundry detergent for about a year now. I use the Duggar's recipe and it works great. I have people save milk jugs for me and use those to store the soap. I love the cost savings and the fact that I lessen thburden on the earth by keeping bottles out of the landfill.

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      jane lejeune 4 years ago

      Hi, I been using the laundry receipt for about 2 years.I use plastic orange just containers,milk gallons and salad dressing bottles to give samples to friends or whatever plastic bottle I find works . thanks

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      Amy Howen 4 years ago from Wisconsin

      I just recently switched to a powdered version of this, I didn't realize I could make a liquid version!!

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      gfcampbell 4 years ago

      Congrats! I found this to be quite helpful.. I have been unemployed for quite awhile every penny counts. I"ll make a batch and get back to you soon.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Hyphenbird, I love the fact that you recycle. This recipe really does work well - I use recycled laundry detergent containers and store them in the laundry room. I simply reuse them every time I make a new batch!

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Jane, I love the idea of using salad dressing bottles as samples for friends and family. A lot of people are skeptical about making their own detergent, and this allows them to "try before they buy!"

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Amy, I haven't tried a powdered version yet, though I have heard that the powdered versions work quite well. I've been using the Duggar detergent for about 2 years now, and it works wonderfully!

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Give it a try, gfcampbell. It works very well and saves quite a bit of money on laundry detergent. I make up the bottles of detergent and have them "at the ready" - I just shake and use the measurement cap from a recycled detergent container.

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      Abbyfitz 4 years ago from Florida

      Wow. Great hub! I've got to try this!

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Give it a try, Abbyfitz - it is really worth the effort. I've been using it for two years now and it works great!

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      gfcampbell 4 years ago

      WOW! OMG! It's that good and better. Made it last week and gave it out Thanksgiving Day to Family with the recipe. Thanx

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      It really does work! It saves a decent amount of money, too - I'm glad you tried it and liked it, gfcampbell!!

    • renegadetory profile image

      Carolyn Dahl 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      I know everyone raves about this recipe, you can find it on practically ANY frugal website, but... I have some reservations due to the fact that you are essentially watering down soap and then storing this watered down concoction for longer than a day in these big plastic totes.

      When you water down soap from its original form, you are essentially changing the chemical composition of that soap, including the preservatives in it and by adding water you are potentially introducing bacteria into your new laundry soap. Water is the carrier of bacteria.

      I think you have a great hub here, it's well done! I just don't share everyone's enthusiasm for saving a few cents on my laundry unfortunately.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I was concerned about bacterial growth, too, renegadetory. I'm actually a biochemist and didn't want to end up with a veritable petri dish in my laundry room. I actually plated the detergent on blood agar (and on standard broth agar plates) and nothing grew. The Fels Naptha soap is extremely strong and is probably the anti-bacterial agent at work (this is my guess, since the borax and washing soda are fairly dilute).

      The laundry softener recipe used by the duggars, however, WILL grow both bacteria and mold if left to sit for a long period of time. I don't use that recipe anymore, as it was unhygienic.

      The laundry soap, however, is fine (I have tested it three months from the date of manufacture).

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      ashley 4 years ago

      Quick question. If i use half fels naptha and half zote, do u think it will still stop bacteria growth you are talking about? Im a little worried now. But first ingredient on STORE BOUGHT detergent is water? So i dont understand the difference?

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Ashley, the homemade laundry soap doesn't grow bacterial cultures. I have actually plated it and it didn't grow. There is little difference between the store bought item and the homemade version... except the Duggar version is a laundry SOAP and the store-bought version contains DETERGENT - there is a chemical difference between the two (soap is made from fat and lye; detergents are made from chemicals - usually petroleum based). The soap is alkaline enough to prevent bacterial growth.

    • renegadetory profile image

      Carolyn Dahl 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      Ok, that's good, because I was doing some reading about watering down soaps and how it's not recommended due to the potential for bacteria growth. It's awesome that you are a biochemist, so I will definitely take your word that this recipe is fine. Thank you for clarifying!

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I should add the caveat that I have only plated the Fels Naptha version... not the Ivory soap version. I also plated it after three months, so I don't know how long it is "good" for. Many bath soaps have additional oils and may be made with beef tallow, which might allow for more bacterial growth. The Fels Naptha version seems to keep for a significant period of time, however - it is so alkaline that bacteria do not seem to grow in it.

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      Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

      Thanks for the post! I have never heard of homemade detergent before and am now seriously thinking about trying it...

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Give it a try, Faith - we love it and it works really well for our family. It saves a lot of money, too - the Fels Naptha can be a little "hard" on dark colored clothes (just my personal experience), so if you have a lot of black outfits, you might want to do a test run to make sure it doesn't cause fading.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I'm sorry it didn't work for you, Silkychaz. What type of washing machine do you have? A top-loader or front-loader? HE? With our old washing machine, I had to use about 3/4 cup of the detergent per load, but with our new machine I only require about 1/4 cup. Sometimes you have to play around with the amount added to the machine to find what works for you.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Such a bummer that it didn't work for you - if it doesn't work, though, it is definitely better to stick with a commercial detergent. We've had great success with it, fortunately.

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      Obreinfamily 4 years ago from florissant

      I have learned with kids- that if you stick a 1/2 cup of baking soda in every wash- that it helps the detergent that you use to work more efficiently. It also makes your whites whiter.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      That is a very good tip, Obreinfamily! I should add in some baking soda when our whites start to look a little gray. Sometimes I add vinegar to help remove soap residue build-up (this happens with most laundry soaps and detergents over time).

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      Novel Treasure 4 years ago from US

      What a great hub! We have been experimenting with making our own bar soaps, bath salts, and gels and I was thinking of trying laundry detergents and shampoos. I will certainly give this one a try. Thank you for sharing the information! Voted up and Useful.

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I use it and love it, Novel Treasure. It has certainly saved a lot of money for our family - and works well in our machine. We have a top-loading HE machine now, and it works well with the HE system. One commenter noted the homemade detergent did not work well in his front-loading steam HE machine - I'm not sure if that is common among that type of washing machine, or if it simply didn't work for him.

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      cromkiz 4 years ago

      I tried using the powder version in the summer and it worked great. However, it stopped working when the weather became cooler (not sure if thats a coincidence). I switched to this recipe and my clothes are still not clean. I grate the soap and as soon as I put it into hot water it clumps together and stays that way. Is this normal? I've tried adding oxyclean, vinegar, still no luck. What am I doing wrong?

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      I'm not really sure why it isn't working for you anymore, cromkiz. Could there be soap residue built up on the clothes (or in the washing machine)? I have had a problem with soap residue build-up with the laundry soaps.. when this happens I run a cycle with the clothes and ONLY vinegar. It helps clear out the soap residue from both the clothes and the washing machine.

      Have you tried running a load with commercial laundry detergent to see if there is a difference? If it gets the clothes clean and the laundry soap recipe doesn't, then you know it is the laundry soap recipe itself that isn't working for you. If the commercial brand doesn't work, either, then your washing machine is probably not working as well.

      I had this happen earlier in the year and it turns out our washing machine (a very old front-loader, one of the first ever manufactured) simply wasn't working anymore. It finally gave out completely and our new machine is much better at cleaning the clothes.

      As for melting the soap for this recipe, it is the most tedious part of the process. I melt it on the stove-top and continually stir while heating. It can take a long time for it to completely melt - on the order of 30-45 minutes. You can also use an immersion blender to speed the process along (an immersion blender also helps to emulsify the clumpy laundry soap after it has been sitting for a while).

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      Jennifer W. 4 years ago

      I'm sorry if the answer is in one of the comments, I didn't read them all. If I were to use the Ivory soap what size bar (in ounces) would I use? Thanks!

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Jennifer,

      When I made the soap with Ivory, I used the standard bath-sized bar. This is 4.5 ounces. This is a slightly smaller soap bar than the Fels Naptha (which is 5.5 ounces), but seemed to work just as well as the Fels Naptha. Just make sure to use Ivory original bar soap, as soaps with added oils and moisturizeres may not work as well in the recipe as plain Ivory soap!

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      Erica H. 4 years ago

      Do you think this would work for washing cloth diapers? Thanks!

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      leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

      It definitely works for washing cloth diapers, Erica! My friend does use the Ivory soap version and switches out the washing soda for baking soda to make a gentler version of the recipe. She's used it for her two little ones and says it works really well!

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      Very true, reviewstop - when I return to the workforce, I will likely purchase a commercial detergent because my time will be limited. I am currently working out of our house, and have a flexible schedule that allows me to make my own laundry soap.

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      angiscan 3 years ago

      I have used this detergent for 3 years. I love it! I hate using commercial detergents now. Especial the scented ones.

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      Lem 3 years ago

      Can this soap replace tide coldwater?.

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      Angiscan, I have been using this detergent recipe for about the same amount of time - I haven't bought commercial detergent in about 2 years. I did buy some when we were on vacation last year, but we use this exclusively now!

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      I have used this detergent in cold water, Lem, but I haven't done any side-by-side comparisons with Tide Coldwater and the Duggar laundry soap. This recipe has worked well for me when I run a load using cold water.

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      tammy 3 years ago

      ok so, I live in a camper, (cuz we travel from state to state to work) & do not have room to store a huge 5 gallon bucket. can u send me a recipe for like a gallon only. I recently made a powder det w/LAVA soap as my hubby works outside & has mudd, grease & dirt on his light colored clothes & jeans everyday. i haven't tried the liquid version before. could i rub the stains down w/the bar of LAVA & wash w/my det or your det recipe. tmmygrrtt@yahoo.com please help, thnx

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Tammy - to make a 1 gallon version of the "Duggar Detergent," simply divide all of the ingredients by 5. This makes measuring a bit tricky, but you could modify it a bit.

      You would need 0.8 cups of water (I'd use a 3/4 cup measurement, which is close enough).

      1/5 bar Fels Naptha

      0.8 cups Super Washing Soda (again, I'd use a 3/4 cup measurement, as 0.75 cups is close enough).

      Use 2 tablespoons borax.

      Add enough water to bring the mixture to one gallon (you could store this in a 1 gallon milk jug, if necessary).

      Remember to dilute the detergent in half when using it!

      You can rub stains with the remaining Fels Naptha bar soap before laundering (or use your LAVA soap).

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      Shy'rell 3 years ago

      Mine is just liquid like. It didn't seem to thicken any overnight. Basically seems the consistency of water but is a cloudy white. Did I do it right? Lol. Thanks!

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      Shy'rell, did you use Ivory soap? I never had my Ivory version thicken very much - it is fairly thin. Don't expect to have a texture similar to commercial detergents, as the homemade detergent is a fairly thin liquid. The Fels Naptha version will sometimes gel solid or have a chunky texture, but the Ivory version can be very thin.

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      Shy'rell 3 years ago

      Oh ok. Yes, I used the Ivory. I was wondering why people had commented on it being a gel like consistency or having clumps since mine had none. Thank you for responding! :) Now, on to the heaping laundry pile!

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      I have made both, but the Ivory is definitely thinner in consistency! I think the bar of soap is smaller, so that causes it to be less clumpy. The Fels Naptha can actually gel solid, so in some ways I prefer the Ivory version!

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      ice 3 years ago

      one thing that works well is that after the melted soap mixture is put with the powders, stir it really well and then dump several trays of ice cubes in it until the mixture is chilled. It then will be (and stay) a nice smooth consistency with no lumps/gel.

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      Tiphnich 3 years ago

      I use it in my HE machine, I put it inside the washer, but I use very little, the less suds you see the cleaner the clothes come out. I made a big gigantic tub for less than 10 dollars.

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      What a great tip, ice! I will definitely try the ice cube trick the next time I make a large batch.

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      It is a huge money saving trick, Tiphnich. We make our own laundry detergent all the time and it works wonderfully!

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      Tarin 3 years ago

      I make my own powdered version of this. It works wonderfully, and I add Purex Crystals for some scent. I store it in a 5 gallon bucket, and scoop it into the Purex bottle when I need it, so I dont need to bend over all the time, or lift that very heavy bucket much.

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      I love the idea of adding Purex crystals, Tarin! I don't like having to lift the 5 gallon bucket - I store my (liquid) version in ready-to-use, diluted portions. I simply recycle commercial laundry detergent containers. I need to try the powdered version, as I have a feeling it would be very convenient to use the powdered soap - and easier to travel with if we decided to take some with us on vacation!

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      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      I've wondered. Great hub here, nice. I think I might try this soon-- what a great way to save money. A 5 gallon tub of this would probably last my family at least a year. Nice hub, voted up.

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      It lasts quite a while, WiccanSage. We go through laundry detergent fairly quickly (both of my children play a lot of sports), so I am glad we have this recipe!

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      Angela 3 years ago

      Worked perfectly...no problems at all . Thank you

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      leahlefler 3 years ago from Western New York

      I am so glad it worked well for you, Angela! We make this recipe all the time!

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      Lorraine 2 years ago

      I make a version that doesn't require the grating of soap or heating it on the stove. It also is very watery and not gloppy at all. You just use a quarter cup each of borax, washing soda, and good ole blue Dawn and add them all to a gallon of warm water.

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      Melissa Knight 2 years ago from Murfreesboro, TN

      Thank you so much for this information!!!! I'm totally going to try this :)

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Lorraine, how much blue Dawn do you use in the mix? Does it foam too much? I like the idea of trying that recipe, too! I love homemade detergents. They save a lot of money!

      Melissa, let me know how your detergent works out!

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      Sara 2 years ago

      I haven't seen anywhere on the comments after you melt your soap mixture and dump it into the half filled bucket of water with the powdered ingredients do you stir it then or do you just let it sit until it cools completely then stir?

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Sara, I mix immediately after adding the melted soap. After 24 hours, I will give it another stir (sometimes it will gel up completely, and other times it will be rather clumpy).

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      acline 2 years ago

      I make mine is a storage container and then divide it up into old gatorade bottle for storage. At my washer i have an old liquid detergent bottle that i empty the soap into and then add the water to it. THat way I am only storing the 5 gallons not the full 10.

      Love this, looking to try some other homemade products soon

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      RockingKFarm 2 years ago

      Love seeing the comments on Dove Bar soap. I've used this recipe for several months and can't imagine going back to buying commercial. I'm going to try the Dove Bar next time. The only thing I do differently is I bag up (using my FoodSaver) 8 cups of undiluted soap, add a note to add water on the front and store the bags near my washer. Then when my dispenser is out, I just pull out a bag and add 8 cups of hot water, stir then I'm ready to go. On the FoodSaver just get out as much air as you can then seal it--don't try to vacuum seal it :)

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Acline, that is a wonderful idea for storing the laundry soap! I have some commercial laundry containers and use those for storing my homemade laundry soap - it is so nice to save money this way.

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      I love the idea of making the concentrate and storing it in foodsaver bags, RockingKFarm! It would be so easy to have a large quantity of laundry soap "ready to go." I will have to try this - it would probably work in a strong zip-lock style bag, too.

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      ashlee 2 years ago

      hi I used ivory soap and it didn't glop up I was wondering why and what to do

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Ashlee - it doesn't always "glop up," so if you used the Ivory soap and it is simply watery, that is fine. My first batch was made with a bar of Ivory soap and it was also runny/not gloppy. My Fels Naptha batches tend to be more gloppy.

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      Nicole 2 years ago

      Quick question: when using in a top-load HE machine--do you out the 1/4 cup amount into the little a area designated for detergent, or do you pour it straight into the washing drum? The only concern I have with the regular space for the detergent is other reviewers' comments of the gloppy consistency. I will be making this soon! Saving containers now. I used to make a powdered homemade laundry detergent and honestly didn't like it BECAUSE it didn't mix well so I always felt I was throwing in uneven amounts of cleaning agents for each load. I hope I will like this better!

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Nicole, I have a top-loading HE washing machine and we always put the detergent into the detergent cup (rather than into the drum). It always seems to work fine for us. You could always try it, and if it doesn't clear out completely you could try adding it directly to the drum. I know some people use an immersion blender to smooth out the glops of soap prior to adding it to the big bucket - this appears to help keep it from getting too "gloppy."

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      Li Perry 2 years ago

      I love this idea! I'm very intrigued, and a little confused. You said,

      "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 Irish Spring will be used)."

      Should I use Irish spring AND Fels Naptha together, or no?

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Li,

      You may use a combination of Irish Spring and Fels Naptha, if you use one bar of Irish Spring and 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha (first sentence). If you use two bars of Irish Spring soap, however, do not add any Fels Naptha.

      I will clarify the parenthetical phrase to eliminate any confusion!

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      Sarah 2 years ago

      Can you use natural Castile bar soap instead of ivory?

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Sarah, you may absolutely use Castile bar soap instead of Ivory. I have a friend who uses Castile soap for all of her diapers - her little boy has eczema and she finds the Castile works well and is gentle on his skin.

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      Li Perry 2 years ago

      I finally made this and I have to say , that it really is great stuff! I make it in the bucket, but do not dilute it further when putting it in individual jugs. To me, it seems a little too diluted. Plus no bubbles whatsoever.. it's kind of like washing dishes without bubbles - just seems wrong. :( Anyway, I gave some to my mother and sister (both have HE machines ) and they love it too! I have to admit, I LOVE going to the store and NOT buying laundry soap!!! WHOO -HOO! I am waiting for my dryer sheets to run out so I can use the fabric softener recipe.

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      We use and make this all of the time, Li! It saves a bundle and works extremely well. I am glad it works for you, too. The diluted version works just fine, but it is odd to use laundry soap and not see the bubbles. Do you get a build-up of soap on the clothes by using the concentrated version in the washing machine?

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      wmsg77 2 years ago

      I am totally on board with trying a homemade version of laundry soap. However, I use bleach on all my dish towels and whites. Will this detergent work just as good for my 'bleach load' or can I even add bleach when using this soap?

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      wmsg77, you may certainly add bleach to your loads while using the homemade laundry soap. We do it all the time! I do find that sometimes our whites tend to get grayish after many washes, so I will do a load with vinegar every once in a while to remove any soap residue/buildup.

    • Li Perry profile image

      Li Perry 2 years ago

      I want to update my last comment. I made the soap as per the recipe and was happy with it, at first. It wasn't until I washed dirty rags, dish cloths and scrubbies that I began to question my investment. Normally, I wash my rags in 1c soap + 1c bleach and they come out smelling fresh and clean. When I used the Duggar recipe, I use 1 c CONCENTRATED soap and 1c bleach. It was gross! The rags still stunk and were dirty. I tried it again with the Duggar recipe - same amounts - and they still came out smelling dirty and gross. It was if they were washed in plain water. I now have 8 bottles of this stuff and I am thinking about giving it to an animal shelter. I won't use it on my clothes. It's not worth the investment - not matter how minimal - if it doesn't work.

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      Rae E. 2 years ago

      doesn't take long to melt the soap if you have a hand blender. just get it to a hot temp and then put in the blender and mix it right up. took me less than 5 min. to make a batch. Takes longer than that to run to the store.

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      I'm sorry it didn't seem to work for you, Li. I have never had an issue with it, but I suppose the experience may vary for some people. We use the Duggar recipe all of the time and have never had a problem with it - even with our very stinky clothes (I also use bleach with our detergent, especially for dishrags and towels). I'm surprised the rags would come out stinky, as even if you washed them in plain water and bleach, the bacteria should be killed by the bleach alone.

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      I agree, Rae - it is an easy recipe to make and takes almost no time at all! I have started using a hand blender, too - it speeds up the process and helps to evenly distribute the soap in the liquid.

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      megan 2 years ago

      Mine turned out super watery. And looked seperated like mixing oil and water...

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      linda 2 years ago

      Can I use sunlight brand bar soap found in the laundry isle?

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      It is very watery, Megan - it will not look like the thick gel from commercial detergents. There is no oil in the recipe, so I am not sure why you have a separation. Sometimes using an immersion blender will help create a better suspension of the soap within the liquid.

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Linda, it wouldn't hurt to try using the Sunlight bar soap - if it doesn't work, you can always try something else. We have used everything from Ivory to Castile soap to make ours. The only thing to be careful of is the use of bath soaps that contain oils - these would not be a good choice.

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      Julie 2 years ago

      Hi I was just wandering if the laundry water from this laundry soap would be safe to use to water your vegetable garden. Plus I have a top load regular washing machine. Uses a lot of water per load. How much do you think I should use per load for heavily soiled clothes.( Hubby & Son are Welders) Thank you for sharing this and for letting me pick your brain. LOL

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      Amie 2 years ago from U.S.

      This is the best article I've read on making your own soap. I love that you listed all the problems with the solutions and gave alternatives to the original ingredients. Kudos! 5 stars from me!

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      Vanessa 2 years ago

      I have 3 boys. Boy boys. There is not a pair of holeless pants in the whole bunch. They get DIRTY. Oh, and of course my husband works on cars so grease stains abide. I don't add water to this recipe. I use it as a dry powder but I also add a container of oxiclean (well the generic dollar store brand.) It works great. If there is a heavy stain I spray with a mixture of water, dawn dish liquid and ammonia.

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Thanks, Amie Says! We still make this soap and it works wonderfully for us!

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      Hi Julie - I used the same amount for my top-loader (we now have an LG WaveForce machine). The detergent seems to work well in it! I have never used the soapy water on my vegetable garden - it does contain Borax and I wouldn't want to have Borax on the food we are eating (and the alkaline nature of the soap may not be great for the plants). If it was very dilute, then it may not matter, but I'd be worried about killing the plants in my garden.

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      I love adding oxiclean, Vanessa! It works so well! I love the idea about pre-treating heavy stains with the water/dish liquid/ammonia. I will have to try that! We are currently in "clean clothes season" (read: heavy snow and no mud available), but I am sure I will be grateful for the pre-treating method when spring arrives!

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      Marley 2 years ago from Canada

      I love homemade laundry products. The recipe from the Duggar's website was actually the first one I ever tried.

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      leahlefler 2 years ago from Western New York

      marleyjustine, the Duggar recipe was the first recipe I tried, too. I thought a mother with 19 children probably knew what she was doing when it came to laundry! We still use this recipe, though I have tried others with success, too.

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      Megan Russell 2 years ago

      My daughter has very sensitive skin. Would you suggest doing both ivory soap and baking soda? I was considering doing the ivory soap with the washing soda first, but I don't know if it's too rough for her. Any suggestions?

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      Andrea 23 months ago

      You can slice Fels Naptha soap in sections and, microwave about 1 min 60 seconds or, until the soap swells..Cool enough to crumble! No grating needed..

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      leahlefler 23 months ago from Western New York

      Hi Megan, I would definitely recommend using Ivory soap and baking soda instead of Fels Naptha and washing soda. Give it a try - hopefully it won't bother your daughter's skin!

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      leahlefler 23 months ago from Western New York

      Andrea, that is a fantastic tip! I will have to try microwaving the soap instead of grating it. That would save a lot of time!

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      JayJay 23 months ago

      I don't cook this recipe. Just use equal amounts of A& H and Borax and grate Zote into it and stir.

      Pretty stored in mason jars with the crystals exposed.

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      michelle 23 months ago

      if you add essential oils, wont that leave oily spots on your clothes? I have tree tea essential oil...

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      leahlefler 23 months ago from Western New York

      JayJay, I know a lot of people love the powdered version of homemade laundry soap. It would be easier to store! We have difficulty finding Zote around our area (unless I order it online) - do you prefer it to Fels Naptha?

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      leahlefler 23 months ago from Western New York

      Michelle, I haven't had a problem with essential oils leaving oily spots on the clothes. I only add a few drops - another option would be to omit the essential oils and use a dryer sheet or other fabric softener if you want a scent.

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      Davida Ryan 22 months ago

      You can also make your own washing soda by cooking the baking soda in the oven for an hour. It works pretty well for me and it is cheaper than washing soda.

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      Lisa Seatle 22 months ago

      I have been using this recipe for the past 2 yrs. I love it and the fact that it has saved me a lot of money. I use a soup blender ( it is only used for this) and mix it after it has sat overnight. No lumps! It takes less time than make several months worth of detergent then to go to the store and buy it.

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      Amanda Mar 21 months ago

      Can you add oxyclean to the liquid so it's in there all the time?

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      leahlefler 19 months ago from Western New York

      That is a fantastic tip, Davida! What temperature do you set the oven to?

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      leahlefler 19 months ago from Western New York

      I have an immersion blender that helps keep my homemade detergent smooth, too, Lisa. I love it! It is one of the best kitchen tools I own! I agree with the time factor - shopping for laundry detergent takes more time than whipping up a batch of the homemade version!

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      leahlefler 19 months ago from Western New York

      If you add the oxyclean in advance, it will degrade into peroxide and washing soda - so there is no real advantage to adding it in advance. You can make your own oxyclean by mixing washing soda and hydrogen peroxide, but it is probably cheaper to buy a carton of oxyclean from the Dollar Tree.

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      adial 18 months ago

      My daughter is allergic to anything with a fragrance, can I use this detergent on her clothes? Basically I use All free and clear for her.

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      leahlefler 18 months ago from Western New York

      adial, if you are going to use a homemade laundry soap recipe, I would steer clear of the Fels-Naptha and use Castile soap as an alternative. This would be a much gentler alternative (the Fels-Naptha can be fairly harsh on sensitive skin)!

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      ZJones 16 months ago

      I bough a 10 gallon container and made the concentrate as this recipe calls for. Can I just fill it to the top the next day and have the mix ready to be used?

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      Jody W 15 months ago

      I wanted to add my 2 cents in here because I've made this recipe SEVERAL times and I seem to get different results. Here is what I've determined to help some of the issues, especially 'globbing'. when I heat the soap to melt it, make sure it DOESN'T BOIL. My last 2 batches I left the stove and came back to it boiled over... then the soap seems to gel/glob more when that happens. During the final mixing stage on the following day I add a very small container of regular laundry detergent (cheap stuff like store brand) and then use the paint mixer paddle on my cordless drill to mix it into the soap. It helps emulsify and bind everything together very well and helps prevent globbing. this is totally optional. I just really like the consistency better when I add it. Then I mix with the drill for several minutes and it gets really smooth. Also... I don't fill my 5 gallon bucket to the top..... closer to 3/4. Then it's just more concentrated and I use a little less when added it to the washer. I still use an oxi tab when doing whites and vinegar in the rinse container for darks. But I love making my own detergent!

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      Kat 14 months ago

      How many bars of ivory soap do I grate?

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      dawn parris 8 months ago

      I LOVE all the homemade laundry detergents and have been using the Laundry Sauce recipe for a few months. Clothes are fresh and bright, so clean! I gave the powdered version a try, and recently made a 5 gallon bucket of the Duggar recipe. I just LOVE making it, ha. The powdered is ok, but I prefer to use it with things that I am washing in HOT water. It seems to dissolve better in hot. For warm or cool washing, I use the sauce (in quart jar). Anyway, back to the 5 gallon bucket of detergent...It turned out great:gloppy like it is supposed to. I tried it on my husbands work shirts (sweaty, smelly, yucky) and find that it doesn't do the job that the cream version does. Towels and not-so-dirty things are fine washed in it. Guess I could use more in each wash, but that is defeating my Save $ purpose. I will use it up on the lightly soiled things in my baskets, but will stick to the jarred stuff for the work shirts. I wonder if it would help to rub a little in the shirts (nasty arm-it area) and let it sit a while? Gonna try! But all-in-all a good recipe, and I will make it again if only to launder sheets and towels. Thanks for the post.

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      Jean Rigdon 8 months ago

      I have been making the Duggar Liquid Laundry Detergent for years now. Recently someone posted that you could use the undiluted sauce as a pretreater. I have not had a chance to try it but as well as the soap works it should work well as a pretreater. My sister is trying to get on the Frugal Train and I have been talking about this for years. She was going to Flea Market to buy a name brand that was a Good Price and I told her to not do it. We could make 10 gallons for way less. She brought her 5 gallon bucket with her and I had the ingredients. WE followed the original recipe. I still had Borax and Washing Soda left over from the previous makings but I figured out the price per ounce . I cost us $1.98 to make the whole batch, 5 gallons each. I have often heard that a lot of things that are free are not valued, so I made her pay for half. LOL. It is not that I needed that dollar but I wanted her to remember how cheap it was. I think she will remember handing over that dollar. On the Skin sensitivity issue, I am very sensitive to fragrances I have always used the Fels Naptha because I could not find the Zote that some recommended.

      I have a question. Fels Naptha comes in a 5 oz bar and Zote is a like a 17 oz bar. Would I use 1/3 of a bar of Zote or what would I do to use it?

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      Therese Bennett 7 months ago

      I've made this soap for years and I prefer it to detergent. My whites get brighter and my clothes don't get worn out from washing. I bought a paint stir attachment for my drill to mix the last batch with and it makes the soap a lot creamier and easier to pour.

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      Lisa 7 months ago

      How many bars of Ivory soap would you use?

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      kressg23 4 months ago

      I'm getting a brand new 5.3 cubic ft top-load HE washer tomorrow. I've been using this detergent for a while and love it. In my old front-loader, I put the detergent right in the drum on top of the dirty clothes. Is it safe to put it in the soap dispenser of my new washer? Thanks in advance.

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      leahlefler 2 months ago from Western New York

      Hi Lisa - I usually use one bar of Ivory soap, grated and melted.

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      leahlefler 2 months ago from Western New York

      That is a fantastic idea, Therese! I will have to try using our paint stir attachment to help homogenize the detergent. I really do like using the laundry soap - it is a fraction of the cost of commercial laundry detergent and works well!

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      leahlefler 2 months ago from Western New York

      I have made the laundry soap out of Ivory and Fels Naptha, but have not made it from Zote yet, Jean. I have the same situation - it is difficult to find Zote in the store. I would use the same amount of Zote as Fels Naptha (I would cut the 17 oz. bar into thirds). The cost is really the best part of homemade laundry soap - I haven't been able to find any commercial detergent that is as effective for such a low price! Fels Naptha has the advantage of washing out poison ivy oils, too, so that has been a big benefit for my two boys who play in the woods.

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      leahlefler 2 months ago from Western New York

      I will have to try the cream version, Dawn! I love this recipe but I also like experimenting. I found the same issue with the powder detergents - they work well, but need hot water to dissolve complete in my washing machine. I really love the fact that homemade laundry soap is made in a reusable bucket and we aren't sending the plastic commercial detergent bottles to the landfill or recycling center.

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      leahlefler 2 months ago from Western New York

      Hi Kat, I usually use one bar of Ivory soap for the recipe.

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      leahlefler 2 months ago from Western New York

      Thank you for these tips, Jody! I will have to try them to help keep my laundry soap from getting "gloppy!" A few people have mentioned using the paint stirrer on a drill - I am definitely using one the next time I make this recipe! I will definitely make sure my soap doesn't boil - I typically only heat it to melting, but have occasionally walked away for a second too long and found it boiling when I returned! I also love making my own laundry detergent - I love the way it is better for the environment, less expensive than the commercial varieties, and is very effective at cleaning our clothes!

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      leahlefler 2 months ago from Western New York

      You may certainly do this, ZJones - you can pre-dilute it. I usually leave mine concentrated because I can move a 5 gallon bucket around my laundry room, but cannot lift the 10 gallon bucket when full. If you don't mind leaving the bucket in one place (or have a lot of strength), then go with the 10 gallon bucket!

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      Steph 7 weeks ago

      I just made this last night and used ivory soap. I looked at other recipes and they say they get a geletin layer on the top which I did not get does that affect the mixture

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