If you are a soap maker, you have at some point come across the controversy of soaps verses detergents. Many see soap as a natural product whereas detergents are synthetic creations coming from a lab. In reality, both soaps and detergents are synthetic products that take naturally occurring chemicals and synthesize them into a new product. The big difference for soapers is that soap is easy to make at home while detergent is far too complex. Soap and detergent, while both good at cleaning, have different properties when placed in different environments. The biggest difference is that when soap is placed in hard water or an acidic solution, it forms a scum that is difficult to get out of clothes (if using for washing). Detergent does not suffer from this problem. The other major difference is that detergent works as efficiently in cold water as in warm. It is really these two reasons that detergent has taken over the laundry soap business.
The basic ingredients you will need to make your own laundry soap are:
- 3 oz soap (preferably homemade)
- half a cup washing soda
- half a cup borax
Soap: You really can use any bar of soap you like for this. I tend to like to use a simple soap that is made of 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 palm oil and 1/3 coconut oil that has been made with very little superfat discount. You will need to use about 3-4 oz of soap for this recipe.
Washing Soda: The biggest supplier of washing soda is Arm and Hammer. Because of this you might get confused between this product and their baking soda product. They are not the same! Washing soda is sodium carbonate whereas baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. This powder will give your soap a boost in removing dirt and odors.
Borax: This ingredient is a naturally occurring mineral that helps remove various forms of oils and dirts as well as deodorizing the laundry. Borax is just another name for sodium borate and can be found in most grocery stores in the laundry aisle.
The process of putting these ingredients together is not very time consuming and is well worth the cost savings per load of laundry (it costs about a penny a load). Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use half a cup per load. You now have homemade laundry soap!
When you use this soap, you will notice it does not act like laundry detergent when cleaning your clothes. The homemade soap will be a little thiner of a gel than detergent and you will not notice as many soap bubbles when washing. This is perfectly natural and in fact, the bubbles do not indicate any type of cleaning properties. Now enjoy your freedom from the laundry detergent companies!