About 6 or 7 years ago I stumbled onto a laundry detergent recipe that changed our lives. I have been using this and nothing else since then. When my son was in welding school it even helped clean his dingy, greasy clothes (it wasn't perfect, I don't think anything could clean them totally).
I have adapted this recipe from the original found at White Silk Purse. This recipe makes 5 quarts of concentrate, which will be enough for over 300 loads of laundry!
2 bars Fels Naptha or Dr Bronner's castile soap BAR (or whatever soap you choose, I can't guarantee it will turn out)
2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (Not baking soda)
6 1/2 - 7 cups of hot water (more water if needed, I have only needed more to make exactly 5 quarts)
5 wide mouth mason (canning) jars with lids
In a large stock pot or similar size pot, heat water. Grate the Fels Napatha. If you have a food processor this works great with the shred attachment. Cut the bars so they fit into the tube of your processor. Otherwise, a box grater is fine, you will build some muscles. lol
Add soap to the heated water, and stir. A LOT until melted. Be very careful not to let it boil because it can become quite the mess, trust me. If this is taking too long to melt, which it always has for me (over 15 minutes), I use my immersion blender to help speed things up. Or I keep the heat low and walk away while checking and stirring frequently to make sure it's melting and not out of control. If using the immersion blender, be careful! It can spray hot, soapy water at you. I only bring this out if it isn't melting after 45 minutes.
When finally melted, remove from heat. Add Borax and Washing Soda. This is where your immersion blender is AMAZING. It helps to dissolve the granules and give it a nice "paste" quality.
Pour the liquid equally into 5 quart jars. Add enough water to bring the paste to the “shoulders” (just under the neck where it starts to bow out) of the jar. This will leave about 1 ½ - 2 inches of headspace. Add lids and let sit for at 8 hours or overnight. EDITED TO ADD: Leave sit for a full 24 hours. The last batch I made separated since I didn't wait long enough. Not a big deal, I just had to re-blend.
Sometimes, the soap portion will separate from the water. This is normal. You may even get crystals at the bottom. Again, normal. It will all blend nicely.
The next part I like to do in the sink. Unscrew the lid with the jar in the sink and use your immersion blender to "whip" the soap to combine with the water in the jar. This takes practice not to get it EVERYWHERE. Go slow. By the 3rd jar you will be a pro! If you don't have an immersion blender, a blender or hand-held mixer will do. It's just another step and a lot more clean up. I was doing it this way until I got this brilliant idea to add the immersion blender. If using a blender or mixer, take a butter knife a cut through the solid portion of the soap to help get it out easier. Add to the blender or mixing bowl and mix until blended.
Your end result will be something like thick whipped cream or potatoes. It may get a little firmer as it sits or even separate a little on the bottom over time. That's ok. Sometimes mine does, most of the time it doesn't. I just use my long spoon to stir it up.
If you are in a constant hurry like me, and a little messy you will need to clean up the bottles before you put on your lids. Use 1 tablespoon in each wash load.
A years worth of detergent cost about $15. It took some time but was very worth it!
* Get a long sundae type spoon to get the soap out of the jar, it's much easier.
* Guestimate a tablespoon, it doesn't have to be perfect.
* Vinegar makes a great fabric softener to this detergent. Add it to your rinse cycle like you would any softener.
* The bar soap is what will give you the paste. If you use liquid soap, it may not set.
* Vomit or campfire smell is not generally removed by this detergent with the first laundering. I will wash those clothes separate, sometimes twice.
* If you have an HE washer with a front detergent dispenser, break up the detergent in the dispenser or it may get stuck. I just use my finger or back of the spoon to smash it around a little.
* I find Fels Naptha at Wal-Mart, along with the other ingredients.
* Perfectly safe for HE machines, there are no suds.
* I have found we don't get much lint from each load anymore or have the coating of soap on our clothes.
* Please don't add essential oils to your recipe. They are not necessary and have no real value.
If you have any questions, please send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a wonderful day!
Love and light,