I recently got a chance to try another DIY project I've had on my list for awhile...laundry soap!! :) It's pretty simple and inexpensive. The laundry soap has to sit overnight so I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I will let you know how it works once I try it! Here's the recipe if any of you want to try it yourself.
1 bar Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT regular baking soda!!)
1 cup (1/2 cup in the original recipe) Mule Team Borax
5 gallon bucket and lid
1 gallon container
It's the same recipe the Duggars use, only I added an extra half cup of borax since we have hard water. I found all the ingredients in the laundry section at Walmart. I threw away my receipt so I can't remember the exact amounts I paid, but I can get pretty close...the Fels-Naptha bar was $0.97, and the washing soda and borax were each a little over $3 per box. I also bought the 5 gallon bucket and lid at Walmart for $1.17. I measured out all of the soda and borax in the boxes to see exactly how much each load cost....1 box of washing soda will make 6 batches of soap, and 1 box of borax will make 9.5 batches of soap (or 19 if you only use 1/2 cup). Since I couldn't remember the exact amounts I just got as close as I could....I figured it costs just under $2 to make one batch (which winds up being 10 gallons) of soap, and if you use 5/8 cups of soap per load of laundry it should wash 256 loads of laundry!! The soap for each load should only cost about $0.007 (yes, that IS less than $0.01 per load)!!!! SWEET!!! :) MUCH cheaper than store-bought!!!
First, grate the bar of Fels-Naptha using the largest holes on a cheese grater. Be careful not to grate your fingers....and since this looks for all the world like cheddar cheese and you're using a cheese grater, make SURE your little one (who LOVES cheese!!!) does NOT eat it!!! :) We had a close call but the smell slowed her down. Haha. :)
Put 4 cups of hot water into a pan and add the grated soap.
Cook over medium heat, stirring. I read somewhere not to boil it because if you do it may crystallize. Cook until all the soap is dissolved so you don't wind up with lumps in your finished product. I had a little helper. :)
By the time all the soap is dissolved it will be a little foamy.
Fill your 5 gallon bucket half full with hot water. Add the cooked soap, washing soda, and borax. Stir until everything is dissolved and smooth. Then fill the bucket to the top with hot water (I had already taken some out when I took this picture). Put the lid on the bucket and let it sit overnight...it should thicken/gel some.
When you're ready to use it (mine hasn't had time to gel since I just did it this morning) put 8 cups of the soap into your 1 gallon container (I bought a gallon of orange juice awhile back because it came in the perfect container for my soap project!! :) and then add 8 cups of water (this is where you wind up with 10 gallons....you only make 5 gallons of the soap, but when you use it you put half soap and half water in your container). It will separate, so shake the jug well before each use. :)
After using the laundry soap on one of the toughest loads I could think of (dirty "farmer" jeans and kitchen towels!! Haha...) I am very happy with how it worked!! The clothes really didn't smell (good or bad) at all when they were done but I usually use a good smelling fabric softener so it doesn't matter if the soap makes the clothes smell good or not. Everything came out clean and soft! One of the projects on my "to try" list is homemade fabric softener...but I want to use up the store-bought stuff I have first. :) If you're worried that this soap won't be strong enough, I would just suggest using it without add the extra 5 gallons of water (just fill up your jug from the 5-gallon bucket, and don't add the extra water). Anyway, just wanted to let you know how the soap performed!