Karen deserves all the credit for this one. She started making her own laundry detergent quite a while back. Then she got my dad hooked, and her brother-in-law, and now so am I. It only took me this long because it can be somewhat difficult to track down a few of the ingredients. A few weeks ago my Dad sent me 3 bars of Fels-Naptha, a box of Borax, a box of washing soda, and Oxyclean.
I made up a triple batch right away. It is incredible! It is so concentrated that you only need a heaping two tablespoons per full load. It also removes stains better than the expensive Tide I usually use. It is 100% cleaners, with no filler. It smells great when you are washing clothes, it just smells clean- no perfumes.
I am not known for my math skills, but I do know that this is MUCH cheaper than purchased product...for a superior product. Once I fell in love with this, I immediately started tracking down sources. Through a tip with my sister's brother-in-law, I found that my local Ace Hardware (on Desiard, for you locals.) would order a case of 24 bars of Fels-Naptha for me for $1.29 a bar. The washing soda required me to go online. I ended up placing an order for a full case of Arm and Hammer Washing soda from buythecase.com. For $60 including shipping, I got 12 boxes of washing soda. That will make 66 batches of laundry detergent. So you are looking at less than $1 a batch for the washing soda.
Borax and Oxyclean are easy to find in most laundry aisles.
Now the original recipe calls for Oxyclean, which works wonderfully. However, Karen received a container of Eco Store's Pure Oxygen Whitener from a Nonnie Bear giveaway. It contains natural citrus oils in addition to the natural whiteners. This gives the laundry detergent a really nice clean smell. Now at $12 a container for 35.3 ounces plus shipping, it might up the total price a bit, or perhaps not. I really did not feel like figuring it out. :) However, you can easily just substitute the Oxyclean if you do not want to bother with finding the other. (The Pure Oxygen Whitener may be available at Whole Foods, unfortunately I do not have one nearby.)
* A food processor is extremely useful in the making of this recipe. I shred the Fels-Naptha with the shredder disk, than I dump out the shredded soap and put in the metal blade. I add half the soap (I do 3-bar batches) along with a cup or so of the other dry ingredients. The dry ingredients help it to process much finer. I process it until it is the texture of sand. It helps the mixture blend more smoothly, allowing for the ratios to stay correct. However, if you do not have a food processor you can hand grate the soap on a box grater, and then just mix together the detergent. I believe my dad hand grates the soap and then processes it in his mini-pro. They are only about $30-40.
(Karen and I usually make up 3 batches at a time. They fit perfectly in our cracker jar)
1 bar Fels-Naptha laundry soap
1 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Oxyclean or 1/3 cup Pure Oxygen Whitener
* (Please see the above paragraph if you do not have a food processor.)
1. In a large bowl mix together the washing soda, Borax, and the Oxyclean/Pure Oxygen Whitener.
2. Place your shredder disk in your food processor. Shred the bar of Fels-Naptha in the food processor. Remove the shredding disk. Place the metal blade in the fp bowl.
3. Add about 1/2 cup of the dry mixture into the fp bowl with the shredded soap. Process until it is the texture of sand.
4. Dump the soap mixture into the remaining dry mixture and combine thoroughly.
5. Use about 1 heaping 2-tablespoon scoop per full laundry load. ( I use a scoop that comes in the small Oxyclean container. Coffee scoops are also 2-tablespoons.) I make sure to put in the detergent first when the water is first filling. That way it can begin to dissolve.