6/27/13

No-grate homemade liquid laundry detergent


A few weeks ago, I got a hankering to make liquid laundry soap. I'm not sure why, because I've been fairly committed to making powdered soap for quite some time. 

I found a big bar of pink Zote soap in my stash. It felt so soft that I wondered whether I could melt it without grating.

The answer is yes!

My second question after reading some tutorials on making liquid laundry soap was whether I could do it without using a five-gallon bucket.

The answer is yes!

Am I lazy?

The answer is yes!

Here is what I did. And if you would like to download these instructions in a printable format (along with labels), you can get them here.


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How to make no-grate homemade liquid laundry detergent


Ingredients

• 1 bar Zote laundry soap (14 ounces)
• 2 cups borax
• 2 cups washing soda
• Water


Materials

• Your largest non-reactive cooking pot, at least 6 quarts or up to 20 quarts (a canner works well)
• A five-gallon bucket, if your cooking pot or canner holds less than five gallons (20 quarts)
• Long-handled spoon
• Something to stir the mixture in your five gallon bucket, if you’re using one, such as a broom handle
• Pitcher
• Stick blender (optional)
• Canning jars and lids (up to 18)
• Gallon jugs (up to 18)


Directions

1. Get out your biggest pot. I used my stainless steel canner, which holds five gallons. If you don’t have a pot that big, use your biggest (at least 6 quarts) and transfer the mixture later to a five-gallon bucket. (If you have a glass-top stove, consider reading this before you start.)


2. Toss a whole bar of Zote soap into the pot. (You could certainly try this with Fels-Naptha if that's what you have. I would recommend using 2 bars, as they're smaller.) Add 2 quarts water and bring to a simmer. Stir periodically, and the soap will start to melt.


3. Monitor until soap melts completely, about 40 minutes. If you want to hurry it along near the end, you can mix it up with your stick blender once the remainder of the soap is very melty and translucent.

4. Add 2 more quarts water and bring to a simmer.


5. Add 2 cups each borax and washing soda. Stir until completely combined.



6. Remove from heat. If your pot holds less than five gallons, transfer the mixture to your five-gallon bucket now.

7. Keep adding water until your pot or bucket is nearly full, to a total of about 4.5 gallons. Mix well.


8. You have two options now: you can let it cool overnight, or you can put it into jars and jugs now. If you let it cool overnight, it will gel up quite a lot. It will be easy to get into jars, but impossible to get into jugs unless you reheat it.

9. To store concentrate, divide into widemouthed containers (quart jars work well, and a canning funnel helps). Cover and label. (Always label with the ingredients! It comes in handy if your kids ever get into it and you have to call poison control . . .)


10. To prepare laundry soap, mix three parts water with one part hot, melted concentrate. Shake gently to combine. Label. 


P.S. For information on what all these ingredients do, and on tweaking the ingredients to meet your specific laundry needs, look here.

64 comments:

  1. Huh. I bet the house smelled nice.

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  2. do you know if it separates after being stored?

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    Replies
    1. The concentrate doesn't really separate. After you mix it up with water, it separates a little, and sometimes there are thicker chunky spots. I just shake it up before I put it in the machine.

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  3. how much do you put in the washer for an average load of laundry?

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    1. I never measure, but I'd guess I use around 1/2 cup in my front-loader.

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    2. So this is safe for a front loader? My friend has one and I was looking for her. I usually make powder for me but might try this next time. Also, about how long does this mixture last you?

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    3. I use it in mine, and I have used homemade detergent in my front loader for years with no problems.

      This is my first time using this recipe, but I'm going to guess that my 16 quarts of concentrate (that will make 16 gallons of detergent) will last me a year, if not longer.

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  4. HE friendly?

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    1. I have been using homemade detergent (including this recipe) in my HE machine for years and I have never had any problems.

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  5. I use a top loader so I don't know if it would be an issue with a front loader, but I am a little lazier still. ;) After mixing all that in my 6 quart pan I let it cool enough to start to get firm on top then take a mixer to it until it is the consistency of butter. All you need is a TBSP. per load. I like it just because I don't have to have so many bottles of detergent sitting around.

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    1. Charity, I am thinking the same thing - if it's mixed up as a concentrate, do you *have* to mix with water or can you just dump a Tbsp concentrate in washer as it fills? This works well for you? (And do you have to mix it in the mixer?)

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    2. I don't think it would be a problem in a top loader. I wouldn't recommend it in a top loader because it could clog the dispenser.

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    3. Do you mean that you would not recommend it in a front loader?

      J in VA

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    4. Yes, that's what I meant!

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  6. I've read a ton of tutorials on this and have been interested. I use this exact recipe, before boiling with water, for my powder detergent. Think I could just take 1/5 of that mixture and add it to a gallon of boiling water for one gallon of detergent? I don't have 5 gallon containers.

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    Replies
    1. It sounds like a great idea. I hope you'll let me know how it turns out if you try it.

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  7. Also, Wal-mart carries Pre-Grated/Shaved Zote Soap Flakes in a box on the laundry soap aisle... Each Box is the equivalent of 2 bars of Zote Soap!... 40 minutes seems like a long time to wait for soap to melt down... I've got 3 kids and don't have 40 minutes to spend on detergent making... so, the soap flakes work best for me in a rush... I'm glad to know that there is a way to melt down the bars of soap as well... I've got a bar left over I need to do something with!... Have used this detergent recipe for a couple of years now and it has saved us quite a bit of money... thanks for sharing :)

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    Replies
    1. Wow, I never knew! Thanks for the heads up; I'll have to look for those next time I'm out.

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  8. I read somewhere that zote and some of the other soaps leave a film and I've noticed that NONE of my dishtowels or kitchen washcloths absorb any liquid at all. Has anyone had a similar problem? I started with the 5 gallon bucket method; tried the 'mayo' whipped version and am currently trying a dawn dishwashing liquid instead of zote soap version (I used 1/4 cup dawn with 1/2 cup each borax and washing soda in a gallon jug).

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    Replies
    1. I use vinegar in the rinse cycle, and I believe that helps to combat any scum that may be left behind. I haven't had this problem with my towels, except with a few of my cheaper kitchen linens which I believe aren't 100% cotton.

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    2. Try using your extra rinse cycle in the wash along wiht using white vinegar. White vinegar works great as a natural bleaching agent and fabric/water softner. I buy it by the gallon cause I use in the dishwasher as well to fight hard water...also to clean with. I have severe asthma and can use vinegar to clean with without having problems.

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  9. I use my homemade lye soap and do this. Of course I grate it first or it takes forever to melt. So if you make your own lye soap...

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  10. Per Heidi Reeves, via EHow:
    Washing soda, or sodium carbonate, is a salt with many useful applications. According to the Mineral Information Institute, it works as a water softener, and it's stain-removing capabilities make it an important component in laundry detergents. Dyers use washing soda as a fixing agent to help cloth absorb and retain dye, and paper makers use the salt to aid in the breakdown of plant fibers.

    Although washing soda is not always easy to find, you can find baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, at any grocery store. When you expose baking soda to high heat over an extended period of time, it loses water and carbon dioxide and becomes washing soda.

    For instructions:
    http://www.ehow.com/how_5598724_make-washing-soda-baking-soda.html

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  11. Is this stuff okay to wash baby clothes with? Do you think it will irritate 10 month old baby skin?? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. This is about as mild as it comes. If you're worried, find some natural, unscented soap to use in place of the Zote. Zote is pretty good, though. It is actual soap, and the only scent is a mild citronella. I am very sensitive to smells, and I can't detect any scent on my clean clothes.

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  12. I used this when my now 3 year old was itty bitty & she also had a mild case of eczema, we never had any problems. My hubby also has psoriasis & this is safe for his skin. By the way, we get our five gallon buckets for free (use a lot for storage). You can just ask your grocery stores bakery department for them, they throw them out so they never seem to mind must handing them over :)

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  13. I always make up washing powder and have been doing so for the last few years but felt inspired to make some washing liquid up tonight. The house smells divine.

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  14. Thanks This works great for us. I am featuring it on my blog. Will send you the link with our completed project when posted. You can email me begintocraft@gmail.com

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  15. Just started melting my soap. This is my second batch of homemade laundry soap and while the recipe is about the same, I am using your "cheats" such as no grating! I'm also trying a new soap bar called Librio (I think) its the Mexican version of Zote.

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  16. Oh my...... started making my laundry soup over summer. Powder 1st, liquid 2nd, my 2nd batch I slightly altered the recipe for 5 gallon a little, I couldn't find the washing soup so used more borax and baking soda. I was still happy with the results!
    This time I did it with the washing soap and decided to double my batch! Stupid idea! Because I didn't use the washing soda the last batch......
    I didn't know how much it was going to grow or expand!!! Needless to say, it was growing and growing we started making a mess filling pots with all the excess over flow..... it was soooo funny..... and 6 containers later ... had to share my latest experience! Lol

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  17. I'm making this right now, it smells wonderful ! But i have a question: I do not have a 6 gallon pot. I'm melting my soap with 2 quarts of water. then adding the dry ingredients and add it later to the 5 gallon bucket. do I still add more water from step 10 when I transfer to my bottles ???? ""step -10. To prepare laundry soap, mix three parts water with one part hot, melted concentrate. Shake gently to combine. Label. "" THANKS :)

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    Replies
    1. If you have a top-loading washing machine, you could probably skip adding the water and just use a small amount of concentrate. I have a front-loader, and the detergent dispenser doesn't do well with gels, so I add even more water when I mix it up in bottles. I know it sounds silly to add so much water, but you have to in order to make it pourable.

      I hope that answers your question!

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  18. Can this be made without borax - what would you substitute?

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    1. I've never tried, so I'm not sure what would work. Good luck!

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  19. I am in Scotland and I am planning on trying this. I have a front loader, most machines here are front loaders, and currently use a gel 'liquid' detergent with a cup dispenser. I don't have space to store lots of containers so planned on using it concentrated, either in the dispenser or straight into the machine on the clothes. Do you think this would work?

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    Replies
    1. I think it would work if you put it straight on the clothes. I'd be hesitant to put it into the dispenser because it's so thick.

      Keeping it concentrated saves so much space! I only keep two gallons mixed up at a time, and I store the rest in jars.

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  20. Can I substitute the Zote for a bar of castile soap?

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    1. I think that would probably work. Just keep in mind that a bar of Zote is huge (14 oz.), so check the weight of your soap and use 2-3 bars or cut the recipe in half.

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  21. Can I substitute Liquid castile soap? I'm not sure how much would be the same as 1 bar.

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    1. I think that would work just fine. You might try matching the weight of the Zote bar, about 14. oz. I'm guessing it won't gel as much though; you might stop adding water if it looks watery. Let us know if you try it!

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  22. that is what I was wondering I have a recipe for grated castile and I wondered how to convert that recipe to using liquid castile

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  23. Do you know if this works in High Efficiency washing machines? I have a front loading HE washer, so would love to know if it can work. Thanks!

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  24. I purchased all the ingredients for this recipe and I'm curious if I can place the concentrate directly in my old detergent bottles, then add water to those? Vs. placing in a large 5 gal bucket and waiting till the next day to place the concentrate in the bottles. If I can place it directly into my old detergent bottles, what is the ratio of concentrate to water per oz.?

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    1. That's a great idea Shayna! Three parts water to one part concentrate, so fill the bottles about 1/4 full of detergent, then fill the rest with water and shake well.

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  25. HI Dianna, this is probably a dumb question but for some reason I'm not wrapping my head around this. Does this recipe actually make 10 gallons with the 5 gallons (4.5) being the concentrate or is the 5 gallon total? I have batch in my kitchen trash can right now cooling. (washed very well beforehand, ha) Thanks so much.

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    1. Not a dumb question! This should make 5-ish gallons of concentrate. Each quart of concentrate makes a gallon of detergent, so you should have about 20 gallons of detergent when you're done! That's why I stored my concentrate in quart jars and mixed it up as needed, because I didn't have room for all that!

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  26. Thanks Dianna for replying back so quickly. Guess, I better come with some quick storage. LOL!

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  27. I use a powdered detergent to wash and am looking for a liquid to spot clean/treat clothes with stains. Before I started using homemade I would use tide/gain to treat. Do you think this will work? Or will it leave a greasy stain look of detergent? Appreciate your time :0)

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    1. I doubt that it would leave a grease mark, but I haven't tried it. I hope you will let me know how it works if you try it!

      Alternatively, I have a recipe for actual stain remover that works wonders and is much easier to make than this detergent. http://be-it-ever-so-humble.blogspot.com/2013/11/homemade-laundry-stain-remover.html

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  28. Thanks for your quick reply!

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  29. Have you used the pink zote with white clothes?

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    1. Yes, I use it every week and there's no problem. If you're concerned, you could look for white or blue Zote; I believe they make both.

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  30. I usually do large loads in my top loading washing machine. How much of the concentrate would you recommend using vs how much of the liquid (I tried 2 tablespoons of the concentrate and some of my husbands clothes were not quite as fresh smelling)

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    1. I'm not sure, since I have a different machine. You might try experimenting until you hit the right amount. If 2 tablespoons isn't enough, why not try 1/4 cup?

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  31. Is this recipe for the concentrate or the actual laundry soap?

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  32. Do you have a recipe that does not use Borax?

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    1. You do not need borax or washing soda. Just use Zote.

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    2. You do not need to use borax or washing soda. Just use the Zote. Works great. The borax and soda are brighteners. They cause your clothes to fade.

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    3. What does this do to the pot you melted the soap in? Is it hard to get the residue out?

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    4. It made it really clean. :) You might have to scrub a bit, but it did not damage my stainless steel pot. I might avoid using a dull aluminum pot though.

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