What you need:
1 bar soap (Fels Naptha, Zote, and Ivory are the only brands I have seen in hundred of recipes. The stores in my area don’t carry Zote, but I heard the pink Zote has a wonderful scent)
2 cups Borax (20 Mule Team is a popular brand)
2 cups Super Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer) this is NOT the same as baking soda!
All of these items can be found on the laundry detergent aisle in your super market. I used to have to make a special trip to Kroger because they were the only ones I could get the Borax and Washing Soda from, but imagine my delight when Wal-Mart started carrying them! 🙂 Oh Happy Day! LOL
optional ADD INS: essential oil (in your favorite scent) I haven’t done this yet because I can’t get my family to agree on anything
1 grater – the smallest holes (I use my cheese grater.. don’t worry! It is soap! It washes off – IF I had a food processor I would use it.. but I don’t 🙂 )
boiler (some people call this a sauce pan.. whatever! you know what I mean- a pot with a handle)
wooden spoon (I don’t know if metal makes a difference.. this is just what I use, besides.. they come in packs of 5 for a dollar at any dollar store)
5 gallon bucket with a lid (I found one at a locally owned hardware store.. you can find them anywhere paint is sold- of course Walmart was out when I went there- wide range of prices, so shop around!) It needs a lid.. this is what you are storing your detergent in
empty laundry detergent bottles or soda bottles or milk jugs- cleaned thoroughly (these also need lids people.. I use empty laundry detergent bottles.. comes with the built in measure cup as a lid)
1. grate the soap
2. Dissolve the soap in approx 6 cups of hot water in your pot over medium heat. (I start with hot water so it won’t take as long to dissolve, by the way this means hot from the tap. I mention hot water again later and you can assume I mean the same thing) Stir constantly with your spoon until completely dissolved then turn off the heat. Soap soup is ready. The reason I don’t boil the water is because it makes the soap suds up A LOT and I just prefer not to have foam on top of my finished detergent 🙂
3. Measure out your Borax and Washing Soda (it is ok to put them in the same bowl, they won’t spontaneously combust or have a really cool chemical reaction as long as they are dry) Try to get out as many lumps as possible. It is really humid in Louisiana, so mine ‘brick’ up. I put it in a gallon size ziploc and use a drinking glass to press out the lumps.
4. Fill your bucket about half way with hot water. Grab your wooden spoon (again convenient because of the LONG handle). Stir in soap soup and the borax-washing soda. It doesn’t matter what order, but I have read that it causes small fizzing when put in certain ways. I personally haven’t seen any fizzing that would affect your detergent.. however, I usually add in the borax-washing soda to the water together and stir to dissolve before adding the soap soup. This is where you would add in your essential oil – about 20 drops, but it’s up to you
5. finished stirring? really good? okay… fill your bucket up the rest of the way with cold water (from the tap). I use my boiler from earlier to help get any soap left in it into that bucket.
6. Stir some more…. until you are satisfied you have mixed everything together (you know how when you make jello and you get to the step of adding cold water and you don’t stir it in good your jello comes out crazy when it is done? … think of the jello while stirring)
7. You can use immediately (I do.. esp since I usually wait til I run out to make more, sheesh)
8. Don’t forget to put the lid on for storage
Let it cool completely… usually overnight. It will gel, okay? Don’t worry.. it’s supposed to do that. Just mix it and funnel it into your bottles for easier use (PLEASE label all bottles for SAFETY purposes)
I use 1/2 cup per load of laundry. Be advised that even after you stir the detergent, it will gel again if it sits for several hours. I shake my laundry detergent bottle before I measure it out for the load.