Great, cheap, concentrated homemade laundry detergent for work clothes!

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by TooMuchClay, May 3, 2012.

  1. TooMuchClay

    TooMuchClay LawnSite Member
    from DE
    Messages: 80

    Actually we've been using this recipe for all our clothes for over 2 years. So its good for all laundry, and it saves lots of money compared with Tide, even though it is equally concentrated, or more so...... But compared with cheap laundry detergent, its about 3-4 times more concentrated!

    When I finally started working for myself, and no longer could depend on a uniform company to supply and wash my clothes, I discovered that my clothes werent getting very clean when I washed them.

    First problem was the detergent I was buying, it was whatever was on sale at the time! I never bought Tide cause it was always the most expensive. But I've since learned that it's the most expensive because its by far more concentrated than the cheap stuff!

    But before that, I did an experiment to figure out why my clothes werent getting clean. I filled the washer with clothes and water, and earlier on I added the detergent. The cheap detergent I was using called for 1 full capful(4 oz.) to a large load. But I always added 1.5 capfuls(6 oz.) just to be safe.

    So I let the washer agitate after putting in 1.5 caps of liquid detergent, then after a couple minutes, I stuck my arm in there to 'feel' the water to see if it had softened and felt slippery like it should. Well, it didnt, so I added another capful, then let it agitate again for a couple minutes, then stuck my hand in again, but it STILL didnt feel soapy and soft yet! Long story short, I had to add in 4.5 capfulls(18oz.) of detergent to get the water softened!

    From then on, I stopped buying the cheap crap! I went back to the grocery store, and this time I skipped the cheap stuff, I skipped the middle priced stuff, and I bought Tide next time.

    So next time I did laundry, I tried the same test again, and added just 1 capfull of Tide(4oz.) to a large load, let it agitate, then stuck my arm in and tested the water. Long story short again, with Tide it took between 1 - 1.5 capfulls(4-6oz.) to properly soften the laundry water. THATS why it costs more!

    But now, I discovered some do-it-yourself laundry detergent recipes online, and I finally tried them. Then after experimenting with ingredients, I came up with a great, very concentrated liquid laundry detergent that is completely home made, and costs about $6 for 2.5 gallons of detergent that it easily as concentrated as Tide, or more so! That much Tide(2.5 gallons) would cost about $55....

    The ingredients are: 1.3 4oz bars of Dove soap, or an equal amount of Fels Naptha bar soap, grated

    3.5 cups -Borax(Twenty Mule Team brand) Borax is a laundry booster

    3.5 cups-Arm and Hammer "Washing soda"(not baking soda, theres a difference, but they both come in yellow boxes) Washing soda is a laundry booster.

    2.5 gallons of clean water

    **Note: You should be able to find the Borax and/or the Washing soda right there in the laundry aisle next to other laundry boosters.

    The bar soap is grated then added to a pot with 1/2 gallon boiling water to melt it. Then you get a 4-5 gallon bucket, and pour the melted soap mixture into the bucket. Then slowly stir in the washing soda, then slowly stir in the Borax, then add 1 gallon of cool water. Then stir, stir, stir! Stir for 2 minutes or so as the soap starts to thicken. Then add the last gallon of cold water, and stir for another 2 minutes or so.

    Then put a lid on the bucket and let it sit, but go back every 30 minutes or so and stir for a minute or so. Do this 2 times or so. The stirring keeps the bar soap from clumping up, and makes it smooth. ITS IMPORTANT...

    Then just let it sit overnight to cool fully. Then stir again until smooth(about 1-2 minutes). Then pour 2 gallons of it into empty milk jugs, and pour the rest into an empty laundry detergent bottle to dispense it from.

    *Each time you pick up the bottle to pour it in the washing machine, shake it first to mix it a little.

    Use about 4-6oz per large load in a top loading machine, and 1/3-1/2 that amount in an efficient front loader. This is a non-sudsing formula, so its hard to add too much, and it wont overflow with suds if you do add too much....

    The great thing about that recipe is that it is almost 100% all natural, as both Borax and Washing soda are mined from above or under ground as naturally occurring minerals. The bar soap is just Sodium Hydroxide(lye) and vegetable fat, which has been used for hundreds of years..... There's nothing harsh or environmentally unfriendly about this detergent..:)

    It also seem to work as well as any detergent out there!:weightlifter:
  2. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,635

    Think Ill try it.
  3. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,491

    One big problem with your recipe. Lye is a corrosive alkaline chemical. You can seriously burn yourself if mishandled. Lye is not good for washing machines. Detergent makers have spent millions on R&D to make products that let your clothes and the color last longer. I have no time to make products that I can afford and not have to worry about their safety. I dont use liquids anymore, just the new paks. Gets motor oil and grease out no problem and colors stay bright. Maybe the Organic guys can use the info.:usflag:
  4. TooMuchClay

    TooMuchClay LawnSite Member
    from DE
    Messages: 80

    No dude, there isnt a problem with the recipe. People have been using bar soap for hundreds of years without their skin melting off! A little bar soap mixed with 2.5 gallons of water isnt a caustic mix. I dont think you read the OP closely, I didnt say to go and dump pure lye into your washing machine!

    Lye is corrosive if its in high concentration, but if its mixed in at a rate of about .00008% then its obviously not a problem to anything, let alone a washing machine!

    Were talking about hand and body bar soap here, and only 1.3 4oz bars of it mixed with 2.5 gallons of water, and each bar of soap has a lye content of about probably .5% or so, maybe even much less, so lets do the math.

    5oz of soap, of which only about .5%(or less) is lye = .02oz of lye, then dilute that with 2.5 gallons of water, and your concentration works out to be about .00008%....

    Not to mention the fact that laundry machines have been using sodium compounds like washing soda and borax for generations, with no problem, as well as soaps which are designed to be more basic on the ph scale, which is part of how they work.

    Lye is only caustic in concentration, just like any acid or base in concentration, but when any acid or base is extremely highly diluted, its no longer even close to being caustic....

    If the lye in Dove soap was concentrated enough to burn your skin, would they sell it as skin conditioning soap, with nobody having any problem with it for decades even though millions use it?

    MOST soap is made with a small percentage of lye, and always has been, but its diluted.

    Its just soap
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
  5. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,758

    Front loader machines require HE (low suds) style your recipe may only be good for a top loader. In fact, in our front loader warranty it clearly states that using anything other than HE will void the warranty.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Ok, well the "Washing Soda" is Sodium Carbonate, a.k.a. Soda Ash. In fact it's what they often use in taxidermy to remove flesh from bones. Lye is Sodium Hydroxide a.k.a. caustic soda.

    I think I'll leave the choice of laundry detergents to my in-house expert...the wife, as long as it's liquid and not powered...powered detergents are not recommended if you have a private septic system.
  7. TooMuchClay

    TooMuchClay LawnSite Member
    from DE
    Messages: 80

    LIke I mentioned in the OP, this recipe is pretty7 much non-sudsing. I've tried it while intentionally using too much of it, but it still didnt suds up.

    I know what you're talking about though, as there was one time about 6 years ago that my top loading washing machine in my house wasnt working, so before I bought a new one a week or so later, I had to go to the laundromat, and they had only front loaders. There were no specific instructions of how much detergent to use either, so I just poured in my usual 'dosage' of store bought detergent, and I used a little more than the label recommended.

    Now these washers had windows on the front so you could see the cycles. I'm looking at everyone else's machines running, and I could see their clothes spinning around through the window, but with my 2 machines, all I could see was a big wall of white suds! I had hoped that the rinse cycle would get rid of it, but it didnt, so I had to run it again to get rid of all the suds, but that was with store bought detergent, added at probably 4 times the proper rate, because there were no instructions on the machines for how much to use.

    ***NOTE: If you do try this recipe, dont try to add liquid or powdered Oxy Clean directly into the detergent bottle. Its perfectly OK to add it to your washing machine in addition to this detergent, but the reason it shouldnt be added directly into the detergent bottle, is that Oxy-Clean is made up of primarily hydrogen peroxide(O3). When you add either liquid or even powdered Oxy-Clean to detergent or water, or whatever, the oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide seems to come out of solution, it turns back into a gas, it expands and build ups pressure in the bottle. Then it will cause the bottle to overflow and you'll get detergent all over the place!

    I know that because I had seen Oxy clean in other store bought detergents, and I had some oxy clean at home, so I decided to add it to my detergent, but fortunately I left the bottle on the kitchen counter, so when it overflowed it didnt soak into anything. I even tried to mix powdered oxy clean, and liquid oxy clean into a spray bottle with water for general purpose home spot removal, but it overflowed too.

    I dont know how these companies are able to mix hydrogen peroxide into their products without the oxygen coming out of solution and forming a gas again, but they've found a way, however since I'm not a chemist, I dont know how the h*ll they do it!
  8. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,491

    Maybe becuase they are formulated in modern labs by chemists with PHD's. People shouldn't be playing Nutty Professor with household cleaning products.
  9. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    My wife got hooked into buying/selling Melaluca products.

    I will say, I was skeptical on the laundry detergent, especially when it calls for such a small amount for each load.

    I will say that the stuff works great and I don't feel like my cloth's are breaking down like they used to with the store bought brands.

    So, for any of you nay-sayers on the home-made recipe, you might want to check it out.


    THEGOLDPRO LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,222

    I would rather spend my free time relaxing not cooking home made laundry soap all night just to save a few bucks.

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