No-Grate, Never-Ending Homemade Laundry Soap

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Do you make your own laundry soap? I'm working my way through some that I bought to get us through a busy season , but I really do like to make it – it saves SO much money.
That said, grating soap is a terrible way to spend an afternoon.
When I was more diligent about making laundry soap, I discovered a way to eliminate the grating process, saving a LOT of time and annoyance. Allow me to share!
no grating and you never run out of soap!!
You will need:
  • 2 buckets – Any kind with a lid will work. I've used ice cream buckets. To make the process of making your soap as easy peasy as can be, they should be able to handle hot water. You'll see why later…
  • Washing soda – Available near the laundry supplies at most stores. You can also make your own out of baking soda.
  • Borax – You'll find it near the laundry supplies at most stores.
  • Bar soap – Lots of people love Ivory soap for laundry. I use that or whatever handmade bar I have around.

So, here's what you need to do…

The process:

  • Drop a bar of soap, 1/2 cup of washing soda, and 1/2 cup of borax in each bucket.
  • Add just enough warm water to generously cover the bar of soap.
  • Walk away.

What? Okay, so you won't have your laundry soap yet, but if you plan ahead you can skip the grating and let water do the hard work for you. When you let the bar of soap soak in water for about a week, it gets reeeeeeealllly soft. You can mush it up with your hands or a potato masher or something. Then, you want to add about 10 cups of hot (very hot!) water to each bucket and stir it all up. Let it sit over night to thicken up – done!

Why 2 buckets?

I like to rotate through two buckets in order to be as lazy about planning and soap-mushing as possible.

  • When one bucket runs out of soap, I add the ingredients and a little water.
  • I mush the really-soft-by-now soap in the next bucket and add the hot water.
  • I wash a lot of clothes and run out of soap.
  • I add the ingredients to the empty bucket.
  • I mush the really-soft-by-now-soap in the next- Oh, you got it?
This process is awesome! There is always soap very close to ready and after the initial set up it never takes more than 10 minutes or so to mix up a batch (and most of that time is just boiling water… you could use really hot water from the tap if you wanted to and have laundry soap in THREE MINUTES FLAT!)
Your first batch might be a little grainy if you don't let it sit as long – but it will still clean your clothes. The best way to get this going would be if you let the buckets sit for a few weeks before making any soap. You really don't have to, though! It only takes a few days for the soap to get soft.
Some stuff you might be wondering:
  • How did you come up with such a breathtakingly brilliant idea? I, um, spaced out and left a bar of soap in some water for about a month and noticed how soft it got. 
  • Can you add essential oils to make this soap smell pretty? Sure! Though I don't – the smell doesn't seem to linger on the clothes anyway. If you want to try it, mix the oils in after the soap cools. If you want to scent your clothes, add a couple drops to 1/4 cup of vinegar and use it as fabric softener. 
  • How much of this soap should I use? I dunno. I use about 2 tablespoons for a regular load of clothes, but I am washing the clothes of 3 smelly boys. I think it also depends on the bar soap you decide to use – just experiment. 
  • The consistency is not what I was expecting – what should I do? Use it anyway! It's not a big deal. I love it when the soap turns out like jello, but it doesn't always. It doesn't seem to matter too much.
  • Is this laundry soap safe for cloth diapers? When I use Ivory soap, I love this laundry soap for cloth prefolds, but not for microfiber inserts. That might just be my issue, though – I have not been able to find anything that works well for microfiber inserts. They smell. Some handmade soaps aren't as good for diapers though, since they have more oils and stuff and seem to build up more quickly. If you are washing diapers, I would stick with Ivory soap.
So – there you have it: may you never grate a bar of soap or run out of laundry detergent again!

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Kylie Wiser is an herbalist specializing in skincare and women's health. She shares recipes and resources on Everblossom to help others live a more holistic lifestyle. She lives in Fargo, ND with her huge family and lots of houseplants.

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9 Responses

  1. eve

    how much should be used for a HE machine? i like using vinegar as a fabric softener

  2. Nahtasha

    Should this solution be diluted before use? I am new to this and have likely watched way too many YouTube videos on the subject, but have seen the gel that’s created be diluted in water and then use however much. Realizing that I could just go for it, I am just wanting to confirm that I haven’t missed something. Thanks!

  3. Eve

    hi!! do you mind giving the approx amount for a “bucket”? 5 gallon, two gallon?? help!

  4. Theresa

    Hi there. I’m so excited to try this — thanks for sharing it! Is there a reason not to use liquid castille soap instead of bar soap? Thanks!

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