As you can imagine, I've got lots of homemade soap lying around, so naturally I've begun to look for other uses for it beyond bathing. Thankfully, the Internet (and my friend Melissa) came to my rescue, and I found a recipe for homemade laundry soap. Of course you need a bar of soap for this, and when it comes to choosing which soap to use, I suggest my own. For this basic recipe, I used a round (i.e., 3 oz) bar of Plain Jane. It's unscented and uncolored, and seems like a nice soap to include in a basic recipe. I'll probably tweak the recipe and try some scented versions at some point, but what's listed below is a nice start.
The other cool thing about this is you get to use some old-school cleaning products like Fels Naptha, Borax, and washing soda. There's nothing like the weird look you get from a stock boy in a store when you ask for Borax... It's priceless; very similar to the look I get when people find out I make my own handmade soap. It can be a challenge to find some of these ingredients, but you should be able to find a grocery store that has most if not all of them.
So here's the ingredients list:
Homemade Laundry Soap
1 Bar of Fels Naptha
1 Bar or Round of Plain Jane
1/2 cup Oxy Clean
1 cup powdered laundry detergent (optional)
2 cups Borax
2 cups WASHING Soda - Yes, WASHING soda... since we're washing and not baking ;)
Start by grating the bars of soap (the Plain Jane and the Fels Naptha). I used the mighty KitchenAid 7-cup food processor with the grating attachment. The Fels Naptha is kind of hard, so it took a while. I'll probably use a hand grater for it next time. The Plain Jane soap is soft by comparison, so it went through without a problem. I suppose you could use a hand grater for it too, but the next step requires a food processor, so you're going to have it out anyway.
Next, you need to use the regular food processor chopping blade to blend the soaps together into a powder. Since I used a smaller food processor, I did it in two batches. Once it's a powder, it takes up a lot less space. Pulse the mixture for a short while to get everything going, and then switch the food processor to on until everything is blended well. Add the OxyClean and powdered detergent and blend some more. The powdered laundry detergent is optional - the laundry soap supposedly will work fine without it, but I like the smell of Tide with Downey, so I added it. My husband says that's cheating, but if you're a purist, you can certainly do without it.
Empty the mixture into a mixing bowl. I actually just used the container I'm storing the final product in, as it has extra space. Stir in the Borax and washing soda until it's mixed well, and dump the whole thing into a storage container. I'd recommend something that air tight, as powdered detergent can clump when exposed to moisture.
Use 1 TBSP (yep - TABLESPOON) for high efficiency machines, and 2 for standard machines.
So how does it work? Well, I dumped some of the homemade laundry soap into That 70's Washer (my washing machine is the exact same model as the one in Eric Foreman's basement in That 70's Show, except mine's white instead of avocado), started it up, loaded in my bed sheets, and when it was all over, they were nice and clean, and smelled great! I'll have to try it on some delicate stuff to see how it works in the gentle cycle.
Use this recipe at your own risk. I tried it, and it worked nicely, but I can't say how it's going to work with all the things you might try to wash with it. Also, we're talking about soaps and detergents here, but be careful - you don't really want to ingest it or get it in your eyes!