Teresa Hunsaker, consumer educator with Utah State University Extension, shares a few tips and recipes.
GEL LAUNDRY SOAP
• 1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap.
• ½ cup washing soda
• ½ cup borax powder
• You will also need a small bucket (about 2-gallon size)
Grate the soap and put it in a saucepan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use ½ cup per load.
• The finished soap will not be a solid gel. It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an “egg noodle soup” look.
• The soap is a low-suds soap. So, if you don’t see suds, that is okay. Suds do not do the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap.
Optional: If you want your soap to have some sort of scent, you can scent this with ½ to 1 oz. of essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice. My favorite scent is orange essential oil.
POWDERED LAUNDRY DETERGENT
• 2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (finely grated – you could also try the other bar soap—Zote, etc.)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
• Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
• Use 2 tablespoons per full load.
Commonly Asked Questions:
Can these two be used on colored clothes as well as whites?
Yes, if you are careful…I have found that my bright colored cotton fabrics do seem to fade color faster with these detergents, to make them more mild for bright colors, back off the soap amount used in the original recipe.
How long do they store?
Months and months with no problem to the effectiveness—just like regular detergent.
Can they be used in front loading machines?
Yes, I have checked now with a number of washing machine manufacturers and they say “no problem” and you would use the amount the recipe recommends, not necessarily the among for high efficiency machines—but you will notice they are actually about the same.
If I make my own lye soap, can I use that in place of the Fels?
Yes. No change in amount, either.
Does it make a difference if I have hard or soft water?
If I have hard water use the amounts as listed, but if you have soft water you can back off the washing soda a little.