Since I have been asked in person, via email, and via a blog comment (hi, Kathy!!) to share my recipe for liquid laundry soap, here it is.
When my friend Kim shared a recipe for liquid laundry soap with me, my first thought was "where am I going to store TEN GALLONS of laundry soap?!?!" You may recall that Quirky Cottage is small. I may not have mentioned that it has no closets. Ten gallons. Seriously?
My solution is to make double-strength half-batches, so I only have to store 2 1/2 gallons at a time! I dispense mine from a drink container with a spigot (these come in pretty colors every summer in the picnic aisle!), but empty laundry detergent bottles work just fine. I store the remaining laundry soap in big gallon jars, which add enough charm to my laundry area that I don't mind seeing them.
This recipe is for 5 gallons of double-strength laundry detergent. It is a modification and compilation of two recipes given to me by friends, without any source. Thank you, mystery recipe originator, for saving me a bundle of cash :-)!
Double-Strength Liquid Laundry Detergent
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
Grate soap and melt in saucepan with 4 cups water. Stir over medium-low heat until completely melted. Your kitchen will smell very clean and definitely soapy while the soap melts, so don't try doing this while you are cooking dinner.
Fill a 5-gallon bucket half-full of hot tap water. Stir in washing soda, borax, and melted soap. Stir thoroughly to mix well and completely dissolve powders. Fill the bucket to the top with hot water, and stir well. Then pour into your storage containers (if desired) and let sit overnight to thicken; it will gel. I have used this immediately after making it, without letting it sit overnight to gel, and it worked just fine.
Stir or shake before using. Since it gels between uses, store in small enough containers to easily shake, or something into which you can fit a stirrer.
Use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup per large load. If you have hard water, you may need slightly more per load. If you have soft water, you may need less per load. This is a no-suds cleaner, which is slightly disconcerting at first, if you are used to mounds of soapy bubbles in your washer :-).
YIELD: 5 gallons of laundry soap. 240-320 loads at 1/4 c - 1/3 c per load.
You can use any bar soap, but Fels Naptha works exceptionally well, as it is a laundry bar and stain remover. I have used Zest, Coast, and Dial.
Fels Naptha is available in the laundry aisle of Walmart, and some HEBs in my area, for $1.
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda is in the laundry aisle, about $3.15 for a 55 oz box.
20 Mule Team Borax is in the laundry aisle, about $3.50 for a 76 oz box.
I haven't worked out the cost per batch, but I bought my borax and washing soda in May 2011, and just bought washing soda again in August 2013. I still have 2/3 box of borax. Plus, I use both the borax and the washing soda for other cleaning tasks occasionally.
In 2011-2012 I did 2-3 loads daily. Since March 2013, I do 1-2 loads daily. Very cost effective laundry soap!!
Start with the smaller amount of laundry soap. Using too much soap will leave a residue in your clothing fibers.
If you notice grime on your agitator or on the basin of your washer above the water line, increase the amount of laundry soap.
This laundry soap makes a great spot remover. Check for colorfastness when using it as a pre-treatment, of course.
And that's it! Our clothes smell fresh and clean, and my child with sensitive skin has had no reactions to this laundry soap. I believe that is because without suds, it rinses completely out and doesn't leave any residue on our clothes.