Two Letters Re: Homemade Soap Making Instructions

Mr. Rawles,
I’ve been making my own laundry soap for a couple of years now and I’ve found that Zote works a little better than Fels Naptha or Ivory.  Our whites have been whiter since we switched from Fels Naptha to Zote.  I estimate that I’ve spent perhaps just s $15 on laundry supplies over the past two years.  That’s much better than $10 to $12 for a bottle of liquid detergent!

Keep up the good work and God bless your efforts. – Emily S.

Mr. Rawles,
I would like to add to the suggested recipe for laundry detergent presented by JDC in Mississippi.  Having used this same recipe for several years, I can attest to its effectiveness for laundry.  However, I have found a couple of improvements necessary for optimal cleaning.

I found the homemade detergent to leave my whites looking dingy over time.  Also, unlike commercial detergents, this one causes towels to develop an unpleasant odor.  An informal survey of friends who also use this recipe indicated this problem existed for all of us, regardless of the water source or the bar soap used.  Several of us were on municipal water and several use well water.  Different bar soaps were also used.  Some used essential oils, others did not.  We all experienced the same dingy whites and stinky towels. 

Through trial and error, we found a solution that works.  After making the batch of detergent, I store it in a closed 5-gallon bucket and from this bucket, I fill an old detergent bottle for use.  Before adding the detergent to the bottle, I pour in ½ cup of blue-colored liquid commercial laundry detergent.  This adds enough bluing to keep the whites from turning brownish-gray and adds enough fragrance to keep the towels from souring.  My personal preference is the All brand, but others have found success with Tide or Wisk. 

Also, I’ll offer a word of caution based on a lesson I learned the hard way.  For this project, the bucket should be new.  The detergent will absorb odors from the plastic container.  I made the mistake of making my first batch in a thoroughly cleaned pickle bucket that had no discernible odor from its prior contents.  As the weeks progressed, the detergent drew out the odors from the plastic, causing the laundry to smell of pickles.  With kindest regards, – Virginia Mama