- One five gallon plastic bucket with a tight fitting lid. (Can be found at Walmart or Home Depot near the paint sections.)
- One bar of gentle soap (You can use Ivory, Dr. Bronner’s or any other non-beauty bar. In other words, no lotion in the soap! My Amish friends told me they use 1/3 of a bar of Fels-Naptha for their homemade soap. That’s a little harsher than I want to use on my allergy-prone babies, but there’s no doubt that’ll get dirt out of anything…)
- 1 cup Washing Soda (This is available in the laundry aisle at Walmart and my tiny small-town grocery store. I’m sure you can find it. If you don’t have luck, Amazon.com carries it.)
- 1/2 cup Borax (This is also available in laundry aisles and Amazon.com.)
- 4 cups warm water plus 4 gallons warm water, separated.
- Optional, 10-40 drops of essential oil of your choice (Strictly optional, folks. But shhhh… I used 35 drops of lavender essential oil. Don’t tell the menfolk.)
Grate the bar of soap on a metal cheese grater. Do not use a plastic cheese grater as plastic is more likely to absorb odors from the soap. Put into a stainless steel or glass saucepan on the stove with 4 cups of warm water. Heat while stirring until the soap is all dissolved. Set aside.
Put 4 gallons of warm water into the large bucket and thoroughly stir in the Borax and Washing Soda. When those are dissolved into the water, stir in the melted soap. Stir in the essential oil at this point if you are using it.
Allow the soap to sit, tightly covered, overnight.
The next morning you will find the soap to have a thick, gelatinous appearance. Use a long spoon to break it up and stir it. You will probably not be able to completely break up the lumps, but this is not a problem. This is now usable! Store tightly lidded for up to two months.*
*If you cannot use this quantity of laundry soap within two months, you can definitely reduce it. To make a much smaller batch: use 1/4 of a bar of soap, grated into 1 cup of warm water; 1/4 cup of washing soda, 1/8 cup of Borax, and 1 gallon of warm water. If you opt to use the essential oil, you would use between 3 and 10 drops in the micro-batch.
Use one cup (8 liquid ounces) of the laundry soap per load of laundry. As this soap does not create suds, it is acceptable for use in high-efficiency machines as well as being good for the standard top-loading machines.