A short while ago [Donna](http://casafamiglia-thefamilyhouse.blogspot.com/) left a comment asking about tips to get the family grocery bill down. Making your own laundry soap is a great way to save a lot of money!
– 1 cup Lux flakes or 1 bar grated Sunlight soap
– 1/2 cup borax
– 1/2 cup washing soda
– 10 litres water
Add the Lux flakes (or grated soap) to 1.5 litres of water in a saucepan. Warm over a medium heat until the soap is dissolved. Add the Borax and washing soda, continue stirring until dissolved and mixture is just starting to thicken. Pour liquid into a large container or bucket, and add water to top up to 10 litres. Leave to cool and set into a gel, then store with a lid on top.
It only takes about 10 minutes, and gives you 10 litres of clothes washing gel for under $2. Compare that to 10 litres of shop-bought laundry liquid!
To use, simply scoop out a small amount (about 1/4 cup – or just use an old washing powder scoop), mix it with a little hot water to dissolve, then add it to your washing machine and wash with cold water.
After a few days the gel may separate (a bit like a custard left in the fridge!). This is fine – just mix it up with an egg-whisk until it’s nicely blended again.
If you want to get all fancy, you can experiment with adding essential oils to the gel mix to give it more of a fragrance. Or even better, just add a drop or two of the oil to the machine as the wash cycle starts – this way you can use different fragrances for different loads. Some people like to use a soothing oil like lavender for bedsheets, and a more invigorating oil like citrus for sports clothes. Tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil have antibacterial properties that are supposed to help with hard-to-shift odours.
To help shift stains, rub a bit of the gel into the stain before the wash.
If you prefer a powder to a liquid, you can mix soap flakes, borax and washing soda in the same quantities as above but without the water, and store in an airtight container. Shake well before each use, and add 2 tablespoons per wash.
Another great tip is to use normal white vinegar as a fabric softener. You won’t smell it on the clothes, but it will leave them nice and soft. And it’s cheap – 2 litres costs less than $2 and lasts many loads. I’ve also read that if you put your clothes through the dryer (What? You don’t use the sun to dry your clothes?!) the vinegar helps reduce static cling, meaning you don’t need to use dryer sheets.
I’ve read that using soap like this in a washing machine can lead to a build-up of soap residue. To prevent this, you can run the occasional wash with a commercial laundry detergent to break down the residue. If you’re using vinegar as a fabric softener, though, you won’t even need to do this!