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Homemade Laundry Soap Blunder

I just made my first batch of laundry soap (fels naptha, washing soda, borax combo). After sitting for 24 hours, it didn't gel up like it should have. Instead, it serparated into liquid with a waxy, 1 inch top (kinda looks like how fat rises on soup when refrigerated). What did I do wrong? Can it be fixed by re-heating the batch? I thought I followed the directions exactly.


Leann D

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

Hello, I've been making this exact homemade laundry detergent for years. It's truly the best, both economically and cleaning wise!!! You'll love it and won't use any other laundry detergent, again!!! This recipe always gels up. It's completely fine and normal. Just take a long spoon and stir it up. Enjoy saving lots of money by using this recipe. I estimate that it costs about 50 cents to 75 cents per gallon to make and you only use about 1/4 cup per load of wash. Happy Savings!!! :-) :-)

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

I would be very interested in this recipe please.

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

Ok, I fixed the batch, and now it's gelled nicely (I re-heated the whole batch and stired it every hour or so until it cooled). Here's the recipe:

1/3 bar fels naptha laundry soap - grated

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup borax

Put fels naptha into a pan and add about 6 cups water. Heat, stiring constantly, until soap is melted. Stir in washing soda and borax. Continue stirring until dissolved. Fill a 2 gallon bucket with hot tap water. Add soap mixture and stir well to combine. As it cools it will turn into a gel. Use 1/2 cup per load of laundry.

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

I have used the powdered Fels Napa detergent when I had a top load washer. I now have a front load, (love it!), and am reluctant to use the Fels Napa detergent. Less detergent is used in a front load washer. Since the Fels Napa detergent doesn't create a lot of suds, I'm not sure how much to use? Does anyone know the amount to use? Thanks you.

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

I know what fels naptha laundry soap is and I know what borax is but what is washing soda?

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

Thanks for posting the recipe

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October 18, 20040 found this helpful

love this recipe, I used it in my dishwasher as well

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March 16, 20050 found this helpful

The only thing I see wrong with the recipe is you put 1 quart of hot water in a two gallon bucket then add the soap mixture to the bucket and stir real good then add enough water to fill the 2 gallon bucket and stir. I also add 1/2 cup of all fabric bleach to my recipe and love the results. I don't plan on using a store bought brand again. Also for a very good prewash spray mix 1/2 cup of amonia, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of homemade detergent and 1/2 cup of water mix together in a spray bottle and use as you would spray and wash. Make sure you wash cloths after spraying because it's not good to sit on clothes.

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March 17, 20050 found this helpful

http://hillbill has a very involved discussion on making homemade laundry soap, under the headings The 5 & 10 or Homemaking. Some used Fels Naptha, some used Zote soap as the "soap" part of the recipe. I love the whole idea of being frugal in every aspect of our lives.

Thanks to so many people for such good ideas.


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July 9, 20050 found this helpful

i got rocks twice when making this recipe. clear hard rocks at the bottom of the bucket. was it possibly because i did not stir enough? also, i found it to seperate so very quickly. actually it only gelled up once for me. i dont remember what i did that was different than all the other times. any suggestions?

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November 4, 20050 found this helpful

I have some more specific intructions for it. The first time I made it it came out a little too watery and lumpy. After practice I have it down and it is a nice gel consistency.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

3 Pints Water

1/3 Bar Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap, Grated

1/2 Cup Washing Soda

1/2 Cup Borax


4 Quarts + 1 Pint Boiling/Hot Water

optional: 15 drops Lavender Essential Oil (or whatever EO you prefer)

optional: 10 drops Tea Tree Oil

Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Add another 2 quarts boiling hot water and 1 additional quart plus 1 pint hot water and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

I use cloth diapers on my two boys so I have a lot of laundry. I make up the detergent two batches at a time in a 5 gallon bucket. I love this stuff!

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February 25, 20060 found this helpful

Hi there. Thanks for the recipe my Mother used to make this years ago. the one thing hard to find is the Washing Soda. I wondered could you add Lemon Juice for a fragrance??

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February 12, 20070 found this helpful

I love this recipe. It smells so clean and fresh! I've passed it on and on and on! i LOVE saving money!

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March 18, 20070 found this helpful

I don't use borax in every load because it lightes and fades your clothes. I use a paring knife to sliver the Zote soap (that is the one that I prefer) and fill a container about half way with the soap. I add enough water to fill the container. Put on the lid and shake. Then leave it alone for a couple of days. Whenever I go into the basement, I shake the container. In about a week it is all gelled. I pour it through a colander and put the liquid in an old detergent bottle. I mush the remaining pieces, add some more soap slivers, add water and repeat the process. This does take a awhile, but it is easier than measuring, heating, mixing and stirring. When I do laundry, just put in a few table spoons of liquid, washing soda, and borax (if you are doing a light load) and wash as usual. I don't like my clothes to have any fragrance, so I skip the scented oils.

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May 26, 20070 found this helpful

I am about to make this, and the directions I have say that it will probably separate into two sections, and to just make sure to stir or shake up (if using an old detergent bottle) to remix and everything will be fine.

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September 3, 20070 found this helpful

Where can you buy the Fels Nappa in the stores ?

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May 17, 20080 found this helpful

I had trouble finding the washing soda too, you can get it at any hardware store or pool supply store it is sodium carbonate which is ph increaser or decreaser read the bottle to see which one is sodium carbonate. Same thing as washing soda. Dont get your hands in it wear gloves. I make the dry powder with fels naptha sodium and borax.

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December 2, 20080 found this helpful

If you read Duggars laundry detergent, it tells you about the front loader machines uses 1/4 c. and top loaders uses 1/2 c.

My mom and I are going to make this for the 1st time next weekend when they come to see us. This sounds so cool.

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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

I made my first batch on Tuesday. I followed the recipe the duggars had and mine is gelled on top and when I stir it, it's lumpy and not all gelled. I put half of the soap in a clean all detergent bottle and filled the rest with water. When I shake it and measure out the 1/4 cup its mostly lumpy and watery. Is 1/4 cup enough for a front loading machine? Is the batch I made ok? I made their recipe for fabric softener and I love it, Also, do you still have to pretreat clothes? I had a pot holder that had a grease stain on it and it was still there after washing with this mixture. (I just thought that the fels naptha would take it out. Sorry for the long post.

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September 9, 20100 found this helpful

My soap came out chunky, so I took my hand mixer to it and it smoothed it out great. It isn't smooth like the commercial brands, but then it isn't as expensive either. I washed my bathtub and toilet with it today, and loved the fact that it was easier to clean with than comet. I always stir the mixture before use and have never had a problem.

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April 17, 20110 found this helpful

I bought Castille soap...can I use this in lieu of the Fels Napa soap?

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