Low Cost Laundry Soap

Why spend all your money on boring things?  With my low cost laundry soap you can be washing for pennies a load!

Sorry I don’t have photos of the process, but I will be posting a photo tutorial once I have to make laundry soap again.  After making 12 cups, at 1 tablespoon per load, it will be a long, LONG time until I need to make it again (I hope…)!

So, how do I make my laundry soap?  It is quite a long process, and it is almost all made from scratch.  I start by making 100% coconut oil soap.  I had been using Fels Naptha, and you could as well, but I found it leaves a powdery residue on our clothes and having iron bacteria in our water it didn’t leave our clothes smelling fresh.  You could also use something like ivory powder soap, or any gentle soap but that would increase the cost.

Low Cost Laundry Soap, the bar:

So, to make the coconut oil soap I combined:

  • 323g water
  • 154g lye

Make sure you follow all the suggested precautions when using lye. (Wear gloves, no kids or pets in the kitchen, always add lye to the water, and mix it in a well ventilated area.)  Carefully stir until the lye is completely dissolved and set aside until the liquid is clear.

Meanwhile, in a crock pot, slow cooker or a heavy duty pan melt 850 g coconut oil.  Notice how I am measuring everything in grams?  When making soap accurate measurements are a must.  As well as making sure you use a lye calculator to ensure you have the right ratio of lye to oil, otherwise you could have a disaster on your hands!

Once the coconut oil is completely melted carefully pour in the lye water.  Stir gently for a few minutes and then blend with a stick blender until your soap reaches trace.  Cook the soap on low until the sanctification process is complete.  (To see photos of hot process soap making check out this post on Chickens in the Road.)

After the cooking process was complete I plopped the soap into my loaf mold to cool overnight, the cut it into 1″ bars the following day.  The longer these bars age the easier it will be to grate the soap later on.  I let it age for at least 1 week.

coconut oil soap bar for low cost laundry soap

Low Cost Laundry Soap, the washing soda

The next step is the washing soda.  Washing soda is a bit difficult to find, I could order it online, but it seems the price on the stuff has gone up lately.  Fortunately there is a work around for that!  I make my own washing soda from baking soda.  (Thanks to mommypatomus for the excellent tutorial!)

I used my roaster oven because it is much more reliable than my regular oven.  After preheating it to 450°F I poured 4 cups of regular baking soda into the bottom of the pan.  I didn’t use a baking dish because I wanted the soda to be in direct contact with the heat, and the enamel liner can be pulled out and washed.  After about 40 minutes, with a little stirring my baking soda had changed to washing soda.  Yeah!!!

Low Cost Laundry Soap, putting it together

While my washing soda was cooling I grated 4 bars of my coconut oil soap.  The easiest way I’ve found is to use a vegetable peeler and shave strips off the bars of soap.  I then combine the shavings of 1 bar of soap in my blender (a food processor would be much better, but alas one has not found its way into our house) with 1 cup borax.  I pulse this until the soap is crumbled and completely blended with the borax.  I don’t process the soap in the blender alone because it gums up the blade of my blender.  I repeat this process with the remaining bars of soap and borax.

Finally, I mix completely the washing soda with the soap/borax mixture.  Store in an airtight container and wash away!  I use 1 tablespoon per load of laundry, and will use this as a spot treatment for stubborn stains.

12 cups low cost laundry soap


Coconut Oil : $6.60 (for 12 bars)  $2.20 for 4 bars

Lye:  1.50 (for 12 bars)  $0.50 for 4 bars

Baking Soda:  $0.75/lb   $1.50 for 4 cups

Borax: $4.47/box   $2.64 for 4 cups

Total:  $6.80 for 12 cups  or 192 loads (at 1 tablespoon per load)

That means to wash our clothes we are spending a whopping 4¢ per load!  It is not a quick process, and buying a bottle or box of laundry soap would be MUCH easier, but I can find ways to spend that extra money that are A LOT more entertaining!