Laundry Soap : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I finally used up all the Y2K laundry detergent and made my first batch of homemade. Here is the formula: grate 1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap into 1 pint of hot water, stir until melted (heat gently if needed). Add 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda), stir until mixed. Pour into a large container, add 2 gallons of water & mix well. Let set overnight, it will gel. Stir. Use 1 cup per load. For rinse/softener add 1 cup white vinegar to the rinse water. This was easy to make and only took me about 10 minutes. I found all the ingredients in our small town grocery stores and Walmart. The cost was around five dollars and I have lots more borax & washing soda left over for many more batches. I think it will work out to be a good savings!

-- Jean (, May 23, 2000


Thanks for the soap recipe. Next week is my "big" shopping & will get the ingredients then.

-- Phyllis (, May 23, 2000.

Sounds interesting!! We're down to about a month's supply of our Y2K detergent as well, and this is very timely.

-- Eric in TN (, May 23, 2000.

Great idea! Thanks for the "recipe". I have several boxes of the washing soda, so will get the Fels Naptha and whip up a batch. Should be harmless to septics, too. Jan

-- Jan B (, May 23, 2000.

Jean, what is washing soda? Will it be labeled that on the shelf at the store? I'm allergic to most brands of sented soap--does this have a scent??? Thanks! Sonda in Ks.

-- Sonda (, May 24, 2000.


Look in the laundry soap isle. It looks like a big box of baking soda (because the likely brand is arm&hammer) and yes it's labeled as washing soda. No, it isn't scented. There is nothing in the box but sodium carbonate. Borax is a sodium tetra- somebody or other...another simple, scent free cleaner. Fels-Naptha is supposed to be as close to homemade saop you can buy in the store. This recipe should be a good choice for laundry if you have allergys. And a natural stuff you can feel a little better going down the drain!

BTW, if you make the soap (Fels) yourself it would be cheaper yet!

-- Novina West (, May 24, 2000.

Making soap is on my to-do list (I've got that big tub of lard from the hogs in the freezer!). So, thanks Novina, for the reminder that we can use our homemade soap, too. I've been using the laundry soap now for a few loads and it seems to work well. It smells fresh! I think I might use less water in the next batch though, maybe a pint to a quart less, just to concentrate it a bit. I had blankets on the line yesterday in a strong breeze - the clotheslines were really sagging after I took everything off! Oh well, I just keep tightening them up. Our "city" relatives always comment on how fresh the sheets & blankets smell when they stay overnight with us. One of the simple pleasures of the country life!

-- Jean (, May 24, 2000.

I think Fels Naptha is the greatest spot remover and I like the paper wrapping compared to a plastic spray bottle disposal problem. We slice the bar in half with the bandsaw and keep it nearby. Is anybody else out there as sick of the excess packaging of everything as I am? I'm constantly working on reducing our trash output and am embarrassed to be living in such a wasteful society. The less I buy the less I have to dispose of. I love the recipe for making soap and will try it soon.

-- Sandy (, May 24, 2000.

Sandy, As to your comment on waste, on the Indpls. news tonight, they had a story on "Dmpster Divas". These ladies go to dumpsters behind stores and take out all kinds of new stuff that didn't sell. The ladies donate some of the stuff and either use or sell the rest. The stores throw all this usable stuff away because it's cheaper than paying taxes on it or paying to have it delivered somewhere. I guess they're going to work on a law to change that now...well, that's what they said. My husband recently brought home a really nice wooden folding chair he found in a dumpster at a job site. There are so many wrapper or containers that can't be recycled, you take them home, empty them and throw them away. What a shame.

-- Cindy (, May 24, 2000.

Cindy, I,too, dumpster dive and "curbside shop"! I also "alley walk" the day before trash pick-up. Lots of really GOOD stuff out there free for the taking. My most favorite piece of furniture is an old table in the living room. The way I look at things--if it's washable or repairable I pick it up. . My Mother's Day gift from my out-of-state son is always a trip around his apartment complex after lunch! I've even got him hooked but his dad thinks we're both nuts. Why spend money when you don't have to. 95% of our possessions are others rejects. We (2) live very comfortably on about $8000 a year--for the last 16 years. There's just too much waste out there. It's pathetic. This country was founded on thrift. If I can't use the stuff I clean it up and give it to charity. Why waste it.

-- Sandy (, May 25, 2000.

Jean, I appreciate the recipe but have a couple questions. First, my daughter uses Arm and Hammer laundry detergent. Is this what you are referring to? Also, the Fels Naptha soap; I can't remember seeing anything by that name but, I use Octogon laundry soap for removing stains on laundry. Is this perhaps the same thing. It has been around forever. I remember my Grandmother using it when I was a little girl and I am 48( for at least a couple more months). It is a brown soap. I will wait for your answer before I try it. I hate using store bought laundry detergents. I just never could figure out what laundry soap was. Faye.

-- Faye (, May 25, 2000.

Sandy, I once met a relative of a friend of mine and she believes just like you do that the packaging that so many of our things come in are just a waste but she took it a step further. Everytime she bought something, say at the grocery store, she took the stuff out of the extra wrappers and told the grocery stores to take care of it because she didnt want all that trash. She would take the butter out of the box and just take the sticks home. She would also take cereal out of the box and just take the inner bag home. Everyone used to laugh at her for being so eccentric but it sure did make sense. Too bad we can't get the manufacturers to be a little more conservative on how they package their goods. I have to say a part of me admired this lady for taking a stand on what she believed in.

-- Colleen (, May 27, 2000.

Faye, Fels Naptha bars would be with the other bars. As I recall, they're in a red and white striped package with maybe green??? Don't know how Octagon compares with Fels Naptha. The Fels Naptha is typically low on the shelves.

Arm and Hammer makes laundry detergent AND washing soda. The washing soda and borax (usually 20 Mule Team) are in cereal-sized boxes in the laundry aisle. The washing soda box is yellowish, has the big circle with the arm and hammer in it. Mine is a 55 oz. box. The full name on it is All Natural Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster. The borax box is a greenish color. It reads 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster and is a 76 oz. box. There's a kicking mule near the bottom. Usually the stores have these on a top shelf. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, May 27, 2000.

Thanks. I have found the washing soda but not the fels naptha soap. I posted a question about this on the BWH Forum and one of the posters gave me a web site and it has information about the soap. Also, an 800 phone number. If any one wants it just send me an e-mail. Faye.

-- Faye (, May 28, 2000.

Hi--this is Sonda & someone told me to get Fels Naptha soap for my poision ivy---I did & to whom ever it was that gave me that advice-- again, I want to thank them! It was spreading & itching terribly--& within two days of useing the soap I had it under control & it had quit spreading & started drying up!!! It is almost totally gone!!!! THANK YOU!!! I think it was Kathleen who told me, but I'm haveing another "senior moment", & I can't remember! Thank you! And if anyone gets in the poision ivy--try it! I got extra bars to give to my married daughter who only has to look at poision ivy & get it! Thnak you! Sonda in Ks.

-- Sonda (, May 31, 2000.

Well, I never did find the Fels Naphta soap around here so I ordered it from The Vermont Country Store catalog which I happened to remember having. Haven't gotten it yet but will try it once I do. Faye.

-- Faye (, May 31, 2000.

I read I think in Countryside that dry laundery detergent contains a clay base that will in time, fill your septic tank. Has anyone heard this too and if it is true, would this recipe lead to the same sort of problem?

-- Ed Holt (, June 01, 2000.

Ed, I don't know for sure, but as far as I can tell the borax & washing soda are pure, single products.

-- Jean (, June 01, 2000.

Re: the Fels Naptha soap and poison ivy -- (sure glad to hear it helped, Sonda!) was talking to a friend today, as a group of us were working at the land where our church will soon be building (poison ivy all over the place!!) and he said he uses hydrogen peroxide when he gets poison ivy, and that oatmeal baths help him, too. Just a couple more things to try when the occasion arises!

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, June 01, 2000.

Thank you Kathleen--I helped hubby move our portable duck & geese pen today--I tried to be careful--but by the time I got to the house to wash off--it was too late as I was already breaking out! POISION IVY AGAIN! I'll try all three solutions--I'll let ya know! Thanks so much for the help! Sonda in Ks.

-- Sonda (, June 01, 2000.

Thought you might find this info interesting:

Thank you for taking the time to contact The Dial Corporation concerning Fels Naptha. Fels Naptha is marketed as a laundry soap. Its primary use is as a pre-spotter; however, it can also be used in place of a detergent in the wash water. For a normal wash load, finely grate 1/2 of the bar (use less for smaller or less soiled loads). Dissolve by filling washer, add grated Fels Naptha and agitate for several minutes before adding clothing. This solution of Fels Naptha and water can also be used for household cleaning. The history of Fels-Naptha began in 1866 when Lazarus Fels started a small soap manufacturing business in Baltimore. His eldest son, Joseph joined him in the enterprise in 1869. Ten years later, the Fels family enlarged its operation through the purchase of a soap- making business from Thomas Worsley of Philadelphia. This business had been founded in 1846 in Combes Alley, in the heart of Philadelphia's early colonial section. Three other sons, including Samuel, who was to have a profound effect on the success of the company in later years, were also associated with the enterprise at that time. The business of making and selling toilet soaps prospered. However, in 1894, Fels' decision to attempt the combination of dirt- loosening "naptha" with soap resulted in the acquisition of another small firm, and the introduction of the company's famous golden "Fels Naptha Bar Soap", which had popular acceptance from the start, changing the entire future of the company. Fels Naptha Bar Soap was a "cold processed" framed soap. Proctor Gamble introduced a competitive white naptha soap from a "boiled soap base" in the 1920's and '30's because of the success of Fels. Fels countered this introduction of Proctor's with a Fels white naptha soap made from a "boiled soap base" and a large kettle-house for soap boiling was constructed in the late 1920's. However, the Proctor Gamble product never was highly successful against the old Fels "golden" bar, and both white naptha soaps were withdrawn from the market by the early 1940's. Rosin was a major ingredient of Fels bar soap and was premixed with naptha to form a viscous solution prior to the addition of the "crutcher". This mixture, or "compound", was highly inflammable and a serious fire destroyed the mixing facility during the 1940's.

The demise of laundry soap occurred with the advent of laundry spray dried detergents in the 1940's in the United States. As a result, Fels business trailed off seriously, but necessity became the "mother of invention" as Instant Fels powdered soap was developed and patented in the late '40's. This basically involved the atmospheric drying of a hot molten mixture of viscous soap containing naptha by atomization through high pressure pumps into a collecting chamber. The soap used as the base in Fels-Naptha Bar Soap was recently upgraded. The active ingredient in the bar has not changed in many years. The improvement in the soap base did somewhat change the color and smell of the bar, but does not affect the performance of the product.

-- Anne (, June 05, 2000.

I found the Fels-Naptha soap at my local grocery store (*after* scouring all the larger stores :-p), in the laundry detergent section on the top shelf. :-) GL

-- Michelle (, June 06, 2000.

This is how I make my laundry soap. I found the recipe on line. I have never seen Fels naptha soap here. 1 lg bar Ivory soap 1 cup washing soda (or borax but w.s is cheaper here) 6 liters hot tap water (thats about 25 cups of hot water) Grate soap into a pot and cover with water and dissolve over low heat on the stove. Put hot water in a bucket and add the dissolved soap, stirring to mix. Add the cup of washing soda and stir until dissolved. When cool this will gel. Use one cup soap per washer load. Been using this recipe for about a year and a half with no complaints.

-- Alison in NS (, October 02, 2000.

i am doing a science fair project on what laundry soap detergent cleans the best and that is not to excpecive. so when i found this recipie i thought i would give it a try if u have any tips to give me thank you

-- courtney (, February 13, 2001.

Thanks for the laundry soap recipe, when you don't have the $5-$6 to spend on a bottle of laundry soap it is cool to spend $2 and make your own.

-- Darren in KS (, April 16, 2001.

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