Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Little House on the Prairie: Homemade Lavender Laundry Soap

"Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday

~Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

In high school, my 12th grade English teacher assigned our class to create an additional circle of hell after reading Dante's Inferno.  I decided that the underworld lacked a fitting spot for corrupt journalists, and that it was my duty to envision one for them.  Looking back, I roll my eyes at the ridiculousness of my 17-year-old self.  Yes, I wanted to be a journalist back then, and yes, I was trying to think "outside of the box" since Dante had covered all of the biggest, baddest bases.  But knowing what I know now, I would switch my list of people deserving eternal torment completely around.  I'd push corrupt journalists way down the list and bump the people who REALLY deserve punishment to the top:  
#3 spot
The teenagers at Little Caesar's who have no regard for symmetry and cut my pizzas into 4 enormous pieces and 4 itty-bitty pieces, sending my children into a dinnertime brawl over who gets the big slices.

#2 spot
Grocers that display signs reading "20 items or less" instead of "20 items or fewer."  
(Grammar girls unite!)

#1 spot
Women who can fit into their jeans within 17 years of having a baby.

Regardless of the people I place in my own corner of Hades, the punishment in my imagination is always the same:  laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.  I hate laundry.  I'd rather drop bleach in my eyes than do laundry.  Every time I peek in that dreaded dirty clothes chute, I feel just like Sisyphus in hell pushing that blasted boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down.  I simply can't get ahead.  Yes, doing my family's laundry would be the perfect punishment for anyone on my "list."

Luckily for me, I have a sister like Miriam who can revolutionize my clothes-cleaning world with a simple recipe for homemade laundry soap.  I've seen this idea floating around blogland, but figured no homemade concoction could compete with good ol' Tide.  Miriam, however, assured me I had to try it.  She has been making her own laundry soap for a while now, so I decided to follow suit.  I took her "recipe" and threw in the scent of lavender to calm my stain-fighting soul.  Yesterday I did 11 loads of laundry with the homemade soap.  I scrutinized and smelled every piece of laundry in those 11 loads.  All I can say is, Miriam was right.  This homemade soap is not only just as good as my normal detergent, but it is a fraction of the price.  The batch I made made comes out to roughly 7 cents a load!  (That is less than half of the cost of normal laundry detergent).

So here is the recipe.  (Be forewarned, this soap doesn't have a strong perfumed smell, but rather a light and clean smell when it is done.  Even the lavender scent didn't really stick past the dryer.  If you want a stronger scent, you'll need to add more oil and/or stronger smelling soap to your batch.)

Homemade Lavender Laundry Soap

2 cups Borax (in the laundry aisle)
2 cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (also in the laundry aisle)
2 bars of Ivory soap (grated finely) (I used my cheese grater)
2 1/2 pounds Oxy Clean 
30 drops lavender essential oil

Mix in a large mixing bowl with a whisk and put in your desired container.   
Use only 1-2 tablespoons per load.  (Yes, I said tablespoons.  It works.  Trust me.)  
Add soap to the water before adding your clothes so the soap can dissolve.

I'm still not a fan of laundry, but at least I feel satisfied knowing that I'm saving money by making my soap the way Ma would have out on the prairie: by hand.

Happy Washing!

As requested, here is the printable laundry label. The frame was from The Graphics Fairy, and we photoshopped the rest. Enjoy!

Linking Up With . . .


  1. Sounds like a great recipe. I make my own liquid laundry soap with soap nuts, but I love the idea of a lavender scent.

    My 8 yr old daughter is loving the Little House on the Prairie series on TV. I'm encouraging her to read the books (which are so much better), but she hasn't yet given in. She will though. ;)

  2. It's a personal goal of mine to never fit into my pre-childbearing jeans again. If only to please you, dear sister. I like to think of myself as a real team player.

    Such pretty soap!! I might have to dress mine up a bit now...

  3. I've seen other recipes for laundry soap, but never one with lavender. Fabulous! And I love your blog, by the way.

  4. Nice Blog! great recipe. We are also providing Female Friendly Recipe Books at the affordable rates.

  5. I've been making laundry detergent for some time now, but never thought of adding lavender oil. Great idea! Love your label ~ any chance of making that a printable?

  6. I tried a homemade recipe once but it did not include oxy clean or lavender. My clothes came out kind of grayish...I think due to our hard water maybe. I'm copying this recipe for future reference...thanks!

    Now I just need to know where to get the lavender oil...the cute little tablespoon and a lavender colored!

  7. Fabulous idea. I have been looking for the recipe, although I've seen a few mentions in blogland. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Great idea, thanks for sharing, I have to give it a try.

  9. I make my own laundry soap but I would love to try your recipe some time too. The lavender sounds just wonderful. Your label and all the photos are so pretty! The line from 'Little house in the big woods' brings back memories of my mother reading to all us girls when we were little. Good times! ~ Jamie

  10. Love it!! I am definitely going to try this one myself. I don't mind laundry so much, but don't get me started on vaccuuming .... argghhh ... that would definitely make my list!

    Found you through Between Naps on the Porch - and I'll be back!

  11. Great idea! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  12. I would love to make this laundry soap! Thank you so much for the recipe...I love lavender! And I'm visiting from Cozy little house! Love your blog!

  13. Replies
    1. Good question. If you opted out of adding the Ivory soap (which is really mostly for scent anyway), I think you'd be just fine since the other powders dissolve easily. The Ivory takes a bit longer to dissolve. If you try it, let us "top loaders" know how it works out! Good luck!

  14. I use 1 bar of fels naptha soap bar and 1 bar of an unscented (cheap) bar of bath soap, for my homemade laundry detergent. It works GREAT and the fels naptha has a clean, almost citrusy scent. It is low sudsing so it works wonderfully in HE or front load machines with no residue.

  15. can you wash the clothes with cold water, or does it have to be warm to get everything to dissolve?

    1. Hot or cold, the detergent works just fine. I just did a load of jeans in cold water and it worked great as always. Good luck!

  16. Thank you for sharing the recipe and photos! Where did you find the adorable measuring spoon and container? :-)

  17. Hello! What's in the glass spouted jar? Looks like some fabric softener, if so do you have a recipe?

    1. Yes, that is fabric softener. I used the recipe from this blog:

      Good luck!

  18. I just started making my own laundry detergent! I love it so much!! My next batch I will have to add the lavender oil :-) Thanks for sharing at The Mommy Club Link Party!

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