How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent Soap

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by on February 9, 2011


How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Have you wondered How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent? Laundry Detergent can be very expensive especially if you have kids.  In my house hold, I doing at least 2-3 loads per day and Laundry Detergent can be very expensive.  It forced me to start making my own Laundry Detergent Soap and I got a yearly pay raise of $132 by doing so.

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent Soap?

I’d heard about How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent. It also perked my ears up to the savings. But I dismissed it because we have children with allergies and sensitivities. It also sounded so… out there. I thought we’d stick to our monthly purchase of $11 for a 4.68 quart All Free and Clear from the warehouse club. Then my mother started Making her own laundry detergent for herself. She brought us a gallon in a milk jug to try. We promptly used it up in about a week. My mind started calculating the savings. Nana ordered the ingredients on Ebay for around $10 with shipping. She brought them over. We made it a family project. Recipe for How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent We made our first batch in about half an hour. It was a learning curve. And it made a bunch! Two six gallon containers to be exact. That was July. Six months later, in January, we were getting low. Did you catch that? I don’t know about you but I can deal with making my own laundry detergent every six months. Not plunking down $11 x 6 = $66. A few weeks ago we tried a new recipe by Raising Olives. The three ingredients I already had on hand. I’d picked up the Fels Naptha when I discovered it high on the shelf of my local grocery store. Middle girl shredded the soap with the handy shedder. We dissolved it in warm water on the stove then added in the baking soda. The new batch made enough to fill an old container of All plus a gallon milk jug. So, an amount equal to two of the store-bought 4.68 qt. How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent I surely can handle three ingredients: water, baking soda (approx. 10 cents for 2 cups) and a bar of soap (Fels Naptha $1.29, Ivory or Irish Spring).
Total = $1.39 for homemade laundry detergent. Rough cost comparison: All Free and Clear (4.68 qt) = $11 Homemade (4.68 + 4 qt milk jug) = approx 70 cents each

Recipe here: Raising Olives Homemade Laundry Detergent Next time around I’m trying the powdered version. Why not for variety? My friend, Jenny, shared this recipe:

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap

  • 1 box of borax
  • 1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 1 bar of soap, grated (you can use Dial, Ivory, Fels Naptha, or Zote)
  • Combine all ingredients and store in a container.
  • To use: 2 tbsp per load of laundry (no that’s not a typo) If the laundry is really dirty, I will add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the wash.

Homemade laundry detergent. Works for my single mother, works for our family of seven. I’ve found the freedom of frugal living. Thanks for allowing me share my yearly pay raise. Dave Ramsey would be proud! How about you? Could you handle just three ingredients and a pay raise?

-Tricia homeschools five children from preschool to middle school. You can find her facing that daily dose of chaos at Hodgepodge.

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  • http://averageparent.com Rebeca @ The Average Parent

    thanks for this post. I’ve been teetering on this idea for a while now. I think I’ll give it a shot. Question: do you think it matters what kind of bar soap to use? I was thinking about using ivory because we have a lot of sensitivities too.

  • http://thriftymeyers.blogspot.com Tara

    Ok So I have been making this since May, and I am yet to find washing soda. I have been using baking soda in place of it, but if you could let me know where to find washing soda that would be great! I too agree of what a savings it is and it’s super easy just 15 minutes of your time!!

  • Melissa

    Thanks for this! We’re HSers too, and making your own detergent is a recurring discussion on my favorite HSing forume. I’m currently trying to work up the nerve to make my first batch of laundry detergent before I run completely out of my pricey all-natural stuff! I already have all the ingredients, and my MIL even gave me a huge old pot to use. I was kind of dreading grating the Fels Naphtha, but what a great idea to use the rotary shredder! I know two kids who will very much enjoy that part of the job :-)

    Soon, I swear it…

  • Jenn

    I had to chuckle when I read this. In Google Reader, the ad that was at the bottom of this article was advertising laundry detergent. What a combination…an article about making your own and an ad for laundry detergent coupons.

  • http://www.hodgepodge.me Tricia @Hodgepodge

    Rebecca – I have friends who use Ivory with great success. I think I’m going to try that next time around.
    Tara – my first go around with washing soda was via Ebay. Then the second time I used the three ingredient recipe because I had it all on hand. So, I haven’t personally searched locally yet. Has anyone else found washing soda at their store?
    Melissa – I held out for a long time too. Once you make it the first time you will see how easy it is. Have fun!

  • Danielle

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve always loved the idea about making your own laundry soap but been a bit scared. I’m seeing more and more Moms daring to try it. Perhaps it’s my turn! Wish me luck!

  • http://fromtheheart-anna.blogspot.com Anna

    I made the liquid version and was using the recommended 1/4 cup for front loaders. My laundry was not coming as clean as I wanted. (btw:I asked a local hardware store to order the washing soda for me- They already had the Fels Naptha.) Im glad you posted this- I may try the dry version with Ivory. (I laughed at the launry soap ads too!)

  • Melissa

    I’m pretty sure I just found mine at Fry’s in the laundry section.

  • Melissa

    I’m pretty sure I found mine at Fry’s in the laundry section.

  • Melissa

    I’ve been making the powdered version, but my recipe is 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda to 1 bar of soap. It certainly makes it cheaper to use the whole box to one bar of soap. I wonder if one version is more or less effective?

  • Della

    You can get washing soda at Meijer.com or just google it and a few different places come up!

  • Amy A.

    I made the liquid detergent with 1 cup Borax, 1 C washing soda (found it at Walmart), 1 bar Fels Naptha, and 1 bar Ivory. Problem after 2 years, the clothes seemed dingy and had a gray look to them. I used some samples of regular detergent when I ran out recently and brightened back up, except for my white, I need to bleach those. So now I am trying the dry recipe with everything I listed above except the Ivory Soap. So far so good, but it took a year for us to notice the gray look so we will see. Just started using that recipe a few weeks ago. But the price is totally worth it. I read on another website in the discussion that some use a good store bought detergent for white and homemade for the rest. I might do that if I can’t find the right recipe for us.

  • Jenny Conard

    I am the “Jenny” Tricia is referring to. With your ratio, that is not cheap. I have been doing this for about 6 months now (the recipe Tricia posted) and have never had a problem with my clothes being still dirty and that is without adding the extra….did I mention I have 3 boys :) It is important to note that this laundry detergent will not be sudsy. My friend kept thinking she did not put enough in because she couldn’t see bubbles. Really….only 2 Tbsp! My husband wears a uniform to work and travels for his job, meaning they have to wait to be washed. He has never complained the clothes don’t seem as clean! Enjoy! More than the savings….I enjoy a decrease in chemicals and a smell that my sensitive nose can tolerate. I use Fels-Naptha and occasionally add oils for scents.

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  • http://averageparent.com Rebeca @ The Average Parent

    I wonder if you need to do anything different for hard water? I have tried traditional powdered detergent in the past and found that it doesn’t dissolve in our hard water. Anybody encounter this with the home-made version?

  • Amy B

    I’d really like to start doing this! Does it work for HE washers too? If not, is there a recipe for homemade HE detergent?

  • Denise

    I found mine at Kroger, could not find it at my local Walmart however.

  • Sara

    Rebeca and Amy. Those are the exact same questions I have. Can you use it in a HE washer and will hard water be an issue? I would really appreciate the advise, I would love to try this!

  • Amy A.

    I have been told it works in the HE washers because there are no suds to it. I don’t have an HE washer so I can’t confirm for sure, but it doesn’t sud up in my regular washer. As to the hard water, what I read online was the washing soda helps with hard water, but I have no idea. I would give it a try and see what happens.

  • http://www.premeditatedleftovers.com Alea

    I have used ivory and Fels Naptha. Both work great.

  • http://www.hodgepodge.me Tricia

    Thanks Alea! Great to know you’ve tried it and it works well.

  • http://www.hodgepodge.me Tricia

    Thanks for stopping by my friend! and for your tips :)

  • Amy

    My husband gave me a drill with a mixing paddle and it worked wonders at stirring the liquid mixture evenly. I have seen that the Duggar Family makes their detergent and they have HE washers. Also Fels naptha soap is awesome to pretreat clothes. I just keep a bar handy specially on my boys grass stained jeans.

  • Dawn Poole

    I’m very interested in making my own detergent. My questions are as follows: has anyone used this with a front loading, HE washer? Also, does anyone know if this can be made into a liquid variety or is there another recipe for a liquid variety? With the costs of everything continually going up, it would be nice to be able to save some money on something like this.
    Thanks for all the information!

  • http://www.savingcentswithsense.net Melissa

    Hi Dawn, the first recipe above is for liquid laundry soap – hope that helps!

  • http://www.savingcentswithsense.net Melissa

    Thanks for the advice, Amy. I have an HE washer and plan to try this recipe! I imagine as long as you are using less soap (like recommended in a HE washer) that it should work.

  • Lisa

    High. I just ran across this website while stumbling and saw the questions about finding washing soda. I’ve been making my own liquid laundry soap for 2 years now and the savings are unbelievable. I just wanted to mention that if you have an Ace hardware near you you can order the laundry soap online from Ace, have it delivered directly to the store and you won’t have to pay any shipping or you can go into the store and order it and have it delivered to the store for free shipping. They also have Fels Naptha. I get both of mine from there. You can also order the washing soda directly from the online Arm and Hammer site but you do have to pay shipping there. Also wanted to mention that I have used Ivory bar soap with the Aloe in it and it gives your clothing the best smell.

    Just another quick tip. You can use vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. It works great. If you do like the smell of fabric softener though you can mix 1/2 cup fabric softener to a gallon of vinegar and still have the great smell. …and no the vinegar does not leave the vinegar smell on your clothing once you dry them.

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  • Jean

    Hi,
    Does anyone use the Fels Naptha that has people with skin sensitivities in their family? My kids and I can’t use most laundry detergents or body wash/bars of soap, especially ones that have all the perfumes in them! Just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t all break out in hives once I switched to this! :) Thanks!

  • Theresa

    I have not tried this, but online I have read that WASHING SODA can be made from BAKING SODA by baking it in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour. It says not to do a large amount at once & have ventilation. I would think baking a 16 ounce box at once, spread out in a flat pan would be doable. I am going to give this a try to see if it works.

  • Shannon

    A TEN gallon pail? That is the size of an outdoor trash can.. I want to try this but cannot and do not want a big plastic trash can sitting by my washing machine? Anyone use five gallon buckets?

  • Anna

    yup. Just halve the ingredients and you are good. Like I mentioned earlier. I then take what is in the 5gal bucket and put some in a milk jug to have in the laundry room. Id like to have a liquid laundry soap dispenser with the spigot……

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  • http://www.themakeyourownzone.blogspot.com Bev

    I tried making my own washing soda out of baking soda, but it didn’t seem to work. Here’s my blog post about that little experiment:
    http://themakeyourownzone.blogspot.com/2011/02/homemade-washing-soda-experiment.html

    I’m really intrigued with the powder recipe that uses the entire boxes of borax and and washing soda. Those proportions are so different than most of the other recipes out there but if it works, it would probably be cheaper. Will have to give it a try.

  • Sklepacz

    The recipe I use is 1 cup borax, 1cup washing soda, 1 bar felts naphtha not one box borax and one box washing soda. You may want to check that recipe to be sure it is right.

  • Sklepacz

    The recipe I use is 1 cup borax, 1cup washing soda, 1 bar felts naphtha not one box borax and one box washing soda. You may want to check that recipe to be sure it is right.

  • Brennanx5

    Just curious, are the recipes “HE Friendly”? Would love to try it!

  • Brennanx5

    Just curious, are the recipes “HE Friendly”? Would love to try it!

  • http://www.savingcentswithsense.net/ Melissa Hurst

    Hi Brennanx5 – yes, another reader mentioned using it on HE washers.

  • http://www.savingcentswithsense.net/ Melissa Hurst

    Hi Brennanx5 – yes, another reader mentioned using it on HE washers.

  • http://www.savingcentswithsense.net/ Melissa Hurst

    Hi – this guest poster has been making her own laundry soap for some time and as you can see from the picture above, that is the recipe. Thanks.

  • http://www.savingcentswithsense.net/ Melissa Hurst

    Hi – this guest poster has been making her own laundry soap for some time and as you can see from the picture above, that is the recipe. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569038376 Betsy Murphy

    Brennanx5, if you try it and use it in your HE washer, I would LOVE to hear how it works out for you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569038376 Betsy Murphy

    Brennanx5, if you try it and use it in your HE washer, I would LOVE to hear how it works out for you!

  • Rebecca Albrecht

    I use a similar recipe but with the glycerine soap from B&B works. I do not add water just keep it in power form and use a spoonful for each load. Lasts for months of laundry @5-7loads a day

  • Rebecca Albrecht

    I use a similar recipe but with the glycerine soap from B&B works. I do not add water just keep it in power form and use a spoonful for each load. Lasts for months of laundry @5-7loads a day

  • Dawn

    that sounds neat…i would love to try this but powder form would be better if you are required to stir each time b/c my grandma would love it and with her arthritis would not want her to have to stir it…could you give the recipe for the one you use?

  • Dawn

    that sounds neat…i would love to try this but powder form would be better if you are required to stir each time b/c my grandma would love it and with her arthritis would not want her to have to stir it…could you give the recipe for the one you use?

  • Alohaleinani

    can essential oils be added to mixture?

  • Alohaleinani

    can essential oils be added to mixture?

  • Rachel M

    I use a similar recipe for powdered laundry soap, but like Sklepacz it’s more soap and less borax and soda: 2 cups washing soda, 2 cups borax, 1 bar Fels Naptha. I add 20 drops of essential oil (10 orange and 10 lemongrass). It makes the soap smell nice when I’m stirring it into the wash water, but I don’t notice a scent on the clothes. :-) For a large load I use 5 tablespoons. (I have an older top loading washer, so that might make a difference. I know they make the new washers more efficient.)

    I also use 10 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract per load as a disinfectant and fill the fabric softener cup with white vinegar. I was really sceptical about vinegar as a softener since it has such a strong smell, but it really works and there’s no vinegar odor! Sometimes if I decide to do an extra rinse then the clothes will have static when the come out of the dryer.

    I love how fresh my laundry smells! The few times I’ve had to use regular detergent when I’ve run out of homemade soap, I’ve gotten a headache from the strong scent. I used to love Tide soap and Downy softener, but now I much prefer the light fresh scent of homemade laundry soap!

  • Rachel M

    I use a similar recipe for powdered laundry soap, but like Sklepacz it’s more soap and less borax and soda: 2 cups washing soda, 2 cups borax, 1 bar Fels Naptha. I add 20 drops of essential oil (10 orange and 10 lemongrass). It makes the soap smell nice when I’m stirring it into the wash water, but I don’t notice a scent on the clothes. :-) For a large load I use 5 tablespoons. (I have an older top loading washer, so that might make a difference. I know they make the new washers more efficient.)

    I also use 10 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract per load as a disinfectant and fill the fabric softener cup with white vinegar. I was really sceptical about vinegar as a softener since it has such a strong smell, but it really works and there’s no vinegar odor! Sometimes if I decide to do an extra rinse then the clothes will have static when the come out of the dryer.

    I love how fresh my laundry smells! The few times I’ve had to use regular detergent when I’ve run out of homemade soap, I’ve gotten a headache from the strong scent. I used to love Tide soap and Downy softener, but now I much prefer the light fresh scent of homemade laundry soap!

  • Marieroush1

    I have a septic tank and am concerned about the sentence that says it will gel. Would love to try it , anyone know if I should be concerned?

  • Marieroush1

    I have a septic tank and am concerned about the sentence that says it will gel. Would love to try it , anyone know if I should be concerned?

  • Kozie45

    hi…so does this recipe make a large amount of detergent? and how much do you use per load? thanks

  • Kozie45

    hi…so does this recipe make a large amount of detergent? and how much do you use per load? thanks

  • Stephanie

    I use the powered version- 1 cup of each borax- washing soda and baking soda but use 1/2 Kiss my Face bar soap. I also put 1/2 cup of Purex crystals(I love the smell) Has lasted over 1 month @ 2 tbsp a load and doesn’t take up a lot of space

  • Chris

    I used to make this detergent all the time,but the recipe called for laundry bluing which you can’t buy anymore in Canada, nor Fels Naptha,so I used Sunlight laundry bar soap, or a white laundry bar soap available at the $ store,Dial or Irish spring and I had good results with all of them.I added essential oil to some batches.I just may start making it again.I have had an HE front loader for 6 years and I know that you can safely use it in an HE machine because it’s low sudsing.Vinegar is a good softener, but I can’t use it in my machine because apparently, it can mess up the sensors,so it’s not recommended.

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