Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

January 30, 2012By

This has been making the rounds on the internet lately, but I had to try it. This weekend, I made my own laundry detergent. Then I used it. And I love it.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

First of all, I never in a million years would have thought I’d jump at the chance to make my own laundry detergent. But a few things swayed me.

One: It’s super cheap, considering how much you can make. I love being frugal about things like laundry detergent so I can feel better about spending money on craft supplies.

Two: Mr. M and I have been itching like crazy recently. While I believe it’s more to do with dry air in our apartment, I figured trying a lower chemical detergent might be a good solution to our sensitive-skin problems. Plus, I like that I’m sending less chemicals into the environment.

Three: Any excuse to make laundry more interesting might be helpful. It is one of my least favorite chores, so turning it into a craft project might make it more “fun.” Yeah, that’s a stretch, I know.

I made this batch this weekend. It took about 15 minutes, most of those were spent grating a bar of Fels-Naptha soap by hand. Seeing me grating soap to make laundry detergent prompted a classic Mr. M bon mot: “It’s like you’re an honorary Walton!” I love that guy.

I used it on two separate loads of laundry this weekend, and it worked GREAT. The clothes coming out of the wash smelled clean, but not perfume-y. I noticed a t-shirt that had been looking pretty dingy had brightened up nicely. All in all, I’m calling this project a huge success.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Here’s how I made our batch (links go to Amazon so you can see product photos of each item):

Mix together in a large container. Use approximately 1 tablespoon per load. You may need to experiment if your water is hard/soft.

Some notes: I purchased this glass jar at Big Lots for $4.80. I used a coffee scoop that had been hanging out at the back of our kitchen junk drawer for years. Just one scoop worked great on a decent-sized load of a laundry. I washed my clothes in Cool/Cold and there was no problem with the soap disintegrating.

Next time, I’d like to find some unscented castile soap and then use some essential oil drops to scent it. Just for a change. I have plenty of boxax, washing powder and oxiclean left over to make another batch.

Do you make your own cleaning supplies? Anything you can recommend?

I feel the need to say:  So far, this has worked well for me in my top-load washer and on our sensitive skin.Your mileage may vary. I have no idea how this will work in your washer or affect your skin. Use at your own risk.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed in: In the KitchenStep by Step Tags:

Comments (20)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Irene says:

    I have been looking for borax for few weeks now, and can’t wait to find some. I am guilty of using a very harsh brand, and have been going through my list of chemical products and whittled a lot of them down… for the bathtub, I clean it with simple baking soda…the basic side of the soda makes it a harsh environment for bacteria, and baking soda has not left any scratches on my tub or fixtures. I used a 1-4 ratio of hydrogen peroxide (3% found in the pharmacy) to water in a spray bottle to spray down the shower…kills bacteria and inhibits mould growth. Mix and use right away. Light affects peroxide and it loses strength, as well as leaving it in an open bottle.
    I personally would substitute the Oxyclean with peroxide. Oxyclean is just an oxygenated over priced laundry detergent. Pouring a quarter cup of 3% peroxide will do the same trick… balance it out to your choice… but peroxide, when gone thru the wash consistes of H2O and a few chemical stabilizers that are in such a small concentration, it won’t harm the environment. Usually the stabilizers are a weak acidic solution, and this is why H2O2 we buy in the pharmacy is for TOPICAL use only. H202 is being used in waste water treatments to control bacteria, odours and is cheaper and better than using chlorine…so I use the simple brown bottled kind in my laundry and being an oxidizer, the two things left from H2O2 is: water and oxygen. The oxidizing effect in both oxyclean and H2O2 will lift organic stains (H202 removes stains like bleach, but with less harsh residues, and the 3% has never dulled my clothes, as a matter of fact, they come out brighter and so clean!) The stains that come out readily are organic stains like blood, grass, mud, etc… thanks for the post and the chance to comment. We should all try to research on how we can improve our environment, and I know I feel bette knowing that I am contributing less to the pollution factor because I care what comes back in my house via tap-water. Using peroxide is a personal choice, if anyone uses it, resarch a bit more and all the best!

  2. SANDRA says:


    • Marty says:

      I’d put the liquid H2O2 in the bleach dispenser of my washing machine. However, if you use the small bottle from the drug store and pour in 1/4 cup for every load, you’re going to be buying a lot of bottles.

  3. Andrea Croyle says:

    I have seen a lot of these homemade mixtures around and it kind of seems to me that your just using a bunch of different soaps. I haven’t researched this so I don’t know, but cant you just use one soap???

  4. beth says:

    great to see another “recipe” – i’ve been researching different options, and it looks like there’s quite a bit of flexibility. fwiw, i’ve seen a tip that you can cut the soap into chunks and microwave it on a paper plate – it’ll puff up, then you can crumble it (once it’s cool) rather than grating it.

  5. Janet says:

    I’ve been making my own laundry detergent with a similar recipe for a couple years. It works great. I take the bars of soap out of the wrapper and let them dry for a few days or weeks then grind them up in my Magic Bullet blender. Some soaps don’t need to dry as long as others.

  6. bethb222 says:

    I have been checking out recipes & I think it is only the Ivory soap that “puffs up.” I have also seen microwaving soap on some homeschool sites as a project (maybe called cloud soap?)& it always says use Ivory soap. I have seen laundry soap recipes that say grate & some that say chunk then put in food processor or Magic Bullet. Most suggest Fels-Naptha, Zote, castile soap or Ivory added to borax & washing soda. Only a few mention oxiclean so I think that is a matter of preference. There are recipes to make liquid or powder. There is a recipe on the Duggar’s site.

    • beth says:

      having now tried the microwave theory – i’ll agree that it must vary by type of soap, and possibly microwave. bad idea to do this with fels naptha, apparently. :) however,i can attest that cutting it into small chunks and putting it in my food processor with a cup or so of borax worked like a charm.

  7. Heather says:

    I use Borax now in all my clothes..I add it to the wash..it is great…good for fleas and household cleaning…I love it!

  8. Jessica says:

    I use the same recipe, but without the oxiclean. We love it! I hate grating too, so I found that a food processor works great!!! BUT make sure to add the borax and washing soda in with it or the fels will stick to the blade and cause the appliance to overheat (found out the hard way, haha) it saves so much time!

  9. Terri says:

    I’ve recently began using a similar recipe and our clothes are much softer and seem cleaner and brighter. I, too, love the smell! I wish I had known about this when we had 5 rowdy grungy boys living at home but better late than never. We have a front loader and I use the soap in the dispenser or right into the tub; either way works fine. I also ‘cheated’ and found a bag of already-flaked Zote soap and went that route instead of grating. No problems! Oh and I did not use anything but a large spoon to mix all the ingredients together. No blender; no grater; no food processor; no clean up. Yay!

  10. Melanie says:

    Did you know that Zote contains optical brighteners? The EWG gives borax an F and Fels Naptha a C rating. http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners

  11. Very says:

    Use a blender
    1- cube zote soap and blend a few pieces at a time with warm water
    2-blend two cups borax and two cups washing soda with warm water

    Pour all of this after blended directly into a five gallon bucket
    Fill bucket with hot water. I boil it with my hotpot.

    Then stir it all up with a broom handle

    Remember to use the large bar of zote soap or two small bars. Don’t even bother with a cheese grater it’s too much work