Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Before you say that you'll never make your own laundry detergent, wait.  I said that to myself the first time I saw it pinned on Pinterest.  After I came across it a few more times, I decided to look into it further.

Basically, if you can open a box and empty it, then you can do this within minutes and you probably won't need to do it for another year!  And....and, and, and, it's super cheap!  Thinking about trying it now?

First I will tell you my favorite store bought detergents.   I love Method Fresh Air or Clorox Green Works.  They are both eco-friendly and smell so good!   However, I don't love the price or how quickly I run out, so that is why I decided to try homemade laundry detergent.  It's still green and it still has a nice fresh scent, why not?

There are a few variations of recipes out there, so I pinned a bunch on my How To... pinboard on Pinterest.  There's even a liquid version.  While I'm partial to liquid detergents, there was more work involved (boiling it).  Call me lazy, but I just didn't want to boil my laundry detergent, plus the powder just looks too cute in a container on your washer.   I came across this particular recipe several times and it seemed easy enough, so I went for it.

Here's What You Need:
4 lb 12 oz box Borax (laundry aisle)
3 lb 7 oz. box super washing soda (laundry aisle)
4 lb box of baking soda (baking aisle)
3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, Zote or Ivory (Fels-Naptha found at my ACE Hardware store)

** Many of the recipes called for OxiClean as an optional ingredient, but I decided against it because I only use OxiClean every now and then.  Some said to use 2 small containers (3.5 lbs. total) of Oxiclean or 1 cup.  I guess that's up to you.

Get yourself a tall kitchen bag and line a small garbage can or bucket.

Grate the bar soap.  I used a parmesan cheese grater, but if you have a good blender or food processor and you think it can handle a block of soap, I recommend that.  I admit, this part was a pain and will take you more than a few minutes if you have to do it by hand.  My blender can't even blend a smoothie, so I had to do it the old fashioned way.  It actually looks like cheese, doesn't it?

Layer the ingredients. Bar soap, Borax, mix. Bar soap, baking soda, mix.  Bar soap, washing soda, mix.  I mixed some with a spoon and even my hands, but also took the bag out of the garbage can and turned it back and forth and upside down while holding the top closed.

Put it in a sealed container, otherwise if it gets damp, it will clump together to make a big chunk.
I learned that the hard way, but that's another story.

I chose this cute 1 1/2 gallon glass canister from Target.  It will fill all the way to the top and leave a little extra.  I just put the extra in a mason jar.  There was a 2 1/2 gallon canister, but it just looked too big on my washer, so I opted for a bit of overflow and the smaller container.

Cute it up if you want.  If I have to do laundry, it makes me feel better when my surroundings are cute.  I used the black contact paper I got for my mason jar drink cups and a white marker to write "laundry".  I've since added "2 scoops" for my husband.  He said he wouldn't remember.  That made me laugh.  I also got a cute stainless steel coffee scoop for my scooper.

Do laundry.
You will only need 2 tablespoons per load.
I've read this will last you about 9-12 months!
How great is that?!

Cost Breakdown:
Baking Soda                             $4.49
Washing Soda                          $4.79
Borax                                        $6.49
Fels Naptha Soap ($1.79 x 3)  $5.37
TOTAL                       $21.14 for a year supply! Not bad!

Side Notes:
Yes, you can use it in an HE washer and yes, you can put it in the dispenser.  I noticed that some people mentioned that you need to put it directly in the drum or dissolve it first.  I'm a rebel, so I tried it in the dispenser set on powder.  Don't know if all HE washers have a setting for liquid and powder, but mine does.

It dissolved completely on its own.  Haven't had a problem.

Also, from what I've read, these ingredients work with hard water.

This detergent does not get sudsy, but bubbles do not do the cleaning, that is just added for fun.

I've only been using it for a week, but it's working great so far.

Do I need to write, "use at your own risk" or "results may vary"? I don't know, I just noticed others wrote that.  You won't send me nasty notes if you don't like it, right?  I hope not.

If you're hesitant to make a year's supply without trying it out first, I found this smaller quantity recipe.  Sorry I can't find the link I got it from, but here is what I wrote down:

1 bar Fels-Naptha bar soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1/4 cup baking soda

Happy Washing!


  1. Hey Kim!
    Thanks for stopping by my site and viewing the homemade orange degreaser. I really hope you like it! I have an all purpose cleaning recipe as well, you should check it out. Oh and go enter my contest!!
    I make my own laundry detergent as well, and I will never go back! Yours is basically the same recipe as mine. Isn't it awesome??

    1. I just started soaking my orange peels in vinegar today:)! Can't wait to try it out!!

  2. Where did you get the washing soda. I have had trouble finding that one.

    1. I got mine from the local ACE hardware store, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it in the laundry aisle at the grocery store too. I would also check Lowes or Home Depot.

  3. Kim-- this looks so interesting to me. I'm super intrigued and you totally answered my question about use in HE machines. Have you had any problems with stains not coming back? That's my only boys seem to have a stain a day! Thank you bunches for stopping by my blog today. Glad you liked the printables. Always great to meet a new friend in the blog world!!

    1. Kristi, so far so good. I've got two boys and a girl and we are no strangers to stains. If I have any issues, I will do a follow up post. Hope it works for you:)!

  4. Hello Kim,
    I love this recipe and have been using it for years. I have saved tons of money after switching from Tide. I did purchase a 2nd hand food processor that I keep in the laundry. That way I am able to mix it into a super fine powder, works great and clean awesome.
    :) Smiles, Paula

  5. Kim, this sounds exactly like what I've been writing about over on my blog. Check it out. I did learn that by using a food processor to make the soap shreds more like powder does help. I wondered about whether or not it was necessary to use Oxyclean or not. Interesting to note. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Kim,
    Do you happen to know if this mixture is okay to use while washing baby clothes? I know that the biggest issue with laundry detergents and baby items is that the detergents have too much fragrance added. I would love to do this, but I'm curious to know more. Thanks!

  7. The soap looks so pretty in layers in the jar. Now I recognise the packet of boax etc but not the bars of soap, I wonder what their British cousin equivalent is

  8. Oxyclean is just a powdered form of hydrogen peroxide. I just pour some HP into my bleach dispenser for dirty whites. Much cheaper!

  9. Okay mine made it 8 months and I do a lot of laundry! It works awesome in a front loader. I just put it right into the drum and use only 1 coffee scoop. Many people complain that front loaders get an odor but this has never happened with this soap.

    I just made it a few days ago and used a pastry method to make it esier. I put chunks of soap in my Magic Bullet with some of each powder. The powders prevented it from gumming up. No more grating. Quick and easy as pie!


I'm so glad you stopped by for a slice of Plumberry Pie today! Your comments make my day, so comment away!

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