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Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes

Category Laundry
A washer filled with laundry.
Homemade laundry detergent can be just as effective as store bought brands as well. This page contains recipes for homemade laundry detergent.
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By 16 found this helpful
August 9, 2011
This is a super simple way to save a ton of money that goes down the drain for everyone. This also reduces some of the chemical toxicity in the water. For a little work (less than a half an hour) you can make 20 gallons for less than $5!

Ingredients:

  • 2 (5 gallon) buckets,
  • long wooden or durable spoon,
  • stick blender if you have one, or just stir
  • a food processor, grater, or the hand type grater
  • a funnel for pouring into cleaned out laundry soap containers.
  • 2 bars of Fels Naptha Soap
  • 4 cups of Washing Soda (not baking soda)
  • 4 cups borax
  • 1 cup of Bluette or other brand Bluing
  • 2 cups liquid Oxi Clean (generic from the $ store)
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  • 4 cups of Fabric softener (optional, but, you don'tsp. need to worry about dryer sheets this way)

Directions:

You can find most of these ingredients at WalMart in the same general area, like on a bottom shelf.

First get 2 quarts of water boiling, stir in grated bar soap until dissolved, then remove from heat and stir in dry ingredients. Divide between 2 buckets.

To each bucket add have the bluing and Oxiclean plus the fabric softener (if you use it). Stir these until well mixed or use the stick blender. Add water to bring buckets to 3/4 full. Let sit overnight.

Next morning, stir again. It will be a gel like substance, stir very well until thoroughly blended. Pour into soap into containers 3/4 full (use funnel). Shake very well when going to use it.

I get detergent containers from recycling boxes, friends, family members. I like the big ones with the spigot on the end. You can shake it and set on shelf then measure half the cap. If you have others doing laundry, take a permanent marker and mark where half is at on the cap. Make sure they only use half. This is concentrated.

I only wash in cold water and if I have stains to pre-treat, I have an extra bar of Fels Naptha that I get the garment wet and scrub with the bar. It washes out well in the machine.

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Try this! You have nothing but a half hour of time to lose and you will see how well this does and how far it goes. I was amazed when I first tried it. I added the bluing, Oxiclean, and fabric softener to the main recipe you can find anywhere. The bluing brightens whites. I don't like bleach. The Oxiclean is a little extra insurance that it will get really clean, and I use the fabric softener (like national brands do now), to not use softener sheets that clog the filter and cause problems on the life of the dryer. Happy laundry day!

By Suedobbins from Davenport, IA

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By 8 found this helpful
November 15, 2011

Make your own soap. So easy and economical.

Buy a bar of Fels-Naptha soap (found at most grocery stores). Shave it or run through a food chopper, until very fine. Then melt it on a stove in a sturdy pan with 4 cups of hot water. Stir and melt until totally dissolved. Then pour into a 5 gallon bucket and add one cup of Arm and Hammer washing soda, one half cup of borax, and fill the bucket to the top with very hot water. Stir real good.

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Let set overnight. It will be thick and gelled, that's OK. Stir up real good again, and fill empty soap containers with half of this concoction and fill the rest of the container with hot water. Then shake and store or use right away. Shake each time before using.

When doing wash, use about 1/2 cup per load. It works terrific! Really terrific! I have been using this for over two years now and the clothes are washed to perfection. And it's so cheap!

If you run out of fabric softener, add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle, and your clothes will be super soft.

By Sondra from AZ

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September 11, 20041 found this helpful

I would like to give everyone the recipe for homemade laundry soap. This will cost you only around $7 a year to make your own soap!

You will need:

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Directions:

  1. Fill large bucket or container with 3 gallons of hot tap water.

  2. Grate the bar of soap into a saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the soap, and heat, stirring constantly until soap is dissolved.

  3. Add soap/water mixture to the hot water in the bucket. Stir to combine.

  4. Add 1 cup of washing soda and stir (do not mix up these steps).

  5. As this cools, it will turn into a white gelatinous soap. Thickness depends on the size of bucket used.

Use 1 1/2 to 2 cups per load of laundry. You can add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the load as well. Use 1/2 cup vinegar in a Downy ball as a softener (the vinegar smell does not stay in your clothes).

Marsha

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December 2, 20105 found this helpful

Using dish soap for laundry soap is cheaper, but making your own from Ivory soap bars, washing soda (not baking soda), and borax, is extremely cheap and very easy to make. Melt the soap in the water, add the washing soda and borax, then dilute it with more water and you're done. Look for the recipe on the internet. You may not find all the ingredients at your store, but they are available online

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By P.L. from Navarre, OH

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By 5 found this helpful
November 6, 2011

Making your own powdered detergent is a lot easier, less mess, and doesn't take up all the space. Here is the recipe I found online and now use.

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By 1 found this helpful
June 26, 2013

Many years ago when I was a student, I first found a homemade laundry detergent recipe on ThirftyFun (so long ago it wasn't even called TF yet!) and have used a variant of it for years and years.

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March 26, 20171 found this helpful

Making your own laundry detergent powder can save you money, and give you the cleaning results you want. This is a guide about homemade powdered laundry soap.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap

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March 17, 20171 found this helpful

Many ThriftyFun members have asked for or shared the recipe that the Duggar Family uses to wash the laundry for their famously large family. This page features homemade homemade laundry detergent recipes like the one that the Duggar's use.

Supplies for making laundry detergent.

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April 8, 20050 found this helpful

This is a recipe that my grandmother used to make (as did her mother) and she always said it's good for an all purpose type soap, meaning laundry, housecleaning, etc.

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September 11, 20040 found this helpful

Environmentally friendly cleaning alternatives.

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March 14, 20170 found this helpful

You can save a lot of money by making your own laundry powder. This page contains a recipe for DIY dry laundry soap for $20 a year.

A box of baking soda and borax.

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March 15, 20170 found this helpful

Diluted dish soap is used by many people in place of laundry detergent. This is a guide about how to make your own laundry soap with dish soap.

A woman smelling fresh laundry.

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March 14, 20170 found this helpful

Certain cleaning products are not recommended if you are on a septic system. This is a guide about making septic safe laundry detergent.

A man putting clothes into a washing machine.

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June 4, 20130 found this helpful

This is a guide about homemade laundry soap for an HE washer. You can easily and inexpensively make your own laundry soap to use in all types of washers, including HE.

HE Washer

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
October 10, 2004

I just made my first batch of laundry soap (fels naptha, washing soda, borax combo). After sitting for 24 hours, it didn't gel up like it should have. Instead, it serparated into liquid with a waxy, 1 inch top (kinda looks like how fat rises on soup when refrigerated). What did I do wrong? Can it be fixed by re-heating the batch? I thought I followed the directions exactly.

Leann D

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April 17, 20110 found this helpful

I bought Castille soap...can I use this in lieu of the Fels Napa soap?

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By 0 found this helpful
August 11, 2007

Has anyone got a recipe for homemade laundry detergent that does NOT include borax? I CANNOT find it in my country. I have an automatic front loader. Washing soda and laundry bar soap is easily available here. Any suggestions please? Most detergents here in Malta are imported and they are very expensive. Thanks.

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By guest (Guest Post)
December 7, 20080 found this helpful

For those that have a hard time finding the washing soda you can call 1-800-524-1328 and give them your zip code and they will tell you the stores close to you that carries it. The code for it is UPC: 33200-03020 but I did not have to tell them the code.

For locations that carry the Borax you can put in your zip on this site and it will bring up a list of local stores for you http://www.dial  or/storeloc2.cfm You have to select laundry care in the brand drop down, then select 20 mule team borax 76 oz in the item drop down

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By 0 found this helpful
June 24, 2009

Has anyone had trouble with homemade laundry detergent? I made a batch using the recipe: 1 bar of shredded soap, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 cup borax. It called for using a tablespoon in the wash. I have been using 2 tablespoons and it does not seem to be getting my clothes clean. Does anyone have a suggestion?

By pcheflm from MA

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February 22, 20160 found this helpful

I use this laundry soap all the time. 1 bar of Zote soap

1 cup borax

1 cup washing soda

Grate, soap, melt on stove, pour in 5 gallons of hot water, . stir, sit , and I use 1/2 to 1 cup of soap in the washer. Its the amount of soap you are using. Mix the soap in a 5 call on bucket of hot water and use 1 cup in each load. You will love it.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 11, 2007

What do you use to make your own laundry detergent? My husband and I are expecting and I am trying to think of new ways to cut costs. Does anyone know how to make homemade laundry detergent? If so please post the recipe!

Thanks!

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

Wisconsin is where I live, We have Piggly Wiggly and Pick and Save grocery stores. I have found washing soda at both of these stores.It's made by Arm and Hammer [same company that makes Baking Soda ; 'edible ' ]. It helps to 'improve liquid laundry detergent performance up to 40%'. Also a household cleaner. Pure and natural, 100% fragrance and phosphate free. For a free booklet send a 'sase' to Super Washing, Arm and Hammer Division, Church & Dwight Co. Inc; P.O. Box 7468 Princton, NJ 08543-7468. Hope this helps to answer your question about washing soda[ not edible].

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By 0 found this helpful
July 31, 2007

When I made my liquid laundry detergent, it came out fine. I have noticed since doing laundry with it that it seems the clothes end up with a really odd smell, kind of mildewy. Any ideas? I didn't add any scent, essential oils or anything. I really enjoy having clothes on the line after washing for that fresh from the line smell.

Thanks for any help.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 5, 20080 found this helpful

It is incredibly cheaper not to mention healthier for you and the water supply. We have a well and I wouldn't use anything else now.

Also no plastic jugs or packaging left to deal with. Win/Win/Win

And yes I do put vinegar in the rinse cycle. Removes all the soap, softens the water and clothes, and no static cling.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 23, 2010

I need a recipe for low suds laundry detergent. Thank you.

By Lola from Bartlesville, OK

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December 1, 20100 found this helpful

A helpful hint is to use Ivory bar soap when making this recipe. You can put the soap in the microwave (that's right...the microwave!) and watch it expand. Then place the expanded soap in a pot of boiling water and dissolve it. There is no grating which is a big plus since I hated grating my soap! Not to mention if you have kids, they love to watch the soap expand and it will not hurt your microwave one bit! Happy laundry soap making!

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By 0 found this helpful
April 13, 2010

Anyone have suggestions how to grate down pink Zote soap for laundry detergent? It is quite a soft soap and I have to leave it grated larger or it gets gummy.

When I tried making liquid laundry detergent with it, it wouldn't melt, it just clumped up. I have a bunch of it I'd like to use. When I leave it in the larger grated form, it doesn't seem to dissolve very well. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.

By Cristin from NY

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June 12, 20130 found this helpful

I got a coffee grinder at a flea market and it works great to shred this kind of soap.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 7, 2009

I am looking for a recipe for laundry detergent.

By Steelepottery

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April 16, 20090 found this helpful

Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/2 full with hot water. Grate about 5 oz. of Ivory soap and dissolve it in a pot on the stovetop, stirring often. Add 1/2 cup borax and 1 cup washing soda to bucket. Then pour in the dissolved soap. Mix together to dissolve powders then fill bucket o the top with hot water. Cover and let sit overnight. Mixture will gel. When filling laundry detergent containers fill with 1 part detergent and 1 part water. Shake well before each use. You end up with 10 gallons of detergent! Use about 5 oz. per load. If you can't find washing soda use soda ash. It's the same thing. You can find it with swimming pool supplies. It will say sodium carbonate or soda ash. It's used to raise ph in swimming pools.

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June 5, 20110 found this helpful

Does anyone add Tide or another store bought laundry detergent to your homemade powdered laundry detergent? If so, how much do you add? Mine seems to need a booster. It doesn't get the grimy look out of some clothes.

By lasamons

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 12, 20120 found this helpful

Dawn Dishwashing Liquid does wonders! If clothes are greasy or grass stained, Dawn will help. It does wonders on greasy clothes, just squirt some in your washer (for work clothes). For everyday clothes, squirt some on the stain, rub it in and wash.

Another example, I was dying my hair a few days ago, got some on my pants, instantly took some Dawn and squirted a little on the stain, rubbed it in and washed, No more stain! Dawn does work and vary inexpensive. Good Luck!

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By 0 found this helpful
March 10, 2010

I am using my homemade laundry soap and I have little pieces of soap that will not dissolve in the laundry water. Do I need to use hot water or is there a better solution?

By Cindy from St. Louis, MO

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March 18, 20100 found this helpful

This is why I make the liquid. By the way, you don't have to put the liquid in a 5 gallon bucket. After melting the soap in some water, adding the borax and washing soda, pour it into a smaller container with a lid. Do not stir. It forms a semi-hard /semi-soft mass. Just scoop out a small amount and add to the wash. A Tbsp is plenty.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 18, 2015

I have a Kenmore refrigerator model 106.9708283. It does not run at all, only lights.

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July 19, 20150 found this helpful

I am a great believer in repairpersons whenever possible, but a fridge that doesn't cool at all might be major problems. You should probably consult someone, but in my experience fridges work nearly forever until they die. Then you buy a new one.

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November 9, 2011

I'm very intrigued by the idea of making my own laundry detergent, but I'm also a bit concerned. We purchased a front loader a few years ago and had the same problem as many with odors. After trying different ideas, I stopped using liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener. I now use powdered and the smell is gone.

I'm worried that the homemade detergent, being liquid, would start the odor problems again. Has anyone had experience with this? Thanks so much for your advice.

By Jessica from Hillsboro, OR

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May 26, 20130 found this helpful

If you use washing soda and borax for washing and add vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser, most of the smell will go away. I wipe the gasket with a damp cloth and white vinegar and them spray peroxide on it and let is sit, then just scrub it dry with a wadded up old holey sock.

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May 12, 20090 found this helpful

I am working on a green laundry detergent recipe to sell to consumers. I want to do my part in saving this planet. I understand that soap nuts with a few other natural ingredients works great for what I am trying to do but the liquid version of it has to be used within 3 to 4 days. Do you have any recipes or suggestions on what to use for preservatives to make it have a longer shelf life?

Nakia

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July 14, 20140 found this helpful

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is an antioxidant - this is great to use in oils to prevent them from becoming rancid, but it is not a preservative. To date there is not an all natural preservative. A preservative isn't necessary in a dry laundry detergent, but if you are adding water to a bar soap, it may grow bacteria and/or mold - If you make a laundry detergent using a liquid soap paste that was made with oils and potassium hydroxide, your detergent should be safe based upon the ph of the end product. HTH :)

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By 0 found this helpful
April 11, 2005

I would be more grateful if you send me the ingredients and preparation for making detergent powder and floor cleaning liquid at home for my home consumption. Thanking you.

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April 12, 20050 found this helpful

Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 cup grated Fels Naptha Bar Soap

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup borax

Mix and store in airtight container or bag. For light loads, use 1 tablespoon. For heavy loads, use 2 tablespoons.

Since you are in India, I do not know if these ingredients are available to you. Maybe someone reading this could suggest any substitutes.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 7, 2016

Can I use homemade lye soap instead of the Fels Naptha? I have been making lye soap for years, and I love it. I know most store bought bar soaps are not made with real lye. They use a mixture with potassium instead of sodium. Will this make a chemical reaction I should be aware of? Please let me know. Thank you.

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February 19, 20160 found this helpful

My mother used to make lye soap and she used it in her washing machine by grating a little off the bar. I can't remember her using anything else with it. I hope this helps.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 7, 2012

Can you add Oxiclean to homemade laundry soap?

By Karen

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April 8, 20120 found this helpful

I've never added it to homemade powder, but I have mixed it in with commercial clothes detergent powder, so I think you should be able to do it with homemade.

It was pretty easy for me to do it with the commercial product because the soap and OxyClean containers are labelled for how many loads are in each (using the recommended amount per wash). I mixed the OxyClean and commercial soap powder based on that; used a wooden spoon to mix it in a squeaky clean bucket then put it in a dollar store tote to dispense.

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By 0 found this helpful
November 4, 2011

Are the homemade washing detergent recipes OK for front loader washing machines?

By Jennifer

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November 7, 20110 found this helpful

I make my own liquid laundry detergent and use it all the time in my front loader. Works wonderfully!

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October 5, 20110 found this helpful

What is the shelf life of homemade laundry detergent using borax, soap, and washing soda? Thanks in advance.

By Sue

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October 13, 20110 found this helpful

I've been making it for over a decade and make 2 batches at a time; none have ever gone bad.

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