Homemade laundry detergent can be just as effective as store bought brands as well. This page contains recipes for homemade laundry detergent.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
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!
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.
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
Buy these ingredients at the dollar store. You will only need 2 tablespoons per load of laundry.
You can add 1-2 containers of fabric softener crystals into the mix for a nice smell.
By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
I only now finally went to the website of the Duggar Family, the family from the "20 Kids and Counting" TV show, and found a treasure trove indeed! Below are 2 laundry tips that really impressed me and gave me a wake-up call with the "recipe cost." Approximately $2 per batch! The Fabric Softener Recipe sounds especially wonderful.
Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons. Top Load Machine- 5/8 cup per load (approximately.180 loads). Front Load Machines- 1/4 cup per load (approximately 640 loads).
Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate! Recipe cost approx. $2 per batch.
By Erin813 from Seffner, FL
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.
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
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.
Grate 1 bar of Ivory soap (or other not strongly scented bar soap). Add 1/2 cup of borax. Add 1/2 cup washing soda. Mix together and store in air tight container. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.
This recipe is for a low-sudsing detergent and works especially well in high efficiency washing machines.
By Alice from Poteau, OK
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
By P.L. from Navarre, OH
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. Such that, I ALWAYS have both Borax and Washing Soda on-hand -- in fact, I use neither for any other purpose, and the mix for laundry is 1:1, so I simply mix the two boxes together when I purchase them.
Here's the refined recipe, bigger and less complicated, tweaked for maximum cleaning power and maximum thrift, along with maximum convenience. Every step rooted in basic science. It is totally non-toxic, so follow the directions closely or experiment/tweak it if that's your style:
Melt 1/2 bar grated Ivory (or ANY) soap (or 1/2 cup Castille soap)
in 1 quart of hot water. Dump mixture in an approx. 2 gallon bucket. Add 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax, 10 drops e-oil (for scent). Add 2 gallon of water. Mix, let sit overnight before use.
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!
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).
There are many different recipes to help save you money and clean your laundry. This is a guide about making homemade laundry detergent.
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.
Let stand 1 hour. Measure the dishpan or other large container. Pour water (with dissolved lye and Borax) into:
18 cups warm (all melted) grease (clean strained).
Add 1 Tbsp. ammonia after stirring for a while, and stir constantly, for 10 minutes. Use standard measuring cup for grease and water. Should be getting stiff after 10 minutes stirring. Just before it stiffens, stir in contents of a box or Dreft.
*Baking Soda: cleans and deodorizes. Softens water to increase sudsing and cleaning power of soap. Also good for scouring and deodorizing your refrigerator and sinks. To deodorize your trash, put 1/2 cup in the bottom of the can. Is also a good fabric softener for your laundry. When turned into a paste with water, you can rub it to polish silver.
*Borax: cleans and deodorizes when mixed with soap and water. Also good for disinfecting and softening water, and replacing commercial color enhancers for your laundry (including bleach) and laundry detergent. Can be found in laundry section of supermarket.
*Plain soap: Biodegrades safely and is totally nontoxic.
*Washing soda: Cuts grease and removes stains, disinfects, softens water. Available in laundry section of supermarket.
*White vinegar: Cuts grease & freshens surfaces. Also good for taking stains out of carpets, dishes, clearing drains, and as a fabric softener for your laundry. Good for deodorizing pet stains. Can also polish chrome, if undiluted.
*Ammonia: for cleaning ovens. (Do not mix with commercial cleaners or bleach; the mix causes a deadly fume.)
*Lemon oil/lemon juice: Polishes unwaxed wood when mixed with vegetable oil or mineral water. (Buff hard after polishing with clean cloth.) Also good for polishing aluminum.
*Melted paraffin and vinegar: if you soak a cloth in this mix and let the cloth dry, it polishes waxed wood. Always melt paraffin in a double boiler.
Based on information from the Environmental Defense Fund Website
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Here are questions related to Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes.
I'm looking for a laundry detergent recipe.
By Bugluvver from St. Paul, MN
You can Google a recipe. I have been told the recipe containing felsnaptha is the better one.
I am looking into making my own laundry soap to save some money, but will I really save money? I get my detergent on sale at the discount store and I figure that it costs about 12 cents a load. To me, that is very good. If I make my own, what will it cost per load based on your own experience.
Mindy from Oregon
By Winona 02/16/2010
Yes you will save money. I make soap 2 times a year. I make the powder detergent. I also use white vinegar in my loads also. Remember the ingredients used can be used for other cleaning so you will save money all around.
What bars of soap can I use to make laundry powder?
By Misty E.07/05/2014
I used a 3 gal bucket and put in one box of preshredded zote one box of arm and hammer washing soda and 3/4 a box of borax makes 6months - a year if detergent if using 1-2 tablespoons on each load. Spent $10.
Can you add Oxiclean to homemade laundry soap?
By Frugal Sunnie 04/08/2012
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.
I made the homemade laundry detergent last week and was wanting to add the scented oil to have it smell good. I am not sure which scented oil to add and am worried it may get oil on my clothes.
By Jennifer Hobbs B.02/16/2014
I make homemade liquid laundry detergent and add 100% essential oils. Just put 15-20 drops in your detergent (gallon jug) and shake really good. It will not get on your clothes. 100% essential oils are safe even safe enough to ingest. Good luck
This is the recipe I used: 1 bar of grated fels naptha soap in 4 cups of water in a medium size pan, over medium heat until all soap dissolves. I also added grapefruit scent from Hobby Lobby made for making soap. Then I filled a 5 gallon pail with approximately 4 gallons of hot tap water, to this I added 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of borax, then added the mix of dissolved fels naptha soap and previously added scent to the 5 gallon bucket. I stirred it well and put the lid on. I have waited a full 24 hours and the soap is still liquid, no gel at all. What did I do wrong? Can you help?
By Jill W. from Sterling, IL
By Jilly Bean 07/30/2012
I've always melted the Fels Naptha, turned off the heat, added the borax and soda and stir till they are dissolved then added it to the hot water in my large container. Given a night, it's always the consistency of runny egg whites and easy to stir to a smooth consistency. Good luck!
I would like to make my own laundry soap. It calls for Fels-Naptha laundry soap, borax, and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda. I cannot get the soap and washing soda in my area. Would it be okay to use Sunlight pure soap and just regular Arm and Hammer soda instead?
You can make washing soda from baking soda by yourself in the oven. The only difference chemically is the presence of carbon dioxide. Google "making washing soda from baking soda." It's a simple process and the chemical change is easily evident.
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
By GarynSharon D. 05/26/2013
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.
Are the homemade washing detergent recipes OK for front loader washing machines?
By Rita 11/07/2011
I make my own liquid laundry detergent and use it all the time in my front loader. Works wonderfully!
How do you make high efficiency laundry soap?
By Shar R.
What is the shelf life of homemade laundry detergent using borax, soap, and washing soda? Thanks in advance.
By susan 10/13/2011
I've been making it for over a decade and make 2 batches at a time; none have ever gone bad.
A friend gave me a recipe for homemade laundry soap. It is made with 6 cups of borax, 4 cups of baking soda, 4 cups of washing soda, and 4 cups of graded bar soap.
My problem is it doesn't tell how much to use in each load of laundry? Does anyone know this recipe and how much to use? I would be very thankful for the answer!
By JoAnn from Powell, MO
By LisaE 03/14/2011
I also use homeade laundry detergent but I always use the liquid version. However, I have read in a few places that those who use powdered only use 1-2 Tbs. per load and they say their clothes come out clean.
Experiment a bit and see what works for you. Hope this helps!
Has anyone tried making their own laundry detergent? I read a recipe which used Fels Naptha soap, borax, and Arm and Hammer Super washing soda. It makes 10 gallons. You use 5/8ths of a cup per regular load. Does it clean regular clothing, etc.? Just curious. Thanks in advance.
By Sandi from Scotland, CT
By Angela Michels09/19/2011
This is an awesome recipe for liquid laundry soap! I have been using it for over a year now and I absolutely love it! It works great as a pre-treat stain remover just by dabbing a bit on a stain and letting it sit over night. I have turned several of my friends and family onto this soap because once you try it you are hooked! The ingredients are trustworthy products that have been around for years! This recipe makes 5 gallons of liquid laundry soap so you only have to make a batch every few months depending on how much you go through laundry detergent.
What you'll need:
A Kitchen Grater
Empty Jugs to Store your soap
5 Gallon Bucket or a Large 5 Gallon Pot
5 Gallons of Water
1 Bar of Fels Naptha Soap grated (Found in the bar soaps aisle)
1 1/2 Cups of Borax (Found in the laundry soap aisle)
1 1/2 Cups of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (Found in the laundry soap aisle)
1 1/2 Cups Dawn Dishsoap (Optional)
First you grate your bar of Fels Naptha Soap, either in a bowl or straight into a pan. Bring a gallon of waer to a boil, and add your shredded Fels Naptha Soap. Stir occasionally until your Fels Naptha is completely melted. Once the Fels Naptha is melted, turn off the burner. Then add 1 1/2 cups of Borax and 1 1/2 cups of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda to the pan. Stir until both powders are completely dissolved. Now at this point you can add the remaining 4 gallons of water either into your pan if it is large enough, or you can pour contents of the pan into a 5 gallon bucket then add the remaining 4 gallons of water. Mix it all up really good. At this point you have made a laundry detergent but it does not have suds like traditional laundry soap. I have to have a laundry soap that gt sudsy because my memory is not very good and sometimes I forget if I put the laundry soap in. So at this point I slowly stir in 1 1/2 cups of Dawn Dishsoap. It is great for cutting grease also! Now you let your soap cool down before we add it to our jugs. After it cools I use a ladle to scoop up the soap and a funnel to pour it into my jugs leaving about an inch from the top of the jug. It's a great way to recycle your old laundry soap jugs! I personally use old juice bottles because they are smaller, and weigh less. If you have a back or neck problems, or are making this for an elderly person then juice bottles are great way to go! I like to add one marble to each one of my jugs because over time this soap will thicken so the marble works great to help mix it up again. Before each use I lightly shake the bottle to stir up the ingredients and give it a nice liquid form again. I add about a 3/4 cup of soap per load, and get beautiful results! This recipe is safe for HE washers as well.
Is homemade detergent safe for septic systems?
By Jeanne from Hackettstown, NJ
By bkvander 12/13/2010
I use Dawn dish soap for regular dirt and Ivory liquid for fine/delicate stuff, we have a "mound" system and our clean out man says ours is always in great shape. Tons cheaper too!
How do I make laundry soap with Fels Naptha soap?
By Koposhi from Decatur, IL
By kim 01/25/2014
The Fels Naptha is in bar form so you can grate it first before putting into the hot water. The first time I made detergent I made the powder form which suggested putting the bar (Ivory in place of when making for gentle washing) in the microwave for, I think a minute or so first. The Ivory bar poofs out about ten times its size (it's really fun to watch). Then I put it into my food processor. It crumbles perfectly!
However, I would NEVER use those recipe directions again because it took months for the smell (and taste, whether physiological or not) to be rid of in the microwave. The next time, I made the liquid (gel) form. But be safe! You don't want to be doing this unless you can open the windows and turn on any exhaust fans. Even with taking the precautions the smell can be quite strong. I wouldn't suggest little ones (or asthmatics) be around when making it. I would assume this stuff is made in factories with enormous exhausts and safety gear. Fels Naptha
Soap bar is an excellent and very inexpensive staple in my laundry room. It has been for years. It's excellent for pre treating! I see it popping up more and more as there are more and more thrifty seekers out there. Thank you Thrifty Fun!
I need a recipe for low suds laundry detergent. Thank you.
By Lola from Bartlesville, OK
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!
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
I got a coffee grinder at a flea market and it works great to shred this kind of soap.
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
By susan 03/18/2010
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.
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
By Cassie 04/14/2011
I always use 1/4 cup of the homemade liquid laundry detergent and I have no problem with my clothes coming clean and sometimes I also add about 20 drops of essential oil to the laundry detergent while it is in the bottle and when I do the rinse, I use 1/4 cup of white vinegar that also has the 20 drops of essential oil to the gallon and it leaves my clothes smelling fresh and clean.
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?
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 :)
I am looking for a recipe for laundry detergent.
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.
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!
By linda van houten02/19/2010
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].
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.
By LaToya (Guest Post)12/07/2008
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.dialcorp.com/storelocator/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
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.
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.
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.
I bought Castille soap...can I use this in lieu of the Fels Napa soap?
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
Anyone know of a recipe for laundry detergent for the new front loading washers. They call for HE formulas (low sudser and high efficiency).
By cakelady (Guest Post)
I've used a recipe for making homemade laundry detergent, it contains borax, washing soda, grated soap, glycerin, and water. I have used the same recipe in the past, but didn't add the glycerin and water and just used it as dry powdered detergent. However, now that I've put it in a container, it seems to have formed a solid soap layer at the top of the jug!
Do any of you make liquid laundry detergent? If so, how do you keep it LIQUID? And do you have any tips on how to save this batch?
Rachel from California
By Sharon Fergusson
I have misplaced my recipe for making laundry detergent. Can someone out there send theirs? I really enjoyed using the homemade detergent; it was frugal and did a great cleaning job.
With 3 teen-age kids, a husband, 4 dogs & a horse, there are dirty towels, jeans, etc. CONSTANTLY! A batch lasts me approximatly 1 month.
Perhaps a person could find the "sale" soap, but I wonder how much energy was used to make that product? Where is the plastic container going after the detergent is used? How much energy is being used to recycle these plastic containers? We can't say we do everything "green", but this is one of our contributions to our future environment. (06/22/2007)
How do you make your own laundry detergent?
Patti from Levittown
By By Teresa
I have lost my instructions for making homemade laundry detergent. Please help? Thanks.