Does Homemade Laundry Detergent Really Get Clothes Clean?

A mother and child enjoying the smell of their fresh laundry.
This is a page about whether homemade laundry detergent really gets clothes clean. Many people are skeptical about whether homemade laundry detergents work as well as store bought ones. Here is some feedback and recipes from people that use homemade detergents.


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February 25, 2011

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


February 28, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

I make laundry powder using 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup soda ash, 1 cup Borax, 15 drops of whatever essential oil I happen to like at the moment, then whisk it all together until blended. My favorite scent is Lily of the Valley; many people think of it as "fresh linen". My husband loves the smell. For a big tough guy, he has remarkably sensitive skin and this detergent doesn't bother him at all.


His work coveralls & jeans get very dirty but this does the trick. I only use about 1/4 cup. I gave some to a friend for Christmas (she had admired the scent) and she uses it for her fine hand-washables.

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Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 290 Feedbacks
February 25, 20110 found this helpful

I made my own powdered laundry detergent once and won't waste money making any more. By the time that I bought all of the necessary ingredients which were Fels Naptha soap, Borax, and Arm and Hammer Super washing soda to make it I found it was much cheaper actually buying liquid laundry detergent at the dollar stores.


I stay away from major brands and buy the off brands. So much cheaper in the long run.

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February 26, 20110 found this helpful

We make our own and love it. I have daily clothing alon with work uniforms. It cleans as well as store-bought also we love it because there is no strong fragrance to it. Even with fels naphtha bar it almost scent free . A major plus because when it come to handling our honeybees we can't have any scents or fragrance on us. I guess it all depends on if you have a Lot of laundry to do and if you can get the ingredients at good price to. We make the liquid and it was
Cheaper than the powder, also for a family of three it lasts 5-6 months.

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February 28, 20110 found this helpful

Yes, I made this exact soap and used it and also gave it for Christmas gifts one year....BUT I don't recall it calling for that much soap per wash, it was more like 1/4 cup. Please review that part.

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February 28, 20110 found this helpful

I have made my own liquid detergent for almost a year and will not buy another commercial bottle. It cleans well and costs pennies to make and lasts much longer than a than a tiny store bought bottle.


I do use a whole cup per load for a large load of clothes, sometimes much less for not so dirty clothes.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 172 Posts
February 28, 20110 found this helpful

MCW, I have to agree with you. I did it once too and found it to be just as expensive. It didn't dissolve well either and grating that Fels Naptha was a hassle.

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Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 407 Feedbacks
March 1, 20110 found this helpful

I have made both powder and liquid. I don't like the powder and found it expensive and difficult to dissolve in cold water. The liquid is very inexpensive to make although I do alternate weeks using it with Arm & Hammer detergent.


For very dirty clothes, like my yard work clothes, I still use better detergent like Tide. Basically I would say home made can help you out, but not completely replace store bought.

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March 3, 20110 found this helpful

I make the liquid soap and have used it for the last 15 years. A 5 gallon batch lasts our family of 5 about 3 months. The ingredients cost a bit more up front, but 5 gallons cost me $1.32 to make, buying the washing soda and borax on sale. The boxes last forever. I use 1/8 cup of soap per load in my HE front load washer. I invested in a nice grater that takes only a few minutes to grate the Fels Naptha bar. For the half hour or so I spend every 3 months making soap, it doesn't pay to buy it anymore.

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Bronze Tip Medal for All Time! 64 Tips
March 16, 20110 found this helpful

I make my own laundry soap-I only make the powdered version-why mess with heavy bottles containing water when you are going to add water to the machine aanyway. It contains washing soda, borax and grated fels or any bar soap. I save all the little bar soaps from when I travel and use the fodprocessor to grate them.

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September 19, 20110 found this helpful

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
A Funnel
A Laddle
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)
Marbles (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.

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