Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes

August 9, 2011
A washer filled with laundry.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!


  • 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)
  • 4 cups of Fabric softener (optional, but, you don'tsp. need to worry about dryer sheets this way)


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

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November 15, 2011

Make your own soap. So easy and economical.

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September 11, 2004

Here's a recipe to make your own laundry soap!

Comment Was this helpful? 1

December 2, 2010

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.

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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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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.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

April 8, 2005

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, 2004

Environmentally friendly cleaning alternatives.

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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.

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 Linda from MA


June 25, 20090 found this helpful

I have made my own laundry soap for almost a year. I make a liquid soap rather than the powder. My first batch I used a Zote bar and my clothes were clean and smelled nice. Then I switched to Fels-Naptha soap to make it and no matter what amount of soap I used my clothes were never clean and my husband complained that they smelled after working in them only a few hours. So I switched to Ivory soap and wasn't happy with it either.


I then went back to using a Zote bar to make my detergent and my clothes look great and smell great. The only place I was able to find the Zote bars was at a local Latino foods grocery store. You can also adjust the amount of borax used according to how hard your water is. For my husband's stinky work clothes I also add 1/4 cup of Simple Green. It gets the greasy smell out of them! I hope this helps!

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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!



By Heather, Australia (Guest Post)
September 14, 20070 found this helpful

Low Suds Laundry Gel - suitable for top or front loading washing machines.

Take one bar of laundry soap (eg Velvet soap) and shred. Place into two quarts (1.9 liters) of simmering water. Stir well and allow to sit, stirring occasionally till completely dissolved. Pour into a 2 gallon (7.4 liter) bucket and add 1 gallon (3.7 liters) of cold water. Dissolve 2 tsp of lye in one cup of cold water (never use an aluminum container for this process - preferably use stainless steel) and when main mixture is cool add the dissolved lye and two cups of borax to the mixture and stir very well until the borax is dissolved. You can add a few drops of essence oils if you want fragrance. Add enough water to the fill the bucket, stir, set aside covered until the next day. It should be a gel that dissolves perfectly into a load of wash.


Use one or two cups per wash load.

I am using caustic soda for the lye. Both the caustic soda and borax are available from the supermarket.
WARNING: Always add your solid form lye (sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, caustic soda) to the liquid. If the liquid were added to the solid form lye a violent reaction could result. This means you could have a "volcano" erupt out of your container. Any form of lye will give off poisonous fumes so don't breathe the fumes in and prepare in a well ventilated area. Do not have children present. The caustic soda prevents your washing machine from clogging up.

I put the gel directly into the drum of the front loading washing machine. The gel is firmish and will clog up the normal dispenser.

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By bambi2003. (Guest Post)
September 14, 20070 found this helpful

I use Ivory soap, washing soda (different than backing soda) and hot water. All I do is grate a bar of Ivory soap and melt it in a pot of water, then I fill up a bucket with about 4 gallons of hot water and add the soap, make sure the soap is smooth or your laundry soap will be lumpy. Last add 2 cups of the washing soda and stir. As it cools it will get thick and then you can put it in your bottles.


I just use water jugs. You use a cup per load. I like the way it works your clothes don't have a perfume smell, but it's the perfume that's bad for us anyway. Hope this helps you. For more great homemade things like baby wipes check out

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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.


By Kathy Jones (Guest Post)
July 31, 20070 found this helpful

I noticed the same thing with the dry homemade detergent. I add about 1/2 cup baking soda to each load. It seems to help alot. Hope this helps you. Kathy Jones

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August 1, 20070 found this helpful

Isn't it just as expensive to make laundry detergent as to buy some of the generic brands? I don't get it.

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Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 59 Requests
August 3, 20070 found this helpful

I think that one of the main reasons people choose to make their own laundry detergent, etc. is that they can be made without any chemicals, scents (for those allergic), and ingredients that may be harmful to the environment. It may not necessarily be cheaper, but it's a part of living "green".

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Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 472 Feedbacks
August 4, 20070 found this helpful

It costs me under 2 cents per load to make homemade laundry soap. I certainly cannot find a generic that cheap. I've never had my clothes smell funny, just clean and unscented. Could it be the machine that you wash you clothes in that could be causing the problem--maybe the laundromat or an older model front-loader (mildew on the gasket seal)? I've heard that in some places, doing laundry and putting them up during humid weather causes problems. I always soak my clothes for a while before I finish washing them to make sure the dirt and natural oils break down. Maybe this would help.

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April 23, 2010

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

By Lola from Bartlesville, OK

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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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April 7, 2009

I am looking for a recipe for laundry detergent.

By Caroline Steele

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June 5, 2011

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

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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.


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 170 Posts
April 12, 20050 found this helpful

Floor Cleaner - do not use on wood or laminated flooring. Great for tile and no-wax floors.
In a one gallon jug add in this order: 3 quarts water, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ammonia and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon bleach-free liquid laundry detergent (I use Tide). This can be used as a floor cleaner or as an all-purpose cleaner. I always have a few spray bottles around the house. I was told by a floor installer, the best way to wash a floor is to first sweep it clean, spray with this cleaner, wait some time, time will depend on how dirty the floor is, and damp mop or wipe. Use one bucket containing clean water to rinse the mop. Empty when water gets dirty. I was told the worst thing for a floor is to swab it - meaning using too much water or cleaner.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 170 Posts
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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