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Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes

Category 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!
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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)
  • 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.

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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

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.

Ingredients:

Directions

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.

Source: homemadelaundrysoap.net

By Alice from Poteau, OK

Comment Was this helpful? 5

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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September 19, 20170 found this helpful

Fels-Naptha is a common ingredient in homemade soaps. You can make your own homemade laundry soap using Fels-Naptha.

Homemade Laundry Soap

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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

Answers

By guest (Guest Post)
October 11, 20040 found this helpful

Hello, I've been making this exact homemade laundry detergent for years. It's truly the best, both economically and cleaning wise!!! You'll love it and won't use any other laundry detergent, again!!! This recipe always gels up. It's completely fine and normal. Just take a long spoon and stir it up. Enjoy saving lots of money by using this recipe. I estimate that it costs about 50 cents to 75 cents per gallon to make and you only use about 1/4 cup per load of wash. Happy Savings!!! :-) :-)

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

I would be very interested in this recipe please.

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

Ok, I fixed the batch, and now it's gelled nicely (I re-heated the whole batch and stired it every hour or so until it cooled). Here's the recipe:
1/3 bar fels naptha laundry soap - grated
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Put fels naptha into a pan and add about 6 cups water. Heat, stiring constantly, until soap is melted. Stir in washing soda and borax. Continue stirring until dissolved. Fill a 2 gallon bucket with hot tap water. Add soap mixture and stir well to combine. As it cools it will turn into a gel. Use 1/2 cup per load of laundry.

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

I have used the powdered Fels Napa detergent when I had a top load washer. I now have a front load, (love it!), and am reluctant to use the Fels Napa detergent. Less detergent is used in a front load washer. Since the Fels Napa detergent doesn't create a lot of suds, I'm not sure how much to use? Does anyone know the amount to use? Thanks you.

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

I know what fels naptha laundry soap is and I know what borax is but what is washing soda?

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October 11, 20040 found this helpful

Thanks for posting the recipe

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 18, 20040 found this helpful

love this recipe, I used it in my dishwasher as well

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March 16, 20050 found this helpful

The only thing I see wrong with the recipe is you put 1 quart of hot water in a two gallon bucket then add the soap mixture to the bucket and stir real good then add enough water to fill the 2 gallon bucket and stir. I also add 1/2 cup of all fabric bleach to my recipe and love the results. I don't plan on using a store bought brand again. Also for a very good prewash spray mix 1/2 cup of amonia, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of homemade detergent and 1/2 cup of water mix together in a spray bottle and use as you would spray and wash. Make sure you wash cloths after spraying because it's not good to sit on clothes.

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March 17, 20050 found this helpful

http://hillbill  20.com/index.cgi has a very involved discussion on making homemade laundry soap, under the headings The 5 & 10 or Homemaking. Some used Fels Naptha, some used Zote soap as the "soap" part of the recipe. I love the whole idea of being frugal in every aspect of our lives.
Thanks to so many people for such good ideas.

Tressa

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 9, 20050 found this helpful

i got rocks twice when making this recipe. clear hard rocks at the bottom of the bucket. was it possibly because i did not stir enough? also, i found it to seperate so very quickly. actually it only gelled up once for me. i dont remember what i did that was different than all the other times. any suggestions?

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November 4, 20050 found this helpful

I have some more specific intructions for it. The first time I made it it came out a little too watery and lumpy. After practice I have it down and it is a nice gel consistency.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

3 Pints Water
1/3 Bar Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap, Grated
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
Bucket
4 Quarts + 1 Pint Boiling/Hot Water
optional: 15 drops Lavender Essential Oil (or whatever EO you prefer)
optional: 10 drops Tea Tree Oil

Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Add another 2 quarts boiling hot water and 1 additional quart plus 1 pint hot water and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

I use cloth diapers on my two boys so I have a lot of laundry. I make up the detergent two batches at a time in a 5 gallon bucket. I love this stuff!

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February 25, 20060 found this helpful

Hi there. Thanks for the recipe my Mother used to make this years ago. the one thing hard to find is the Washing Soda. I wondered could you add Lemon Juice for a fragrance??

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 12, 20070 found this helpful

I love this recipe. It smells so clean and fresh! I've passed it on and on and on! i LOVE saving money!

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March 18, 20070 found this helpful

I don't use borax in every load because it lightes and fades your clothes. I use a paring knife to sliver the Zote soap (that is the one that I prefer) and fill a container about half way with the soap. I add enough water to fill the container. Put on the lid and shake. Then leave it alone for a couple of days. Whenever I go into the basement, I shake the container. In about a week it is all gelled. I pour it through a colander and put the liquid in an old detergent bottle. I mush the remaining pieces, add some more soap slivers, add water and repeat the process. This does take a awhile, but it is easier than measuring, heating, mixing and stirring. When I do laundry, just put in a few table spoons of liquid, washing soda, and borax (if you are doing a light load) and wash as usual. I don't like my clothes to have any fragrance, so I skip the scented oils.

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By guest (Guest Post)
May 26, 20070 found this helpful

I am about to make this, and the directions I have say that it will probably separate into two sections, and to just make sure to stir or shake up (if using an old detergent bottle) to remix and everything will be fine.

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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.

Answers

August 11, 20070 found this helpful

Cettina: borax is nice to add to your recipe because it boosts the cleaning power of soap but it's not necessary. You can do without or substitute the following: baking soda(deodorizing) or white vinegar(fights mildew and mold and brightens colors -- but never use vinegar and bleach together, they produce toxic fumes). Hope this helps!

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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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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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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.

Answers

By guest (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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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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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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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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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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By 0 found this helpful
April 7, 2009

I am looking for a recipe for laundry detergent.

By Steelepottery

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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

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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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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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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 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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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.

Answers

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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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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By 0 found this helpful
April 7, 2012

Can you add Oxiclean to homemade laundry soap?

By Karen

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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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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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By 0 found this helpful
March 11, 2011

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

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October 27, 20140 found this helpful

How do I use Boraxo hand soap to wash clothes in my machine? and do I mix it with regular washing detergent?

By Angelo

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 10, 20110 found this helpful

I would like to know how to make laundry detergent.

By Marilyn from Knoxville, TN

Answers:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Go to Craftster.org and type in laundry detergent in the search box. There are several lovely tutorials to choose from. You may have to search through several pages of entries before you find one you like and want to try, but it is worth a look. :) (10/06/2010)

By SuzyQ82

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Grate a bar of natural castille soap (I love Dr. Bronners's) into a container. Add 2 cups of the Arm and Hammer washing soda, 1 cup of Borax, and 1/4 cup of baking soda. Put the lid on, shake it to mix it. Use 2 tablespoons for each load. (10/20/2010)

By tojoyamoto

Homemade Laundry Detergent

The recipe that works for me is similar. 1 bar of grated soap, 1 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup baking soda. I use half washing soda and half baking soda because I've found that all washing soda was causing some color fade. 2 spoonfuls per load, (give or take and less if you have an HE), works just as well as commercial detergents, in my opinion.

For the soap, many people use Fels Naptha, but it can be hard to find and expensive to buy, online, (especially when you factor in shipping). I can only find it and the washing soda at Wegmans. Ivory's ingredients are similar. I'll make a double batch, using one bar of Fels, one of Ivory.

There are a lot of recipes for liquid detergents out there. Don't bother. I've never had any problems with these not dissolving, even in cold. Just put them in the bottom of the tub before filling. You can even treat stains by dipping a damp toothbrush in the powder and scrubbing the stain, though an enzyme-based spray is good to keep on hand, too. (11/09/2010)

By snickerspotpie

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August 19, 20100 found this helpful

I recently was away from home for a few days. I had just made up a double batch of this homemade powder laundry detergent.

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Laundry Detergent
Making Homemade Laundry Detergent
Categories
Make Your Own LaundryAugust 10, 2011
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HE Washer
Homemade Laundry Soap for an HE Washer
Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap - soap in a jar
Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap
Supplies for making laundry detergent.
Duggar's Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
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