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. This is a page about homemade laundry soap for an HE washer.


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

February 25, 2011

I am looking for a recipe for homemade soap for use in a HE front loader washer.

By freda from Kingman, AZ


Homemade HE Laundry Soap

I use Fels-Naptha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile, or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing soda and borax can normally be found in the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost: approximately $2.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

Grate the bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted. Fill a five-gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda, and borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken. Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (It will gel.)


Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per two 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 machine: 1/4 cup per load (approximately 640 loads)

Powdered Laundry Detergent

Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use one tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons. Yields: three cups detergent (approximately 40 loads).

Inexpensive fabric softener recipes:

Recipe No. 1:
Add one cup white vinegar to rinse cycle.
Works great. Removes residue and odors. Also helps to keep washing machine and hoses fresh and clean too.


Recipe No. 2:
1 container of name-brand fabric softener and 4 inexpensive sponges, cut in half. Pour a whole container of softener into a five-gallon bucket. Fill empty softener container with water twice (two parts water to one part softener). Add sponges to softener/water mixture.
When ready to use, wring out extra mixture from one sponge and add to the dryer as you would a dryer sheet. (01/06/2011)

By Kevin

Homemade HE Laundry Soap

Just use 1 TBS Dawn dish soap or Ivory liquid. It is cheap and cleans great! (01/03/2011)

By bkvander

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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.

January 23, 2009

Can homemade laundry soap be used in the HE washing machines?

Brenda from Carrollton, Texas


January 23, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I make and use homemade laundry soap in my HE washer all the time with no problems. It costs me approx. $3.00 a month to do laundry.

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January 28, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Homemade laundry detergent does not have any suds because we don't put a 'sudsing agent' in it. Suds do nothing to clean the clothes - it's just a visual thing - when we see suds, we think the soap is working.


Homemade laundry soap is made by grating a bar of Fels Naptha soap, put it into a pot with enough water to cover the soap + about 2". Heat on low to medium until soap is dissolved , stirring occasionally, and add to a 5 gal. bucket of the hottest water from your tap. Stir well & add 1 cup of WASHING soda (found in laundry area of store). Put into gallon jugs (not milk jugs - plastic is too weak). Use 1/2 c. per load. A bar of Ivory soap can be used instead of Fels Naptha. Soap can gel, so shake before using. Works great & comes to about $1.50 for 5 gal! Been using it for years. If you don't have a laundry tub, use the bathtub & clean it out with the spilled stuff after you are done - a 2fer!

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September 17, 2007

Is homemade laundry soap safe for HE washers?

Lisa from Lebanon, IL


September 19, 20071 found this helpful
Best Answer

Yes, it's safe for HE washers. I have been using it for years. Homemade laundry detergent is really soap and doesn't suds at all.


It keeps the washer and its lines clean--there is no build-up. If your water is extremely hard, you'll have to use more than the recommended amount.

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Please, can anyone give me some advice?
I have a brand new HE top loading washing machine being delivered next week and I'm worried if I can use my homemade laundry powder in it.

My recipe is:
1 cup grated laundry soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup baking soda (I have hard water)
1 cup oxygen-based brightener (like oxy)
I don't use borax since its not available in my country.

I usually use 1/2 cup of powder since my old twin-tub machine had the capacity for 17lb "dry" weight of clothes. This new one has the same capacity. I don't get good results using less powder. This recipe suds up a little, but not too much.


Will I damage my new machine if I use this powder or should I buy the expensive HE laundry powder available?
Liquid detergent is not an option coz I don't like them.
Thanks for any help.

By cettina from Malta, Europe


May 17, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

HE washers are notorious for the buildup of mold and mildew regardless of the brand and have to be cleaned frequently and all instructions followed. the stinky clothes refer to are actually mold or mildew located somewhere within the machine. Use only detergent marked h/e and use as little as possible.

I have used powder and liquid so go with your preference but you should only see minimal suds and that is because the detergent formulation is different. Excessive soap and suds build up in the machine which is what ultimately will causes the problems. I also use vinegar as a fabric softener and final rinse. commercial or even homemade softeners also tend to create the odors.

If you do laundry almost daily it usually is helpful, otherwise you must leave the door and dispenser open to dry. they do clean well but require a lot of care. I will be switching back to a regular washer soon due to a back flow problem... suds held in the bottom of the machine.

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May 7, 2010

When using homemade laundry soap, should I use liquid or power for he washer? Mine is a Cabrio top loader.

By Debra from Grayling, MI


May 7, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Homemade laundry detergent (soap) is low sudsing, so you can use either, depending on your preference.

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September 16, 2013

Do you know if I can use your homemade laundry soap recipe instead of HE/high efficiency laundry detergent required for my new machine?

By Diana B.


May 1, 20140 found this helpful
Best Answer

I got a HE washer a month ago and have had no problem using my homemade soap. I make the liquid soap, but think the powder would work well also.

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February 25, 2011

Is there a homemade washing soap powder that is safe for HE machines?

By SHARON from Sprakers, NY


February 28, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

I am not sure if this answers your question but many people use homeade powdered detergent in their HE machines. However, my opinion is that powdered detergents tend to gunk up machines. I stick to liquid only. Homeade detergents are low sudsing so it works well for HE machines.

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January 7, 2015

Can homemade soap stop up your washer?

By Brenda from TN


December 4, 20170 found this helpful

It shouldn't. I have been using it for 30 years and have never had a problem. (unless you are using way to much)

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December 12, 2012

Is it OK to use homemade soap in the new HE washers?

By Dell


December 17, 20120 found this helpful

I wouldn't risk ruining my new washer with homemade crap. These washers use very very little detergent. If you wash one load per day, a bottle will last about one year. Just cover the bottom of the detergent cap with liquid.

Because these washers clean by using the chemicals in the detergent rather than by using water (for the most part), I doubt VERY much that homemade soap would do the job. They aren't strong enough for that. BTW, I use Clean and Clear detergents for sensitive skin.

Good luck

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October 28, 20130 found this helpful

I am getting a HE washer this weekend and I have read about 20 articles that say homemade detergents are safe.

Also Carol, homemade detergents are not crap, they are all natural, no dyes or perfumes and people have been using these ingredients for ages.

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October 28, 2011

How do you make high efficiency laundry soap?

By Shar R.

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