Homemade Laundry Detergent

I think my sister and I are channeling Laura Ingalls these days.

We totally made our own clothes soap.

It was really cheap.  Under $7 and this will last forever!

You can totally do this too, it’s super easy.

To make about 4 mason jars full you will need:

6 cups Borax

4 cups baking soda

4 cups washing soda

4 cups Fels-Naptha bar soap (almost 2 bars)

~

UPDATE: This is totally your decision, but some new studies are showing that Borax powder fumes may cause reproductive harm in men.  You may try adding more baking and washing soda instead of the Borax and see how you like the results.  Another commenter made her’s into a liquid, which would cut out the fumes of the Borax:

“I have made as a liquid. I grate one bar of soap, melt in a pot of water (even let it boil for just a second, but not bubble over!) Add 1c borax, 1c washing soda, mix, make sure it’s all incorporated, and put in three different gallon containers. Add water to top and shake hard. Use around 1c per load”-Melissa

Grate the bar soap, I have read that you can use Dove or some other soap if you can’t find this particular one.

But I will say…

I live in the city.

The C.I.T.Y.

No chickens. No cows.

And my Publix sold all this stuff.

Now put it all in a bowl and mix it really well.

Also, you should know, this is very powdery and was starting to go everywhere.

Up our nose, in our mouth.

Just sayin.  Try to mix carefully.

Now put it in jars or an air-tight container.

Done.

You will need 2 tablespoons per load.

OK, here’s the deal on the HE washing machines.

HE washing machines need special soap that is low-sudsing.

And this is, so you really should be fine.

It’s totally safe in mine and my sisters.

Also the Duggars have a recipe that’s similar and they use it in HE. So there ya go.

You can make a sweet tag if you want to give as a gift.

I used cotton butcher twine to attach a clothes pin.

Then added a homemade tag that you can download here.

(Thanks Graphics Fairy for the label border)

I thought later that I should have included instructions on how much to use.

I think it would be cute to write it on the clothes pin.

Or you could attach another tag.

Happy Little House on the Prairie!

And happy saving a lot of money.

:)

I am linking to Saturday Night Special!

The Girl Creative

The Graphics Fairy

The DIY Show Off

Making the world cuter

Someday Crafts

PS…want about 50 tips and tricks for this recipe?

The comments are worth a read:)

oh and also…

I really really want to respond to every single amazing comment. But truth is…it’s getting really hard!

So know that I love you and I love that you are here and visited my blog and took time out of your day to comment:)
Christine

327 Comments

  1. Molly 3 years ago

    Hey! I love this! For those of you looking to add scent to your laundry, I add a few drops of my favorite essential oil to a slightly damp washcloth and add it to the dryer load, works wonders!

  2. Tangible 3 years ago

    Christine…first I want to thank you for sharing your recipe. We are needing to budget and my hubby and I are going to make homemade laundry soap for the first time. I am grateful that you mentioned reading all the posts for extra hints..I read them all! :)

  3. Shana 3 years ago

    I made this recipe last week and I love love love it!!! My only question is, is there something that can be done about static? It’s an issue I’ve had since before using this but I’m hoping somebody can help.

    • Amy 3 years ago

      The recipe that I used before included dry fabric softener and dry oxi-clean powder. I think the fabric softener helped with the static, but I continued to use dryer sheets anyway.

      • Shana 3 years ago

        I use dryer sheets regularly and have even used liquid fabric softener. Nothing helps :(

        • Kimberly 3 years ago

          Here’s a tip I love for cutting static:
          Cut a couple of rectangular sponges up in fourths. Fill a jar with half liquid fabric softener and half water. Put the sponges in with the water. Every time you put a load of laundry in the dryer, just put one of the sponges in with it. When you fold the laundry, just put the sponge back in the jar to use again.

    • Michele 3 years ago

      Use tennis balls in the dryer, no static

      • Shana 3 years ago

        Tennis balls? How many? I have never heard that before, but I’m definitely willing to give it a shot.

      • Pepper Blair 3 years ago

        I just read a blog yesterday, don’t know if it works but I am going to implement it:
        -1/4 vinegar for softness (add at start of wash)
        -tennis ball for fluff in the dryer
        -tight ball of aluminum foil in dryer for static (instead of softener sheets or softener, supposed to last 6 months!
        I’m anxious to try these…so inexpensive especially with this great recipe, which by the way, the recipe above is excellent and I’ll never buy store bought again!

    • Camellia McEvoy 3 years ago

      Try using 1/2 cup vinegar to the wash, it deodorizes, softens and brightens whites as well as colors.For whites add a couple of cheap asprins with the vinegfar and presto, beautifully white, without bleach. Very thankful to the lady that turned me on to this laundry trick.

      • Sonja 3 years ago

        I love the idea of the asprin. I will give it a try! So many great ideas out there

    • rachel 3 years ago

      Hi, I just started using vinegar, I put it in the fabric softener dispenser in my machine and use wool dryer balls with some essential oil dripped on them in the dryer. works awesome! I got the the dryer balls from my co-op but they do sell them on amazon. everything so far is soft and static free. Can’t wait to try this soa.

    • Dawn 3 years ago

      You can also try adding vinegar to the rince cycle. The clothes don’t smell like it when you take them out. Vinegar is good in the wash cycle to get Stinky Boy smell out of the clothes too!! LOL

  4. Brenda 3 years ago

    Has anyone tried this with Dove soap?

    • Steffi Rayburn 3 years ago

      Brenda, I have used Dove and other soap and personally I thought it was way to strong. It worked just fine, so if you enjoy the smell then you will love it :)

    • Sherry 3 years ago

      I use Dove and omit the baking soda…love it. Clothes come out smelling fresh and very soft.

  5. Heather M. 3 years ago

    Christine-
    love the way you packaged your soap….I was wondering where you found the awesome mason jar lids?! I think they definately add a very special touch :) (is the lid under the metal ring glass?)

    Thanks!
    Heather :)

    • Author

      Hey!
      That’s actually just the way those old jars are…pretty cool huh?! They have a glass lid and metal ring instead of all metal.
      I’m sure you could find some at a vintage/thrift/antique store:)
      Have a great day!
      Christine

  6. pamela 3 years ago

    I live in NL, Canada. I have been looking for the super washing soda & i cant find it anywhere. Anything else i could use instead????

    Thanks

  7. Jen 3 years ago

    You can make washing soda by baking some baking soda in the oven. It turns it from baking soda to washing soda just google it. I have done it before when the store was out and couldn’t tell any difference :) it’s also much cheaper that way

  8. Thyanna Voisine 3 years ago

    Hi,
    I am writing an article for college students on how to save money and thought this was great. May I use the picture and recipe( cited of course)?

  9. Pam 3 years ago

    I just made my 1st batch and grated the Fels-Naptha in my food processor and then put it back in the food processor with the blade and proecessed it until it was finely ground up. Does the smell the the Fels lesson over time? It is pretty strong.

  10. savannah 3 years ago

    hi just wondering, with HE washers do you still put the soap in the spot your expose to, or in the load with the clothes?

  11. rachel 3 years ago

    After reading the ingredients in the bar soap used with this recipe I knew I wanted something chemical free and no fragrance, I found this one http://www.pioneernaturalsoap.com/bar-soap.html I’m going to give it a try. so if you want something more natural this is it, you get 1lb for 13.00.

  12. Jacquie Sue 3 years ago

    I have made a recipe very similar to this one and I had mixed results. We do a lot of gardening, chicken coop cleaning, and the messes that go along with toddlers : ) I have a pretty hard time getting my clothes to look as clean as I’d like. I was intrigued by the Fels-Naptha as I would love some stain removal help but it contains some toxic stuff. Any suggestions on a soap to use other than Fels-Naptha?

    • Irene Tilley 3 years ago

      I am not sure about the toxicity, but I have seen people use Zote soap, I have seen it at our local KMart. When I make my detergent I usually save a small piece of the soap to get tough stains out. Also I make my own fabric softener and it uses vinegar which helps brighten clothes and takes odors out. CAUTION DO NOT USE ANY VINEGAR AND BLEACH TOGETHER IT WILL PRODUCE TOXIC FUMES. Others have used Ivory soap, not sure about how those work though. You could also try googling homemade lye laundry detergent.

    • rachel 3 years ago

      I used dr. bronners castile soap, worked great and no toxic stuff.

  13. Irene Tilley 3 years ago

    I will try this recipe. I currently make liquid very similar. When making the liquid I put the fels napath in my food processor with a little bit of cornstarch to prevent it sticking together. Melt the soap down add my ingredients and use my hand mixer to get it good and smooth. I keep it in a 5 gallon covered pail in my laundry room. I also put glycerin in it. I actually use about two of the glycerin suppositories and melt it down with the soap. It acts to help soften the clothes. Thank you for the powder recipe I have been wanting to make some of this!

    • Kate 2 years ago

      Instead of cornstarch use 1 c of Borax with the grated soap ( commonly called soap flakes) in your blender to cut down on clumping.

    • sandra satkowiak 10 months ago

      I have found that if you leave the bar of Fels-naptha out and unwrapped for a few days or so, the bar dries out nicely. This helps to avoid sticking and clumping when putting it in your food processor or blender.

  14. Jaime 3 years ago

    I have been looking for washing soda for a while with no luck. I decided to go to Google and figure out what was so special about it and it is simple to turn regular baking soda into washing soda!

    The difference between baking soda and washing soda is water and carbon dioxide. Baking soda’s chemical makeup is NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, one carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). Washing soda’s chemical makeup is Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). When baking soda is heated up to high temperatures, it releases steam and carbon dioxide, leaving you with… washing soda!

    The process is really simple. Just heat your oven to 400 F (or 200 C), sprinkle some baking soda on a shallow pan, and bake it for about half hour, until it changes composition. You should also stir it up occasionally, just so that it bakes more evenly.

    How do you know when it changes into washing soda? Baking soda is powdery, crystallized like salt, and clumps together. Washing soda is grainy, dull and opaque, and is separate grains. Once you know the differences between the 2 sodas, you’ll be able to tell in no time.

    • bridget 3 years ago

      Jaime,
      You are fantastic. Thank you for sharing your research!
      Bridget

    • Deneb 3 years ago

      Awesome!!! This really will help me to make the washing soda. I live in Mexico and I’ve been having a hard time finding washing soda. I was trying to find a recipe that does not include it but I’ve had no luck. So thank you for the tip!

    • kate 2 years ago

      Washing Soda is sold at Walmart in laundry isle .

  15. Hi I just love the idea of home made laundry soap, your Jar is so cute and would make great gifts too, thanks for sharing your idea, I was guided to your site via Bloglovin Kindest Regards Marie

  16. Lisa Taylor 3 years ago

    The Borax now has a warning on it, you should wear a mask when you’re handling it.

    • Brittani 3 years ago

      There are two different types of borax. This one you do not have to wear a mask, however I wouldn’t want it up my nose.

      http://pinterest.com/pin/79727855876774811/

      at the end of that video it will explain it all.

    • BRE 2 years ago

      I don’t think you should put ANYTHING that’s going on or in your body (such as “clean” clothes with something that requires you to wear a mask in order to handle it. May I suggest adding 3 cups OxyClean, plus 1.5 additional cups of both the washing & baking soda. Safer; just as clean.

  17. Lisa Taylor 3 years ago

    If you microwave the soap for about 15 seconds it softens slightly and makes it a lot easier to grate as well.

  18. schelle 3 years ago

    So only 2T per load? Does it matter hot or cold wash? And is this a stand alone detergent or must it be used with existing detergent?

    • Author
      Christine-GreatOakCircle 3 years ago

      Hello!
      Yes 2T, nope doesn’t matter, yes it’s stand-alone (hooray!!)
      Hope you enjoy it!

      Christine

      • karen 1 year ago

        Hi Christine… Love your webpage and info… I have made my own laundry detergent and it works wonderfully…BUT I do NOT use the soap and all the grating and cooking mess!! here is one that is easier and cheaper (since there is no soap to buy)~! I never use fabric softener with this either!!
        karen
        3 Tablespoons Borax
        3 Tablespoons Washing Soda
        2 Tablespoons Dawn Dish soap

        Put these ingredients in a one gallon jug. Pour 4 cups boiling water into the jug. Swirl until ingredients are dissolved in the liquid. Let liquid cool. Then fill almost to the top with cold water. The bubbles will overflow out of the bottle.
        I love this because you can pick an awesome scent with the Dawn dish soap. This dish soap works the best because it gets grease out. :o) I use about 1/2 to one cup per load… so cheap!!

        • cristy 1 year ago

          Thank you so much for this recipe! I prefer liquid detergent, but all other recipes made 9 gallons or more! Idk where I would get the jugs or the storage space.

          • rachel 1 year ago

            Hey guys I have used cat liter jugs to put both dry and liquid soap in. If you don’t have a cat run a ad on Facebook for them and the fact you want to recycle them. Pay or free some one will text u back!! ;-) I go through 6 a month because my cat is so picky and has to have clean liter. So I always have them. I hate to send them to the land field, So I also Send what people don’t get to the Recycling center. ;-) They have a built-in handle and most are see thru. Thank You Tidy Cat!!

        • Pamela 5 months ago

          Can I use Gain dish soap instead of dawn due to allergies?

    • Patti's Paraphernalia 3 years ago

      I would suggest that if you’re going to use cold water, you should begin to fill the empty washer with water, add the laundry soap and let the tub fill up while sorting or spot treating the load. After the washer is full and begins to agitate, add the clothes. I find this works better for both cold and hot water because it allows the soap (I did this when I was still using regular detergents, also) to be distributed through the water instead of just on top of the clothes. I’ve been using this soap for several months and love it. I have given the recipe to several friends who now love it and will never switch back to regular detergents. I have had no problems with the borax…in fact, I drink 1/8 tsp in a liter of water every day (throughout the day). It has many beneficial qualities. Borax is a form of boron, which is vital for health and no longer as available in our food as it once was due to chemical fertilizers, etc. Borax is just boron in powdered form. It probably isn’t all that healthy to breathe in a lot of it, but it isn’t dangerous. I wouldn’t want to breathe in a lot of anything but clean air and clean water vapor!

      • J S 3 years ago

        I grate the soap, let it dry out in an open container for a week or so, then whirl it around in a food processors until it’s very fine. I used the liquid recipe for years and only switched to the powder because it was easier to make and takes up less space.

      • BRE 2 years ago

        I’m sorry…you don’t want to breathe it in, but you’ll drink it?!

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  20. Janice 3 years ago

    is this safe for babies ???

    • Phanta 3 years ago

      Substitute a castile bar soap (such as Dr Bronner or Kirk brands) for the more chemical laden Fels-Naptha and you are good to go. As with all detergents, don’t let baby play in it.
      I believe this version (using castile soap) is safer than most detergents, including those formulated for baby clothes.
      My daughter began getting rashes from our store bought detergents and when I switched to this, her rash cleared up. Had to wash ALL her clothes, sheets, towel, etc. in this to get rid of traces of the old soaps but it was well worth it. This is much more economical, too. This is the only laundry detergent we use now and everything is coming out really clean.

    • Brittani 3 years ago

      my child uses it. He is 7 months old and has a really bad reactions to a lot of different types of soaps

  21. Gina 3 years ago

    I use my food processor to grate. I do one bar at a time. Then I whir the grated soap with a cup of the baking soda to make it fine. I’ll layer the ingredients in my bucket and give it a good stir to mix it all up. Works great!

    Being the nice mom and listening to my daughter whine about not making it because she couldn’t grate the soap, in her care package, I sent her grated soap. She laughed.

    • Michelle Rombeck 2 years ago

      I have a kitchen aid and had the shredding attachments, I ran two bars through twice in under ten minutes.

  22. Sheri 2 years ago

    I’ve been making my own laundry soap, fabric softener, and dishwashing soap for years. Dishwashing soap (for automatic dishwashers) is almost the same as laundry soap. I use 1 cup washing powder, 1 cup borax, a small amount of grated bar soap and two pkgs of lemon kool-aid (non-sweetened). That makes a jar that lasts a long while. I use about a tablespoon in each of the two dispensers in my washer door. I use vinegar in the dispenser for spot free glasses. This does a great job, is less gummy buildup to my washer, and gets the glass-ware spotless. Try it. It’s much cheaper than the products in the market. Although I use liquid form for laundry I use the powder form for dishes as it does better in my automatic dispenser in the dishwasher.

  23. Amber Smith 2 years ago

    I wonder if it has a smell to it or how do you get it to smell like tideor gain laundry detergents

    • Pam 1 year ago

      I add something like Unstoppables into the mixture and use pink Zote rather than the Fels-Naptha bar soap. I also add some form of Oxy cleaner to mine… whatever I find the cheapest and/or have coupons for.

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    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

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  26. Lukas 2 years ago

    I still believe that the best washing tool is liquid. Just because it doesn’t leave any spots and you need much less of that washer! For example I always buy only this one- skysti skalbikliai Fine , just because of the low price, high quality and ecology. In my opinion there is no better washing fluid than this one! And no one home made cleaner will not replace this one

  27. Gavin 2 years ago

    I just halfed the recipe and did it all in the Ninja blender. Took 5 mintes!

  28. Sherrie 2 years ago

    Was wondering if anyone answered Amber Smith’s question on what the smell is like and is there a way to make it smell like tide or gain?

    • Carol 2 years ago

      Have made this recipe for several years, the scent is unique, fresh and light. Not strong like commercial detergent. Does a super job on clothes, especially fine for lingerie and delicates. After blending all of the ingredients, process in a food processor for a finer mix. Dissolves well in hot or cold water.

    • Girlygirl.llv 2 years ago

      I add Downy Unstopables scent pellets: I can choose my own scent and it doesn’t change the composition of the mix (ie., dry to liquid, etc.

  29. Cindy 2 years ago

    I had to quit using this homemade type of detergent a year ago after I found that it was the culprit to my HE washing machine leaking from the drawer and door. I had to keep cleaning both of those in order to fix that. I have since read that it’s best to throw the detergent straight into the HE machine instead. I’m sure that this will be a much better option. Haven’t been brave enough to try that yet though. I can say that the bar soap should be FINELY grated. Not grated cheese grated. (if I made that clear) If you don’t do this, it will NOT thoroughly dissolve in your HE washer, since it does NOT use a lot of water. It took me a year of using my homemade detergent to figure all of this out.

  30. Tammy Williams 2 years ago

    I added 2cups Oxyclean and 1 bottle of fabric softener pellets. I blended everything in the blender to make it fine and we’ll blended. This stuff is Great!

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