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

Comments

  1. Irene Tilley says:

    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!

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

  2. 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.

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

    • 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!

    • Washing Soda is sold at Walmart in laundry isle .

  3. 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

  4. Lisa Taylor says:

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • Mama J says:

        Its not that the dust will be detrimental to you body but no dust is good to get into your airway/lung area…even if its just regular dust..

  5. Lisa Taylor says:

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

  6. schelle says:

    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?

    • Christine-GreatOakCircle says:

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

      Christine

      • 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!!

    • Patti's Paraphernalia says:

      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!

      • 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.

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

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  8. is this safe for babies ???

    • 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.

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

  9. 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 says:

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

  10. 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.

  11. Amber Smith says:

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

    • 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.

  12. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of
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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?

  13. Hi there to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this website, and your views are pleasant for new visitors.

  14. 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

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

  16. 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?

    • 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 says:

      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.

  17. 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.

  18. Tammy Williams says:

    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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  26. I make my own soap. Could I use my own soap to make this?

  27. Carey Jenkins says:

    i make this and love it, my grandkids have sensitive skin and regular detergent breaks them out. My husband, on the other hand, needs more scent killing power. I add more baking soda, some lemon zest and a few drops of essential oil for a stronger scent.

  28. KimberlyRae says:

    Wow! I live with sons and hubby lol
    Does the 2T. DRY OR LIQUID?
    Thank you, your gift looks great!

  29. KimberlyRae says:

    Oh! What’s the shelf life…?

  30. You can eliminate the grating of the bar of soap completely by microwaving it. Put it into a LARGE bowl and microwave (I don’t remember how long, just watch it). It will puff up A LOT. You might have to take it out and take out the puffed up part, put the remainder back in, several times, and continue microwaving until it is all puffed up. Once it cools it just disintegrates into a powder. Much easier than grating.

  31. Thanks for pinging back to me! I actually hadn’t made this soap for a few months because grating all that bar soap is a CHORE! I read somewhere that you can do this in the food processor, so that’s what I did yesterday! It was totally awesome, took much less time, and I got a much finer powder than I’d ever gotten before! I hope that means it’s more effective! I’ve got a bun in the oven, and this detergent is a nice inexpensive alternative to Tide Free or Dreft.

  32. It’s not a chore for the following reasons:
    It’s a labor of love for your family.
    Fun if you love crafts/hobbies.
    Most important you save loads of money that cold be used elsewhere IN YOUR BUDGET.
    You’re not being gouged anymore by industry making it your self.
    You’ve accomplished a very necessary job that everyone in the family will always need.

    My Great grandmother was born in 1910 and Always made her own soap for her and the family. When WWIi started the Government gobbled up all animal fats, to make the Nitro glycerine bomb.

    Tide (a self described synthetic detergent0 came out in 1946 made from petro chemicals.
    My great grandmother wouldn’t touch the chemical detergent Ever!!

    Her mother made bar soap and always turned it to powder this way described above, and She and my great Grandmother Never deviated!
    All our family and friends are very true to no chemical soaps.

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