Friday, November 21, 2008

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I spoke the other day about my homemade laundry detergent and a couple people have asked about it so I thought I would share my recipe. 

It only calls for 3 main ingredients which are fairly easy to find here in this area. The Borax is at Walmart for about $3.50 a box. The Super Washing Soda (not baking soda....different, but it is Arm and Hammer brand so don't be confused) was found at Price Chopper for about $2.50 a box and the Fels Naptha soap was at Hy-Vee for about $1.50 a bar (you can probably get this at Price Chopper too...I forgot to look plus it is my understanding that you could also use just needs to be REAL soap not detergents).

1 bar Fels Naptha soap, grated (I just used my cheese grater)
2 Cups Super Washing Soda
2 Cups Borax
1 qt. + 2 gallons of water

You will also need a large bucket, at least 3 gallons (I used a 5 gallon bucket...I chose a pretty color to make me happy while I do the laundry... from Walmart $4.50 and got a tight fitting lid to go with it $1.20.....yep, they actually charge you for a lid...crazy! what is this world coming to?)

Here's what I do:

In large bucket, place the 2 cups borax and 2 cups washing soda.

In a large sauce pan I put 4 cups (1qt) water and the grated soap. Let this gently simmer, stirring constantly until all the soap is melted (this took about 5 min). 

Once this is all melted, pour into bucket with the borax and soda and stir. 

Now add 2 gallons (8qts) warm water (out of the tap is fine) and stir until completely dissolved (about 3 minutes). 

The mixture should thicken up as you stir it. Cover and let it sit 24 hours or at least overnight. End Product.......

When you use it: You will use about 1/4 cup per load. You will need to stir before using each time. This is not a high sudsing soap like commercial brands and there isn't much smell to it. You can add some essential oils at the end if you like a scent. I've only used this for a few loads and have been happy so far. I'll let you know if my opinion changes. 

It ends up costing only a couple cents per load.

Something else I have learned to do over the years to save money on dryer sheets is to keep a basket on my dryer of old washcloths with a spray bottle filled with a 1:4 ratio of liquid fabric softener to water. I just squirt a cloth with about 5 sprays for a load and toss it in the dryer. It works great. I don't use softener in my washer unless I am doing sheets or towels. I have found I love the smell of it sooo much I have a hard time controlling myself on the amount so I just don't use it. 

I wasn't aware until a couple years ago that if you use too much softener it can really break down the fibers in your clothes quickly, especially on my hubby's dress pants and shirts.

One final thing....steping on soapbox.....

Please, Please, Please do not leave this laundry detergent sitting uncovered if you have little kids around. Use a tight fitting lid that little fingers can't open.

Reason#1- many, many little kids die each year from falling head first into buckets filled with liquid.

Reason #2- It is detergent....not just so healthy for drinking and playing in.

Reason #3- that is what all the recipes say, so...follow the directions. please

head over to Kimba's DIY day for more great ideas


  1. I think I will try this. Let me know if you decide you don't like it! Jason will be thrilled that I found another way to save money! You Rock!!! :)

  2. I have been making my own laundry soap for a couple of years now, and love it. I have a friend who does a dry version, but I have stuck with this recipe as it works for me. I had heard about the fabric softener idea before but have not tried it. Think I might give it a shot.
    Also, saw your previous post concerning Holy Experience blog. Ann Voscamp is amazing. That gal can write. She never fails to move me to tears, and I have sent many friends her way.

  3. Hi! I make my own laundry soap as well. One great tip is to use vinegar during the rinse cycle. It helps rinse all of the soap out and makes your clothes really soft. They don't smell like vinegar either! I use a 50/50 water/vinegar combo because I am cheap. Not that vinegar is expensive, but every penny counts!

  4. i entered my laundry detergent recipe on DIY day a few weeks ago. SO many people contacted me about making it and they all love it. I have been using it for almost a year now. I'm entering my homemade sishwasher detergent this week. Stay tuned. :) Jan Mullis of Mullis Memories

  5. Okay, now all I need is the pail and lid! I was able to find all three 'soaps' at Hen House too!!! Double yay!! :oD

  6. This sounds so great, can it be used in place of HE detergent? I know you said it's low sudsing. P.S. I know exactly what you mean about the new dryers. I just purchased a new set a year or two ago, and that is my one complaint also. Take Care, Carrie

    Loving your blog, off to read more.

  7. So I tried the laundry detergent today pretty easy to make and seemed to work fine for me. No residue was left and I washed some pretty nasty stuff with only using 1 tbsp. thanks for sharing!

    Highly recommended Selling a Farm


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