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How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

Make your own laundry detergent and save money!

We have a  thread in the Frugal Mom forum on how to make your own laundry detergent.  Thanks Pursuer and Marabeth for these recipes, as well as other Frugal Moms for sharing your ideas and insight!




From Pursuer:

The Liquid Version
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap OR 1 4/5 oz. bar of Ivory soap, grated
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
25-60 drops essential oil(s) of choice, optional

Heat 6 cups water and soap in a large pan until dissolved. Stir in washing soda and Borax. Mix and heat until dissolved. Boil 15 minutes. Remove from heat. (It will have the consistency of honey.) In a 3 or 5 gallon bucket, add 1 quart of hot water, then add the soap mixture. Mix. Add just enough cold water to make a 2 gallon mixture. Add in any essential oils, if desired. Mix until well blended. Let sit 24 hours. The soap should gel like honey, but if it doesn’t it’s okay. Use 1/2 cup for each load. Shake before each use. (Makes 2 gallons.)

The Powder Version
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap OR 1 4/5 oz. bar of Ivory soap, grated
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor until it becomes a fine dust-like powder. Use 1 tablespoon per load.

Essential oils will not stain your clothing. They give a light smell and in many cases, boost the cleaning power of the laundry soap (such is the case with tea tree oil and lavender!).Blending Guide.

You can use ammonia with your laundry soap as well. However….
NEVER use bleach with your laundry soap. It might not appear right away, but it creates toxic fumes, just as mixing bleach with pretty much anything else does as well. Whatever you do, please do not try mixing bleach with this thinking it will be okay!
Bleach Mixing No-No’s.

To see how little this costs my family to make the liquid version, take a look at this:
$2.65 for washing soda at 55oz. (lends about 15 batches – 17 cents per recipe)
$3.39 for borax at 4lb. (20 batches – 17 cents)
$2.19 for Ivory 12 pack of 4.5 oz. bars (18 cents per bar, I use a whole bar per batch)

This was the cost the last time I bought each supply, and the total per batch then comes to 52 cents (two gallons, 26 cents per gallon!). There are 32 loads per gallon, using a 1/2 cup of laundry soap (64 loads total per recipe.)
Per load, if you use 1/2 cup per load, no more or less, it comes to an 8th of a cent per load – less than one penny is pretty incredible!! 
So, for us, this is cheaper than even generic store-brand detergents on sale.
The powder version makes half the loads as the liquid version does (only 32 loads for the same amount of supply), so 32 loads would be 52 cents, still a great deal!)

And from Marabeth:

Another Powdered Version:

Grate Fels Naptha soap and put into a container with a lid
Put washing soda in another container
Borax in a third container (the really big plastic yogurt containers work great)

Have on hand:
1/4 Tbs, 1/2 Tbs, and 1 Tbs measuring spoons (get an extra set at the dollar store so you don’t have to run to the kitchen every time you do a load of wash)
small plastic cup

How to use it:
*start your washer with hot water
*add 1/2 Tbs soap
*add 1/4 Tbs washing soda
*add 1/4 Tbs Borax (I only use this once in a while as a laundry booster or whitener.)
— measurements can be doubled for large or extra dirty loads.

*Put 2-3 Tbs white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser and add water to fill. vinegar is a great fabric softener and also rinses any soap residue from your clothes and the washing machine.

*Let the soap dissolve, then switch the water temp to your desired setting (I wash everything in cold)

To make this easier, I wrote the steps out on a 3×5 card and tacked it up by the washer. I also labeled the containers: SOAP 1/2-1 TBS…etc.

The only thing I have to do to keep up with this is refill my containers and grate a new bar of soap as needed- which I would have to do anyway. I started doing this because keeping up with making the liquid and storing it was a hassle for me, but I loved the results. I made the powder, but it made me sneeze so much from the particles and the different ingredients seemed to settle and separate so I didn’t know if each scoop had the right ratio.

**note for HE washers (front loaders) I recently got a new HE washer and simply reduced the measurements in half. I put the soap and washing soda in a mason jar, fill most of the way with hot water, put the lid on, and shake well, then pour it in the detergent dispenser. Use the vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser as usual. so far, still great!

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Category: Cleaning, Laundry & Recipes, Frugal Articles, Frugal Tips

Comments (8)

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  1. 1

    […] and encouraging articles. Name: Email: We respect your email privacy … … View post: How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent : Frugal Mom ← 5 Simple Ways to Save Money in 5 Minutes | Landing on Your […]

  2. 2

    I agree that you can save a ton on money by making your own detergent. Experts say that it’s the agitation of your washer that actually cleans the clothes. Guess you can decide. I have some other tips on how to save by making your own soap.

  3. 3
    Jaclyn Rubly says:

    That’s a cool tip! Hi! I’m a fellow mom blogger and I really love your website. It’s nicely designed and has great tips!

  4. 4
    amy manning says:

    Hi there, I just wanted to let you know that I wrote a post about making your own washing soda from baking soda. And I also wrote an article about finding very cheap baking soda. I hope you find it useful!

  5. 5
    Brian H. says:

    I’m not a mom but I am frugal. I simply love this blog and especially this post. I’m not too sure my wife loves the idea of making our own soap, but it would definitely save a little money and we need to do that. Thanks for the tip.

  6. 6
    cecilia durham says:

    I am so impressed.
    Question for you…how is this on the environment compared to leading detergents and also how hard is it on a septic system?

  7. 7
    frugalMom says:

    Love this idea! The cost of detergents is crazy! I am going to try this my other half has eczema so I think this will help!

  8. 8
    Gina says:

    How do you remove stains? Do you use SHOUT or other stain removal sprays? Are there any homemade recipes for stain removal? Also, is this detergent strong enough for washing boys clothes? Can you pls respond to my email: