Making your own Homemade Laundry Detergent
I finally decided to try and make my own homemade laundry detergent using ingredients you can buy at your local supermarket. I was a little bit worried when I saw how many ingredients I needed to buy to make this, and wondered if this would really be cost effective or not. But after making this, doing the math and using it I can tell I will always be making and using my own homemade from now on. It’s a great way to save money!
Here are the cast of ingredients to make your own homemade laundry detergent:
1 Box of Super Washing Soda 3 lb. 7 oz. ($3.24)
1 Box of Borax 4 lbs 12 oz. size ($3.38)
1 Box of Pure Baking Soda 4 lb. ($2.12)
3 bars of Fels-Naptha 5.5 oz. or you could also use Ivory soap ($0.97 x3)
1 container of Oxy-Clean 1.3 lb ($3.86)
*optional: Purex Crystals 28 oz. for scent (or you could use Downy unstoppables ) ($5-$6)
All these ingredients cost a total of $20.27 out of my pocket (Walmart prices).
And that was without using coupons. If some coupons become available you will spend even less.
The first step is to grate your Fels-Naptha Bar. You can use a cheese grater to do this, but I used my food processor as it was a lot quicker. Using my food processor I first grated the bar like cheese, and then used the regular blade to grate down fine. You could use Ivory soap (just microwave it and it will foam where you can just crush it into a fine grade).
Next I grabbed one of my plastic tote bins and put a black garbage bag inside of it. Then I poured each one of the ingredients inside like so.
Mix all these ingredients up well. Possibly throw in some free child labor.
Then add it all to your container of choice.
There is quite a lot of this homemade laundry detergent. In fact it is 18 lbs. worth!
That is 18 lbs of Laundry Detergent!
You only need to use 1-2 tablespoons per load, and yes you can use it in your High Efficiency washing machines (that’s what I have been using). Some people worry that just 1-2 tablespoons is not enough, but this stuff is concentrated and works really well! I have been using it for months now. My daughter has really sensitive skin, and this has been wonderful for her since all the others out there have add-ins.
But is this cost effective?
So I did the math of course, to figure out how much per load this recipe makes. I am super excited about the results because it is as low as $0.04 per load which is a stock up price when it comes to laundry detergent and using coupons. But watch for coupons on these items to even make the cost lower.
By Comparison –
Ultra Tide powder 143 oz. box, 8.9 lbs. = $17.97 at Walmart ($0.12 per load)
This Homemade Laundry Detergent recipe makes 18 lbs (or 288 oz.) and costs $20.27. 1 lb of this is about 28 tablespoons. 18 lbs equals 504 loads @ 1 tbsp per load. Final price is just $0.04 per load!
So $0.04 per load homemade versus $0.12 per load (Tide).
So even the largest box of Tide detergent at Walmart which has 102 loads won’t last as long as this homemade stuff. And you can save so much money by making this yourself. Give it a try, you won’t be sorry…I promise!
Homemade Laundry Detergent
- 1 box Super Washing Soda 3.7 lb
- 1 box Borax 4 lb 12 oz. size
- 1 box Pure Baking Soda 4 lbs
- 3 5.5 oz bars of Fels-Naptha
- 1 container Oxy-Clean 1.3 lb
- 1 28 oz *optional: Purex Crystals for scent or you could use Downy un-stoppables
- Finely grate the Fels-Naptha. Mix all the ingredients together and store in container of your choice. Use only 1-2 Tablespoons of detergent per load.
Homemade Laundry Detergent – costs $20.27 to make – can last a whole year or even longer (504 loads)
Updating this post: this recipe has lasted 10 months for my family of 6!! Plus I wanted to share this awesome comment posted from Nick (thanks for your service Nick!):
I think that is the best comment ever!
Comments & Reviews
I have used this recipe for almost 10 years. Ive only had to make it 5 times. My clothes are always clean and smell great. I always recommend this recipe as well. I absolutely love it.
Been using the recipe for a year. Superb stuff. I was just rereading the recipe and I wonder how big of a washer you are using. I have a bigger one and use more than you suggest, but I’m wondering if I’m using too much.
You can use more than I suggest, sometimes I add more to dirtier loads.
Hi there! I was wondering if youve ever tried essential oil versus scent crystals…..If so, how much?
Essential oils work better in wool dryer balls to add the scent. https://happymoneysaver.com/howtomakedryerballs/
Can you wash delicates and wool with this. Also can you use this on delicates.
I have used this on my delicates, but wool I’d be cared in general washing.
Does this dissolve well in cold water? I’m debating between the powder and liquid versions. We wash almost everything in cold water.
Yes it does dissolve well in cold water, I use it all the time this way.
Kristin Frazier says
Can you use this homemade recipe along with the homemade fabric softener
yes you can!
eric silvera says
Can I substitute purex crystals for the cheaper arm and hammer ones ? And is the borax a must have..see other recipes without it
Yes you can use purex crystals. 🙂 Borax is a must have in my opinion.
Has anyone tried Dr Bronner Castille soap bar or other soap bar in place of the felsnaptha or ivory in the recipe?
I use Zote flakes since they are already shredded.
Wendy Robinson says
Sorry if this is a dumb question, but…do the flakes work as well as grating the bar yourself? I worried about them being dried out (like fresh grated cheese vs store bought grated for certain recipes).
They both dissolve nicely I’ve found!
Michele Panczykowski says
Will the oxy-clean get rid of sour smelling clothes. I’ve been doing laundry for a LONG time and I never had sour smelling clothes. Don’t know if it’s my washing machine? It’s only 2 yrs old and I clean it often. It is a front loader ( which I do not like). I had one before and my clothes did not smell sour. Could it be the machine? And will oxy-clean help with this?
Sometimes the baking soda in this recipe can get rid of sour or mildewy smelling clothes. First though, make sure its not your machine by running a load on hot with two cups of bleach inside of it to clear any of that smell or mildew stuff out. Then after that you can add your clothes, add a little more of this laundry detergent (like maybe 1/2 cup) and try it on hot water cycle. If that doesn’t get it out, do a soak of your clothes for a few hours with this solution first. Good luck!
Lori A. says
The sour smell might be from leaving the door shut after washes. I have this problem and have found myself to be ‘nose’ sensitive to clothes lefts in or washed in the stinky washer (despite maintained washes of washer). Usually this formula makes the smells go away. I used this recipe to get the Grease smell out of my work clothes years ago. It was wonderful.
Michele Panczykowski says
Can I use ALL powder detergent instead of Fells naphtha? I have a huge box of it and don’t want to waste it?
Also, I wash darks in cold water will the oxy-clean dissolve in cold water?
The ALL powder detergent is a full detergent, so if you have that you wouldn’t need to make the homemade version. So I wouldn’t use it in place of the Fels Naptha.
This recipe format works great.
Personally, I use a 1:1:1:1 parts Washing Soda, OxyClean, Borax, and Washing Soap so I can avoid measuring. Then I buy the Washing Soda, OxyClean, and Borax in 9lb containers (1 gallon each).
Finally, I make the Washing Soap myself (6lb coconut oil, 2.100lb water, 1.099lb lye).
I end up with 36lb of laundry detergent which lasts me several years. I typically make bar soap and laundry soap in huge batches so I only have to do it once every few years and because it is cheaper buying in bulk. Also, large quantities of powdered laundry detergent is easy to store
My Mother & Grandmother made lye soap! It was awesome!
Christy A. Reau says
My grandmother made lye soap too and no one in our family has the recipe for it. If you rubbed it on the hardest stains to remove or set-in stains, it had a 98% rate of removing it. Would you mind sharing your recipe for the lye soap please?
Do you use fabric softener or is that skipped? I have been wanting to make my own detergent and have heard using vinegar for softener but I wasn’t sure if it could be used in the same load since the detergent has baking soda. Didn’t want them to cancel each other out if that makes sense.
The fabric crystals are supposed to do that if you use them, or if you want you can use fabric softener or sheets if you like your items even softer.
Vinegar I don’t recommend because with baking soda you will have a volcano experiment. They do this in science class.
I make a double batch [even LESS EXPENSIVE!!] and store it in a screw cap bucket from the wrapped chlorine tabs for my pool. It keeps it super fresh and lump free. I kept the scoop from the OxiClean in the bucket to refill my mason jar that I keep beside my front load washer. I am a one OCD person household and each double batch lasts me at least 1 year 3 months. I’m on my third double batch now! This ‘life hack’ crosses one more thing off my list of things to think about.
Question: The recipe says OxyClean 1.3 LB. Maybe it is a type – is it supposed to be 1.3 KG? I can’t find the 1.3 LB size anywhere, I am only seeing 3 LB – just making sure!
That would make sense. 3lbs is about 1.3 KG and that’s the size of a container 👍 good catch I would have been looking forever
This is by far the best recipe I’ve ever used. I struggled for years trying to get the perfect balance so that our laundry would be clean, but without the annoying deposits frequently left on clothes from soap and other ingredients (also a common problem with commercial laundry detergents). With this recipe, not only is our laundry exceptionally clean, but there’s zero soap deposits left on our clothes, or even on the washing machine. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!
Yay! So happy you love it!!
eric silvera says
Hey question I’m unable to get fels naptha or zote soap easily where I am ..can I substitute it with the blue power or regualr laundry soap bar in the recipe ?
I haven’t tried those options, so I’m not really sure how they will do.
Adding vinegar to the rinse cycle softens clothes, removes odors, and will get rid of soap residue. I haven’t found a problem with anything smelling like vinegar. I have found, though, when making other homemade cleaners that use vinegar, that the smell of Heinz vinegar dissipates faster than do the store brands. Both seem to work exactly the same, though.
I have read online that some people prefer using Biz in their laundry soap, rather than oxiclean. They remove stains in an entirely different way from each other. People who use Biz swear by it, so I’m hoping to try that in my next batch, but I hate to make such a huge batch if I don’t like it. I will probably make a much smaller amount, do some comparisons, and either make more, or donate the rest of the biz on NextDoor to someone who will use it.
Biz was the ONLY thing that removed watermelon stain from a polyester shirt around 30 years later. Biz is very strong and very good! I don’t know how much my mother used, but all other detergents never got that stain out. We only tried Biz when I was i my 40’s to see what it would do to the shirt I wore and stained in 4th grade in a Watermelon eating contest.
Virginia Lake says
, My daughter showed me this. I have made it three times ( just finished making the third batch)! I am alone; so one batch lasts me a very long tome. Made my first batch almost 2 years ago!
This laundry soap works so well; and I put the fabric softener crystals in; so it’s an “all at once” add for me.
LOVE THE WAY THIS LEAVES MY CLOTHES!
Hi! Can you use bleach In your load while using this recipe as the detergent? Thank you!
Yes you can Hollie, thanks for the question!
Thank you so much!
Barbara Mitchell says
I actually use this recipe but also add in a box of Clorox 2 (or whatever generic equivalent) and it works great!
Thank you so much I’m going to try this!
I am planning on using this for my household. Wanted to share some with a friend also, but her child is super sensitive and has to use the clear all for her skin. Anyone with sensitive skin try this? How does it work? Any reactions?
I have eczema and have always had problems with certain soaps. My washing machine fixit guy recommended the homemade laundry soap to eliminate the musty smell I was getting in my new front loading washing machine and on my clothes. I was a little hesitant to use to soap because of my sensitive skin. Well that was over 10 years ago. I’m very happy I made the first batch of soap. I’ve been using it ever since.
I’ve used this for 3 batches because my oldest daughter kept having reactions to store bought laundry detergent. She’s had no issues using this recipe.
How much do you use in each load of laundry?
Just about 2 tablespoons or so, or more if you like!
Erin Keith says
You do realize washing soda and baking soda are the exact same thing? Save yourself the expense of duplicate ingredients.
Mo Vee says
The difference between baking soda and washing soda is water and carbon dioxide. Baking soda’s chemical makeup is NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). Washing soda’s chemical makeup is Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules).
Here’s a link that explains it well and directions for making your own:
Raquelle L Rico says
i second your research, however washing soda is ment to be a detergent in its self being much coarse as for the baking soda it last within the fabric to keep the fabric from tethering and fraying,
This is the same recipe I’ve used for YEARS! I LOVE this stuff!
*After mixing, I put it into TWO 1-gallon plastic containers with screw top lids from Walmart. You have to jiggle them a little to get it all in, but it will all go in.
*These two containers last AT LEAST one year for 2-3 people.
*I use about 1-1.5 Tablespoons per load and put vinegar in the fabric softener receptacle of the washing machine.
*I have a front load high-efficiency washer and have never had any issues using this powder.
*We have a septic system and have never had an issue.
Do you use the vinegar in with all colors and fabric types, or only whites?
Lesley Coughlin says
I use vinegar in mine with any type of fabric. It also helps reduce odors, and is the only thing that works well for me if I’ve left clothes in the washer and they get a musty smell that re-washing never seems to fully fix. Its very gentle on clothes, and gets rid of odors and soap residue. It also works as a fabric softener.
And after you’re done with your laundry, you can use many of the same ingredients to make household cleaning spray that works great. I do add a drop of peppermint oil to mine to mask the vinegar smell as I’m cleaning.