Wednesday, August 30, 2006

make your own laundry detergent

This recipe will make 2 gallons of liquid detergent for about 75 cents, maybe even less. That's 75 cents for the TOTAL 2 gallons! It doesn't take that much time and it's kind of fun to make. Oh, plan ahead and have something to store it in, like an empty liquid laundry detergent bottle. Or store the bulk of the mixture in a sealed container and the rest in something pretty like a glass jar or jug.

You'll need:
1/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
1/2 cup Arm and Hammer super washing soda
1/2 cup Borax

Grate the Fels Naptha Soap. Put in a pan with 3 pints of water. Heat until dissolved. Stir in 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup Borax. Mix and heat until all ingredients are dissolved. Continue cooking for 15 minutes. It will be the consistency of honey. Remove from heat.

In a large bucket (3 or 5 gallon), put 1 quart of hot water, then add the soap. Mix well. Add 5 1/2 quarts cold water (or enough to make 2 gallons total mixture). Mix until well blended. Set aside for 24 hours. The mixture will eventually gel.

Use 1/2 cup for each load.


Fels Naptha Laundry Soap is a bar and is usually located in the laundry section of the store.

Borax can be found near the laundry prewash. (It is called 20 Mule Team Borax)

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (Not Arm and Hammer detergent) is in the detergent aisle of your store, near the Borax.

I've had good luck finding all of the ingredients at older grocery stores or Walmart.

Sometimes the detergent doesn’t really gel up or even reach honey consistency as described. Don’t fret, dearies. It will still work.

The gel tends to separate in a couple of days. Just give it a stir each time you use it. You can keep it in a detergent bottle like liquid detergent comes in and give it a shake each time you use it.

This detergent will not suds up in the washer, but it is still getting your clothes clean. They say that store-bought detergent has ingredients put in it especially to make it suds so you will think it is cleaning.

The Fels Naptha Soap does have fragrance added so the laundry soap is not fragrance-free.

If you'd like you can add essential oils to customize the scent to suit you.

Cost per load: 1 shiny penny.


chubby-girl said...

Sounds like fun! I'll have to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

June said...

Thanks for the recipe! I make all my own organic cleaning products because of my allergies. Here's the laundry powder recipe I use--it smells ever so scrumptious on laundry day.

Lavender Laundry Detergent

Make this recipe outside and wear a bandana over your nose/mouth because of the ensuing dust. Or, pour the ingredients in the container you plan to use, cap it tightly and shake vigorously.

• 64-oz plastic container with lid
• Large funnel
• Pail
• ½ cup bentonite clay powder (also called Indian Clay)
• 3 or 4 tablespoons lavender essential oil

Put the clay in the pail and mix in the lavender essential oil and mix until well blended (a fork works great with this).

Using the funnel, add the following powders to the clay mixture:

• 4 cups baking soda
• 2 cups borax
• 1 cup sodium percarbonate (same thing as oxyclean)

To Use: Add ½ cup to a large load of laundry.

For Stains: Make a paste with the detergent and rub into the spot and let sit for 30 minutes before washing.

For disinfecting/deodorizing: Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil to the rinse water.

PaisleyPress said...


You are so awesome and full of such useful information. I don't know if I'll ever make my own laundry detergent but it does sound fun!


clarice said...

I always love to save money, so I can go shopping. Thank you for the idea !! Clarice

Hayley said...

I love the idea of making my own laundry detergent! I found all the ingredient at totalling $12.50 [I got two bars of the Fels Naptha]. I haven't done the math but that's enought for a lot of laundry detergent!

Thanks! Cheers!

Laura said...


gonna try this and my penny pitching hubby will be ever so pleased.


Tammy said...

Amy, is there anything you don't do? Will you come live at my cottage?

Amy said...

What a great tip! Curious about how fragrance oils would affect your clothing if they even would at all in such small amounts...
I'm going to make this soon.

Lauren said...

Thanks for the recipe.

Apron Thrift Girl said...

I have taken part in cleanser making workshops but it would be fun to have a laundry detergent party. Great idea.

Harriett said...

I love the idea of making my own laundry detergent because none of the ones in the market are particularly my favorite. And always good to see someone using good old 20 Mule Team Borax since I worked at the mine in Boron, CA for 4 years where most of the world's supply of Borax is mined.

norththreads said...

Oh this is wonderful, I'll have to try thanks for the recipe. Do you think i could use sunlight laundry bar soap?Love your goodies...must go browse!!

Saucy said...

What a good idea. The man who sold me my washing machine told me that about the suds and I am always on the lookout for low-sudsing detergent. Did you also hear that people use too much detergent? I barely use any now, and my clothes are still clean!

Kim said...

How fantastic! Definitely will be trying this one! Thank you Amy!

Gillian said...

Okay, what a hoot... I'd never even considered making my own detergent, but I kind of want to try it now! :)

shelleyo said...

Dear Amy,
I've lurked forever, and must finally comment on your website! I love the ideas, the photos and the commentary. You have such a lovely approach.
May I add your link to my blog?
Thank you!

Julie said...

What a great idea! I'm allergic to a lot of the extra detergents that they put into most laundry detergent, so I think I'll give this a try! Thanks!

Kim said...

I actually use this exact recipe for my detergent & I love it! It really does get the clothes clean and it smells SO much better than commercial detergents. I used to love the smell of commercial detergents, but now they smell very chemical in comparison.

Erica Stark said...

Do you know if this recipe is biodegradable or if it has additives besides the fragrance? Thanks.

royalbananafish said...

Thank you for this recipe! I've used it and I love it. I'm going to try it with Jamaica Blue Power soap next. I've been hoarding my bars, since you still can't get it in the states. Also, I might try adding some essential oil.

Aaron said...

I made my home made laundry detergent yesterday on 11 Feb, 2009. It has taken me about an hour to make. I have a question. Now, I made the detergent to the tee. And after I have watched this lady video, her finished product geled up, mine hasn't. How come? I need some answeres because it's still watery looking. Thanks for reading my comments and if someone has read this and knows the answere, please do not hesitate too comment on it.

Anonymous said...

can this be used in high-efficiency front loading wash machines?

disa said...


Gloria Schwartz said...

Thanks for the recipe.