Posted by on Feb 7, 2012 in DIY

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Now that everyone has Pinterest, people are wanting to know how to make this stuff. I cannot count the number of times this has come up this week. So I thought posting a proper “recipe” would be in order.

I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for a couple years. I’ve had successful batches, and I’ve had failed batches. So I’m going to lay it all on the line here and give you some guidance.

This recipe costs me $0.06 per load. That’s $1 per gallon. It takes less than an hour to make, lasts 4-6 months (depending on how much laundry you have). So when people ask me, “Is it worth it?”…… do the math.

Tools you’ll need:

  • 5 gallon bucket (or another large vessel)
  • 1 large stock pot
  • box grater or food processor
  • wooden spoon
  • 1 cup Borax natural laundry soap
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 2 cups Arm and Hammer’s Washing soda
  • 1 bar soap (I prefer Yardley, but most people use Naptha Falls Laundry Bar- more info below)
  • essential oils (optional)
  1. Begin by grating the bar of soap. If you use a bath bar, use a natural one (without parabens or sulfates) so you don’t end up with soap suds covering your kitchen. I prefer the Yardley soaps or you could use a castile bar. If you use Naptha Falls (on the laundry isle), grate the laundry bar, then pulverize it in a food processor. I’ve found that Naptha doesn’t dissolve well unless its ground into a powder.
  2. Place soap shavings into the large stock pot on medium heat. Add 4 cups water. Slowly heat and stir occasionally until soap has melted.
  3. Add Borax, baking soda and washing soda. Continue on medium heat, stirring until it is all dissolved. This part takes the longest, keep stirring to keep the baking soda from becoming clump-o-tastic on the bottom of the pan. Low and slow, it will dissolve eventually. If you have to add more water.
  4. Add any fragrance you prefer. I use lavender essential oil. About 15-20 drops is enough to smell fresh, but not make hubby’s clothes smell too girly.
  5. Pour this concentrated solution into the 5 gallon bucket. 
  6. Add 4 gallons of HOT water (or just fill the vessel). Stir, stir, stir. The hotter the better. Do not use cold for any reason, trust me :)
  7. Let this set for 24 hours or until its completely cool. After 24 hours you’ll find that its solidified into a gel. The top may be thicker, so it will need another good stir before bottling. If there is any ‘scum’ on top (ie. powder than never dissolved), just scrap it off and discard.
  8. Pour into containers of your choice. I find old milk jugs work the best. There are some water dispensers I’ve seen people use, but this solution is pretty thick, and it gets jammed up in the valve. They just don’t work.


To use:

  • Shake the bottle before pouring. Because this solution isn’t tainted with extra chemicals that bind the water molecules to the soap, there will be natural separation (like peanut butter). Just shake and pour. No biggie.
  • When we had a regular washer, I used 1 cup of this detergent.
  • With our high efficiency, I use 1/2 cup.

Enjoy, I hope this helps some of you SAVE green and BE green :)


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