Homemade Laundry Detergent

This is not a food recipe, but I wanted to share it anyway. Hope you’re not too disappointed.
If you have not tried using homemade laundry detergent, you need to! Not only does it save you lots of money, but it smells good (without all the added perfumes) and it cleans well! I started using homemade detergent on January 1, 2009, and I’m not about to go back. It’s easy to make and even easier to use. Give it a try! I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll never go back to buying store bought detergent again!
Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
  • 1 cup washing soda (not baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1 clean 5 gallon bucket
  1. Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
  2. Fill a five-gallon bucket half full of HOT tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
  3. Stir well (You can stir it best with a paint stirrer drill attachment. It does an excellent job of mixing everything up.) and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (It will gel.)

Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per two gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil. (I have not tried this yet because I love the smell of the detergent itself.)

Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons. Top-load machine: 5/8 cup per load (approximately 180 loads). Front-load machine: ¼ cup per load (approx. 640 loads).
**If you cannot find Fels-Naptha bar soap, you could use Ivory, Sunlight, or Zote bars. Don’t use heavily perfumed soaps. I really prefer to use Fels-Naphta (did not like Ivory) and I bought mine (a full case) online here, but you can also buy it buy the bar here. Washing soda and Borax can normally be found in the laundry or cleaning aisle. Just remember that you want WASHING Soda not Baking Soda. I could not find washing soda locally but later found a place to buy it in the future, but I did order that online as well with free shipping!**
Recipe cost works out as follows (prices will vary):
  • 1 bar Fels-Naphtha = $1.37/bar
  • 1 cup washing soda = $6.49 or $0.93/ 1 cup needed per batch (about 7 = 1 cup portions/box)
  • 1/2 cup Borax = $3.66 or $0.19/half cup needed per batch (about 19 = 1/2 cup portions/box)

Total: $2.49/10 GALLONS of detergent (I’ve only used about 1/3 of my 5 gallon bucket in 6 months!!) .

That’s approx. 640 loads for front load (1/4 cup/load) or approx. 180 loads for top load (5/8 cup/load.

That equals out for $0.004/load for front load or $0.0138/load for top load.  I used to use Gain detergent and was paying about $15 for the largest container (cheapest I could find it). This would last me about 6 weeks. I do roughly 10 loads of laundry per week for my family of 5.

Gain Detergent/year: Approx. $135/year or $0.25/load

Homemade detergent/year: $2.49/year or $0.004/load

Savings: $132.51/year or $0.246/load

I have a front load, so this is a HUGE savings for me! Now, instead of adding Clorox 2 or Clorox to really our dirty clothes (anyone with kids knows that there can be quite a few of those) I’ll add about 1/4 extra Borax or Washing Soda directly to the load. This really helps get the really ground in dirt out of the clothes.

I pretreat clothes by pouring a tiny amount of the detergent on the stain itself, rubbing it in with my finger, and letting it set overnight. You can also treat stains by dampening them and rubbing them with Fels-Naptha soap.

If you have hard water, you can also vary the amounts of the Borax and Washing Soda by adding more to the batch of detergent. You can play with these amounts to suite your needs.

I hope you’ll give homemade detergent a try. It’s well worth it! Don’t forget to check out The Grocery Cart Challenge for more great recipes this week! And please remember to check out Life As Mom for more great frugal tips!

One thought on “Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. This is funny! We both shared our homemade laundry soap recipes today!! LOL! Yours is pretty much the same as mine. Don't you love, love, LOVE the savings!!??


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