Homemade Laundry Detergent

Making your own homemade laundry detergent can be a great way to save on an ongoing basis. Here’s  recipe that a HBHW reader submitted. Be sure to also read through the comments section below. We have quite a bit of good discussion on the topic going on and there are many questions that came up and have been answered below.

What you need:

All ingredients can be found at your local grocery store in the laundry isle.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

  • 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap, shaved
  • 4 cups of hot water to melt the soap
  • 3 gallons of hot water
  • 1 cup of borax
  • 2 cups of washing soda
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1 large Rubbermaid container about 4-5 gallons size

Here’s what you do:
Grate the soap into a saucepan. You can use either a box grater or a food processor for this. I recommend you do not use whatever tool you use for grating soap with food. I was able to buy an extra food processor very inexpensively at a thrift store.

Add 4 cups of hot water to the pan.  Simmer on low until the soap melts completely into the water.

Add borax, washing soda and baking soda to the hot water. Simmer on low until it desolves with the soap (by craig at dresshead inc). If the mixture is not melting, add more water if needed.

Add 3 gallons of hot water to the large container. Add the mixture to the hot water. Mix with a large spoon until it
completely dissolves.
Let cool overnight. You will notice that it turns into a thick gel. Use 1 cup of this homemade laundry detergent per load of laundry

Further Reading – Keeping It Clean

This is a 3 ebook series that will help you spend less time and money on your laundry. Tawra and Jill from Living On A Dime share their best frugal laundry, cleaning and home organization tips.

Grab your copy today at http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/laundry

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  1. Kim says

    I have been using a recipe very similar to this with only changes in amounts of dry product. I love this stuff, we have terribly hard water here and the “washing soda” helps immensly with the wash! I also add oxy clean to my recipe using 1/3 grated bar of any kind of soap 1/2 c each of the borax, soda and oxy. I have found that the bigger the recipe the more foam I get… have made quite the mess a couple of times. I store mine in recycled water jugs (Milk jugs work too). The recipe I follow makes about two gallons of detergent. I put 1/3 gallon of cold water in the jug then pour have of my batch in and add additional water to fill (I usually only fill 3/4 of the jug). If you want a thicker product simply lessen the amount of water you are using to dilute. Just remember that you are now using a higher concentration and it won’t take the full cup of detergent as the others said more like 1/4 cup. Using the full cup won’t hurt the clothes at all but is defeating the whole purpose of doing it “on the cheap.” That way I dont have to stir I just shake shake shake. It stores cleaner and I dont have a huge bucket in my laundry room. The big thing with doing it this way though is that you will need to let it completely cool with the lids off. As the bubbles pop the air they release will cause pressure build up and you will cover your laundry room with detergent.. been there done that… also when you shake make sure and release some of the pressure after several shakes. I will never use another detergent as I realized that this cost 1/9 the price of Tide liquid (when it was on sale) My original purchased ingredients cost me $14 and I am still using them 4 months later with an average of 6-7 loads of laundry per week. Oh and another side note… you can also use this recipe for your dishwasher as well. Use the dry ingredients only (no grated soap no water to dilute) and 1 TBSP in the soap well of your dishwasher.

  2. says

    i have numerous slivers of bath bar soap that i’ve kept in a plastic container. too small for me to not drop in the shower. have used for all kinds of other purposes. my question is – can i use these bar soap slivers (various brands including ‘irish spring’ and others purchased on good sales) instead of the fels naptha in the laundry soap recipe? that would bring my cost way down.
    thanks in advance

    • charlotte says

      OK Carla, now you’ve caught my attention. Please explain to me how you make your own fabric softener sheets? Pretty please??

      • Gerrilee says

        My fabric softener sheets are made by mixing– 3 to 4 cups water, 1 cup vinegar, and 1 cup of hair conditioner ( I buy when on sale ). Then I take old warn out wash clothes or rags cut to fit into an plastic container layer 3 to 5 in and pour enough softener to get the bottom rag wet. Seal the container. When I want one I flip the stack of rags to get the wet one. Wring it out. When its used place on top and flip the stack to get another wet one.

      • Barb says

        A slight twist on Gerrilee’s fabric softener sheets. I hang my clothes to dry, so I put either vinegar or cheap hair conditioner in the rinse cycle. My machine has a holder for it, so I don’t have to deal with washing for the rinse cycle. the hair conditioner needs to be watered down if you have a holder for the softener in your machine. I’m going to try watering it down with vinegar and see how that works. I also save the hotel soaps from when I travel to make my laundry soap.

    • Kaari says

      Yes, JD in St. Louis,

      You CAN use soap slivers in your laundry soap. As Flylady says, (www.flylady.com) “Soap is soap.”

      I use Zest with the time-delay freshness scent (advertising gimmick? I dunno but it’s always on sale) because Fels Naptha is not available here.

      Like you said, the whole point is to SAVE money, not special order something and spend a fortune on shipping. I’m sure Fels Naptha is lovely but I use Zest and my sensitive skin is happy. I add the Safeway version of Oxi Clean to most loads and it works great.

  3. says

    I have been making homemade liquid laundry detergent for many years. For a majority of those years, my “laundry” room was located in my back yard and consisted of 3 55-gallon drums, a clothes plunger, an A frame, a clothes line, and a clothes wringer. One drum was for washing, another for first rinse, the third for final rinse. Until I found my clothes plunger, I used a plumber’s helper to get my clothes clean. The A frame was for hanging blankets to drain and wring out.
    I found that using my homemade laundry detergent, I did not have reactions to the detergent coming in contact with my skin for a prolonged period of time.
    I let my detergent rest for 24 hours and I do not stir the water back into it right away. I use a ladle to collect the liquid which I pour into a spray bottle, dilute and use as a pre-treater.

    Say you do one load of laundry per day for 1 year.

    Tide 2X Ultra Concentrate .31 times 365 equals $113.15
    Great Value Everyday .19 times 365 equals $69.35
    Seventh Generation Free .26 times 365 equals $94.90
    Shaklee .41 cents per load equals $149.65
    My homemade laundry detergent .03 cents per load equals $10.95

    Who only does one load of laundry a day? Certainly not me!!! I average around 3 loads 5 days a week. Which costs me @ 780 loads per year:

    Shaklee .41 cents per load equals $319.80
    My homemade laundry detergent .03 cents equals $23.40

    I also make my own fabric softener sheets at @ 50 cents for 100 sheets.

    • Rachal says

      Wow! That is amazing, and I love how most of you ladies have let me in on the bar soap secret! I have lots of those around and since we have so many reactions to detergents I only use Ivory bars or oatmeal bars. These have a plesent light scent and don’t bother our skin. Its wonderful to know I can just grate them up and use them in the laundry! I’ll still have nice smelling clothes, but without the harsh detergents and chemicals- plus I’ll save a BUNDLE! :) With three little boys and a husband in the Infrantry you can imagine how many loads a week I sometimes do! lol

  4. Walt says

    Besides the money saved, this formula is way more ecologically friendly than any of the synthetic detergents on the market. Take it from a former chemist.

  5. Dora says

    I was raised on using fels naptha soap, but never had a recepie for laundry soap like this! I made a batch, and with my three to four loads a week, and then once a month four blankets, I’m saving a bundle of money, that savings will help pay off my clothes washer in no time! I also made a batch specificaly for whites, I add a bottle of laundry blueing, and my white uniforms come out so white they are blue! I don’t have a dryer, either use lines outside, or in bad weather have a set of clothes bars, but found this recepie for the dryer sheets also works well for a liquid softener.

    • Becky says

      I find the washing soda in the area with laundry detergents, bleach, ect. Right next to 21 Mule Team Borax.

    • Megan says

      There sure is! If you have soft water you can just use baking soda. You only need washing soda if you have hard water. We simply take a bar of Zote grate it with the small side of the grater, measure, then add an equal amount of baking soda. For our front loader we use one rounded TBL. per load. Our clothes have been getting wonderfully clean and unless its a major stain (red mud or oil) i don’t even pretreat. I then throw in vinegar for the softener. We now only have to bleach whites once a month if we do at all.

    • Mrs_Koehn says

      My local ACE ordered it for me for less than $4 a box. I guess someone else had had them order it before me, so when I went in to look for the Borax my Walmart stopped carrying, they had the Wash Soda too! You can call Arm and Hammer and they’ll tell you anyone locally who sells it. They’ll also sell it to you but it’s better to have someone order it if they can. I need to ask ACE about Fells Naptha, but I just use Zote instead.

      Oh, and I don’t have very hard water here at all, it’s not soft either, but when I used so much Baking Soda in my wash soaps my clothes got really gray and I had to bleach them with Clorox a couple times.

    • Linda says

      If there is a Kroger in your area try there. It is the only place in my area that carries it. You can also go to the Arm & Hammer website and find a store in your area that carries it.

    • Jessica says

      I was told that washing Soda is the exact same thing as baking soda however just a more coarse granule

      • Cindy says

        Jessica-I did a lot of research on homemade detergents and was told NOT to use Baking Soda to use Washing Soda ONLY b/c they are NOT the same. Do you have input about that? Anyone else?
        I’d LOVE to use Baking Soda in the detg. b/c it’s less expensive and we always have it.

        • Shannon says

          They are NOT the same. One is sodium bicarbonite and one is sodium carbonite. You can actually get the washing soda in the pool section under it’s technical name.

    • Lara says

      If you can’t find washing soda, look in the pool section and buy ph plus. It’s the same stuff. Or you can make your own by taking baking soda and spreading it on a cookie sheet and baking at 400 for about half an hour. The heat causes the chemical change that turns regular baking soda into washing soda. Walmart and Target usually don’t carry washing soda. Check in Kroger’s, Publix, or smaller local grocery stores.

      • Trina says

        Apparently the pool stuff is stronger. I think a website said to use 1/3 the amount, but it’s worth googling. :-) I just bake baking soda, and it seems to work.

  6. Jamie says

    Did you try Ace Hardware? That’s where I found mine. You can also order it from the Ace hardware site and have it delivered free to your local store. You can also contact Church & Dwight (the makers of Arm & Hammer products) directly at 1-800-524-1328 Monday-Friday 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. E.T. I did this prior to finding it at Ace, and I was able to negotiate free shipping from them by ordering a minimum amount (which was a case at the time).
    You can also go to the pool supply area in Wal-Mart and look for 100% sodium carbonate. A popular brand of it is pH Up. Look for pool soda ash or any pH increaser. It’s the exact same thing. Good Luck and Many Blessings!!!

  7. Simone says

    Oh wow…I stumbled on this site looking for yogurt cheese recipes and boy am I glad I did! The idea of making my own laundry soap and saving money is definitely something I was very happy to find! I was wondering if this recipe is skin-friendly for people with psoriasis. My hubby has psoriasis and I have to be very careful what I use to wash anything in. Also, never heard of fels naptha soap…wonder like Ms. Kay if I can sub something like ivory or castile or tea tree soap for the fels stuff?

    • Megan says

      Yes you can use ivory sensitive, we have in a pinch but most other bar soaps are not the best. We use zote which seems to be easier to find. We have also used and loved our goat milk soap to make it. Since I’m preg i cannot make any right now though so zote is our current choice.

    • Mrs_Koehn says

      I process my soap in the food processor and Ivory works ok but it gets REALLY gummy to grate or process. I also use Zote or my homemade Castile soap.

    • Cindy says

      I used Ivory (we use it for bathing) once and I had to run Bleach cycle in my machine b/c it caused Horrible Scum :-(. I won’t use Ivory Again. Should have realized b/c our daughter does NOT use Ivory and her bathtub has MUCH Less soap scum in it.
      I now only use Fels Naptha-just an FYI.

  8. Julia says

    Hello…I have a bag of soap powder someone gave me that I would like to try in this recipe. Can you tell me how much to use? Thanks.

    • Mrs_Koehn says

      I know the powdered version of pretty much this same thing (I’ve switched to using recently) works but you use half the amount for HE Machines.

    • Lara says

      Yes, this does work in he machines. :) Very low sudsing which is all that he machines need. You’ll be very happy with the results. My mom and I have been using it for a year now, and won’t go back to store bought again. Soooo much cheaper. :)

  9. Jessica says

    OK, being new to the Hillbilly Housewife and finding ways to save money, I’m a little skeptical. If this soap is so great, why haven’t I heard of it before? Why isn’t it made by ‘the man’ and sold in stores. Is it really worth the work? Do you save that much money? Pardon my ignorance, I just don’t get it. Please help me understand. Thanks.

    • Patricia says

      When I switched to make my own detergent, no one in my family noticed a change *except* they asked me if the clothes felt softer or was it their imagination?! It is not a lot of work to make it a big batch at a time and store it. I figured out on a spreadsheet it is about 9X less expensive to make your own. You can make it for about .03 / load – even on sale the very best I can find “cheap” detergent is about .10 / load and on up to $.30 per load for popular name brands. I think most people don’t realize they can make it or they do not want to give up their convenience products. Most of what you buy in the name brand laundry detergent is water, coloring and artificial dyes. You will be helping the environment by making your own as well. I have done both the powdered and liquid versions. I have an old food processor I used for the powdered and that whips up in a jiffy. I make the liquid for storing at our cottage at the coast where powders clump up due to high humidity. To make my own fabric softener, i buy a bottle at Aldi’s about 1X / 2 years. Soak an old washcloth in it till saturated. Wring it out and let it air dry. It is good for about 30-50 dry cycles. Our clothes also get cleaner because they don’t have excess softener residue on them any more. Give it a try and see for yourself whether it’s worth the effort or not. In our family, this is one way we make some additional money available for savings without having to sacrifice anything. Good luck!
      BTW, most of my family thinks I am nuts for making my own since I can “afford” to buy the store stuff. We just choose not to for a variety of reasons!

    • Stefanie says

      Don’t be skeptical- it won’t cost you much to give it a try- the best way to prove it works is to use it- I’ve been making my own for 3 years now and would never buy another $13 bottle of store bought soap again!My husband was skeptical because there is no sudsing with this soap- many thing the suds are what do the cleaning- so I asked him this simple question: “Are your clothes clean when you put them on?”- he said “yes”- enough said!!!

    • Joen says

      It works wonderfully. My Hubby works in a lot of dirt, and his shirts and pants come clean.. not a lot of work to make.. It makes me feel like I can do without , ” the man” I like that..and its not expensive to buy the things to make it… how much better can it get..

    • Jo Ann says

      I was thinking the same thing! Why doesn’t “the man” make it? I’m going to try this. I have 5 children and I don’t even want to talk about how much commercial detergent I have to buy. I’ll let you know how it works out!

      • Kristi says

        “The man” does make it…and dilutes it with water, adds a bunch of fragrance, preservatives, etc., packages it pretty, pays for commercials, then sells it for $13 a bottle! :-)

        • Michelle says

          ‘The man’ brainwashes us into thinking that we need a massive amount of petroleum based products in our homes, making us more depended on foreign oil!

    • says

      It’s been around for a long time and I’ve even seen television news reports on it recently. Most people don’t hear about it because we’re such a convenience oriented society these days. Take homeschooling for instance. Public school as we know it has only been around since the 1800’s, most people think it’s an “odd” thing to do because they don’t realize that everyone was “homeschooled” or Hearthschooled before then(Thomas Edison, even Albert Einstien, founding fathers, etc.) But all that “Old Timey” stuff seems to be making a comeback.:) Guess they were’nt so backwards after all!

      As for saving money….It costs me about $2-$3 to make a batch of liquid laundry soap that does baout 600 loads. It works, noone gets a weird reaction and I only have to make it about 2 times a year or less! Since you have to buy a box of each of the ingredients, if you bought several bars of soap you could probably get about 5 years worth of laundry soap for about $20:)

      1 bar Fels Naptha, 1 bar Kirks Castille
      1 cup cup Borax
      1 cup washing soda
      1/2 cup baking soda
      5 gallon bucket

      Shave and, melt the soap (uncoated metal pot), pour into bucket over dry ingredients, add more hot tap water and stir to mix well. cover and set aside 24 hours. Mix and fill empty dispensing container half full of soap and the other half with more water. Shake to mix. Use 1/2 cup per load, more if really dirty. It makes 5 gals. of concentrated soap. You could skip the dispenser part and just use 1/4 cup per load.

    • Kelly says

      Hi Jessica, I understand your skepticism. When I first started, I thought much the same thing. I wondered if I would have to settle for a far lesser product just to save a few bucks. No!!!!! You probably haven’t heard of it because the general populus is willing to pay more to avoid work (or those willing to work haven’t heard of it yet!). I have had awesome experiences with homemade laundry soap. I love it! It’s really easy to make, works just as well, and costs pennies on the dollar. Try it once. What do you have to lose?

  10. says

    It saves a lot of money to make your own, and really isn’t a lot of work. Just takes some time, but is worth it for all the money you save. They could never sell it this cheap in stores b/c of the packaging probably. Plus, they like to add all kind of stuff to it that you don’t need for some reason. I have been making my own laundry soap for a while, and it gets everything clean–even my husbands work clothes. People used to make more of their own stuff, but found the convenience of store bought hard to resist I guess. I’ve seen quite the shift in people going back to home-made things, having gardens, etc. It saves money and is better for you!

    • Megan says

      yes but i use it in powdered form and just throw it directly on top of the load before i shut the door.

  11. Amy says

    I am fearful of the chemical and toxic effects of Fels Naptha soap. So I use Zote instead. It is available at most Walmarts, Big Lots and some grocery stores. It is plant based.

    • Rachal says

      Ahh! Thanks for letting me know where you have found Zote, I’ve never heard of this product and will look for it when I go to the store next. I too need something that cleans well, but is very gentle.

    • says

      I tried Zote but it have a problem with it chunking up again after it cools down. Fels Naptha is a Laundry Stain treater so I like that aspect of it. I don’t see it as much of a problem chemical wise especially since your using Borax anyway and it’s not nearly as bad as all the rest of the junk in the comercial brands.

  12. Angie says

    I have begun using homemade detergent with vinegar for a softener and sponges soaked in diluted (1/3 softener to 2/3 water) fabric softener in place of dryer sheets in the winter when we use the dryer (we use the clothes line in the spring/summer/fall). After using this for 7-8 months, I love the homemade detergent but I have noticed that my 12 year old daughter’s shirts have a horrible odor under the arms still even after one or two washings. She using deodorant (without anti-perspirant due to my own concerns) but due to her hormones and puberty her shirts just stink awful! I’m grossed out that they stink even after washing them (even her dad’s clothes don’t smell after being washed and he works outside in this 90 degree weather doing hard, physical, sweaty work without any deodorant). I don’t think store bought detergent likely got her shirts any cleaner ~ but all the fragrance covered up the smell! Any suggestions? We have started spraying her shirts with a stain remover such as “Shout” after she removes them and again before I wash them ~ it’s helped ~ but not 100%. I would appreciate knowing what any of you have tried to help with tough odors.

    • Michelle says

      I have heard that spraying the “pits” with vinegar prior to washing can help with staining…maybe it will help with smell…update if you try it. I also read that you can pre-treat areas with homemade detergent diluted in a spray bottle. I am new to homemade laundry soap. Typically use Arm&Hammer but giving “make your own” a try.

      • Stefanie says

        I agree with the vinegar- it should dilute the odors- another thing you could try is some baking soda mixed with water in a spray bottle- both products fight odors. Good luck!

      • Cindy says

        Angie- I have to do the same with MY shirts (spray Vinegar). It works WONDERS! :-) I keep a bottle with it in the laundry room and spray them down (especially if they contain Any synthetic material-I have some w/ cotton/lycra blend). Then b/f I dry them I sniff the area and if it still smells I spray it again while wet and it is Always Out the next wash.
        You can also spray her shirts when she gets home from school while still wet and that helps too.

      • Jeanne says

        What I would do for more fragrance is to add the essence of vanilla or floral essence you like to that batch of laundry soap. It only takes one or two drops for the bucket.

    • says

      I normally use 1/2 cup liquid detergent per load for the home made liquid laundry detergent. I put into the washer for the really dirty and stinky clothes 1 1/2 cups of the home made liquid detergent and also 1/4 cup extra each of the borax and washing soda. After everything is dissolved and the machine is full of clothes, I let the clothes soak for about a half hour and then wash as usual. I don’t have any smell from the clothes then. I also have extremely hard water, so I use quite hot water just to dissolve everything and then adjust the water to cool the load down to warm or to cold water wash. That makes my clothes cleaner and the clothes smell better when the detergent, borax and washing soda dissolves completely before putting the clothes into the washer, then soak, then launder. I hope this helps you.

    • Caitlin says

      Here is an idea. Take a spray bottle and put 1/2 c of vodka (cheap is okay), and 1/4 c of hot water and between 5-20 drops of essential oil (I like orange for the smell or tea tree for the antibacterial aspect of it). Then shake vigorously and spray on the armpits of the shirt. It should help a lot.

  13. Deidre says

    Kim (July 2nd post)

    I mentioned using less dry ingredients, do you also use less water when making the batch? Also, do you use both sodas since you use oxy? Thanks!

  14. CharlieAnn says

    I was wondering if if could make powdered laundry soap out of this recipe by leaving out all the water and grinding everything else together. If so how much do you think I should use in a top load washer?

  15. Becky says

    I prefer the dry. If it’s chopped up fine enough, the bar soap will dissolve, even in cold water washes.


    1 bar Zote soap (on any grocery store laundry aisle, usually top shelf, pink and white wrapper)
    2 cups washing soda (Ace hardware or Walmart)
    2 cups borax (any laundry aisle)
    1 cup oxy-clean (I buy the bucket)

    Shred bar of soap on a box grater or in food processor. Change to chopping blade, and chop soap into fine pieces or chop w/ knife. I add some washing soda to this to help it along. Mix all ingredients well, and store in large plastic bin. Use 2 Tbsp. for extra loarge load of laundry. Safe for “he” washers as there is no sudsing.

      • Kaari says

        It’s great!
        My down-and-dirty, mud-crawlin’, lawn-mowin’ hooligans make some awful laundry, sometimes even several times in a day! My homemade soap gets the clothes clean and fresh without the flowery laundry smell. If you add Oxi Clean or the store knockoff version of Oxi Clean, you even get most of the grass stains out. I did buy a laundry stick to pre-treat the worst stains on my clothes, or my husband’s nice things. Grass stains and mud that makes stains are the only thing that don’t completely come out. My kids mow a lot of lawns and the only thing I really notice is grass stains on white socks.

        Try the liquid version first and see what you think. I add the soap and Oxi Clean to the water and add the clothes while the machine is filling just so the solution is well distributed. A half hour to make enough soap to last 2 months is a good deal to me. There is no cheap laundry soap here so it is cost-effective for me to do this.

      • says

        I find that the recipe I use cleans just as good as the store bought stuff. I still use shout for the bad stains but I did that before anyway.

    • Jenny says

      Thanks for posting this! I am looking forward to giving it a try. if it gets my hubby’s PT gear clean, I’ll be a fan!

      • Jenny says

        I made some! i just combined all the powders in a big container, and then shredded/grated the soap in the blender…i also could not track down washing powder, so I used Purex 2, which is mostly sodium carbonate, like the washing powder.
        the mix is actually very pretty, and once you get the zote ground up, it looks pretty much like store detergent. it’s true that there is not tons of suds, but my DH’s sweaty workout clothes came out clean.
        also, i use about 3/4 of a downy ball full of vinegar as well, which i notice keeps the washer from getting ‘downy buildup’.
        so, two loads in, and i’m pleased. i will be on the lookout for fading or whatnot, but our water is pretty soft, so i don’t think that will be a problem.
        and another thing…doing this was very educational. it’s amazing how companies will fool the average consumer into spending tons of money on useless things. for example, i saw a product from Tide called washing machine cleaner. it’s just a box filled with powder that you run through an (empty) washcycle. it cost $9 something at my walmart…i looked at the ingredients, and it was just sodium percarbonate…borax!
        thanks again for posting this! i googled ‘homemade laundry detergent’ and was amazed at all the info i found!

    • michele says

      I used this recipe. overall i do like it, it does make towels softer but it turn part of my daughters bathing suit pink when it was white.

  16. says

    This soap sounds like it might be a close recipe to Amway’s SA-8. I really like that stuff because it doesn’t have added fillers that may the clothes have lots of lint. I do know that SA-8 is made with coconut oil and you don’t have to use as much as other detergents.

    I might try to make this if I can find the products. I have looked at Walmart for Borax and they don’t carry it any more.

    I made some fabric freshner spray using baking soda, water and a touch of lavendar oil. Several sites list how to make this and fabric wrinkle release, which I use a lot on cotton clothing. I haven’t made it yet since I have a small amount of purchased brand left.

    I will be sharing your website with some of my friends and family. Thanks for the homemade soap recipe.

  17. Stefanie says

    Here’s a great dishwasher soap recipe: 1/2 C. borax, 1/2 C. washing soda and 1 packet of lemon kool aid (the citric acid is what does the work here)- really works! Use 1-2 T. per load.

      • michele says

        I used this recipe but had to use the lemonade. I didn’t like it at all. It leaves a flim on everything and the dishes like dirty mostly the glass and plastic stuff. Not sure if it was the lemonade kool aid instead of using the lemon.(wasn’t able to find lemon)

    • Penelope says

      I have not done this myself, but on other sites I read to use the DIET lemon kool aid – definitely not use the sugar one. As a sub, you may use citric acid (found at many brewery stores).

    • says

      I have not had any luck with dishwasher soap. So far all the sites I’ve been to have comments with the same thing. It’s one of those homeade recipes that just doesn’t seem to work well. I’ve tried several with vinegar, lemon, extra rinse aid, you name it. Homeade shampoo is another one to stay away from. However, using white vineagr or baking soda as a rinser after shampooing is a good thing. The vinegar smell does not linger.

  18. Marisha says

    Walmart carries washing soda and borax in the laundry aisle.
    Fels Naptha is available at Community Market/IGA.

  19. Monica says

    I have used this recipe for laundry detergent too, and it works wonders! It even takes out stains that are set in that the commercial detergents didn’t get out. It takes a little time to make it, but is very worth it.

  20. Crystal says

    I have found that making my own laundry soaps such as this makes my clothes appear old and dingy. does anyone have any suggestions? I love the idea of making my own soap but I still want to look good and have my clothes last.

  21. Jennifer says

    For those of you that have a WinCo they have everything you need. I am planning on trying this when I run out of my detergent

  22. Kaye says

    Does this recipe work for high-efficiency frontloading machines? If so, I’d really like to try it! Thanks, friends.

    • LisaE says

      This recipe is good for HE machines because it is virtually suds-free. I have used this soap since April (I believe) and have had no problems with my HE front-loading machine.

      It is SO NICE not having to buy expensive laundry soap anymore-much easier on the budget.

  23. Sarah says

    Has anyone tried the dishwasher recipe (the one that includes the Lemon Kool-aid?) I’m curious – as I would think the kool-aid would make the dishes sticky and leave a residue on the glasses. Thanks!

  24. Marsha says

    Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and washing soda is sodium carbonate. OxyClean is sodium carbonate so I just substituted it in place of the washing soda and got the results I was looking for. Krogers version of OxyClean is about $7.00 cheaper.

  25. Jo says

    I made the laundry soap recipe as printed and I am amazed! It turned out perfect and took less time and effort to make than a batch of cookies. It smells wonderful–a clean soapy smell reminiscent of the smell of my grandmother’s apron when I hugged her. My laundry comes out fresh and clean. Making 4 gallons of soap cost me less than $5.00. Thank you HBHW!

  26. Lydia says

    i love the idea of making my own laundry soap, but i have an energy efficient front loading washer and dryer and i have to buy the “h.e.” laundry soap. would i be able to use this in my washing machine still?

  27. Linda says

    I have been making and using the powdered laundry detergent with 1 bar grated Fels Naptha soap, 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax, process all together in food processor to get the right texture, then use 1 to 2 T per load of clothes. Even my college age son commented on how nice his laundry smells. I love using it. I also am making my own dishwasher detergent…2 T. Borax + 2 T. baking soda. Shake together and use 2T per load (this only makes 2 loads). My dishes sparkle. No more etching on the glass ware either. I Love Using My Own Recipes and Saving Money!!!

  28. says

    I have been making my own laundry detergent for a couple of years now but my “recipe” is much simpler & works GREAT! You do need to purchase a 5 gallon bucket with a lid that seals ($5 @ walmart or Menards) to hold all of this.
    2 boxes Borax
    2 Boxes Arm & Hammer washing Soda
    2 boxes detergent(We use Tide free & clear)
    Seal on the lid & roll around the bucket to mix it all up! One bucket will last @ LEAST a mont, 1 – 2 loads of laundry every single day. i hope this is useful/helpful!!!

  29. says

    I also make the powdered variety.
    2 C shredded soap
    2 C borax
    1 C washing soda
    1 C baking soda
    1/2 C oxywash (optional)
    Shred the soap with a cheese grater and then combine all of the ingredients in a food processer. This will powder it, and make it dissolve easier in the wash. Add 1 Tbsp for regular loads and 2 Tbsp for extra large loads. Use half that for HE washers. It can be stored in a large zippered storage bag. It is also septic safe, and easier to make and store than the liquid varieties.

    Add vinegar to the fabric softener compartment in the washer. It will prevent build-up and soften clothes. If you are looking for a more natural detergent or have sensitive skin, do not use Fels Naphtha or Zote. I use homemade Castile. I have used variations of this recipe for a few years, and I even sell it on Etsy. I love it and so do my customers!

  30. says

    I we already use this. We love it. Friends come over with their empty milk jugs and stock up. Although the soap smells fragrant in the bucket, it doesn’t leave a big scent on the clothing. People who have allergies can really benefit from using this recipe.

    • Sam says

      Heloise has this recipe:
      Mix equal parts …
      Dishwashing liquid the does NOT contain bleach (check labels carefully)
      Non-sudsy household ammonia
      Mix well, pour into a clean spray bottle and label to not be used with bleach or products containing bleach. Ammonia and bleach mixed is toxic.
      Spray on stain and wash immediately.
      Works great.

  31. Kelcy Moorefield says

    I have been using this since January. I now have my aunt, sister, mom and in laws using it. The Fels Naptha bar used as a pretreater took pink dye out of my daughters white sweater. It was so great. I don’t know how I lived without it. You just wet the clothing where the stain is, rub the bar of soap on it and wash. Along with the homemade detergent it is great.

  32. dana says

    Question for anyone…can this be used on colored and whites both? Will it fade or bleach the colored clothes? Do i need to add more bleach to the whites? Thanks a bunch!

  33. Caitlin says

    So in love with making this. I make my own goat’s milk soap, shower gels and lotions, so I did this recipe, and added just a touch of scent to it. Our laundry detergent is now apple scented 😀 We love it. Instead of the washing soda (which I could not find), I use Biz. It has the sodium carbonate, but a few other things. Works fantastic too. We use plain white Dial soap in our detergent, because we have a lot of sensitivities to detergents. My son used to break out with every laundry detergent, and now he doesn’t at all, not even with the scent in the detergent. I have used orange essential oil too, just a touch, and it was heavenly. :) We use the bumpy dryer balls we found at the dollar store to fluff our clothes :) We also use baking soda and peroxide as a pretreater. Works fantastic. :)

  34. Kimberly says

    I am very interested in trying this, but I’m wondering if this a “green” alternative to ready-made laundry detergents. It seems as though they would be, but are they nitrate heavy?

    • Trina says

      I have wondered about that too. I don’t THINK there can be any nitrates from the Borax or Washing Soda (although I have not tried to work out the actual chemical reactions involved), so the only source should be from the soap. I use a bar of Ivory, which lasts a couple of months. That doesn’t sound like a huge amount too me.

      I have to admit I have not been willing to look into the manufacturing process of my ingredients to see how truly “green” it is, lol.

  35. Emma says


    I used to make my own laundry detergent all the time but when I moved I sold my washer and the only one here is HE. Using regular homemade soap or regular detergent causes it to suds up and the seal on the machine needs to be replaced (expensive!). Has anyone come up with a recipe for HE laundry detergent?

    • LisaE says

      Emma…..I have an HE wash machine (for over 2 years) and have used this recipe for laundry soap since April. I have not had a problem with it sudsing too much-actually, I seldom see any suds. Maybe try using less detergent?

  36. Susan says

    My appliance guy told us powdered detergent is awful for the machines. Most machine leaks are due to using powdered detergent.

  37. Cyndi says

    I’ve been using this recipe for 2 weeks now. It works great! I’ve also been using white vinegar for softner…no one can tell! There is no vinegar odor at all. I could only find Fils Naptha at Ace Hardware. The local grocer had Washing Soda and Borax. Walmart and Target had none of those. :(

  38. Kristi says

    I’ve been using homemade detergent, similar to this recipe, for a little over a year. We have a lot of rust in our well water, and my whites will not stay white. I’ve read to “adjust” the recipe if that happens, but I’m not sure what part of it to adjust. Any ideas?

  39. Diane says

    I have not read through all the comments here, but I have been making my own laundry soap for about a year now. The recipe I ran across and have been making is:
    -1/2 bar fels naptha soap (or whole bar regular soap), grated and melted on the stove in 5 c. hot water. No need to boil.
    -Pour 3 gallons hot water into a 5 gallon bucket (paint buckets with lids are cheap at places like Home Depot)
    -Stir your melted soap into the bucket of hot water
    -Add and stir in 1/2 c. washing soda
    -Stir in 1 c. borax
    This is like a gel / liquid when it cools. Give it a shake and use about 1/2 c. per load. You can add some essential oils if you like a little scent. I ladle it into old laundry soap containers or gallon milk jugs. I have found that the lids to the laundry detergent containers hold about 1/2 c. So I just use that to measure.
    I read somewhere if you don’t like the mixture to gel to add a little bit of Gain laundry detergent. I’m not sure if any brand liquid detergent would do. I don’t mind and haven’t tried it.
    I have also tried adding equal parts soda and borax and haven’t noticed really any difference in cleaning capabilities. I’ve even added some powdered Clorox 2 to the mix. I don’t know if it’s worth it. I still need to pretreat things like mud stains etc. I am curious if a full bar of the fels naptha would be any better at stain removal. I also tried a bar of regular soap, but the fels naptha seems to be more effective.
    As for HE machines, everything I’ve read says this works fine. You could try using a little less. It really doesn’t suds in the machine at all that I’ve noticed. It will in the jug when you give it a shake, but I’ve yet to see suds in the machine. This is quite a money saver for us!
    I am also curious to try the Dawn soap as a pretreater. Years ago, trying different stain pretreaters, I settled on zout and have stuck with that thus far.

  40. Mary Wright says

    If I cannot get detergent for under $1.00 a bottle(with coupons), then I used homemade. I find that both work well and that actually the homemade detergent gets out tough stains better. I have not been able to buy washing soda where I live, so I just use baking soda instead. It seems to work well.

  41. Nicole says

    I made my own laundry soap for 2 years using Fels. A friend gave me a bar of Zote, so I tried it. It made the clothes much brighter, BUT… about 4-6 weeks after the switch, my husband and one of my sons started swelling up wherever their sweat touched the clothing. So, I switched back to the Fels and washed EVERYTHING, but they were still swelling up. When I switched to Fels, the bar of soap looked different. I was wondering if they have changed Fels, or if this could be a reaction to the Borax or Washing Soda. (Note, they didn’t have a problem for 2 years before this.) Do you have any ideas for sensitive skin?
    Thank You.

  42. says

    I couldn’t find the A&H washing soda in my local stores. A&H delivered my order to Ace Hardware – no postage!!. When I picked it up, Ace said they now carry it in the store because of the demand.

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