Laundry detergent

My DH is determined that we use a commercial powdered detergent for the laundry, because he likes the smell… well, I like making my own powder from a frugal recipe that I found online. I eventually got tired of him saying “we should use tide or something” to me and figured out a way to compromise! I buy a box of commercial powder and then “dilute” it with baking soda and borax! Then I only use about 1/4 cup per load! I can tell him we use “Tide” and still save lots of money because one box lasts us months instead of a couple of weeks!

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

The Homemaker’s Hutch Magazine

Homemaker's Hutch February IssueHomemaker's Hutch Magazine

With Summer just around the corner you’ll find plenty of travel and summer fun ideas in this issue.

Of course there are also some fresh new recipes to try as well as creating family memories, being lazy and more fun stuff. If you haven’t already done so, please stop by the Facebook Page and say Hi.

Click on here to subscribe today!

Homemaker's Hutch Magazine


  1. Cyndi says

    I don’t dilute my commercial brand soap – but I do use significantly less than “required.” I have a front load machine and I use maybe 2 TBSP of detergent and vinegar for fabric softener. We decided that with the less amount of water all the soap we were putting in wasn’t getting out of our clothes and we have found that we were right…just an idea…so save time if you don’t make your own – though I’ve done that too and we like it.

  2. Shelly says

    I love homemade laundry soap. Best solution I had for years with my (image obsessed) husband is to refill the name brand bottles with homemade. It’s sneaky and it works for the store brand coffee that costs about half of the name brand that he thinks he likes.

  3. Angee Thompson says

    I use essential oil to make my homemade laundry detergent…and it smells as good if not better than the commercial brand. You can use a combination of essential oil to scent you detergent. My family favorites are lemon and lavender.

  4. conni says

    Last week’s laundry soap recipe specified ‘baking soda’. Is this possible? All the recipes I have seen before insisted that ‘washing soda’ (which I have not been able to find) is necessary. Help!

    • Scott Mowry says

      You can find the washing soda and Fels soap at any hardware store.
      I buy the soda,Fels and borax at Ace hardware here in Eaton,OH.
      Hope this helps.

    • Amy says

      I found you can order it online at arm and hammer. It is pricey that way. I personally get it at a little IGA grocery store. Those tiny little places where our mother’s prefer to shop tend to carry the older products that work so well. I guess they are less likely to get caught in the fads. Mom and Pops tend to carry them too, and sometimes hardware stores. Hope this helps. My recipe calls for both washing soda and baking soda.

  5. m. says

    Conni – This confused me, too! After doing a bunch of research and reading, I discovered that washing soda is essentially double strength baking soda. Baking soda works just fine in the laundry soap recipes, just use twice the amount specified for the washing soda. :-)

  6. robyn says

    I don’t think so. Washing soda is sodium carbonate, baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate will gray your clothes, but good for dishes and cleaning. Sodium carbonate will cut grease and clean and whiten your clothes, as well as providing a bit of lather. Arm and Hammer powdered detergent is almost pure washing soda (sodium carbonate).

    • Traci says

      I couldn’t find Washing Soda either, BUT I have been successfully making my own laundry soap for the past year using Chlorox2 Stain Fighter and Color Booster in place of the washing soda. Chlorox2 has sodium percarbonate and sodiumbicarbonate in it. I’m not a chemist to know what is what, but I tried it, didn’t blow up my home and it cleans clothes GREAT!

      • JoAnn says

        Publix has all the ingredients for your laundry detergent. I just started making it and I love it. Cheap and good.

  7. Norm says

    Dumb question 101: Has anyone tried adding TSP (trisodium phosphate) to any dish/wash detergent? Also, how do you mix the dry ingredients?

    • L.Johnson says

      Do not use tsp for cleaning your dishes. It will etch anything glass. The correct ingredient is sodium tripolyphosphate. This is what is used in detergent and soap formulas. I have purchased some on line and use about a teaspoon in the dish washer along with Lemi-shine and detergent. It has worked pretty good so far. Our water here is very hard and nothing was working before. Hope this helps.

  8. says

    I have been making all my own cleaners and have them listed on my blog! I love my homemade laundry soap and fabric softener. I use a Downy type oil that I get off line. It smells just like Downy. I am saving so much money! You can find Washing Soda in a really good grocer~not Walmart.

  9. PeaceMama says

    Super Washing Soda from Arm and Hammer can be found in most Kroger stores. There is also an 800 number I found on once upon a time that you can call to locate stores in your area that sold a particular product within the last 3 months. Your best bet is to call a nearby Krogers though. And do not substitute baking soda! It is not the same thing.

  10. Angela says

    I have been making my own gel like liquid laundry soaps for a while now as my washing machine doesn’t cope with powders. I got the recipes on line and it is so easy. A few cups of raw ingredients (Washing Soda and Pure soap flakes)make around 15 litres(approx’ 3 gallons) of a gel like laundry soap. It does require some melting of the soap flakes over heat but it isn’t fiddly or time consuming. I too was adding essential oils to them but the scent just didn’t last and I am a big fan of scented laundry. I am going to try adding in my favorite commercial laundry liquid next time just for the scent. Will let you know how it goes. Thanks for the idea.

  11. Audra says

    This is for Norm who asked about the TSP – I would not add TSP to dish or laundry soap. We (my husband and I) used to own a pressure washing company and we used TSP on a regular basis. The problem with TSP is that it’s texture is very coarse and does not dissolve very easily unless the water is extremely hot. This would present a problem not only with residue in your clothing, but with damage to the lines running in your appliances. It also damages glass and soft plastics (we found that last one out the hard way.)
    About locating the washing soda – our Krogers (love Kroger, BTW) do not carry washing soda, but we discovered that our Ace Hardware does carry it.

  12. marilyn patterson says

    Has anyone noticed that their kids attract more bees and such if they are adding scents to their laundry soap. Bees are crazy for deodorants and perfume will get you inundated with yellow jackets. No sweet smelling scents for me,I’ve been there and I won’t go back.

  13. Marie says

    To Norm:
    Please don’t use TSP. This chemical is not good for our environment. Since the 1960s, it has known to be responsible for algae growth in the water supply. Most TSP sold today is mixed with washing soda. Why not just use the washing soda?

  14. Debbie says

    Washing soda (sodium carbonate) can be found in bulk at a pool supply.
    I’ve paid around $28 for 50 pounds.
    Also, using an old style hand food grinder is a fast way to ‘grate’ bar

  15. Rhonda says

    I found Washing Soda and all the other ingredients for homemade laundry detergent at Publix. For less than $7 I got everything but the essential oil for fragrance! Can’t wait to give it a try!

  16. Carrie says

    I found on one web site (I do not rembember it now) that you can bake baking soda in the oven and it will turn into washing soda, something about heating it changes the chemical bonds.

  17. Sarah Brown says

    just wanted to Thank ya for your site.. it is the greatest. I have been making my our laundry soap for the past 4 month’s now and I love it .I use while vingard for Softner… I have saved so much money.I make it and share with my son..we both want to Thank ya.. Keep up the grat work..God Bless…..

  18. Dee says

    I’ve been making my own liquid laundry detergent for almost a year now. I’ve always used baking soda, not washing soda, and my detergent (and laundry) has been just fine. I get a large bag of baking soda at Sam’s Club for around $3-$4. My family’s clothes have been softer and less dingy looking since I’ve been using my own detergent. I’ll never go back to $15-$18/box laundry detergent!!!

  19. Amanda says

    Just a note, I did some research a few years ago on the whole washing soda/baking soda thing… in order to use baking soda in place of washing soda there has to be a chemical change involved. Someone else suggested heat. I always microwaved a container of water until boiling… and then added the baking soda (equal to the amount of washing soda called for)… be sure to account for the bit of extra liquid in the recipe.

    NOTE: You want to stand back a bit when doing this because the baking soda will let off some gas that can make you cough a bit.

    Hope this helps.

  20. Melanie says

    I have been making my own liquid laundry soap for about a year. I use castile/borax/washing soda mix. I have noticed that there is a smell on some of our clothing. I have heard that TSP will remove this odor as it is caused by bacteria. I don’t really want to use TSP. Does anyone know of another solution to this problem

    Thanks in advance

    • The Hillbilly Housewife says

      My personal favorite is using white vinegar as a “sweetener” for just about anything. I have used it for years in my laundry, especially on towels that have been left laying around wet. It works well. I’m not sure if it’s a solution for your problem, Melanie, but it wouldn’t hurt to try a little in your rinse water.

  21. nikki says

    I use the arm and hammer washing soda, borax, and either three bars of Ivory bar soap or one bar of fels naptha. One box of each makes about six to eight months worth of laundry soap for our family of four. I also use white vinger as a softner.

  22. Melissa says

    Hello, I am very interested in making this laundry soap, but I’m not sure on what you listed as arm & hammer washing soda. Is this baking soda or thelaundry soap? would appreciate the help. Thanks!

    p.s. how much vinegar?

    • Linda says

      I use 2 cups A & H washing soda, 2 cups Borax & 1 bar grated Fels-Naptha soap. I mix these all together using a food processor and it looks a lot like sand. Some people cook it to make a liquid but I have very little storage space & the dry mix needs less storage space. I add 3 tsp to a plastic cup & pour in boiling water & stir. I then pour this into my machine so that I don’t have residue on my clothes from the powder. I hope this helps.

  23. nikki says

    melissa: The washing soda is is different than baking soda and is usually found by the borax. Mix all these together and it’s the laundry soap It does not suds up but that’s ok it still works very well. I usually only put in a 1/4 of a cup of vinegar, depends how big the load is. If your doing all towels you may want to add more to make them really soft. Hope this helps.

  24. Amanda says

    I would like an exact recipe for this laundry detergent. And where do you buy it all? Just at grocery stores? I am really excited. Please someone write an exact recipe. And how to make it. Thank you so much.

  25. nikki says

    Amanda: I use one box of borax, one box of arm and hammer washing soda, 3 bars of ivory soap or 1 bar of fels naptha. Grate the bar soap real fine, I use a cheese grater my kids love to help with that. Just pour all into a container and use 1-3 teaspoons each load depending how dirty your clothes are. I live in the midwest and get this stuff at a grocery store called meijers. All should be in the laundry asle.

  26. Sonya S. says

    Make your own washing soda using baking soda. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F(at least 200 degrees Celcius), pour baking soda onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about an hour or hour and a half. Take out of oven and let cool. What you now have is washing soda.

  27. Heather says

    The recipe I found and just made today only calls for 1/2 cup of borax and 1 cup washing soda for a whole five gallon bucket. Of course you use 1/2 cup of the mix per load of laundry for an HE machine. Can’t wait to use it, and I’m going to start using vinegar for softener now too :)

  28. Katie says

    How well does it wash the colors? I keep reading about the whites and towels, but I am more concerned aobut the colors? Does it make them fade faster or dingy looking?

  29. LisaE says

    Katie…..I haven’t used homeade laundry detergent is powdered form but have used it in liquid form for about 2 months now. I haven’t had a problem with fading or dingy looking clothes…..our clothes look the same as they always did. I usually wash laundry with cold water only around 99% o the time, but when washing with warm water I don’t notice a difference.

  30. Shawn B says

    Amanda you can NOT change baking soda to washing soda.
    If a person were going to make washing soda at home by converting limestone the temps required to do so would not be obtainable at home.

  31. Sarah says

    just a note .. do not use bleach with vingar in washer.. it gives off a gas of some kind that can be dangerness…found that out…have been makein my own soap for all most 2 years now and i love it..

  32. Julie Williamson says

    I have used the liquid and powdered form of laundry detergent. I haven’t seen any difference in using either. The plus to the powder is that is doesn’t take up much space. I start my water and put it in and then add the clothes. I have never had any not wash out, colors fade, or whites being dingy. After my kid toppled the liquid bucket, I decided it would be much easier to use the powdered and clean up if necessary! :’)

  33. Gina says

    Can someone please tell me what washing soda is and where do you get it. I have asked many older people and even the women in the Amish community and they have never heard of washing soda..

  34. LisaE says

    Gina….the only place I have found that sells washing soda is my local Pick N Save-look for a box of it where Borax is sold. It isn’t very expensive and sure you can order it online, I believe it is made by Arm & Hammer…..I am sure if I am wrong someone will correct this info. on where to look online.

  35. Heidi says

    I first heard of homemade laundry soap by watching the Duggar’s on “17 Kids and Counting”. They have this site:

    listed on their web site

    It’s a lot to buy at once if you are a normal sized family but at least you can see what it is that you are looking for or go in on it with someone…

    I was pretty ecstatic to find all three ingredients right next to each other at my Smith’s Market Place (sells Kroger brand stuff, major grocery chain, not at Target or WalMart or Amish area). I have made one small batch of the detergent this week and in 10 loads of clothes I haven’t noticed anything fade and it actually smells pretty good and clean/fresh. My $7 investment will last for months…a lot longer than my gigantic $15 bottle. Good luck!

  36. Nancy Beck says

    I buy liquid Tide and cut it in half. If you read on the label it tells you it is 2X consentrated…so by cutting it I have regular strength and twice the amount of soap. It then will last 2X as long…
    Have a wonderful day.

  37. Penny says

    This laundry soap works great! Does anyone know how I can make my own essential oils out of fresh lavender to put in the soap?

    • Carol Cripps says

      You’d need a still to get lavender oil out of your fresh lavender, and for what you’d get, it isn’t worth it. As far as essential oils go, lavender is fairly inexpensive. However, I’m a fan of unscented laundry. First of all, I’m sensitive to perfumes, although essential oils don’t seem to bother me as much, and secondly, scents really do attract biting flies, like horse and black flies, so doing without the smells makes much more sense to me.

  38. virginia says

    I made the laundry detergent with fels naptha soap, borax and soda. I used it today and my clothes came out clean and more soft than usual. I have a question, however, my detergent did not gel. It looks as if the soad is all at the top of the bucket and the other sfuff dissloved down in the bucket. What is my problem?

    • LisaE says

      I don’t think there is a real problem. I suggest you stir and stir your soap batch and if you have funneled some into bottles, just give it a good shake or two before adding soap into wash machine. I don’t think there is much difference in how well the soap works if it had gelled or not…..but do keep mixing it and it will work well.

  39. says

    Hi! I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for about a year – my friends think I’m kooky, but I enjoy being frugal. Now that I am unemployed (about one week), it will be helpful.

    I use the recipe of the Duggar family (the one on TV). I figure, if it is good enough for her 19 kids, it is good enough for me!

    Best wishes everyone.

  40. Terry says

    I have been using diluted dish liquid as my laundry detergent for years with great success. For a name-brand liquid like Palmolive I use a ratio of 3 parts water to one part dish liquid. My husband is a cook and it works great to get the smells out of his clothes. I have one of those big tap jugs I bought years ago that I just keep refilling with my own mixture. For Dawn you’d want to use more water, dollar store brands less. Not quite as frugal as the fully homemade detergent, but it is a quick and easy alternative at about $2.00 a gallon.

  41. Angie says

    I have never used homemade laundry detergent but I do make one box of Gain powdered detergent and one bottle of the cheap store brand liquid detergent last for about a year. For a large load of laundry I will use 2 tbsp. of the powdered detergent and 2 tbsp. of the liquid detergent. My clothes are just as clean as before, I don’t have any soap left in the clothes and the clothes still smell great. As for fabric softener, I buy the good stuff and only use 1 tbsp. in the rinse cycle. I always wash in cold water and pretreat any bad stains with Dial soap. I put the clothes in the dryer for maybe 5 minutes to loosen any wrinkles then hang everything on hangers to dry.

  42. Kathy says

    When you dilute a box of powder detergent, how much washing soda and borax do you use? Also, can you use it in HE machines

  43. Doris Gordon says

    Our supermarkets do not carry A & H washing soda so I ordered A & H washing soda from my Ace Hardware. I picked it up Ace (with no shipping from A & H). This was a few months ago. But now I find Ace is out of business here. I’m glad I ordered 3 boxes.

  44. Ann Lagos says

    The best way to turn baking soda into washing soda is to use the oven.
    Spread 1 lb of baking soda into a cookie sheet and bake at 300F for 1 hr. Be careful when you remove the freshly made washing soda, it can damage skin. Keep in a sealed glass jar.

  45. Sheila says

    I’ve done my research on washing soda. All you have to do is take an equal amount of baking soda & put it in a teflon coated saucepan. Put that on the burner of your stove on medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until no more steam is seen. Violia! Now you have washing soda out of baking soda!

  46. lacey says

    I make the homemade powdered laundry soap and mix it half and half with powdered gain laundry soap. I love the smell of gain and didn’t like the smell of my clothes after awhile with just the homemade soap. It makes a box of gain last a long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *