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Homemade Laundry Detergent – Cheap and Easy to Make


Detergent Ingredients

After reading about all the toxic chemicals that are added to commercial laundry detergent, I began making my own homemade version.  This is the recipe that I’ve used with great success.  It’s easy to make, has no harmful chemical additives, inexpensive, and leaves my clothes fresh and clean.

You can easily make your own homemade laundry detergent using a few simple ingredients – soap, borax and washing soda. This recipe makes almost 2 gallons, and depending on the soap you use, for well under $1.00. This recipe makes enough for around 65 loads of laundry.

  1. Soap: There are many different bar soaps you can use…Fels Naptha, Ivory, Zote, or Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Baby bar soap. Many people like Fels Naptha, but it has artificial scent, color, and contains petroleum-based ingredients. It and Zote also contain tallow so it is not recommended for vegetarians.
  2. Washing Soda: This is not the same as baking soda; they are two different products. Washing soda is composed of sodium carbonate or soda ash (baking soda = sodium bicarbonate) and helps remove dirt and odor. You can find Arm & Hammer Washing Soda in the laundry section of most grocery stores.
  3. Borax: Borax is a naturally occurring mineral called sodium borate. Its helps whiten and deodorize. 20 Mule Team Borax has been around for decades and can still be found in most grocery stores.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

  • 1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other soap (note: if using Ivory, use a whole bar)
  • 1/3 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax powder
  • Optional: Add 1/2 to 1 oz. of essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice. Lavender or orange essential oil lends a nice scent.
  • Optional: Add 1/2 cup of dry Oxi-clean
  • 1 small bucket or a large, covered storage container, about 2 gallon size.  I use a large Rubbermaid container so I can make and store my soap in one container.
  1. Grate the soap into a saucepan. I have a Salad Shooter which works great.
  2. Add 6 cups water and heat over medium heat until the soap melts, stirring constantly. This takes about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the washing soda and the borax, and stir until it is dissolved. You may see some foaming which is normal.
  4. Remove from heat. Add essential oil if desired. Set aside.
  5. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.
  6. Add your soap mixture and stir.
  7. Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.
  8. Let the soap sit for 24 hours. It will gel as it cools.

You use 1/2 cup per load.


  • When I first made this soap, I thought I made it wrong because the finished soap is a watery gelled mixture rather than homogeneous like the store brands.  This is the way it’s supposed to look.  Just mix with your 1/2 scoop before you dish yours into the washing machine.
  • This is a low sudsing soap, so don’t expect to see suds. We tend to equate suds with clean but that is not the case here…your clothes will get just as clean.

After reading about people having sensitivities to borax or washing soda, I am including a recipe without using these ingredients.

Homemade Laundry Detergent without Borax or Washing Soda

  1. Use 1 Fels Napa bar soap or any other bar soap that you choose.
  2. Grate it up, put it on the burner with water covering it until it melts.
  3. Add one box of baking soda which is diluted using a quart of hot water.
  4. Mix them together and added two gallons of water and let them boil together for awhile.
  5. Cool.
  6. Divide into two – 1 gallon bottles. It separates, but just shake well before using.
  7. Add one cup to each load of laundry.

You’ll be amazed at how bright and clean your laundry will be.


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5 Responses to “Homemade Laundry Detergent – Cheap and Easy to Make”

  1. Concerning this topic, it is difficult to locate savvy suggestions on the Web. Thanks for sharing your recommendations on natural health and similar topics. So, do you have any reliable suggestions on where I can find more useful recommendations on the Internet? Keep up the excellent work!

  2. iwona says:

    All of the soaps you mention above are loundry soaps?

  3. […] course, homemade laundry detergent is best. Try our recipe for our homemade version on Strive to Simplify. Interested in learning more? Check out our companion website ChemicallyPure […]

  4. Carol says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I don’t see why not. It’s low sudsing, and with the greater efficiency of a newer machine, your clothes should get even cleaner than with my old dinosaur. If you try it, please write back and let me know how it works.
    Thanks for writing.

  5. Jenny says:

    Can this be used in a he (high efficiency) washer?

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