Thursday, April 26, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

A friend of mine from college posted about her making her own laundry detergent back in January.  She has four kids and her first batch lasted 10 weeks!  She made another batch in mid-March and was very impressed with how well it worked. 

I was intrigued, so I obtained her recipe and made my own. Since then, I've discovered that my mother-in-law and her sister have both made the detergent with Patricia being on her second batch.

So far, I've only done a few loads and haven't found any issues and the cost is minimal.  Considering you buy the boxes/bottles of some ingredients that would make multiple batches (at least 10 batches, maybe more), the only thing you would have to buy each batch would be the Fels-Naptha soap, which costs $0.97 at Wal-mart.  All ingredients can be found right around the same area at Wal-mart.

So my immediate investment was $7.50.  If I save my ingredients for only detergent, I will only be spending maybe $5-$6 additional per year.  Amazing considering 30 loads of purchased detergent costs $5 to $10 depending on brands.  This homemade detergent is 5x's that for $1.00!

The supplies are my friends photo, I forgot to take a picture of my supplies.  The only difference is I used Arm and Hammer baking soda....not sure you could go wrong with any baking soda!

  • Dawn Liquid Dish Detergent
  • Baking Soda
  • Borax
  • Washing Soda
  • Fels-Naptha Soap
  • Purex Crystals does not go into the recipe, but this detergent does not have a smell, so the Purex is for softening/freshness. I used WAY less than the bottle states.  The crystals can be overwhelming.
Step 1:  Grate the Fels-Naptha Soap and melt in 4 cups of water over low heat (about 20-30 minutes).  You can whisk to help it along, but do so very gently as to not make it frothy. It is soap after all!

Meanwhile, in a five gallon bucket or container (with a lid), combine one cup Borax, one cup washing soda, 1/2 cup baking soda and 1.5 tbsp Dawn dish detergent.

Once your Fels-Naptha is done melting, pour into the bucket and mix with the dry/dawn ingredients.

Slowly add three gallons of warm water, mix and cover. 

Let sit for 24 hours, uncover, stir well (it will be a little gelatinous and lumpy after you mix) and then pour into old laundry detergent containers for use.

A couple of tips:

You will need to shake your detergent each time you use, before adding to the laundry load.  Some of the ingredients might separate and shaking will break up the gelatin a bit.  Use the same amount as you would any commercial detergent.  1/2 cap for small load, full cap for a large load.  The beauty is that it costs so little you can vary in your amounts.

Also, as with any load, it's still a good idea to add your soap to the water and let it mix for a while before adding your clothes.  This detergent is not sudsy, so don't worry if you don't see the suds, it's still working.

And, like I said, the crystals add some smell and freshness, but I use maybe half of what's called for on the bottle.  You can also add a few drops of scented oil right to the detergent when you're making it however, I was afraid that might leave oil spots.  So I'm sticking with the Purex.

Happy Wednesday Y'all!


  1. You are just a regular Martha Stewart!

  2. Wow! Thank you for sharing! What a bargain. We like Tide, which is so.dang.expensive. I will have to try this.

  3. What a great idea! I have a front loading washer and wonder if this will work- my mom says (and I have NO IDEA if she's right) that I have to buy detergent that has a front loader washer symbol on the container.