Homemade Laundry Detergent

People who know that I make my own laundry detergent ask me about the recipe fairly often.  I tell them that this stuff is awesome for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s *so* cheap (around $0.01 to $0.02 per load, depending on the ingredients you choose)
  2. It’s great for sensitive skin
  3. It makes you feel kinda crafty to know that you (easily!) made your own soap, and
  4. It’s nice to whip up a batch when you’ve totally run out of regular detergent and aren’t planning to leave the house but have a mountain of laundry to wash (it’s not like I’m speaking from personal experience here or anything….)


Homemade laundry detergent has only three ingredients, aside from water.  Here’s what you need and an approximate price breakdown (depends on where you purchase it) for each item:


1.  Borax powder = about $4 for 76 oz. (around $0.21 per batch) 

2.  Washing Soda = about $3 for 55 oz. (around $0.22 per batch)  

3.  Bar soap (Fels Naptha is recommended, but I’ve found that Dial bar soap is excellent) = about $2 for 1 bar (about $0.67 per batch)

Here’s the recipe, which comes straight from TammysRecipes.com (one of my favorite sites for recipes and homemaking advice).

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap or one whole bar of Ivory or homemade soap (I used Ivory)

1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

1/2 cup borax powder


2+ gallon bucket, for storing

1. Grate the soap and place in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups of water and heat until the soap melts.

2. Add the washing soda and borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat.

3. Pour 4 cups of hot water into the bucket. Add the soap mixture and stir. Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.

4. Store your laundry detergent in the bucket, covered. (I put plastic wrap on the top of mine, and I also left my long plastic spoon in the soap to stir it briefly before each use.) Use 1/2 cup per load of clothes.

(Be sure to visit Tammy’s site for more information and photos).

And that’s really all there is to it!  I think it’s worth trying out, at least once:

  • You may find it’s not worth the effort and that you’d prefer to purchase regular detergent.
  • You may find that you love it and want to use homemade detergent exclusively.
  • You may find that you don’t care to make it on a regular basis but that you can use it for laundry emergencies.
  • At the very least it may be a good weekend project to do with your kids.

So here’s the price breakdown. I compare the homemade stuff to Arm and Hammer, since A&H washing soda already goes into the recipe.  My other alternative is whatever is on sale with a coupon that particular week – it’s different each time and not necessarily a sensitive skin formula.

So the solution is pretty clear to me: if I’m not going to make it myself, I’d better be watching the detergent sale cycles!

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