Saturday, February 27, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I am always looking for ways to simplify and save money.

Being a full-time mom, student, and employee keeps me from living a complete Dugger-style life, but I do what I can.

Several months ago my sister and I were talking and she happened to mention a homemade laundry detergent that she had made. In complete Rebekah fashion I jumped on board (the next day) and never looked back. Detergent is one of those wildly expensive items that makes me cringe when it makes its way to the grocery list.

I have had so many real-life friends ask me for the recipe and thought maybe my bloggy friends would like it, too! It's super easy to make and the cost savings will have you asking, why didn't I do this before?

I'll give you the recipe first, before offering some final thoughts:

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups grated Bar Soap

Mix ingredients well
Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load

I had to go to two different grocery stores to pick up all the ingredients. Here's a helpful hint so you're not wandering the store for hours - Borax and Washing Soda are in the same aisle as the detergent. I just bought regular white (unscented) bar soap, but you can use whatever bar soap you like best.

The only labor-intensive part to the recipe is the grating of soap. You'll need a cheese grater with large holes to accomplish that. Another helpful hint: It may seem like a good idea to use the small holes on the cheese grater - which by the way are not meant for cheese...but zesting...resist this urge. Your arm will fall off after 10 minutes and you'll immediately want to abandon the project. Stick to the big holes.

This recipe makes a lot of detergent. I have only made it about half way through mine and I've been using it for several months, plus I gave cute little glass jars of it away at Christmas. Feel free to cut the recipe in half. Formula scoopers are exactly an 1/8 cup and make the perfect detergent dispenser.

I have not experienced any mishaps or fading with the homemade detergent. Our clothes come out fresh and clean, every time. My only complaint is the lack of fabricated fresh scent. I was a strict Tide user and miss its fragrance. I continue to use fabric softener, which helps a little. The trade is more than fair, however, when you see the cost savings:

Tide = $26 = 96 loads
Which means every 3.7 loads cost $1.00

Homemade = $16
Which means every 18 loads cost $1.00

Crazy, huh?

If you can say goodbye to the yummy Tide scent, I promise, you won't be disappointed! Let me know if you end up using it and how you like it.


  1. Rebekah -

    Thanks! Do you know how it does on cloth diapers?


  2. Ive been using homemade laundry soap for a few months now (the same recipe as yours) and i love it! The only difference is after i grate my soap i throw it in a food chopper with everything else and it turns it into a fine powder and then it wont settle.

  3. Oh and i forgot to say that i use sunlight bar soap. I find it has a fresher scent then just the plain old white stuff.

  4. Thanks for sharing that recipe. I made some a while ago but stopped for some unknown reason.

    Try Fels-Naptha bar soap. It's actually a laundry soap bar, also found in the laundry isle. Here (MN) it's about $1 for one bar, but it smells good. You can also add essential oils for scent if you like, then you can have any scent you like.

  5. I'm a big fan of homemade laundry detergent and homemade shampoo as well (and pretty much anything else). The recipe I use (that I got from a friend) uses a grated Castile soap called Dr. Bronners ( that is free-trade and organic and is EXCELLENT! The best part about it is that it comes in liquid and solid form, and it is also scented with natural things. The lavender is PERFECT for laundry should give it a try!!
    M :)

  6. You can also add essential oils to the soap to add a nice fragrance. I sometimes add two or three essential oils to make my own blend.

    And sometimes I add Simple Green and Oxy Clean (or generic of) to the batch of soap.

  7. i wish i could use it. we make all our cleaning supplies (well most), and i wanted to make my own detergent, however you can't use it on cloth diapers, and that is a greater saving, so i will have to stick to my detergent. WHICH by the way you can't use regular detergent on cloth diapers either, it's a special detergent with minimal ingredients so as to not harm the fleece liners.

    1. Which detergent do you use for your diapers? I was wondering if I could use this on them. Glad I read your comment!

  8. I will SOOO be trying this. Thanks!!!

  9. I have another bloggy friend who made homemade laundry soap, but she made a liquid kind and loves it.

  10. We're definitely sisters, I store mine in an identical container.

    PS, I had a few "Rebekah Friends" email me this week in regards to the Hartstrings CRAZY accidental sale. Did you hear about it? I posted it on my FB. I might have picked Tyrus up a little something...


  11. I have been making laundry soap for a year now. Here in Texas I can find Zote which is laundry bar soap. In the last year I have only spent 14.00 to make soap, what savings!!! We feel like our clothes are softer too.

  12. i love the idea of theis! does anyone know it it is ok for HE machines?

  13. As soon as Im out of the laundry soap I have, Im trying this recipe. :)


  14. Love the idea but we only pay $10.97 for 120 loads from Tide - granted it is the fresh scent ... but I love tide - powder only

  15. How is this on sensitive skin? My daughter has extremely sensitive skin, and we only use the Dreft on her clothes still

  16. Is this safe to use in HE washers?
    Thanks for the recipe!


  17. Wow, very interesting project, one I've never considered before. However, I am TOTALLY with you in the cringing every time you have to buy detergent thing. It seems like highway robbery for them to charge that much!

    I don't know if I will try this before school is out but I may give it a shot this summer when I'm taking fewer classes.

    So glad you've had great success!


  18. Approx how many bars of soap do I need to get 8 cups? Thanks! :) :) Def want to give this a try.

  19. It's a cool idea but with coupons and rebates I just bought 5 - 120 load bottles of Wisk for less than $6 each. I love the challenge of getting stuff as cheap as I can - I was pretty proud of this deal.

  20. Delurking briefly to say that I love your blog, especially the adorable Tyrus pictures!

    Have you tried homemade fabric softener? I'm waiting to run out of the store bought kind before I try it, but here's the recipe:

    2 parts hot water
    1 part baking soda
    1 part vinegar
    Essential oils for scent

    In a large bucket to account for fizzing, mix the hot water and baking soda until dissolved. Then add the vinegar. Once the fizzing has stopped, stir in the essential oils. Store covered, stir or shake before using, and use 1/4 cup per rinse cycle.

  21. HE questions:
    I also saw the recipe on Everyday Cheapskate and this is what it said:

    This detergent does not produce suds. Suds should never be considered visual evidence that a detergent is working. Dirty water is the sign that the detergent is doing its job. Because it does not create suds, this is the perfect product to be used in HE front-loading washing machines.

    Hmm, manapan. Interesting recipe for softener. I've just heard that vinegar is a good softener, (and also for smells) so I just use plain vinegar. May have to try that.

  22. Oh, and I'm not sure how many bars of soap it takes ( I may be able to tell you later as I'm going to make it tomorrow) but my recipe (which is not so huge) is:

    1 bar soap (Fels Naptha)
    2 cups washing soda
    2 cups borax

    use 1/8-1/4 cup per load, depending on water hardness. I also know people who add a cup or two of Oxy to the batch.

  23. This would not be a good choice for cloth diapers b/c it contains 1) bar soap (most of the other recipes I've come across actually call for pure soap (Dr. Bronner's Castille soap) but even regular bar soap will do this), which will leave a residue on the liners causing them to become repellent. Using pure soap is also hard on PUL causing it to lose it repellency. And 2)the washing soda (soda ash) is caustic and can cause irritation on babies w/sensitive skin.