Homemade Laundry Detergent

March 7, 2012 by  

Make Your Own Homemade Laundry Detergent!

I found the “recipe” on Pinterest to make your own homemade laundry detergent.  I wasn’t looking for a recipe and had never considered making my own. I’m not someone who would normally do something like this. But I haven’t been real happy with the detergent I’ve been using and I don’t want to spend the money I’d need to in order to buy the detergent I’d like.

homemade laundry detergentI decided to give it a go.

The Ingredients


1) A bucket or large container
2) Plastic bag to line the bucket
3) Food Processor
4) 4 lb 12 oz Box of Borax
5)  4 lb Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
6) Oxi Clean 3 1/2 lb (This is a 5 lb container)
7) 3 lb 7 oz Box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
8) 3 bars of Fels-Naptha

I found everything other than the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda at Walmart. My Kroger store had the Washing Soda.

Line your bucket with the plastic bag

homemade laundry detergent

Open up your 3 bars of Fels-Naptha.  I’ve never used this before, so this was new to me.


Cut it with a decent knife.

fels naptha

Don’t use the chopping blade, use the blade that slices.


I ended up with some of these little balls of Fels-Naptha left at the top of the blade.


Kind of looks like cheese doesn’t it?

fels naptha

In the bucket I then layered the ingredients. You don’t have to, but I thought it would just help mix them up a bit better.

homemade laundry detergent

The woman who made this said she has no problem with the Fels-Naptha dissolving and she uses cold water to wash her clothes.  There were many comments on her post and a few people had problems with it not dissolving.  One person said that after she mixed it all up she then ran it through her food processer again and then she had no problems with it.  So I decided to do that to begin with it.

Now is when you want to use the chopping blade.  I learned from a process of elimination.  This is what it looks like before….

homemade laundry detergent

This is what it looked like after running the food processor for about 45 seconds.   The process of doing this with all of the mixture took me about another 1/2 hour, but I think it will be worth it.

laundry soap

Here’s what it looks like all together.

laundry soap

I had a large glass jar and made labels out of chalkboard contact paper. I just used a piece of chalk to write on it (duh).

laundry soap

I thought it would be fun to put the recipe on the jar also… so I put it on the back of the jar.

laundry soap

The mixture filled this jar.

homemade laundry detergent

laundry soap

laundry soap


Now to try a load of clothes with it.  Use 1 – 2 Tablespoons per load.  I have a front load machine and the post I found this on said it is fine to use in front loaders. I normally use HE detergent.  She also put hers in the tub first, not in the dispenser. But the woman who ran hers through the processor again said it now would work fine in the dispenser.  So that is what I tried.  I usually use liquid, so I had to remember to adjust the setting inside my Front Load from liquid to powder setting.

I do not have a top load, but from the source where I got this recipe, it appears that you use the same amount as the front load. She mentions it doesn’t see like enough, but that because there aren’t fillers in this laundry detergent it is enough.

laundry soap

I did a load and used warm water. I checked the dispenser after the load and there was nothing left in it. I had a black shirt in the load and pulled it out to check it for any bits of fels-naptha on it.  Yay!

*Note – after several loads I started getting a yellow “ring” in the tray, so since then I’ve been putting the detergent directly into the washer tub before I put in the clothes. I haven’t had any problems with residue left in my laundry tub.

I think it looks so nice on my dryer, don’t you?

homemade laundry detergent

Now down to a bit of reality, this glass container sitting on my dryer looks nice – but my washer really rattles around, and in turn this glass jar rattled around… a lot!  It was too heavy to use on my wire shelf, so I adjusted.   This isn’t nearly as cute… but much more practical for my needs in this laundry room.

I peeled off the other labels and since I had just used chalk, of course I messed up the writing.  I used my chalk markers on this one.

laundry  soap

Cost to Make:

Borax  (Walmart)  $3.38
A&H Baking Soda (Walmart)  $2.12
Fels Naptha (all 3 bars) (Walmart)  $2.91
Oxiclean (I bought 5# instead of 3.5) (Walmart) $9.47
A&H Washing Soap (Krogers)  $3.29

Total cost $21.17

I also had to buy a food processer (I haven’t had one in a long time), but I know I’ll have that for future batches, so I’m not really considering it part of the deal in the cost.

I can only tell you what I’ve read on how long it lasts. 9 months – 1 year. If that is the case, then this will pay for itself within just a couple months for me.


I got this recipe from Pinterest, but her blog post is called Being Creative. 

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30 Responses to “Homemade Laundry Detergent”
  1. Toni says:

    Very nice Sandy… You will have to let me know how well you like it after a week or so. I have been wanting to try this for a while.


  2. Sandy says:

    Thanks Toni. So far I do like it. I like the smell too. I have found that 2 T per load does better than just the 1 T.

  3. sheila says:

    sandy, i hope you like the detergent but if you don’t … you may want to make another batch. sorry i hate to be the bearer of bad news but you bought baking soda instead of the arm & hammer super washing soda. you should be able to find it on the laundry isle at your wal-mart around where you found the fels-naptha. i only know this because i started making my own liquid detergent at the beginning of the fall & Imediately fell in love with it! good luck & please let us know how it works for you. ;)

  4. Sandy says:

    I bought and used both Arm & Hammer baking soda and Arm & Hammer Super washing soda. That is what the recipe that I used called for. Thanks though for watching out for me.

  5. Christine says:

    Question, how much do you think it cost to make. How many loads do you think you will get from this batch ? I want to see if it would be worth making.

  6. Sandy says:

    Glad you asked. I meant to add that into the post.. going to do it now.

  7. BJ says:

    Can you tell how much to use for a topload washer? Thx

  8. Sandy says:

    According to the site where I found the recipe – Being Creative, she says that it is 1-2 Tablespoons. She says she knows that doesn’t sound like enough, but because this detergent doesn’t have the fillers that store bought ones do, you don’t need more than that.

  9. Hi,

    I’d love to try this! Does this work well with bad stains and whites? I just found you here and happen to be a “Sandy” who “organizes” having just started my newest blog on organizing! Hope to be joining your linky party soon!


  10. Sandy says:

    I’ve just started using it myself. It does have the oxi-clean in it, which I have heard is an addition from what a lot of the home made detergents have. I did one small stain test and realized that the 2T did a better job than the 1T on it. But it was also dried tomato sauce… lol
    Glad you left a comment! Happy to have another professional organizer! Hey… if I ever want to sell my blog, now I’ll have someone I can actually come to! LOL Thanks

  11. KeLLy aNN says:

    I LOVE making my own detergent!
    I use ZOTE soap instead of the Fels Naptha; a local grocery should have it, like Albertson’s or Piggly Wiggly. I just wish we still got the pink instead of the white..
    I’ve also used Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Orange soap with the ZOTE soap for some extra lagniappe.
    Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap should probably be great for those of you who use liquid recipes.

  12. Sandy says:

    Thanks Kelly!

  13. Anita says:

    I’ve always wanted to make my own laundry detergent. I love how you have shown step by step how to do this, thank you!! Now to go get what I need to start making my own!

  14. Courtney Tucker says:

    Pretty, I also have been making my own detergent, used Yardley Soap in the big bars Pomegranate Blossom, then Honey Crimson Rose and Lavender…I added a little something extra, smells so lovely! : )

  15. Elaine says:

    I’ve been thinking about doing this but the volume in my tiny (just over 400sq ft) apartment makes me nervous. How big is the bucket you used? Do you have left overs (asking about both the ingredients and the final result) or did it all fit in the canister? How big was the canister? Sorry for all the questions! Thanks in advance!

  16. Sandy says:

    The bucket was a mop bucket … 5 gallon maybe? Yes, everything it made was in that jar. I ultimately ended up changing out that jar for the plastic container and it all fit fine. I was concerned too because others made it seem like this massive volume and it really wasn’t. I say go for it! :))

  17. Vic says:

    Hi from Vancouver Canada. I discovered your blog via the canning as we connected on Twitter. As we grow raspberries I will try next year. Always liked the idea but want to limit sugar and was afraid of the mess:-)
    This washing powder..What is the main reason behind it? Allergies? I buy my eco clear liquid one from Cosco and when on sale its about 15-17$ and also lasts same time. We are a couple only.
    I grow our own veggies 1200xq feet IN TOWN and make our own yoghourt,cream cheese and butter ( and these are real savers)!Not my main reason but I wanted to cut on preservatives and the corn syrup etc. http://visualsenses.smugmug.com/Nature-in-its-many-splendors/My-KALE-forest-and-organic/13595110_78GD5j#!i=1220176556&k=f7GSKTQ
    Thanks for the input from 2 guys ;-)

  18. Sandy says:

    The main reason behind making the home made laundry detergent was to save money. With a household of 7 people, we go through a lot of detergent. Allergies was not the issue for us.

  19. marianne says:

    Question about the ingredients – for the Borax you list one 4lb box, but then in parenthesis have (12oz), could you clarify what you mean by that? Certainly 4lb does not equal 12oz. Thanks!

  20. Sandy says:

    Thanks for pointing that out Marianne. The box says 4 lbs 12oz. Having the (12oz) did look confusing… so I changed it above. :)

  21. marianne says:

    Thank you so much!!! Can’t wait to try making this!

  22. Pam says:

    I also found another recipe, on http://www.howdoesshe.com, that includes an option of 1 – 2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener, so you can have very soft towels (& clothes, too)!

    Also, she used only 2 (14.1 oz) bars of Zote soap. These are interchangeable, but as I haven’t yet searched these out, I was wondering what the total size is of the 3 bars of Fels Naptha you use? She also indicated you could use a fine cheese grater for the soap if you don’t have a food processor.

    I thought, maybe, your blog followers might like to know they don’t need to go to the expense of a food processor, and by adding the Purex Crystals Softener they would not need something separate for a softener.

    You said you bought the 5 lb. box of Oxiclean. Did you use all of it in one recipe, or only the 3.5 lb. called for?

  23. Sandy says:

    I just used the amount of Oxiclean it called for .. the 3.5 lb.
    Yes, you could use a fine cheese grater if you wanted to. It would be time consuming, but less expensive.

  24. Dannette says:

    I just bought Lavender Oil and added 12 drops to my mixture

  25. Kayla says:

    Be sure to come see your homemade laundry soap featured on our blog today, in the post “All things Laundry – Roundup”!! :)

  26. Sandy says:

    Thanks Kayla! Sorry I’m just now seeing your comment. I’ve been getting so many spam comments on my blog (even with plug in) that I haven’t been getting to the good ones as often #failonmypart. I really appreciate you using my post and letting me know. :)

  27. Jonna says:

    I made a batch of this over spring break last year for about $30. I have a family of four and still have one full container left. LOVE this stuff. Dissolves in cold water and I added a container of the Downy Unstoppables. Hasnt faded my clothes and great on stains!

  28. Lela Hopkins says:

    I have tried several recipes with Borax but I have never tried this one. I put it in my “to do” list for the next weekend. I am planning to clean the whole house. It will be perfect time to try this detergent. Thank you for sharing your article! Best regards!


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