Updated on 12.03.13

Making Your Own Laundry Detergent: A Detailed Visual Guide

Trent Hamm

About a year ago, I posted a general description of how to make your own laundry detergent that proved quite popular. That article basically described in a general sense how one could make laundry detergent at home very cheaply, but it left out a lot of key issues: does it work well? What does it look like as you are making it? What are the real-world costs and time investment? What equipment do you need?

This past weekend, I made a fresh batch of homemade laundry detergent and I took a ton of notes and pictures. I enjoyed the process – I got to make a giant bucket of slime in the kitchen and my wife approved. Let’s see what we can learn from the process that might save us some cash.

Making the Laundry Detergent
The only ingredients you actually need for homemade laundry detergent are as follows:

The ingredients

1 cup washing soda (I use Arm & Hammer)
1/2 cup borax (I use 20 Mule Team)
1 bar soap (I use whatever’s cheap, in this case Pure & Natural)
Approximately 3 gallons water

You’ll also need a container of some sort to store this in (I use a five gallon bucket with a lid), something to stir it (I use a large wooden spoon), another pot to boil soapy water in (I use the pot in the picture), and something to cut up the soap (I use the box grater in the picture).

First thing, put about four cups of water into the pan and put it on the stove on high until it’s at boiling, then lower the heat until it’s simmering.

While it’s heating up, take a bar of soap and cut it up into little bits. I found a lot of success using our box grater, which resulted in a ton of little soap curls.

When the water is boiling, start throwing in the soap. I recommend just doing a bit at a time, then stirring it until it’s dissolved. Here, I made the mistake of just tossing in all of the soap at once, which wasn’t particularly helpful:

Soap shavings

Stir the soapy water with a spoon until all of the soap is dissolved. Eventually, the water will take on the color of the soap you added, albeit paler. I used Pure & Natural soap for this, which was a white soap that looked a lot like a bar of Ivory.

In the end, you’ll have some very warm soap soup:

Dissolved soap

Next, get out your large container and add three gallons of warm tap water to it. I’m using a bright orange five gallon bucket that I had lying around:

Empty bucket of water

To this bucket add a cup of the washing soda and the soap solution you made and stir. The borax is optional – some people say that it’s too harsh, but I’ve always found that it did a good job getting clothes clean and fresh smelling, so I recommend adding a half cup of borax to the mix.

After stirring, you’ll have a bucket full of vaguely soapy water:

The Bucket

Don’t worry if your batch doesn’t match the color of my own – it varies depending on what kind of soap you use. I made a batch with Lever 2000 in the past and it had a greenish tint to it, and I’ve heard reports of all kinds of different colors from other people who have tried this.

At this point, let the soap sit for 24 hours, preferably with a lid on it. I just took our bucket to the laundry room.

When you take off the lid, you’ll find any number of things, depending on the type of soap you used and the water you used. It might be firm, like Jello; it might be very watery; it might even be like liquid laundry detergent. Just stir it up a bit and it’s ready to be used.

My batch wound up being rather slimy. It had some slimy-feeling water with various sized pieces of white gelatinous stuff floating in it. Here’s what it looked like – I’m using a video here because images don’t really capture it.

Don’t worry about the texture – it’s completely fine. Just use a measuring cup and use one cup of the detergent per load of laundry. If it’s got “globs” in it, get a mix of the water and of the globs – it’ll break up very quickly in the washing machine and wash your clothes well. If you’re still concerned, you can mash up the globs quite easily, but I saw no reason to do so.

How Well Does It Work?
Naturally, I wanted to test this detergent out. I tried to think of a good way to do something foul to a shirt, but something realistic – something I might do as a rather normal Midwestern guy that might also occur to any other guy in America. The answer hit me quickly.


I took two white t-shirts and squirted them both down with mustard, all over the front. Here are the two t-shirts:

Mustard Stained T

The above t-shirt is the one I washed with Tide with Bleach Alternative, which is the laundry detergent we’ve used by default when we don’t have any homemade detergent on hand. It’s the one most highly recommended by Consumer Reports and this is the perfect opportunity to show what it can do. After I took the picture, I smeared the mustard into the shirt a little.

Mustard Stained T

The above t-shirt is the one I washed with my homemade detergent. My mustard container ran out near the end here so the trail of mustard isn’t as long. I had already smeared in the mustard when I took this picture. Also note, although the pictures don’t clearly reflect it, the one smeared with homemade detergent was somewhat dingier right off the bat – it’s an older shirt, I believe.

Down in the laundry room, I pre-treated each stain by taking a small amount of each detergent and rubbing it into the stain with a brush. Then, I washed each shirt in a normal load – one load with Tide with Bleach Alternative and one with my homemade detergent.

Which one won? I fully expected the Tide to win – in fact, I was just hoping the blowout wasn’t too bad so I would still have a good reason to write this article. In fact, they turned out almost identically – they both smelled clean and looked quite white coming out of the dryer. Take a look:

Mustard vs. Homemade Detergent

With the homemade detergent, you can still make out parts of the mustard streak, but other parts appear to be completely gone. With a proper pre-treatment or a washing in bleach, this shirt would be as good as new.

Mustard vs. Tide: The Result

With Tide with Bleach Alternative, the same exact story is true. You can still make out where the stain was if you look close, but it’s almost completely gone. A proper treatment would have resulted in no stain at all.

Here they are, side by side, for you to judge. The Tide shirt is on the right, while the homemade detergent shirt is on the left:

Side by Side

They’re pretty close. They’re both obviously very clean white tee shirts with a slightly noticeable mustard stain. At different points in each mustard streak, the streak appears completely gone – at other places, it’s fairly noticeable. That’s likely due more to my pre-treatment application than anything else.

Frankly, I couldn’t tell a difference between the two. Both detergents produced a clean-smelling shirt. Both produced a very white shirt with just a slight remnant of a mustard stain – a remnant that was almost identical in the two shirts. In a nutshell, I believe my homemade detergent cleans comparably to Tide with Bleach Alternative.

The Cost Breakdown
Here’s what I paid for the ingredients:


The box of Borax, which contains enough Borax for at least twelve batches of detergent, cost $2.89. The box of washing soda, which contains enough soda for six batches of detergent, cost $1.89. The soap, which came in packs of three (as pictured above), cost $0.89 per pack – I bought two, to ensure I had enough for six batches. The Iowa sales tax on this stuff was $0.39, giving me a total bill of $6.95 for the ingredients – enough for six batches. I also used perhaps a penny’s worth of water and a penny’s worth of heat to heat it – a total cost of $6.97.

Each batch of detergent contains 52 cups of the solution – 48 from the three gallons in the bucket, and four more cups of water with the dissolved soap. Since I use one cup per load, this means a single batch makes 52 loads’ worth of detergent.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that I make six batches of the stuff and use the other half of the box of Borax for something else. That means I’ve made enough detergent for 312 loads of laundry for a total cost of $6.97. That’s roughly two and a quarter cents per load of laundry.

Let’s look up Tide with Bleach Alternative, the Consumer Reports recommended detergent. You can buy four bottles of the 150 ounce Tide with Bleach Alternative from Amazon for $62.60. We’ll assume free shipping and no taxes here to help Tide’s case out. Each of those Tide bottles has enough detergent for 78 loads of laundry, meaning the case will cover 312 loads of laundry. Thus, each load of laundry using Tide with Bleach Alternative costs almost exactly $0.20 for detergent costs.

In other words, nine loads using my homemade detergent has the same detergent cost as one load of Tide with Bleach Alternative.

To put it in another perspective, let’s say I do one load of laundry a day for a year using each detergent. Using my homemade stuff, I spend $8.15 for the detergent over the course of the year. Using Tide with Bleach Alternative, I spend $73.23 over the course of a year. Using my homemade detergent instead saves me $65.08 a year. Plus, it was fun to make.

My Conclusion
Given that the detergent seems to do roughly as well as our regular name-brand detergent and is ridiculously cheaper, I plan on using my homemade detergent for the foreseeable future. I make no claims or guarantees as to the effect the detergent will have long term on your clothes – frankly, I don’t know. But I do know it cleans well – it passes muster for me and seems to handle difficult stains roughly as well as Tide with Bleach Alternative – and I do know I plan on using it for a long while. It’s hard to say no to that kind of savings.

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  1. Kate says:

    It’s even a little bit cheaper if someone in your family travels a lot for work and can grab bars of hotel soap. We have so many bars of this free-to-us soap that we give bags of it away to homeless shelters or battered women’s shelters about twice a year. We never come close to running out, even though I use it to make our own detergent.

    Nice pictorial.

  2. keri says:

    Great tut, thanks! I’m curious to see how something like this would work in a front loading washer where they often recommend a HE detergent. Is it too soapy? Can we use less and it will still work?

  3. Amy says:

    I make a powdered version with similar ingredients. Combine 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup washing soda and 1 cup grated soap flakes (I use Fels Naptha – approximately 1/2 of one bar is one cup of flakes). Stir to combine. Use 2-3 tablespoons per regular load of laundry. I find that it works just as well as any commercial laundry detergent.

    Great use of the pictures.

  4. mgroves says:

    The grater is a good idea. I’ve been using a Magic Bullet blender to chop up the soap to very fine particles. It makes the soap dissolve much faster.

  5. lilacorchid says:

    How does it work for a front loading washer? HE detergent is so expensive, but I find regular detergent does foam up too much and cause problems.

  6. Michael says:

    I enjoyed this informative and entertaining article. My question: where can I find a five-gallon bucket without buying something?

  7. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I know nothing about HE washers. Saying that, if I had an HE washer, I would try using a lesser amount of this stuff in a load, like half a cup or two thirds of a cup. That’s what I would TRY – I have no idea how it will work.

  8. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “The grater is a good idea. I’ve been using a Magic Bullet blender to chop up the soap to very fine particles. It makes the soap dissolve much faster.”

    Interesting. I never tried that. I just figured the soap would melt all over the blades.

  9. Powderpuff says:

    Can you you fancy smelling soaps?

  10. Josh says:

    This is an excellent addition to an already phenomenal site. You’ve written about making your own laundry detergent before, but including a tutorial is a great way to encourage people to attempt to do this on their own. Keep up the great work!

  11. Jeremy says:

    Just curious if you wash with cold or hot water? We use Tide ColdWater at home, and I’m wondering if homemade detergent would work as well in cold water.



  12. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Can you you fancy smelling soaps?”

    I don’t see why not, but I’d expect all my clothes to have a hint of that smell. Is that good or bad? That’s kind of your call – personally, I’d prefer not to have my pants smell like lavender, but I’m a blue-jeans-and-tee-shirt kind of guy most of the time.

  13. MES says:

    We have an HE washer and were advised to use half the amount of regular detergent. I’ve never had a foam-up, and we save a lot on detergent. Not as much as we’d save if I made it myself, of course. My concern in the HE machine would be the chunkiness of the detergent. Seems like it might not flow out of the dispenser the proper way. Something to try though, maybe a small batch.

  14. Rob in Madrid says:

    When we lived in Canada it was always Liquid Tide. When we moved to Europe I wasn’t familiar with the brand name detergent so I simply bought the cheapest store brand and I found it worked just as well and is often half the cost. But surprisingly fabric softener the cheap stuff doesn’t work. I stick to the better quality stuff.

    BTW I haven’t seen Borax over here.

  15. Kacie says:

    @ Michael–You can usually get free buckets (might be larger than 5-gallon, though) at the bakery in your supermarket, if you ask. And, if they’re nice.

  16. smurfett says:

    hmm….i don’t like regular soaps because they’ve got bad stuff in it. like anti-bacterial ingredients, or things that aren’t good for your body. Do you think a good environmental-friendly soap will be just as good as an ingredient?

  17. Becca says:

    I make the powdered version too. The hardest part is getting the soap small enough. I use my Vita Mix, but I still have to chop the soap into small chunks and blend very small amounts at one time. As long as you don’t run the blender too high or for too long, it shouldn’t melt. I find that especially with the powdered recipe, if the soap isn’t small enough, it doesn’t integrate well with the other powders. But it works very well, and I actually really like the smell of the Fels Naptha, almost more than store brand.

  18. Credit says:

    This formula is missing the corrosion inhibitors, enzymes and chelating agents that are usually present in a commercial detergent. This may reduce the life of your clothing and washing machine. I would caution against using this in a HE or front loading washer. Because the water use is lower, concentrations of contaminants is higher and these additional ingredients in commercial products are more critical. Also, there are typically special surfactants or surfactant formulations that do not foam as much to prevent damage to the machine.

  19. Jamie says:

    Nice post! Love the idea of slime detergent. I am using stuff from BJ’s at about 200 loads for $20 and I thought I was getting a good deal. You are getting a killer deal.

  20. Larabara says:

    I live in a hard water region, so the first batch made my white clothes very dingy. I thought about adding Calgon water softener, but it was too expensive, so I added some water softener salt crystals-the kind they put in water softening machines–(requires lots of stirring to dissolve it, but it was only $4 for a 20lb. bag) and doubled the amount of detergent when I did my laundry. Now it works fine! Also, I used the same formula (minus the soap bars) in my automatic dishwasher. It cleans the dishes well, but the glasses come out hazy, so now I use the homemade dishwasher detergent for the first wash, and Cascade for the final wash. Result: sparkling clean dishes, and the Cascade lasts twice as long.

  21. Char says:

    I have been using this in my HE front loader and it works GREAT! It is not too foamy at all ( I use 3/4C ) and I can not see how it will ruin my machine when it has less crap in it rather than all the chemicals of the commercial detergents. I use vinegar in the fabric softener compartment to help soften/reduce static in my clothes that I line dry.

  22. Frugal Dad says:

    Apart from the advice from “Credit” above, this sounds like a great plan. I’m glad you provided an update of this great post with pictures. It is something I’ve read several times over the last several months, but I’ve never had the guts to make it and try it.

  23. Dave says:

    You could always use soapnuts. If you didn’t want to mix a load of chemicals in your kitchen.
    They are good for the environment, and good for people with sensitive skin. About a quarter of the price of commercial detergent, as well.

  24. nickyp says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I’m looking forward to trying it out. I have one question though: Do any of the ingredients contain phosphates? Here in SE Australia we’ve been in drought for the better part of 10 years and I use the grey water from our washing machine to keep my garden alive (not food plants, just the pretty ones). The green, environmentally safe detergents are always the most expensive so I’m always looking for alternatives that are safe to use.

  25. tambo says:

    I’ve followed your recipe three times over the past five or six months – one batch lasts *about* 2 to 3 months for us – and I think your soap works BETTER than commercial laundry detergent. Also, our daughter is extremely dye sensitive and it’s nice to have control over what goes in our soap as well as saving a LOT of money.

    We have a 1.5 quart plastic bottle that we fill with the stuff and keep it right there on the shelf with the stain treatments and fabric softener (the bucket is in a cupboard in the laundry room, handy for refills). We also have an old Tupperware ‘sippy cup’ we’ve recycled to use as a measuring cup and only use about 2/3 of that for a single load, so about half a cup, ish. We have a top loading washer and so far your soap just works great, even on warehouse worker’s filthy clothes. We’ve even used it as a pre-treater when my husband’s jeans come home greasy and it gets the stain right out.

    Works great and it’s CHEAP. Fantastic stuff!

  26. Marcus Murphy says:


    http://www.cleaning101.com has available for download a free report from the soap & detergent association that talks about HE washers and the detergents. In it there is some info on why you should NEVER use regular sudsing soap in your washer machine.

    See here- http://www.cleaning101.com/laundry/HE.pdf


    “Q. What can happen if I don’t use an HE detergent in my
    HE washer?
    A. Using a regular detergent in an HE washer can create too many
    suds. These suds can interfere with the washer’s washing/tumbling
    action by “cushioning” the laundry, thus reducing soil and stain
    removal performance and rinsing effi ciency. These suds can also
    cause water and/or suds to overfl ow from the machine.
    Excess suds can also cause the washer’s pump to overheat or to
    add more water — this in turn can lengthen the wash cycle, thus
    reducing water/energy savings. These excess suds can also lead
    to residue buildup since they are not as easily rinsed away — and
    over time, they could lead to unpleasant odors, potential machine
    malfunctions or damage.”

    “Q. What can I do to keep my HE washer in top condition?
    A. Because your HE washer is designed differently than agitator (high
    water level) machines, there are some specifi c things you can do to
    ensure that it performs at its best.
    Low wash temperatures and/or use of regular detergent (which
    causes excess suds) may prevent some soils from completely
    rinsing out of the HE washing machines. Oily soils and some
    dirt-type soils are especially sensitive to lower wash temperatures
    and medium to high suds levels. Over time, these soils may
    accumulate in the HE washer and lead to the growth of bacteria
    and mold — and create odors in the HE washer.
    You can usually avoid these potential problems by using an
    HE detergent and by running a regular “maintenance cycle.””

  27. Marcus Murphy says:

    To note, if you are using a top load, making your own detergent makes it as cost effective as having a front load HE machine.

    A HE machine saves about $.25 per load in energy costs over a top loader.

    Making your own soap for a top loader saves you about $.25 per load over buying HE soap.

    So basically its a wash (no pun intended) in terms of cost to you, just not the environment.

  28. Lizzy says:

    @ Michael – I’ve gotten my buckets from a nearby deli, but I would suspect a lot of types of restaurants would have them.

  29. corky says:

    No need to buy soap especially for this job.

    When the bars of soap I use in the shower or at the sink have melted down to a quarter of an inch thick or less, I set them aside for making laundry detergent. There are always enough of them when it’s time to mix up a new batch.

    Re 5 gal buckets: if you can’t find anywhere to get one for free, and don’t want to buy something (e.g. cat litter) packaged in one, you can buy them at Home Depot or similar hardware store.

  30. Sarah says:

    Cool, Trent. I may never use your ‘how tos’ but it’s nice to have the information out there.

  31. Amy says:

    I have been making this detergent for 6 months or so and have been happy with the results.

    I use an empty cat litter plastic bucket/lid to store my 3+ gallons of detergent. I use a funnel to pour the stirred up mixture into used liquid detergent bottles. My detergent has “globs” in it like Trent’s, but if I shake the bottle vigorously, I get a more homogeneous mixture. I like my detergent without the “globs”.

  32. brian says:

    washing machines and detergent are fine, but how about a little citrus juice and a hard rock?

  33. brent says:

    are you going to recycle this material every time you make a batch??

  34. sunny says:

    We’ve been using a recipe similar to yours for 6 months and won’t ever go back to store bought.

    Our recipe uses fels-naptha too and then after it has gelled use a hand blender to mix it up to a detergent like slurry. Also add about 25 drops peppermint essential oil when mixing. Plan to try lavender next time.

    We use it in our top loading HE Fisher/Paykel and it works fine.

  35. sarah says:

    so glad you posted this. I made my own detergent a few weeks ago because of your original post. My husband’s been teasing me about it so I’ll definitely show him this follow up.

  36. tammy says:

    Great job on your tutoral. I plan on making this when i run out of my tide. Now I have a real “visual” of how it needs to look when its done. How about making a 2X version for the space deprived?!?

  37. Do it Myself says:

    I am a little skeptical of some soapy water mixture with lumps in it. If soap is soap, then why not pretend palmolive is 8x concentrated detergent and use it?

  38. Michelle says:

    How does it work on cloth diapers? Everything that I’ve read says that you need to use the most bare bones detergent possible on cloth diapers, and I just wonder if the body soap that you use has chemicals in it that will cause harm to the diaper. With an $18 per diaper investment, it’s something to be worried about!

  39. Thank you so much for doing this! I have always heard of people doing this but was curious what the results were, now I know!

  40. Paul says:

    Mastercard??? You bought the ingredients on credit? Isn’t that going against the standard teachings of personal finance?

  41. Margaret says:

    I’ve been using this recipe since 1995 and have played with various adaptations of it. At first I hand grated the soap but later used the food processor to first grate and then pulverise the soap, then I’d bag it into 1 cake lots for future use. I used the liquid recipe for quite a few years. By accident I found that it was brilliant at stain removing if the stained garment was soaked directly in the large bucket of laundry mix and left there overnight at least. When I bought a front loader I had to rethink using the liquid so I just used the powdered components. Easier and less time consuming than making up the liquid stuff. I stored it in an old 500g borax container. Took up way less room than a large bucket. Recently I’ve gone one step further and just used washing soda alone in the front loader and my wash is just as good as ever. If I want to soften the fabric any, I add bi-carb soda. I used to use vinegar in the top loader and it had a similar effect on the clothes as a softener but over the years the machine got very rusty. My laundry costs (excluding water and electricity) still run at around AUD $10 per annum.

  42. Stephanie says:

    I LOVE this detergent – I add essential oils like lavendar or orange. I started using this recipe about 3 months ago & just made my 2nd batch. I used Kirk’s Castille Soap the first time and a Fels Naptha laundry bar this time. Both work well. My husabnd, who is often wary of my tightwad ways, says he can’t tell the difference from regular detergent. For tough loads, I add an extra hit (1/8 cup or less) of washing soda or borax. I’ve told my mom about this and she uses it now, too!!

    The only this is, I read that you’re not supposed to use washing soda on wool clothing. I keep a $3 mini-bottle of commercial detergent for handwashing wool stuff – only used about 1/2 the bottle for the whole winter.

  43. Lurker Carl says:

    “Mastercard??? You bought the ingredients on credit? Isn’t that going against the standard teachings of personal finance?”

    Not if you pay off the balance in full each month AND accumulate rewards that you actually redeem or cash-back rebates.

  44. Ryan says:

    Paul, uh no. Credit is often a fundamental part of personal finance.

    The Simple Dollar has many posts on using credit cards responsibly.

  45. Laura says:

    Or perhaps if it is a debit mastercard.

  46. de Ruiter says:

    Michael, Go buttonhole a professional painter or sheet rocker, They will give you five gallon white pails with lids which is how they get paint and spackle. Trent, ANOTHER WONDERFUL THING ABOUT YOUR SOAP IS THAT YOU ARE NOT BUYING NEWLY MANUFACTURED (with expensive oil) NON BIODEGRADEABLE PLASTIC TIDE BOTTLES WHICH CLOG THE LANDFILLS AND ARE NOT RECYCLED TO MAKE MORE BOTTLES ANYWAY. Good for you at finding a cheap, great quality soap and not adding to the landfills! The paper wrappers from the borax and other ingredients can be COMPOSTED or recycled.

  47. Penny Squeaker says:


    Q? – What type of washing machine do you have??? I have a top loader, which waste so much water + elec.; saving for a front loader.

    Front loaders from my experience at the laundrymat, does wash your clothes better & fast. In the end, costing less on water and electric usage — clothes are dryer.

    Spring, Summer, Fall I can just let them air dry out on my yard, on a dryer racks. Works very well for a family of 7.

  48. Nicole says:

    Thanks! I plan on trying this soon.

    As far as the Mastercard comments, I have a Mastercard debit/bank card and if I run it as credit instead of entering my pin, it shows up as Mastercard. Doesn’t necessarily mean he used a real credit card for his purchase.

  49. Shymom says:

    Do you think the detergent would be just as effective if you used half the amount?

    The reason I ask is that I use All Detergent, bought on sale combined with a coupon. I currently have enough detergent for a year or more bought at $1.99 a bottle. Though I imagine with the recent price increases it will soon cost more.

    I only use 1/2 to 1/4 the recommended amount and my laundry still comes out clean. We tend to not get really dirty except when I am working in the garden. I do have a teenage son, a softball playing daughter and a husband who is active so our laundry often has the “stink” factor. One 32 load bottle lasts my family of 4 for 2 months. (I always write the date on bottles when I first open them to keep track.)

    So I am spending 3 cents or less on a load.

    So making my own won’t really save me any money. Maybe 3 cents a week at the most. Though if using half is effective in the future it might make sense. Depending upon price increases, etc.

    Do you think you could experiment on a regular load and see if half the amount would work?


  50. DrBdan says:

    “But I do know it cleans well – it passes muster for me…”

    And apparently it also passes mustard for you!! (groan… haha)

  51. Gayle RN says:


    5 gallon buckets with liquids are a safety hazard with small children and infants. Many buckets have this warning on a label attached. Small children can fall head first into the liquid and be unable to extricate themselves, leading to a drowning tragedy. This needs to be stored someplace where it is impossible for a child to get to it and if they do manage to get to it they can’t get the lid off. I would put it into smaller containers for storage purposes.


  52. That’s pretty cool! Thanks for the pictures…they made me think that I can do this.

    One question…where do you find Borax? I’ve never seen it before.

  53. Allie says:

    Thanks for the refresher! I’d love to try it, just haven’t gotten up the nerve yet. Also, I usually get my detergent pretty cheap when it’s on sale and also use coupons.

    Just curious if your homemade detergent has had any effect on your children’s skin, especially when they’re babies.

  54. amanda says:

    what about using Dawn liquid detergent bought on sale or at the dollar store? I use the 20 mule team borax on whites with Dawn. May throw in Oxy Clean on colored clothes instead of borax. What does the Arm & Hammer washing soda do? Would the washing soda be something to increase the cleaning power of the Dawn? Probably isn’t as cheap as you made yours.

  55. Hi, my son who is a junior at Notre Dame is a great fan of this blog. I read your posts via his shared items on googlereader. Thanks for this post– I am posting about it on my blog! With seven kids, well, laundry detergent is a big item in our budget. I wanted to tell you about another great find for me, just this past weekend: make you own pancake/waffle syrup. I will never buy store bought syrup again! Super easy– my 12 yr old did while we flipped the pancakes. And better tasting too. Just buy Mapeline essence (in the spices rack area) and follow the instructions. Ingredients? Water, sugar, Karo. My friend Ginger has told me about this for years and I had never tried it!

  56. Rachel Rose says:


    I have ben making my own deteargent for about two years (since age 23). I grind up my soap (1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha) in a coffee bean grinder I got at a garage sale—creates a better consistency I have found. Every basic ingredient I need (sans bucket and wooden stir stick) I find in my Rainbow Foods soaps aisle. I also have started adding a drop or two of a scented essential oil—this means my deteargent has a designer scent that doesn’t harm my clothes :O) Also: I only need a 1/2 cup per load…..but my recipe is slightly different than yours.

  57. Stephanie says:

    I found borax in the laundry detergent aisle of my local supermarket — both a larger and a smaller store — but I’m having trouble finding washing soda. Any ideas on where to look for it?

  58. KellyKelly says:

    Wow — am I going to be the only one who says this seems like an awful lot of hassle?

    Maybe it’s because I live solo and I don’t use tons of detergent. I buy a big box of Sears unscented enzyme-activated soap for about $15 and it lasts me for a long time — maybe a year.

    I mostly use delicate wash detergent and hang-dry my clothes. My clothes last a long time.

  59. Michelle says:

    $72 seems like a lot of savings for a year, but then you realize that is based on a load of laundry a day. I guess maybe some families wash clothes that often, but for my husband and I it ends up being around 1x per week. Not such a good savings anymore, plus we live in an apartment, so no room to store this giant bucket of slime. Probably not something worht doing for us, but maybe some people.

  60. mjukr says:


    You can call Church & Dwight’s customer service line. They are the owners of the Arm & Hammer brand.


    You can go through their automated system or speak to a customer representative. They’ll ask for the product you need (in this case Arm & Hammer Washing Soda) and your zip code. They should give you the nearest location that has sold the product in the last 30 days.

    Good luck!

  61. Nicole says:

    For those who don’t want to make their own, you can also get a great detergent, Charlie’s Soap that can be used in miniscule amounts, is HE compatible and runs about 10 cents/load. It isn’t actually a soap (it is a detergent) and contains no additives so it does not leave any residue. Homemade recipes that use soap can leave residues on fabrics that sensitive people can react to and can cause cloth diapers to repel water instead of absorbing.

  62. Trent,

    It’s neat to see the pictoral after all of your previous references to the homemade stuff you’ve been using. $72 is a good chunk of change. Have you ever considered your hourly rate for making the stuff? It’s sometimes comical to think about how many hours I spent on tasks like re-tiling a small bathroom – at least I got a new skill out of it!

    Also, is your stuff viscous enough to pour out of a re-used detergent container? I imagine that would be handier than prying open a large bucket for each load.

  63. Ann says:

    Trent-Doesn’t your wife make soap? Have you tired using her homemade soap? I pour my soap into a box lined with a garbage bag. When I cut it there is always rough edges I trim off and keep. When I get enough I melt it altogether and pour it into a mold and I have what I call sausage soap. I would guess you could just use the shavings in this laundry detergent recipe.

  64. j says:

    I make my own powdered detergent and what I do is I grate the soap then I leave it out for a couple of days so the soap slivers dry out. Then I put them in my food processor and run it a bit until it becomes a powder. Just be careful not to breath the stuff. It dissolves perfectly when I do this.

  65. KoryO says:

    Interesting post….might just try it, but will store it in the garage if I do (thanks for the warning, GayleRN…got a very inquisitive toddler).

    As for the great HE debate…..I’ve had two HE washers. One in my old house (almost 2 yrs old), one in the house my brother is living in (coming up on 8 yrs of service). Both are Kenmores. Have only used regular detergents in them…..but only a splash. Maybe it’s been about a 1/4 c or so. Never had a problem with the machines, and our clothes have all been just fine.

  66. TJP says:

    I made this a few months ago and plan to again. My husband does all the laundry in our front loader. He uses more soap than I think he should so I add a bit more water. I find filling up old plastic containers from detergent about 3/4 then being able to shake the mixture helps get rid of the lumps. For the person looking for a 5 gallon bucket ask someone with a cat who (I use litter buckets) and then get some old laundry detergent bottles from previous use or other times you’ve bought detergent. I knew I was going to make this at some point so I saved my containers.

  67. ClickerTrainer says:

    How does this detergent affect wastewater treatment? I know that soaps are a huge problem in the recovery of wastewater for secondary use, although I am by no means know legible on this issue.

  68. ClickerTrainer says:

    How does this detergent affect wastewater treatment? I know that soaps are a huge problem in the recovery of wastewater for secondary use, although I am by no means an expert on this issue.

  69. ClickerTrainer says:

    Sorry, that is odd it posted 2x.

  70. cathy says:

    We’ve been making this for a while now. It took a couple loads to convince my husband, but now he asks for me to make it when it’s running low. I find it’s great for stains! Although, I’ve also found that different soaps will give a different consistency in the finished product.

  71. lisa says:

    Have you or anyone else made this detergent with glycerine soap? I have to be very careful what I use on my skin and this looks like just the thing for me and my family.

  72. Chiming in on the 5 gal. bucket, ask your local fast food joint for a pickle bucket. I know Burger Kings around here will give them to you!

  73. In the dark ages, when all washers were front-loaders (my mother replaced her wringer washer with one of them) and all laundry soap was just plain old laundry soap, the trick to avoiding overflows was to use less laundry soap. There was no such thing as HE detergent, and sudsiness was marketed as a good thing.

    I don’t know if HE washers are very different from the old front-loaders, which didn’t use all that much water either. What I do know is having grown up with a front-loader (and the overflows — lordie! what a mess to clean up! — and the aching back from having to bend over to haul wet laundry out of them), I wouldn’t have one. And I sure as heck wouldn’t pay the premium price they’re charging for a machine that will put your back out.

    They make an HE washer with no agitator (!) that’s top-loading. The cost is the equally ridiculous, though if you live near a Sears outlet store you can get them refurbished or unnoticeably scratched for a few dollars less than brand-new. Bet one of these would moot the overflow issue.

    Look for Dr. Bronner’s All-One Hemp Unscented Baby-Mild Pure Castile Soap. It contains organic coconut, organic palm, & organic olive oils (with retained glycerin); water; organic hemp oil; organic jojoba oil, salt, citric acid, and vitamin E. The stuff is wonderful on your hands & face–probably would make a good shaving soap–and would give you a home-made laundry detergent free of unpronounceable ingredients. Dr. Bronner’s is available at Sprouts. Trader Joe no doubt carries something similar.

  74. Shannon says:

    If you stir (wisk) your detergent every now and again while it’s resting for 24 hours it helps a bunch with the chunks. I let my kids stick their hands in the bucket and squeeze it between their fingers to break it up. They think it’s great fun. My kids are 11 and 15 so they won’t fall in the bucket. If they’re not around I just run my wisk through it. I don’t have the huge glumps when I do it this way.

  75. Lenore says:

    Or…you could buy the cheapest detergents at the cheapest stores and not have to mess with all those soap flakes. I get no-name brands for a LOT less than Tide and find them just as effective. If the homemade detergent could be made w/o boiling or fussing with grating soap, I might give it a shot.

  76. Melissa says:

    What size soap bar do you generally use? For those who do not want to boil water or grate, what if you placed the bar in the bucket you were going to use ,cover with a dark trash bag or cloth and left out in the sun? Solar warm water. It may take a little longer, but why not?

  77. shoyu says:

    Thanks for the walkthrough. Now, I need to find a cheese grater.

  78. Artemisia says:

    We’ve been using this ever since you posted about it originally. Absolutely no complaints – but many thanks!

  79. April says:

    For the gloppy bits after the soap sits overnight:

    I used a long wire whisk to stir my soap. Instead of letting it sit 24 hours undistributed, I stirred it every few hours, or at least as often as I thought about it. It was still slightly gloppy, but the chunks were smaller and there was less water separated.

    It wasn’t labor intensive, I just took the lid off and gave its a good stir whenever it crossed my mind. Makes it much easier to measure out when there are no large chunks. Also, once the soap had sit for a day or so, I put it into some juice bottles that I had saved. It makes it easier to pour out of a smaller container.

  80. Gretchen says:

    Washing soda is nearly impossible to find in my area. I would have to buy it online. What store do you get it from?

  81. KED says:

    Regarding 5 gallon buckets……..another place to check out where houses are under construction. In our area the joint compound used on sheetrock comes in 5 gallon buckets and the crews are happy to get rid of them. Less to clean up for them!!!

  82. DJ says:

    Wow! People do this for a washing detergent? Have anyone tried store versions of washing soaps (such as Walmart’s Great value) or discount brands such as “All”. They are usually less priced; almost 1/4 – 1/3 of Tide’s price and you don’t have to jump to hoops for a washing soap.

  83. Jan says:

    The dog food we buy comes in plastic containers with a screw on lid on top., which I save for this purpose. Since the container also has a molded-in handle, it is easier to use than dipping out of a bucket, and I can just shake up the container if the mixture is lumpy.

  84. kim says:

    My kids and I just made some flarp slime last week.(the kind you put into a cup and smush to make rude noises with) And the ingredients are baking soda and borax, so that’s why the slimy consistency. Just thought that was interesting that it looked like what we had made. Cool tutorial I will definately be looking into it!

  85. frugal says:

    To make less, do I cut recipe in half or use 1/4? Or use less water? I dont have the storage space.

  86. Teri says:

    Quick question….maybe someone went over it…perhaps I missed it (hard to read EVERYONES comment)…does the detergent take on the smell of the soap? I am absolutly in love with baby smelling detergents (Dreft, ALL Baby…ect.)…just wondering if I used a bar of Johnson & Johnson baby bar soap if it would take on that smell?!

  87. Ginny Krause says:

    What is the H-Mill Rye flour? You did not mention
    using it in the recipe.

  88. carla says:

    Hi, i just made your detergent. Do you think i could use this detergent for my baby’s clothes?

  89. Diane says:

    Awesome! I’m going to try this and since I already make my own bath soap, out of natural ingredients. I’m going to use that in place of the store bought bar of soap. Mine is nicely scented too so that will be a nice plus.

    Wow, this is an awesome way to cut costs. :)

  90. Michelle says:

    Great post! I’ve forwarded this article onto a few friends of mine who will definitely be making a batch.

    I currently live on my own in a small apartment so I’m not sure I’d see the cost savings. Currently, to reduce laundry costs, I pre-treat stains with a cheap stain remover, use half the recommended amount of no-name brand detergent, and wash my clothes in cold water. My mom and I agree that my clothes look/smell just as good as if I’d used the “proper” amount of a high end detergent.

  91. Merrilee says:

    Ever tried making it by diluting the Tide and mixing it with the washing soda and borax? The reason I ask is because a friend of ours gave us some bottles of Tide as a thank-you for helping them move and do a few loads of laundry for them. I had been using my homemade batch of laundry soap for our clothes and the Tide for theirs, and I guess they felt sorry for us and wanted us to have the expensive stuff! :) I like the smell of (some) Tide varieties. It would certainly add a few pennies to the cost per load, but might stretch it a little. I also want to be able to re-use the Tide containers, and wished that my homemade stuff was less gelatenous. I’ll just have to keep experimenting…

  92. shannon says:

    i just bought the sears ultra plus buckets on sale last friday. with their sale price, loads come out to 5 cents per load and i didn’t have to make it, although it does sound really fun…. 275 loads per bucket. i probably have 5 years worth of laundry soap now.

  93. Josh Spoehr says:

    My wife must have been reading this article, I just came accross it when I hoped on. I am bookmarking this site so she doesn’t forget it. Very good stuff.

  94. Mom of 4 says:

    I’ve given the powdered version of this an extensive try, with mixed results. Our machine is a Frigidaire HE unit, and in general does a fabulous job. Here’s what I found with making the homemade soap:

    I made it in a food processor, draping the bowl with a damp towel so’s not to disperse a bunch of dust into the air. I used Fels-Naphtha that I grated, then allowed to dry out. The resulting powder was nice and fine, and I didn’t see any signs that it hadn’t dissolved properly. I tried using both 1T and 2T of the powder per load.

    There was no sudsing problem at all. Basically, this doesn’t create suds. So, it should be just fine in the HE machines.

    I used vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser to help remove any soap film.

    The result was clothes that were soft, but not thoroughly clean. My microfiber cleaning cloths were rendered essentially waterproof — not a good thing! I’d think this would make the homemade mix unsuitable for cloth diapers. Things that the homemade mix didn’t remove include:

    – the dirty deposits on the inside of my kids’ school uniform shirts and my husband’s polos. In fact, it seemed to actually SET those stains, especially in the case of my husband’s shirts. I’m suspecting that the soap binds with the proteins in the stain. I was able to mitigate the problem with Shout, but I don’t even need to use the Shout with cheap commercial detergents.

    – food stains, in general. I found that I could mitigate this problem with Shout, but if I accidentally missed part of the stain, it was still there when the clothes came out of the wash.

    – ground-in dirt like grass/mud stains.

    So, while I’ll use up the remainder of the homemade soap on dark loads, where staining isn’t an issue, I don’t find it to be a good replacement for even the cheapest commercial detergents.

  95. sara says:

    i would like to know how many people have been using homemade detergent for a long time and still see their clothes holding up well? my primary concern with laundry is not so much that it gets clean (i’ve never had a problem with clothes coming clean) but more so that the detergent doesn’t damage the clothing. i’m very particular about detergents because i consider a lot of my clothing an investment that i want to take as much care of as possible. also, does anyone have any comments regarding sensitive skin? i previously used a generic detergent recommended by consumer reports that i had to quit using because it made me break out. i now use all free and clear for my everyday clothes and woolite on my more “fragile” clothes. i’d love to find a way to save some money on these.

  96. Ellis Benus says:

    That is awesome!

    I was hooked on Instructables for the longest time and one of the Instructables showed how to make a water hearer using the sun.

    Very cool stuff!

  97. Julie C says:

    For those who need a homemade stain remover, get a 2 cup spray bottle, use 1/2 c each water, wisk, ammonia and vinegar. Sometimes I have to use twice (usually for red stains) but works well on everything else.

  98. Erin says:

    I used this in my recent blog “8 Unusual Ways to Make the World Better.”

    Great stuff! I really want to make a batch.

  99. Katie says:

    I have a HE Front Load Washer and make the powder version. I used a cheese slicer for the soap, then put in food processor and it is a perfect consistancy. I used (1) bar Fels-Naptha, 2/3 Cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, and 2/3 Cup of 20 Mule Team Borax. I use 1 Tablespoon per load. I also made a natural “fabric softener” which is white vinegar, water and Lilac essential oil. I AM AMAZED BY THE RESULTS. You can buy a 5 gallon bucket with a lid for around $7 at Home Depot or Lowes or any big box hardware store.
    I purchased a 2 1/2 quart bucket with lid for $2.50. I made 3 batches and keep a Tablespoon in the bucket. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO easy even my husband can’t mess it up. We have (3) dogs and thier blankets and beds are much cleaner….

  100. Katie says:

    One other thing…you CAN NOT use the Downy Ball in a HE Washer. Don’t try it…

  101. deRuiter says:

    Great stuff! About the slight mustard residue, you might next time try PRETREATING the mustard areas with the liquid soap mixture before washing, pour the soap onto the areas with mustard coloring, rub in and let sit for half an hour before doing the wash. If you pretreat soon after the spotting on the clothing is noticed, and put pretreated article aside until you run a load of wash, this may remove / lighten any potential spots. JUST REMEMBER TO SUBTRACT THE AMOUNT OF DETERGENT USED ON THE SHIRT FROM THE AMOUNT YOU PUT INTO THE WASHER.

  102. pam grossman says:

    just found this site by accident.
    all ingredients for homeade laundry
    detergent, including fels naptha soap
    can be found at soapsgonbuy.com

  103. pam grossman says:

    oops! mispelled website info
    should be http://www.soapsgonebuy.com

  104. Lauren says:

    I make a similar “recipe” in smaller batches. I’ve done this for years, and here’s what I’ve learned:
    1. I just chop the soap with a big knife while the water is boiling, then dump in the soap in the pot, turn off the stove, and put a lid on the pot. After twenty minutes or so, everything is dissolved.
    2. For smaller batches: I use an old detergent container (one gallon) and just under 1 tbsp soap flakes dissolved in water, and about 1/4 cup each borax and washing soda. The detergent works great, and it doesn’t get chunky. I just need to give the bottle a shake when I use it, as the powdered ingredients settle at the bottom.
    3. I prefer a very basic, natural soap, so I use Kirk’s Castille, unscented. I buy 48 bars at a time from their website. It works well, and is fairly easy to chop.

  105. Aislinn says:

    Please answer. Has anyone ever used any of these
    recipes on a regular basis with COLD water? I
    quit using hot water for washing my clothes three
    years ago. I don’t want to buy all the supplies
    and then have it not work or leave residue on all
    my clothes or something.

  106. Vicki Collins says:

    To Aislinn, comment #106: At one time I found a website that answered your cold water wash question, but don’t recall the URL for the site. I’ll try to find it and give you a more specific answer, but I remember for cold water you had to use the liquid recipe rather than the powder one, and you add a little glycerin to the formula. The claim is that the glycerin is needed to emulsify the ingredients and help it to better penetrate fabrics washed in CW. Glycerin is available at drugstores, (ask the pharmacist if you have trouble finding it), and often in supermarkets in the health and beauty section by hand lotions and skin softeners.

  107. Vicki Collins says:

    Aislinn’s coldwater answer/the recipe: Here is the recipe recommended for homemade laundery detergent to be used for either coldwater or warm water washing. (This is for a top loader, you probably only use half the amount for an HE).
    1 Cup grated Fels Naptha Soap
    ½ Cup Washing Soda
    ½ Cup Borax
    2 Tablespoons Glycerin
    2 Gallons Water
    If whites aren’t as white as you desire, next time increase the Washing Soda and Borax to 1 cup each. 10-15 drops, (or less, depending on the level of scent you desire), of essential can be added to the mixture.

  108. Cate says:

    I really enjoyed the writing style! Good job! I’ve been using the powdered recipe in cold water for about a year – without the glycerin – and have no complaints! For HE users, there’s no sudsing, so you’re “good to go.” My food processor grates the soap bars (I use Fels Naptha) and saves my knuckles.

  109. Cate says:

    P.S. forgot to say, add 1/2C of white vinegar to the second rinse to remove any soap residue, if you’re concerned about that.

  110. Sally Johnson says:


    I have been making this same detergent for about 2 years. I absolutely love it!!!

    I make 1/2 of the recipe at a time. I bought a flip-top plastic container at the dollar store that all the ingredients fit in. After I make the detergent, I put it in that container for its 24 hours. It then gets poured into an empty large vinegar bottle. That makes it easy to pour into the washer.

    My washer is an HE, and I use about 1/2 cup. I also have completely quit using Woolite, and only use this detergent in cold water.

    As far as the time it takes to make this, it really only takes about 15-20 minutes. A bottle of this will last me probably about 1 1/2-2 months. There are 4 of us, and I probably do about 10 loads of laundry a week.

    I also put in a few drops of either orange or lavendar essential oil.

    As far as fabric softener goes, I mix regular softener half and half with vinegar.

    Something else I didn’t see mentioned was that this detergent is not putting harsh chemicals back into our environment (watersheds). This was one of the things that first attracted me to try it. All the ingredients are environmentally friendly. That is a big, big plus for me.
    I still use “regular” detergent on my husband’s really dirty, grimy clothes, as well as son’s football pants, although they would probably come out fine with this detergent.

    I noticed that on http://www.soapsgonebuy.com they have a “laundry detergent” kit which includes the borax, wash soap, and the fels-naptha soap. You probably don’t need all that, but all those things can be found on that site.

    Try it!

  111. Sharon says:

    I tried your recipe for the first time last night. I must have done something wrong, because I still have liquid, it didn’t turn into slim. I used fels-nappa soap, and followed the directions. Anybody else have this probleM?


  112. Toni says:

    I have been making this detergent since before Christmas and it works just great. The only difference is that I use homemade lye soap instead of store bought.

    My husband has super sensitive skin and normal(read store bought) soap breaks him out. Since I have been using the homemade, his skin has cleared up and we haven’t had a single problem since. I only use 1/2 cup per load in cold water and I pre-treat any stains with the detergent. It worked great for getting the chocolate and strawberry stains out of my daughter’s fast food uniform and our clothes smell great.

    An even greater way to save is to hang the clothes out on the line instead of using the dryer. We save almost 25% off of our electric bill this way.

  113. Ever tried soap nuts as a laundry detergent? I love them. When we began using them, the eczema across my belly cleared right up.

  114. Alexia says:

    @ Gayle RN: I have a baby, so I am careful to store my bucket in a closet. I have just been refilling an old detergent jar for easy use. & seriously to all of those who are saying it would be too much work! It was done in 10 minutes. seriously!!! I had to go to the grocery store anyway, so no extra time there. & me and DH and the kids all had a blast making this together! lol So with the family time… Anyway, thanks for a great recipe!

  115. Greg says:

    Just a tip for anybody else having a hard time finding “washing soda”, we live here in Oregon and have spent almost 2 months searching every store from the little mom-n-pop’s to the big box stores, and NONE of them carry it, or will order it.

    HOWEVER, take a walk over to the pool maintenance section at your favorite big blue store with the smiley face, and find “ph up”. It is sold in little one pound containers which are about 6 bucks each, but keep looking and you will find an off brand bucket with small wording on it, 4 gallon size buckets of pure sodium carbonate (washing soda) for about $5.00 bucks. It is exactly the same chemical as the arm and hammer stuff, and it’s dirt cheap, and a bucket that big should last for years.

    You can also make sodium carbonate really easily (and it’s really fun to do with the kids, AND it cleans your oven at the same time) by pouring out a big box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) on a sheet pan and tossing it in the oven at 450ish degrees for about an hour. The heat seperates the second carbon and turns it into sodium carbonate, plus it makes these really cool baking soda volcanos that are fun to watch.

    Good luck!

  116. Tasha says:

    Thanks Trent for your detergent! I can’t believe you had to repost how to make your detergent with pics. It is crazy to me how spoon-fed some people need to be. They ask the same repeated questions & on & on. I read some of the posts and people are mean, lazy (fail to read what you or others have answered in the blog) nit-picky and ridiculous. Thanks for your kindness and time you took out of your life to share something wonderful with us all.

  117. Christy says:

    I made your detergent over the weekend. It is wonderful to know that I can actually save money different ways, and I love it. thanks for all the great information you give to me.

  118. Kai says:

    I made a powdered version of 1 bar Fels Naptha, 1-1/2 cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and 1-1/2 cups of borax. Using my food processor with the grater blade I grated the Fels Naptha. Then I changed to the regular chopper blade because the grater only made the soap into curly swirls and I was afraid that they wouldn’t dissolve in a cold water wash. Since I was gonna run it through with the chopper blade I just added the washing soda and borax and pulsed it all together. It worked GREAT and came out looking just like regular laundry powder. I have a front loading HE steam washer and use 2 TBSP for a regular load. Everything comes out soft and clean. I LOVE this stuff and don’t plan on ever buying laundry soap again.

  119. Marla says:

    Trent, Loved the video & info. I have made 2 batches of this stuff and love it and I’m glad to know that my stuff is like everyone else ( LOL ) I was afraid the “big glops” meant I had missed a step or something. Also, love all the posts, esp. the one about hard water. I will have to try the suggestion. As for those who have poo-pooed making your own laudry soap, all I can say is whether or not it saves money..it’s fun to try and anything with less commercial chemicals is always worth trying. Thanks again Trent!

  120. Cecilia says:

    Thanks to everybody for all the hints and postings and especially to Trent for posting and sharing his recipe. I have one tip to add, for softening and odor-removal. When I put the washed clothes in the dryer, I spray a few squirts of 1/10 part everclear and 9/10 part water solution into the dryer with the clothes, or water/vinegar solution ( like maybe a tablespoon of vinegar in a quart of water solution)..just a few squirts and my wash comes out soft and smelling very nice, even kitchen rags lose their odors.

  121. gina says:

    I did not know this could be done. I have sensitive skin, and most detergents break me out. I use Dove bath soap, so I can use what I know will not break me out.

  122. Chere says:

    I tried the powdered thing also. I used 1 to 1 of borax and baking soda. I doubled the washing soda. I’ve used Fels Naptha as well as Zote (a huge double bar for .88 @ Big Lots). If it wasn’t easy, it wouldn’t be worth it for me. I use 2 tbsp. per load, sometimes I presoak really dirty whites or Bert’s jeans (construction worker dirt)and then wash. I have been really pleased with my results. Even my whites are really white. Occasionally, I have added a little bleach or even a little bit of Gain if I need a little extra clean… Not hard, and my grocery list is shorter, my savings bigger.

  123. Kira =] says:

    I don’t have room for a huge bucket of slime, so I make powdered detergent for my house. I also use cloth diapers so I have to be more particular about the soap I use. Publix is the only place that sells Washing Soda in my area (and the nearest one is 100 miles away) so my sister mails it to me or I pick it up when I’m out of state.

    I use 1 cup each of Borax, baking soda, & washing soda. I grate 1 bar of Kirk’s Castile soap using a $3 grater (w/ smaller holes). Finally, I mix 1/4 – 1/2 cup of bentonite clay with 1/2 – 1 oz of soap making fragrance oil (for that clean laundry smell my husband loves) and add that to the batch. I wash everything on cold except my cloth diapers (which are pockets & all in ones). I only have to use 1 – 2 tbsp per load of laundry (depending on how dirty it is). It dissolves quickly, works wonderfully, & only requires a 5-cup container to store. =]

  124. Tony says:

    Excellent, but your math will lose and confuse alot of people. The one measurement that is more tangible to people would be to figure out how much your soap would cost if it was put into the Tide bottle; say 1 gallon.

    I will look into this at home, mix it up in my garage and put it into an empty Tide or Fab bottle for my wife to use.

  125. Carla Rhomberg says:

    Please help. I have made your recipe and it is not turning out. I follow the instructions to the tee. I don’t get gel or slime. Is it because i have hard water. Can yu help me. Money wise i need the help. Thanks.

  126. Alicia says:

    This works wonderfully in HE washer. I made some very quickly and poured into washed out milk jugs for easy pouring. I just shake and use 1/2 cup. Cleans well, no scent (like Tide Free). I also use cold water and have had no trouble. Hope this helps!

  127. Scott Smith says:

    My wife saw this on TV and asked me to look it up for her. We are going to give it a go (we do about 20 loads a week) but I thought I would share a warning with those who use Fels Naptha in their mix. Please refer to the following link and the quote from it below. We won’t be using it, and I am sure there are others who will pass on that particular brand or cease using it once they have become aware of this.


    “Health Considerations

    While sometimes also sold next to personal-care body soaps it should not be used as an overall body soap or regular laundry additive since it contains Stoddard solvent, a skin and eye irritant.

    According to the “Chronic Health Effects” section of the National Institutes of Health’s MSDS for Fels Naptha:

    Chronic toxicity testing has not been conducted on this product. However, the following effects have been reported on one of the product’s components. Stoddard solvent: Repeated or prolonged exposure to high concentrations has resulted in upper respiratory tract irritation, central and peripheral nervous system effects, and possibly hematopoetic, liver and kidney effects.

    Stoddard solvent is another name for mineral spirits, which are, like petroleum distillates, a mixture of multiple chemicals made from petroleum. Exposure to Stoddard solvent in the air can affect your nervous system and cause dizziness, headaches, or a prolonged reaction time. It can also cause eye, skin, or throat irritation.”

  128. Me says:

    I made this the other day for the first time and I love it. I dont think I would go back to commercial soaps again.

  129. misty ramos says:

    use SALT crystals that are USED FOR WATER SOFTNERs. the cost is $4 per 20lb bag. Most likely you can purchase at lowes, home depot, sears, etc.

  130. Carla Hudson says:

    For a HE washer I would the soap a friend gave me when they had their water softner installed. As you know you need it doesnt foam up like regular soap.

  131. Tish Lavrenz says:

    I use a carrot/potato peeler to flake the soap. It works perfect!!

  132. Christina Pavon says:

    I cannot find the washing soda anywhere around my town. Any suggestions .. besides ordering online.. that S & H is crazy!!

  133. Tiffany says:

    Recipe is a godsend! Recently I was let go from my job and I’ve been desperately trying to cut costs where ever I can. I knew people had made their own detergents I just never looked into it until now. Thanks for the information and helping me and my family cut costs :)

  134. Jude Pal says:

    I was just wondering if I could use liquid soap(like maybe liquid dish washing soap)instead of bar soap. Has anyone tried this? It seems to me that it would save time because you would not have to grate and disolve the bar soap. Would it be as effective?

  135. Brenda says:

    I would like to start making my own soap. However, I’m worried about the dark laundry fading. I currently use Cheer Dark and can wash for over a year with little fading action. Do you have any recommendations what I could add to the soap to insure no fading occurs? Thanks!

  136. Try soap nuts. They are gentle and very good at keeping colors.

  137. Sonya says:

    I just made a batch finally- with less water- about 1.5 gallons & will refill my laundry soap bottle with it soon. I already ran the first load- hey that laundry pile wasn’t waiting any longer- and it came out great. Little to no sudsing- but clean & fresh. Less water seems to work just fine for space saving, I’m stirring here & there as it cools- not too chunky so far, and the cap of my All 2x bottle will measure out just right with the “thicker” less water batch. (At 1.5-2 gallons water you’ll use about 1/3-1/2 cup per load.)

    The total cost savings that round out his receipt are amazing- but I’ve saved plenty just today on batch #1. For the same price as a bottle of store brand laundry soap I got a 10 pack of Ivory soap, I had soda & Borax on hand (they also work as ph up & down in your pool- see poolsolutions.com) I used 1 bar of Ivory, & have lots left for the kids to grate, add a drop of color &/or scent & splash of water if needed & pack into cookie cutters to make fancy soaps for Christmas gifts this week. Gotta Love it!

    And the comments wondering what went wrong if there are no chunks- I wouldn’t worry- it has all the soap & such It’ll clean fine.

  138. rockcreek says:

    Christina – try the chemicals section of Target or Walmart. I don’t know where you live, but if there isn’t a Target or Walmart near you … well, I got nothing.

    Jude: I’m not clear on the chemistry, but I believe dish soap is designed to remove grease on contact, whereas bar soap requires some physical action to bond soap molecules to grease molecules. Such action might similarly be provided in a washing machine. This would lead me to believe that dish soap is way stronger than bar soap, and could have serious repercussions for your fabrics.

    FWIW, I recently had my dryer repaired by my local appliance geek, who suggested that you shouldn’t ever use commercial liquid detergents for dishwashers or laundry machines because the formulations contain chemicals that contribute to residue buildup in the supply lines and internal chambers.

  139. Mindy says:

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe! I’m also curious if you could use liquid soap… specifically shampoo. The problem with soap is it’s ability to bond with dissolved salts in hard water… creating soap scum (uck!). Detergent has a different composition and doesn’t do this but is obviously more expensive and not an all natural product like soap. I’m just curious if after many washings clothing develops this ‘soap scum’ issue or not.

  140. kathy ross says:

    Some things to keep in mind: 1) reducing the number of plastic bottles required for commercial laundry soap is better for the environment and will lessen to a considerable degree our dependence on petroleum. 2) regular commercial detergents are made from petrochemicals and other nasty ingredients that are unhealthy and bad for the environment. 3) washing soda is a great substitute for commercial fabric softener. I stopped using the commercial stuff about 4 years ago and will never never go back. 4) people worried about colors fading – it’s the optical brighteners contained in the commercial detergents that make your clothes look whiter or brighter. These are bad for your health and bad for your clothes. 5) wash sweaters and other delicates with ammonia. Each bottle contains instructions. Your sweaters will be soft and look and smell great.

  141. Theresa says:

    in regard to comment #116
    I am trying to make my own washing soda since the only kind I could get was the baking soda. I baked it for a couple of hours. First at 450d and then turned it up to 510 degrees, looking for the “volcanos” to form. I only got a couple of tiny ones- mounds. Have I successfully created washing soda??
    soda challenged

  142. Jeannette says:

    I live in the Houston, TX area and am unble to find Fels-Naptha or the washing soda, any advise? I too, would prefer not to buy online. Are there any other things I could use, or other stores to search? I have tried Wal-Mart and Kroger.

    Jeannette in Texas

  143. sxqwazdddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd Renee says:

    First, I live in Indiana, and while walmart did not have washing soda, Pay Less did. Second, I have read every single comment, and can’t wait to try making my own batch tomorrow! Thanks!

  144. silverfalcon81 says:

    Just thought I would throw this out there. We have been making this laundry soap for about 3 months now (saves us a ton with 5 people in the house, but we found our clothes weren’t coming out as fresh as they could be.

    However, we found a great way to fix the problem, we now add 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of generic dollar store Febreeze (I don’t know what it is called… just the cheap stuff that comes in a big bottle and smells identical) and it workes great! The soap recipe always did a good job cleaning our clothes, and with this addition they are both softer and smell really clean.

    I should mention on the second attempt we used about 3 cups of the dollar store Febreeze, and we all ended up smelling like a Motel 6 for about a month, so… don’t over do it.

    Awesome recipe though, and the kids love to help make it!

  145. Karina says:

    I live in Houston TX and have found the washing soda and soap at several different Krogers right next to the Borax. You can also use Zote soap instead of Fels-Naptha.

    Hope this helps

  146. Sweaty Eddie says:

    Wow everybody, what an amazing idea. But don’t we think it’s a bit much BUYING your own soap? Don’t you know that you can make soap from human body fat? All you have to do is find a small chubby girl (girls have less muscle than boys), grind her up, let the fat soak in a tub for a few weeks, dispose of the bones, and voila! Soap! I know personally, I’m not made of money, I can’t be BLOWING my cash on bars of soap when I can get it for free. Let’s be thrifty guys. Cmon.

  147. sarah says:

    Great recipe, but bad for my front loader. It is too chunky and plugged things up and made my machine leak gobs of water all over. Too bad. Thanks for such a GREAT tutorial!

  148. Krista says:

    Free Buckets:

    Most bakeries gets their frosting in 5 gallon buckets, with lids, they are constantly trying to recycle or reuse them, because they are so bulky to throw away. I work at a Wal-Mart Supercenter, and they would be happy to let customers take thier buckets off their hands.

  149. jaynie says:

    i was wondering how the home made laundry soap smells and if you can wash with cold water??? and if drying on a clothes hanger is fine as in do they stiffin of does this home made detergent mae your clothes nice and soft??

  150. sue says:

    on this lquid home made soap- it seems my clothes are allways coming dingy on using the soap.
    what can you do to keep using the homemade soap and keep clothes really clean? sue

  151. Michelle says:

    Where do you find the recipe for homemade fabric softener??? Thanks!

  152. Sara says:

    In response to Scott, #128. . . According to the MSDS data sheet for Fels Naptha soap:


    A search for Fels Naptha at the NIH’s website returns nothing. http://www.nih.gov

    Furthermore, Stoddard solvent is not listed in the ingredients on the MSDS sheet for the product itself — hydrocarbons and TERPENE PROCESSING BY-PRODUCTS are, but those are different things. The primary health risks are from aspiration and prolonged and direct exposure to the skin. Anyone with half a brain should know better than to huff soap, and the washer’s rinse cycle should wash out enough of the soap to prevent skin irritation (no direct and prolonged skin exposure).

    I also noticed that there was no date on the referenced statement by the NIH — is it possible that the contributor to the Wiki entry was referencing old and outdated material? It’s entirely possible that Stoddard solvents used to be in Fels Naptha, but have since been removed. . .

    The full MSDS for Fels Naptha can be found at http://www.soapsgonebuy.com, among other places.


  153. YOU-KNOW-I'M RIGHT says:



  154. julie vass says:

    I made this yesterday but wasn’t sure how it should turn out. Thank you for the step by step information and especially for the picture!. I did it right!

  155. David says:

    @Michael About buckets: I know you can get buckets with lids from Firehouse Subs for the cost of i think maybe $1 donation.

  156. Oklahoma girl says:

    I’m most intrigued by the receipt which shows a 6% sales tax. The city I live in in Oklahoma has a 9% sales tax on everything!

  157. Lori says:

    I have made my own laundry detergent for 3 yrs. I do not make the liquid version (too messy). My recipe is for a larger quantity. 3 cups washing soda, 3 cups 20 Mule Team Borax, and 6 bars (grated fine) of Fels Naptha. Use 2 tablespoons for regular loads and 3 tablespoons for heavy soiled loads. Does not make suds, however, Fels soap is pure soap and leaves cloths fresh & clean. Also, you may find you don’t need any or not as much fabric softner. This recipe lasts me 4 months washing 4-5 loads per week. Cost is like 2 cents per load.

  158. Katie says:

    Just a little FYI for anyone wanting to get great results for less. Vinegar! Regular household vinegar! We started to use it along withbaking soda and borax when I started to have reactions to different detergents. I had never had problems before, but after kids all bets are off. We have a front loading washing machine and at first we just used vinegar in the bleach slot. A friend told us about the softening quality and we then put it into the bleach and fabric softener slot.To our complete surprise all of our clothes are now cleaner and softer to the touch. Also we have found that the towels actually soak up moisture better than they had while using conventional softeners. It does not make you wash smell like vinegar either! If you want to give your clothes a hint of your favorite smell we have rags of fabric that we keep on the dryer and add 10-15 drops of our favorite essential oils to them, like lavender or orange for my husband, and they smell great! Not to mention all of this is way better for the environment and for our little ones. Now we are going to go the next step and make our own laundry soap! I am very excited! To anyone out there that still thinks that they cant live without their clothes smelling like downy, READ THE INGRIDIENTS!!! Look them up on the EPA website or pull up an MSDS sheet for them! Then think long and hard about if you want to walk around in something that has been soaked in cancer-causing chemicals!!

  159. Anne says:

    I havent’ tried this recipe yet but it just occured to me that if you put a bar of ivory soap in to the microwave it expands to a foam.When it cools it crumbles up into very fine dust. It may work for this recipe, or better yet the ones that are making powder detergent- just dont put the whole bar in at once, it make try to escape the microwave! Also you will want to put a bowl of vinegar and water in the microwave afterward to remove the soap scent………………..

  160. Mandur says:

    I have made my own laundry soap as well. I do not have an HE washer, but use an HE washer recipe. I use one bar of soap (I prefer Caress), 1/2 cup washing soda to 1 cup borax. I found all the ingredients in Kroger, top shelf above the bleaches.

    None of these recipes will suds up. But it still cleans.

    I use vinegar or baking soda in the rinse cycle for fabric softner!

    Oh, and by the way, mine has NO LUMPS! It depends on the bar of soap you use. I use caress and its PERFECT like off the shelf.
    It works WONDERFUL!

  161. christie says:

    My sister and I make our own softener. Here is how:

    1 c. baking soda
    6 c. vinegar
    8 c. water
    essential oil of your choice.

    put 1 c. water into gallon jug. Add baking soda. Add vinegar SLOWLY. Add remaining water, and essential oil. Shake. Works great!

    She found the recipe online somewhere, but I’m not sure where, so i can’t give credit.

  162. christie says:

    i have hard water, so i add 1 c. feed salt (4.00 for a 20# bag at the feed store) and 1 c. baking soda. after the solution has gelled, I add about 4 c. vinegar slowly while stirring. I use pink Zote soap that I purchase at the local mexican grocery store for a dollar a bar. it smells great, a light citronella scent. then i use the softener that i listed the recipe for earlier. i am one of 4 children with divorced parents. including my boyfriend and his household, i have convinced 7 households and 15 people to switch to this laundry. every little bit counts. we won’t save the planet alone, but we’ll certainly do our part!

  163. Ashley says:

    I jus made this just yesterday and used it for the first time tonight. I’m glad I tried it. However I have one question. I normally wash in cold water, except for my boys clothes (they are toddlers and we are in the process on potty training). Do I need to add anything to the mix so that it will work in cold water? I did wash some sheets and towels with this in cold water and they seemed to come out clean. I just want to make sure that I am getting them as clean as I can.

    I used the hypo allergenic (sp?) soap by dove cause my husband was worried about “breaking out” over using a new detergent. Worked great in the mix and has a slight fragrance to it.

  164. Heather says:

    Hello and thank you so much for the great visual tutorial. I make my own homemade dry laundry soap with a plain castile bar that I handmake from olive oil, lye and water. It has a very low lather – probably great for front loaders. I found that if you’re worried about too many suds a handmade castile bar is the way to go, not to mention the natural oils in the soap make a wonderful fabric softener. I’m so amazed at the price difference in creating your own detergents and LOVE how you break down the pricing :-) Next time you make your soap I’d love to donate a bar of castile to you, just send me an email and thanks again.

    – Heather

  165. mindy says:

    I love the detergent recipe!!!! call me cheap but I only use a 1/2 a cup of the detergent to save money and I find that it cleans just as well. I cleaned one of my kitchen rugs that gets mud, food, and dirty dish water spilled on it daily with the homemade detergent ( 1/2cup) and it came out sparkling clean!!!! I was amazed. Even the tomato sauce stains came out!!! Whoo hoo!! Thanks so much!

  166. Noelle Ray says:

    Thanks for the recipe!! I made this about a month ago and have been using it in my HE washer. I didn’t want to have to store it in a 5 gallon bucket, so I used a hand mixer (small batches) to make it a little more uniform. I poured it in old vinegar gallon containers and old liquid laundry containers. It still separates a little but you can just shake it up right before you pour it in. I use about 3/4 cup with my HE washer. It may be too much, but I like my clothes to smell like detergent. It is not soapy.

    I am LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and we try to have a year’s supply of food etc. on hand. This is the best for that!! I can store 2 boxes and a few bars of soap and I will have enough to use and share with others. It takes up very little space.

  167. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for the great description you gave and in great detail too. Am I supposed to add the soap mixture to a empty laundry bottle, while also adding more soap to it? Like 1/2 and 1/2? Or just use it straight up, not adding any water to it at all? Thank you

  168. Steve M says:

    One of the differing qualities of various hand or bath soaps is how easily they rinse off one’s hands. For instance, Ivory always seemed to take more effort to rinse off than, say, Palmolive. So, the question here would be, does this detergent rinse away thoroughly? Does it need two rinses?
    Thanks for any input on this.
    Steve M

  169. Chris says:

    This was very well done. Thank you so much for the time and effort you took to report this to us frugal folk.

  170. Chris says:

    Hey! Those of you who use Fels-Naptha might want to check Wikipedia. It says it may be dangerous to be continually exposed to this as it contains mineral spirits. Just passing on the info I just learned myself.

  171. sue says:

    i am getting ready to make the soap again. my problem for me is my clothes some times gets dingy look- what can i do to add to the soap to keep my clothes from turning a dingy color? sue

  172. Lisa says:

    I am really grateful for this recipe, just made it and am waiting to try it out tomorrow! I have super sensitive skin, and buying no name brand detergent is not an option, my skin explodes in rashes and burns. And with the current cost of Dreft, I needed to find something without chemicals and cheaper. Wish me luck!

    Oh, and local supermarket bakery’s are a great place to get buckets, if they don’t have any in the department, see if someone can grab you one from the back.

  173. Patricia says:

    Love your articles! I read a lot by/about financial planners/economists… all those folks. You’re a lot more fun to read! :) I’m downloading all your recipes so that I can try them out. Many thanks for all your efforts. My best to your family.

  174. Paula says:

    I have a septic tank and HE front loader. How will this detergent work?
    It was very nice of you to share this info with everyone. It would be nice to save money, help with the environment by using a more biodegradeable solution and keep my septic tank working properly..If anyone has any info please reply..


  175. KP says:

    GREAT recipe– thank you!! The washing soda can be hard to find, but I was able to order all my supplies from drugstore.com and I got FREE shipping.

  176. ohvamom says:

    Fantastic ideas, I am definitely going to try. Oh, and btw, if you pre-treat w/Dawn dish soap, the stain w/ come right out!

  177. henry says:

    pls, i will like to hint on how to make a liquid detergent which could be used in kichen and for general home uses

  178. Autumn says:

    Thanks! I tried this and I am delighted to say that I will never go back to commercial brand laundry soap. I love that I know exactly what goes into making my soap and my clothes smell better than with commercial products. It is so easy to make and the boxes of borax and soda last. Thanks for the recipe.

  179. Stine says:

    I’ve been using this recipe for quite a while and it works a treat! I use an empty liquid deterget bottle for everyday use. I put 4 cups soap, 4 cups water in the bottle. That leaves space to shake it up, before I put it into the washer. I have a front loader and it only requires 1/4 cup per load. I use Fels-Naptha in my recipe. It makes my clothes smell as good as if they had been hung on the line outside. I use white vinegar as the fabric softener. It works great and is certainly inexpensive to use. If you have a stain – put a little of the soap mixture on the stain and let it set a while before you wash. I found all the stains have come out. If your soap recipe doesn’t congeal, it doesn’t matter – it will still wash your clothes wonderfully. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  180. Kari says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for posting the directions for this. I’m making my third batch of the year tonight, and I’m betting I will make it all the way through 2009 with the one box of Washing Soda and one box of Borax I bought in January (about $15 total, including the bucket)Thanks again.

  181. Soap Fairy says:

    Use liquid Castile Soap…save yourself a lot of work and time. Just pour it in and shake for a minute!

  182. Becky says:

    I have read a good bit of these comments and would like to share what I’ve learned about making this product. If you’ll melt the grated soap in smaller batches and NOT allow it to boil it will not produce those big clumps. Instead you’ll get something that looks more like egg drop soup. Just a little stir or shake and it’s ready to go.

  183. Joel says:

    Can we make the detergent into powder? How do we go about to make it into powder to store in container?

  184. Sarah says:

    Wow–thank you for creating such a well-detailed instruction article!

  185. Chris says:

    I would like to use Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap instead of bar soap. Does anyone know how much of the liquid would equal 1 bar of soap??

  186. Katie says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial and recipe! I made my first batch today, based loosely on what I had on hand and just because I wanted to play around a bit. Your wonderful tutorial gave me the confidence to do so! Thank you!

    (I used 1 1/2 bars Ivory, 1/2 bar of Zote soap – and added lavendar essential oil, grape seed extract, tea tree oil, and lemon essential oil. I used less water than you did, this made about 3 1/2 gallons)

  187. Katie says:

    Also, I used 1 1/2 cup washing soda, and 1 cup Borax.

    My clothing came out brightened, and smelling wonderful. Thank you!

  188. Chris says:

    I emailed the Dr. Bronner people to ask them the question I asked above. Their answer: 12 oz of their liquid castile soap is equivalent to one of their bars of soap. It got me thinking I could probably use regular liquid handsoap instead – cheaper than Dr. Bronner’s at $10 for 16 oz. A big jug of liquid hand soap from Costco sounds good to me.

    I like the idea of using liquid soap because it takes less time to make if I can eliminate the first step of dissolving the grated bar soap in hot water. Amy’s idea of using the powdered version sounds good, except that it might not dissolve as well when washing in cold water?

    Next time I make a batch, I think I will cut the amount of water I use – make a more concentrated liquid detergent – so that it takes less space.

  189. wendy says:

    I have been using this recipe almost exactly since the first of the year. The only differences are that I use a whole bar of soap and 4 28lb kitty litter buckets. I grate the soap and start the mixing in my kitchen just like this. Then I move the whole process to my laundry room where I divide the soap mix among 4 buckets. Add water to the lip level in each bucket and let set. My soap is still here. I would have gone through a bunch of buckets of powder by now and liquids were too expensive for my budget. I do approximately 6 – 10 loads of laundry a week, dependent on what we are doing and who is home. Lots of dirty work generates more dirty clothes. Having a kid come home from college with 2 suitcases of clothing makes a literal mountain of dirty wash. But averaging 8 loads a week since Jan 1, I still have 1 full bucket and 3 inches of a second bucket left. Not bad for $2 a box each for borax and washing soda and a buck for the bar of soap (Ivory would have been cheaper yet than the fels naphtha I used) and the water that comes out to pennies. The buckets were here. I had been planning to use them for harvest in my garden but this is fine too. More of them where they came from. Besides we use them for all kinds of things.

  190. molly says:

    I can’t find Washing Soda anywhere. I’ve looked for it at Safeway, Walgreens, Target, & Home Depot with no luck. Any ideas about where I can find it?

  191. StinkyAndTan says:

    Fantastic! Even more fantastic would be heating the water with a solar oven, using aluminum foil or mirrors and a black pot. I live in sunny Florida, but in a rented house, not much yard space or tools or time at home. So, i’d love to hear about others’ experience. Here’s an interesting vid to make heat on a larger scale than needed for this, but anyone handy with hardware can scale it down as needed: http://www.greenpowerscience.com/OVEN.html Another starting point: http://solarcooking.org/plans/funnel.htm

  192. mary says:

    Michelle – Comment 38 – for cloth diapers you can use just borax & baking soda; skip the soap. An easier way to do it is to just sprinkle some baking soda into the diaper pail when you add diapers (keeps the smell down between washings), and then add a scoop of borax to the wash.

    Which leads to my own point – from using cloth diapers & trying to wash that way, we learned that my son is allergic to borax.
    Does anyone know of a good recipe for homemade detergent that does not include borax?

  193. Chris says:

    I’ve washed a few loads in the detergent I made with the liquid castile soap. Everything came out clean, but smells a bit like castile soap. I’ll have to see whether the smell is noticeable once we get to wearing those clothes and using those towels.

    I liked the idea of putting stained items into the bucket with the liquid detergent. I did that with a towel which I accidentally stained with red hair color. Left it in the bucket for a couple of days, then washed it, and it came out unstained.

  194. Sheri says:

    Does the home made stuff work if you only use the cold water when washing?

  195. Lori from Florida says:

    Loved the idea of saving money on the homemade laundry detergent. Mine did not get to thick not sure why but using it anyways. I have planted a garden in the pasted few months (fresh veggies YUM!), got farm animals (chickens,pigs, turkeys and rabbits), put in a clothes line.
    Wonderful to have a freezer full of meat and fresh veggies on the table every night even making the home made bread. Looking for more ways to save the simple dollar.

    My husband was laid off in Jan. I am the only one working in a family of five. It is hard out there. I am looking forward to you giving us more ways to save money. Looking to make my part time job to pay the bills.

    Got any ideas how to make teenagers understand that times are hard?? For every dollar I save hanging out the clothes they seem to find a way to spend ten more hours of tv time.

    We have the crazy looking light bulbs & unplug everything that is not in use. I am thinking about burning candles but fear of fire keep me from doing so. Anymore ideas for home made stuff?? Please keep them comming!!

  196. Heather T says:

    Just tried the recipe. I am the world’s worst housekeeper and lazy to boot (lol), so I was pleased to find out that zipping a bar of soap through the un-used food processor and boiling it for a few minutes took less time and aggravation than standing in the laundry aisle trying to sort out the best price on commercial laundry detergent after they changed the formula and bottle sizes again.

    Taking the advice to stir once in a while during the “setting” stage and hope to reuse some of the old laundry bottles cluttering up my laundry room. Thanks for the detail!!

  197. shannon says:

    I just some of this laundry soap 3 days ago! I made the powder version. I have a adversion to slime, so the liquid recipe wasn’t an option(gag)
    I have done about 10 loads. So far Im loving it. I used Ivory soap I had a hard time finding Fel Naptha. I did eventually find some yesterday at the new food store that opened in our area, Raley’s i think is the name. Great store, they had all the supplies. Now i don’t have to go to several different stores. I also used a fabric softner recipe i found on another site. 6 cups water, 3 cups vinegar, 2 cups of your favorite inexpensive hair conditioner. works great .

  198. shelley says:

    I use this mixture, but I just mix it up dry as well. I used fels-naptha for my grated soap choice, which made it a tad more expensive, but it cleans so well! I pretreat baby poop stains with shout, but most other stains come out and grease stains come out better with the fels-naptha. I only use 2 tablespoons per load. With a family of five kids and 2 adults, I wash about 10 loads of laundry per week and my soap has lasted for 6 weeks so far and I have about half of it left.

  199. kobayashi says:

    bravo! i definitely want to try this! however the only thing that you don’t seem to factor in is the cost of exactly how much you actually value your own time to do this excercise. the two hours that this would take for me would translate to $100 under “normal” circumstances, but seeing that i’m unemployed-underemployed, it makes sense. cheers.

  200. Judymac says:

    I have been using this receipe for 2-3 months. Only thing I’m unhappy about is that my clothes seem dingy, stained, and has water run off on towels and washclothes, they arent absorbing the water right away. Don’t understand all of this, so many people are pleased and its working for them. What’s my problem. Use well water and the right products. Please help.

  201. Kristina says:

    To Molly (comment #191) and anyone else who cannot find washing soda… Go to your local pool supply store and buy PH plus. Its sodium carbonate, the same thing as washing soda.

  202. Ann WIlliams says:

    was at my son-in-laws this last weekend and watched him mix this stuff up. He is a high school wrestling coach. Several of the kids have allergies and skin problems from being scrubbed all over those mats. he researched it – found your first article on making the globbie laundry soad – put out the word to parents – and has applied it in his own home too. . .. We did several loads !! I am sold. Will send your page to friends and family. Could you tell me if it is bio-degradeable as I love to use my grey water for plants in the yard_ thanks again! SO GOOD TO DO THINGS WITH YOUR OWN HANDS!!. Save a little too! Ann

  203. Denise says:

    My laundry room is built on to the back of my house with no ductwork – no heat or air. How will this soap store in those conditions? Don’t know if I want to lug around a five gallon bucket from the house to the laundry room.

  204. Soap Nuts Laundry Detergent says:

    I like the thought of how soap nuts have no chemicals whatsoever. Pure and clean laundry detergent.

  205. Tea Tree Oil says:

    A dash of tea tree oil also works well in with homemade laundry detergent.

  206. Sue says:

    can you use chlorine bleach on white towels and sheets with this detergent>

  207. Try letting your whites dry on the lawn. The oxygen bleaches them without any added chemicals.

  208. Donna Brown says:

    I would love to try making may own detergent, however, I’m having a terrible time finding Arm & Hammer Washing Soda here in West Tennessee. I can find it online, however, the shipping costs defeats the purpose of saving money. Any tips on finding the washing soda would certainly be helpful. Also, I would like to try making my own natural shampoo, if anyone has a “tried and true” recipe I would love it.

  209. angela says:

    this sounds great. i live in remote area where everything either comes in a small airplane or by boat. all gets weighted. so basicly i pay someone to shop for me then i pay someone to bring my items over. im gong to try this and see. i already have my bucket and a bunch of soap so all i need it the borax and the arm hammer. thanks for the tips sounds wonderful.

  210. betsy says:

    Praise the Lord!!! I t is such great news. The commercial laundry soap always left a dirty laundry smell in my frontloader the clothes did not smell clean. than I started useing borax and it did the trick and now I am trying homemade powder laundry detergent and it seems to work great but I use baking soda instead of washing soda since I cannot find it yet. So far so good. What do u think about using baking soda in place of washing soda? I am also looking for a chemical free shampoo recipe anyone can email me at betsy.cummings@gmail.com

  211. Jeff says:

    Donna (comment 209), see comment 191 Re: washing soda.

  212. Dawn says:

    I mixed mine in a large plastic cat litter container that I saved! It is perfect to make 4 gallons of the detergent! Has a snap on lid and a handle to carry!

  213. Sylvia says:

    i’ve been making this soap for a couple years, always using fels naptha. i do have a front loader and have never had a bit of trouble with it. i much prefer the lack of scent, so don’t choose to add anything else to it. i have heard of people adding a 1/2 cup of Dawn or Palmolive to the whole bucket for a boost in cleaning. i never do.

    i live alone so the cost savings isn’t maybe as great as for families, but the major reason i make my soap is exactly what someone else said: i hate falling prey to the ads and hype of commercial products, and i aim to put as little into the recycling/waste stream as possible. anytime i can avoid buying a container of ANYTHING i do it.

    i do have a couple tips for the frontloader issues: you can easily make a powdered homemade detergent and use that. my “glops” have no trouble being dispensed tho…..i have 5 gallon buckets with very tight lids, i can’t imagine any child being able to pry them off. i keep a jug of detergent out at a time. i have very hard well water, and that is worse for my machine than any detergent. once a month i run a load of hot water [makes me cringe, it’s the only time i use hot] and vinegar through the machine. and after every use i wipe under that big gasket in the front, that’s where most of the smells come from. i also leave the door open as much as possible, and frequently take out the dispenser drawer and clean it, plus behind it. i leave that open to dry too sometimes. and i take the screen off the water intake once a month to get out the crud that gets deposited from my water.

    i also found that this detergent is a great household cleaner: i have used it to clean up after guests’ pets when they have accidents; it took crayon stains off my fireplace that were here when i moved in; i have cleaned the deck with it, i use it once a year to clean out my rain barrels; i use a tiny amount mixed with water in a spray bottle to clean my white ceramic tile floors…..so if you make it and don’t like how it cleans your clothes, you can use it up a bunch of other ways. i never buy any cleaning products anymore.

  214. using it says:

    Just wanted to echo how great this is. I use the powdered version and it is cheap and effective. Actually, I can’t believe how easy it is and how clean everything smells. Just a clean fresh scent – no perfumes! Love it.

  215. Chris says:

    Notes for greywater users, I’ve been studying “Create an Oasis with Greywater” by Art Ludwig (oasisdesign.net/greywater) and for plant and soil health, you want to avoid salts and phosphates. I don’t know whats in every ingredient for the homemade soap, but I plan to study up and see if I can come up with a plant/soil safe version. I’ve been using a bio-compatible soap he created, and then sold to someone else(Oasis Biocompatible Laundry Soap – order from YourGuidetoGreen.com – VERY expensive, about .25 a load), but I can put the water directly on plants and it’s actually good for them.
    Our septic system is failing (6K to replace if we hire someone, I’m not good at digging) and I don’t want to poison my soil, so this is working well for now.
    They also offer a dish & hand washing version for the kitchen/bath. My skin is very sensitive and this has not been a problem for the year I’ve been using it. They are very concentrated and last a long time. Any other greywater help/input is welcome!

  216. MD says:

    Hi, I don’t think you mention in your tutorial how much you use (cups or TBSPs) for an individual load? How do you use for a small load, a medium load, a large load, a super load, etc. ?

  217. Henry says:

    I made my homemade detergent tonight. I’m anxious to see what it’ll be like tomorrow. I did have some trouble finding the Washing Soda. It turned out they have it at my local Publix, but they had been out of stock for the past several months. Thanks for these helpful tips!

  218. Alexandra says:

    Just as a heads up, you’re stained mustard pictures (first two pictures) are busted. Perhaps the URL timed out (etc.), but you may want to reload the pictures in order for your point to be stronger.

    Great recipe, thanks!

  219. Diana says:

    I am new to this web site. I have been reading the blogs from so many people. Where are the answers to the questions they ask? I’m very interested in the HE questions. I’m trying the recipe for the 1st time. I’m so limited in the amount of soap I can use in my washer. I have a top load calypso from sears. The amount of soap I can use is minuscule, 2TBs or it gives a mis reading. My clothes are not clean enough and I’m hoping I’ll be able to use a little more soap with less suds. Why do we have to wait 24 hrs?

  220. Liz says:

    Excelent website and wonderful comments.I read all of the current 218 comments about your home made laundry soap. I am wondering why no one has responded to the question of “why do my fabric’s repell water instead of letting them be absorbent”. Bath towels, dish towels and cleaning cloths need to be absorbent. I have used this recipie for 1 1/2 years and experminted with different bar soaps. Bar soaps are made with a fat in them, when I can look in my washer as it is on the soak cycle and see a thin film of fat floating on top of the water I know it’s the bar of soap I used, I also know my towels will not be absorbent. The worst offender is Felts Naptha, so far the friendliest has been a bar of Lavender bath soap from the Dollar Tree. I have just retired my home made soap in hopes to have more absorbant laundry. I have been blessed to have the out of town grandkids a lot this summer, with a lot of spills and one in potty training I really need things to be absorbent. “Any Help Out There?” Thank you!

  221. Nicole says:

    I have been using a similar recipe for quite some time in my HE washer. I use Fels Naptha soap, but the other ingredients are the same. I get a very similar consistency to that in the video here. Rather than pouring it into the dispenser drawer of my machine, I add it in with the clothing. My clothing has been just as clean as when I used Tide HE. I think everything actually smells better. For anyone concerned about soapy suds in their machine, I can attest to the fact that the formula I use (with Fels Naptha soap) is far less sudsy than the commercial products I’ve used. I have also found that my clothes last longer. I was constantly finding new holes in T-shirts and cotton underthings when I used Tide. Also, I find all the ingredients (including Fels Naptha) on the laundry detergent aisle of my local Winco supermarket. I hope this helps!

  222. Kevin says:

    I’ve been using this “recipe” for a year now. I use Dial glycerin soap, because we like the smell, and it works like a dream.
    The detergent works FINE with our HE machine (which is notorious for breaking down if you look at it sideways–no problem with this soap). I use 1/4 cup per load, and everything comes out clean and bright. Even cleans my son’s football practice clothes!

    Thanks so much for the great info.

  223. Jill says:

    I tried this and I love it. It is so easy to make, doesn’t take much time, and really does clean very well. My husband got some black grease on a new tee shirt and I just rubbed some of this detergent on it before I washed it and it came completely out. He was amazed and so was I. I have absolutely no complaints.

  224. Corey says:


    If you use a laundry soap rather than a detergent, there will be soap buildup over time. In order to combat this, try adding vinegar to the rinse cycle, which also acts as a fabric softener. It naturally breaks down the residue and buildup and doesn’t harm your fabrics. You can also use Calgon to break down the buildup if the vinegar doesn’t do the trick.

  225. Chelle says:

    I just made up a batch this evening. I combined a recipe from another site and this one because I didn’t have room for a 5g bucket anywhere. I am curious as to how this will turn out due to the fact the the ingredient amount are pretty much the same. Just less water. Only one gallon in the recipe I am using. I am using Fels Naptha and I have VERY hard water. I am excited to see how well it works in the morning. I am also on the lookout for a cheaper more organic version. I doubt my Fels Naptha is very organic. I know cheaper and organic don’t go hand in hand. I am washing for a husband and a baby. They are great at making stains! In the past I have made a powder version of this recipe. Didn’t dissolve well in my hard water. So we’ll see how this one goes. Can’t wait. :)

  226. Mary says:

    I made it last night, and I am washing my first load today!! Im am very excited about how it turned out. I will have to wait and see. thanks again for posting this, is was super helpful.

  227. Kat says:

    I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for almost 2 years now and swear by it. My recipe is slightly different from yours, and I believe it would handle that mustard stain completely. So if you’re up for a challenge, I’d be happy to pit my recipe against yours, but you have to do the actual testing. ;-)

    1/2 bar grated fels naptha soap (or 1 full bar Octagon or Kirks Castille soap)

    1 cup washing soda

    1/2 cup borax

    Using a microplane, grate bar of soap into a large stock pot. Add 6 cups water and heat until soap melts. Remove pot from heat and add washing soda and borax. Lower heat to med. high, return pot to burner. Cook and stir until all the powder has dissolved and mix is no longer thick. Remove from heat.

    Pour 4 cups very hot tap water into a clean 2 gallon bucket. Pour in hot soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon, plus 6 cups of cold water. Stir. Pour into empty gallon laundry bottles (that way you can shake the detergent before each use, and use the cap to measure. Use one cap for regular load and 2 caps for extremely dirty laundry.

    Total cost per gallon is around .90 and it handles even hubby’s red clay stains from gardening.

  228. Jennifer says:

    I recently made this & got the huge chunks. The recipe I say said to fill the 5-gal bucket with water & then it could be diluted 50% again into an old laundry detergent container. Was using 5/8 cup of the diluted liquid. Well, it didn’t get our clothes clean. Even light dirt didn’t seem to come out. I think it was too diluted. I’m going to try using double (and the whisking idea next we make it to reduce the chunks) from now on & see how that goes. Also, we have well water rendered soft by our water treatment system. Maybe that is affecting things. Anyone else have very soft water?

    We used Ivory bar soap & it does come out smelling like Ivory, though that scent did not remain on the clothes. They at least smelled fresh. Good to know we can use another bar soap. We also use 1/4 cup vinegar in the rinsewater for softening & soap residue removal.

  229. Lora says:

    I used this same recipe for a year or so. It worked well, for the most part. The only problem I had was that over time it leaves your whites a little dingy. This can be fixed by filling your washer with hot water and adding washing soda and adding the whites to soak overnight. They come out nice and white.


  230. AC says:

    I’m not quite the DIYer, but I just saw a post (http://billeater.com/tips/16-ways-save-money-laundry-day) that suggests that it’s cheaper to use powdered detergent than liquid. Any thoughts?

  231. Chris says:

    I could not find the washing soda in Raleigh, NC area and discovered online I could order through Ace Hardware. I called our local store and could order and pick up in the store. A 55 oz. box was $3.79. I’m on my second batch of powdered detergent using 1 C borax, 1 C washing soda and 1 bar grated Octagon soap. I use cold water for washing and use 2 T powder detergent. I put vinegar in the rinse cycle and use a 1/2 cap from Downy bottle. Detergent is working and smells great! Thanks for the site!

  232. Liiloo says:

    Hmm, all the people who consider Wikipedia good\true source of information, please bear in mind that thereś fols as You and Me who create content.

    Best to get to know whats in it somewhere, read the damn ingredients list. In the front are the things what the item consists more and in the end what it consists less.If You don´t know what something is search from internet. Thereś possible to find sources explaining what is what , not only the Wikipedia.

    I have been using eco cleaners now for a while ( diswahsing, laundry and for body ) and i do not even consider to buy the things they sell in normal stores.So next step from me is to start making my own soap and laundry liquid/soap as oure grandmothers did ( in the part of europe where i live ) my both grandmoters made soap even in 1960-1980, they used it for clothes and for body washing and no issues with skin or whatsoever.Seems that for people living in more wealth oriented countries think the old ways were , black dark hole of nothing. Thanks to the raw oil era You now have all need to deal with the results it has been lead. Do not take all what big companies tell You to be true, use Your own head and think and read! Itś all money, also itś all money and are built up standing in money so we consumers are only ones who can make the change. If we demand better cleaner, healthier environment( not chemists way of view ) then they can´t load our shops full of crap. But for that we need to be wise and use our brain do think.

    Thank You for the Trent , giving out guidance now itś Your part to think and make own decisions.

    Sorry for English, not my mother tongue nor even second language.Since we don´t have one :P

  233. MomaRachel says:

    Something to consider could perhaps water temp be playing a factor in the “gel”. Perhaps by keeping the temp of soap and the water you are adding it to the same – in theory, it should cut down on the gel that occurs. This should give the soap more of a chance to really blend with the water. I like the wisk idea… perhaps do that when it’s first introduced to the water and set the timer for a good hour or two later to do again.

    Just a thought.

  234. Laura says:

    I have found for the liquid version of the laundry soap if you add 1/2 cup liquid oxy clean and 1/2 cup liquid color safe bleach you don’t have the dingy(sp) problem, and with the colored stuff the color safe bleach brightens them up. it adds a little more to the cost but not nearly as much as buying store soap. I also have an HE washer and have had no problems with the soap and the machine combinaton. and the reason you don’t have suds like you think you should we are also not adding a foaming agent to the recipe unlike the commercial soaps

  235. Sharon says:

    My first attempt to make homemade detergent for clothes will be soon. Didn’t know there was such a thing. My question is, I do all my laundry in cold water. Will the soap dissolve or will I be seeing soap residue all over my clothes?? Does anyone have any ideas about this? I have a top load washer and my water is hard. Great site and wonderful comments. Keep up the good work.

  236. Ann says:

    Sounds great but I have a front loading washer!!

  237. Eva says:

    I tried this recipe, but used the making process as one of the other commentor’s suggested. For grating, I used the Salad Master with a crank. Shredded in a minute. If you have one, use it! After the soap melted (I used Fel’s), I threw everything else in the pot and continued to stir until dissolved NOT letting it come to a boil. While cooling, I continued to stir every hour or two or whenever I remembered. Turned out fine.

    I can understand the dinginess problem. I had usually soaked the white loads with Oxiclean and continue to do so. I’m just thinking I should just throw a bottle of color safe bleach into the whole batch. I now refuse to buy Tide or any other detergent again.

    Just to mention, I have an HE front loader. Don’t have any problems. I use the vinegar/hair conditioner solution someone on here mentioned and supposedly, the vinegar helps with the clogging. Regular monthly maintenance on your HEs helps as well.

    Also, didn’t have problems with my rags and towels becoming water resistant, and our water is hard.


    I have been making and using the detergent featured on this website since last March but I am beginning to question it. My light colored towels have all taken on a grayish, almost dirty look; simple stains (the kind that should not require a stain remover) do not come off our clothing; even when I spray the stains before washing with a quality stain remover, the stains still do not come off; and, I notice that when I run water over a freshly washed dishcloth to dampen it for use, the water runs off of it as if it were treated with some kind of waterproofing substance. In both making the soap and in doing laundry, I use just regular tap water, which is “city treated” water, not well water.
    Does anyone else experience any of this? If so, what have you done about it?

  239. Mike says:

    This makes 6 batches and saves you about $70 as stated, but how much time does it take for each batch. If it takes 30 minutes, that’s 180 minutes total (3 hours). So you are essentially paying yourself about $23/hr to make it. Problem is, you can get detergent on sale so this only makes sense if you do a lot of wash (oh and well want to make detergent). I, personally, would rather make fresh pasta with the time or something like that.

  240. Marle says:

    Even if you get laundry detergent on sale, Mike, I doubt you’d be able to get 30 gallons for $7. Also, you have to factor in the time and effort going to the store and lugging the laundry detergent from the store to the car and car to laundry room?

    I made my batch about a month ago (and just saw this move back to popular discussions) and while of course I like saving money, I also like having a ton of laundry detergent there, and being able to whip up more in my kitchen when it runs out. That’s a lot easier for me than remembering to pick up detergent when I’m out and then trying to carry the biggest jug home because it’s cheaper in the long run and I won’t have to remember it again for a while.

    As far as performance goes, it’s been great. I use vinegar for fabric softener (because I can, and it’s cheap) and my clothes always had a vague smell of vinegar (and whatever sent the detergent was). I didn’t mind, but it was there. Now, there is no smell. Nothing. At all. While we’ve been conditioned to believe that “Laundry Fresh” scent is the smell of clean, I think clean probably shouldn’t have a scent, so this is nice.

    I also think this is probably better for the environment.

  241. Cheryl says:

    The first time I made this, I ordered all my ingredients from Soaps Gone Buy online for about $30 with shipping. I use the Fels Naptha soap. But I found all of these at my local groccery store, which also delivers, and they came to less than $10. I have a front loader and use about 1/2 a cup – 1 cup, depending on how dirty things are. I know I would be going through a boatload of detergent if I was buying it at the store. This doesn’t make a lot of suds. I’ve also added the scented oils. It’s great! I always make a double batch and its quick!

  242. Val says:

    If you have an Ace Hardware store available they will order all 3 main ingredients for you, with no S&H charges – the Borax, A&H Washing Soda and the Fels Naptha soap (if that is your soap of choice).

  243. Chantel says:

    As I read through these posts, I learned something more than how to make laundry detergeant. I am not like a lot of other Americans, and I am usually excited to make my own delicious jam, or weed my garden. As I read I became very excited at the thought of putting all the different great suggestions to work. I thought how through shear human ingenuity, and the willingness to try something new, to sacrifice a portion of my time and energy, I could in essence make more money for my family. And while I know I am not like a lot of people, I have found comfort in learning that there are still people out there like me. Thank you for the recipe and the suggestions.

  244. Bet says:

    I’ve been using the homemade soap for about 10-11 months. One additional benefit that should be talked about are for those people that are sensitive to regular laundry soap. I had to switch to dye free, perfume free soap (which is more expensive) because of recurring body sensitivity to regular laundry soap. The home-made soap alleviates the problem. Is it more gentle? Are there less additives? What ever the reason, I’ve been able to clean my clothes without scaly skin, rashes or other epidermal effects (and I get a nice fresh smell). So, as far as I’m concerned, being able to wash my clothes without costing the arm and leg for dye free/perfume free soap, as well as rash free, is a huge benefit! If you can save the cost of drying your clothes by using a clothes line you definately come out ahead, with the added benefit of “fresh air, dried clothes”.

  245. nikki says:

    I just tried this over the weekend. I love it! I read all other comments and added some things to your recipe. Instead of letting it sit I stirred it throught the 24 hrs(I didn’t get up at nite)lol, so it doesn’t look like yours. It does have some clumps but not many.I also used Ivory, due to not finding the others mentioned.
    The other thing I did was add a fabric freshner that I had from Bath and Body Works, its under Slakin & Co. on thier site. I added 1 tbsp to each batch. I had “Fresh Cotton” that wanted I to use around the house and figured I’d try it in my laundry det. It is wonderful! When you add the detergent to the laundry it doesn’t make very much sudds but I searched around and they said it won’t. So that was good cause I thought maybe I messed it up.
    I wish I heard about this a long time ago! It was so easy to make like 10-15 min. Thank you for the pic’s made it easier to follow for the 1st timers. Thanks again!!!!

  246. jay says:

    Hi. I have a few questions, and I would really appreciate some feedback.

    1.Regarding the powder version of the homemade detergent. How much would I need to make a 5 gallon powder batch?

    2. In the powdered version. Can I use actual name brand washing powder in the place of the soap, borax, or washing soda. Or how about half and half? I know that kinda defeats the purpose, but I really love Gain, so it would be cool (and still save money) if I could just stretch it.

    Regarding the liquid version.

    3. Can grated soap be substituted for liquid soap? If so, any suggestions on how it should be used and how much?

    4. What causes the lumpy consistency once everything has set overnight?

    5. Can any of the ingredients be substituted for store bought liquid detergent? Again. I love Gain, and would really like to find a way to incorporate it into a recipe.

    PLEASE. If anyone has any suggestion please let me know. I have been wanting to try this for a week.

  247. Anna says:

    Thank you so much for your step by step instructions and how the concoction should/would look like. I wondered if I did anything wrong and was it truely washing my clothes. This helped out alot! Thanks again!

  248. Angela says:

    After some research, if you have hard water, you will want to add extra borax to the mix. Hard water will make your clothes look dingy, but the borax will brighten the whites. I make mine with a little bit more than 1 cup of both the washing soda and borax with the ivory grated, and 1 cup of Dawn into 3 gallons. I use 1/2 cup/load. However, for my whites, I use a cup and wash warm/hot.

  249. azzy says:

    great stuff! SO EASY TO MAKE AND SUPER CHEAP! i made it myself for the first time using this tutorial, thanks :)

  250. clothies says:

    I just made my first batch of laundry soap today; but it’s been one of those days & I realized I put boric acid-not borax in the soap. Now I’m wondering do I throw it out & start over, or could I use it?

  251. Gina Magini says:

    I love this article. Thanks for making such a detailed instructional on how to make soap.
    I have made my own soap too just using baking soda, borax, and grated Ivory soap. It works great. I always put about half a cup of white vinegar into the rinse cycle.

  252. Kristi says:

    Another source for free buckets is a local restaurant or deli. My cafe gets pickles, sauerkraut, etc. in very large buckets. While we do recycle them, it’s always better to re-use and I don’t think many places would object to you asking for something destined for the recycling bin.

  253. sarah says:

    This is the second batch I have made of this laundry detergent. It is FANTASTIC. We have a small portable washing machine (the kind that hooks to a sink) and this soap actually gets the clothes cleaner than store-bought laundry detergent. My husband is a farmer, so that’s really saying something!

  254. Paul R says:

    Hi, I made a batch of this soap about 4 weeks ago. As you all know, it’ll make 4 gallons. We use the washer about 6 – 7 times a week or more. All my family, my wife & I love the way it cleans, makes the clothes softer than regular detergent and smell fresh. So easy to make. We are very satisfied and will be making our own from now on !!!

  255. Mark says:

    I think this was a great article! I had decided to try doing this before I read this page, and now I am convinced that it’s a good idea.
    I have another but very similar recipe. I understand that this makes a low sudsing detergent. Did you notice how much suds your creates?

  256. Karen says:

    Is it necessary to use the entire bar of soap when making up a batch?

  257. Barbara says:

    I really like this homemade detergent and it really cleans well. I am making all kind of hoemade cleaning products.

  258. Wendy says:

    @ 240 Maryanne, you might be noticing dinginess because the commerical detergent that was previously used on your clothes is now coming out of the fibers using the homemade soap. This is normal. Also, the commercial fabric softener is also coming out, that’s probably why your washcloth appears “water resistant.” This is why it is very important to use the vinegar rinse. I would use at least one cup for the first loads you do of the clothes and you can cut back later. I have noticed this with my towels that the first couple of washes start to bring out the stored detergent in the fibers and then they soften up.

  259. Sam says:

    Really good article, very informative. I do have one suggestion. i have found that using fels-Naptha soap for my solid bar soap is a much better cleaning agent.

  260. Beth says:

    I have a front loading washer and have never used the he detergent. I have always used the regular stuff. I started using my own home-made detergent and it works good. I also have hard water in this area so I use 1/2 cup distilled vinegar as a softener. I makes my clothes smell fresh and makes them super soft. Thanks so much for the pics on how to make it. My first batch did not turn out so good, but the second one is just fine. Thanks so much!!

  261. I appreciate all the info. The set up,step by step procedure and the video. Your way of setting things up makes the process seem much easier. I’m glad you did the comparison w/ tide (thats what I use) as I was curious to know if homemade was just as good, and you showed it. thanks

  262. Joni says:

    I have a washing machine that calls for HE detergent also and I use my homemade laundry soap in it with great results. The homemade soap is usually suds free. I add a cup of oxy clean in my recipe, it works well for the whites. I also add scented oil to my recipe, will never use anything else.

  263. Carolyn says:

    I’ve been making laundry detergent from a similar recipe using Fels-Naptha (which I thought was a special laundry soap – it would be much cheaper for me to buy generic body soap at the store than order the Fels-Naptha through Amazaon!) We save old dish detergent and fabric softener bottles and then store the detergent in those. I find that they’re easier to store and there are fewer risks of spills, but most of all, it’s easy to shake up the bottle before pouring it, which reduces the chunkiness. I like the photo comparisons!

  264. Judy says:

    I was going to try your recipe for laundry detergent, but am a little confused by part of it.
    {add a cup of the washing soda and the soap solution you made and stir.} Do you mean you only add a cup of the soap solution to each batch you mix up?? What do you do with the rest of it. Save it and use it with another bucket full???

  265. Simon says:


    Phosphates are actually good for your plants as long as you don’t give them too much (and I have no idea if washer water is too much :).

    Phosphates are part of commercial plant fertilizers.

  266. Kallisti says:

    I’ve beem using homemade laundry soap for a few years now, but I must say, your version of the instructions are the clearest I’ve come across. In response to some of the prior comments, my discoveries are as follows:
    The greatest frugal advantage to a homemade soap is perhaps when you have slightly flaky roommates (As in my case) or adolescents (In my Aunt’s) or pets, who will knock anything over that they can find (Yup, me again) Some folk persist in using entirely too much detergent, and if thery’re putting a dollar’s worth of soap into two loads, it’s going to add up quickly, not to mention some really spectacular spills.
    I personally am completely happy using the borax and washing soda in powder form AS the detergent, my roommates are finicky, and don’t know how to use anything but goo, so I really make it for them. Since we trade off buying supplies for the entire household, it saves me a LOT of money!
    Also, since I store it in used detergent bottles, it’s easy to store, “user-friendly” and, frankly provides a familiarity that prevents arguments.

    On a related note, in a pinch, I had very good results combining washing soda, baking soda and some shampoo on an occasion when I didn’t have the time or funds to obtain the other things.

  267. JM says:

    I made it in less than 30 minutes. Used Irish Spring and got zero suds. Maybe it was the soap I used. I did use the Arm and Hammer Super Soda Wash. So that may be difference. I’ll know when I do my nest batch next year, I have enough for at least six months. :-) Clothes came out fine and I didn’t have large clumps at all. Very small. Almost the consistence of regular liquid detergent.
    Thank you for the info.

  268. Bonnie Harris says:

    I am so excited to try this- I am going to use Amy’s suggestion and make the power kind.

  269. monica says:

    I use white vinegar as fabric softner, 1 cap full in each load and you save tons!!! It works- why spend $$ on it if it’s not important?? Use your money for what’s important to you and your family! Thanks for this recipe! BTW, the Chicken pesto Calazone’s were awesome!!!

  270. Dayne says:

    I can save $70/year by not buying one luxury item or by using coupons or by shopping around for an essential purchase, or by not buying coffee a few days of the week… I don’t make much money and saving $70/year doesn’t seem worth making my own slime detergent and keeping it in a bucket, especially if you just buy whatever detergent is on sale.

  271. Dorothy says:

    I find Arm and Hammer Washing Soda at in grocery stores.

  272. Linda says:

    This sounds great! Especially with a family with allergies. I wish I could find Borax for $2.89 though. It costs $3.99 at our grocery store and we use it all the time as my daughter has twins and we use cloth diapers part of the time. As for the buckets, I heard you could get them free from places that use pickles, like Burger King or delis. I got mine for free when a hardware store had a grand opening (whatever you could fit in the bucket was something like 20% off) but it did not have a lid. It is hard to get them for kitty litter because the boxed stuff is usually cheaper, unless you can pick some up on freecycle.

  273. Gregg says:

    A friend of mine makes fancy soaps (with a wonderful fragrance!) which I use to make my laundry soap.

    While the mixture in the bucket smells great, my very clean clothes have no trace of the soap’s aroma.

    It amazes me how black the rinse water is!

  274. Jeanine says:

    I just made my second batch of this detergent. I LOVED the first one. This time though, the soap didn’t congel at all after it sat for 24 hrs. It looks just like watery soapy liquid. I have a load running right now to make sure it works, but I was a little concerned. I may have added a little more water to dissolve/boil the soap, would that make it turn out like that in the end?

  275. Susan J says:

    Never made my own soap but I raised six ‘cotton-tailed’ babies. The best fabric softener for diapers is a cup of white vinegar in the rinse water. The best bleach….line drying outside in the sun.

  276. Karen says:

    Could use some tips…would like to add a light perfume to my next batch of homemade detergent. My kids miss that “perfume” smell typical with store bought detergents. They are implying their clothes aren’t coming clean enough, which they are. How can I “fool” them? Also, with the exceptions of whites only, I do all other laundry in cold water, wash and rinse, to save energy and be greener. Does temperature affect the results of laundry? Thanks in advance for any and all responses.

  277. Regina says:

    Whee! I was just forced into buying a new washing machine (old one failed, not worth repairing) so bought an HE. I was looking this morning for reviews on detergent and found this site. It only took me an hour of reading to decide if this would be something worth trying or not in the new washer but now I’m convinced it is so will be giving it a go as soon as I can get to town and buy the proper supplies.

    I’d like to thank everyone for their input, extra recipes, etc. We make a lot of stuff in this house but I never even thought about trying to make our own laundry soap.

    BTW, I noticed someone wondering about making shampoo. We don’t exactly make our own soap for it but we have found that by diluting Dr. Bronner’s liquid castille soap with water and adding baking soda to make sort of a paste makes an excellent and very economical shampoo (the olive oil also conditions the hair extremely well so we don’t even use extra conditioners). I have a web page with what worked for us and how we made it work here: http://www.wallypogsbog.com/h/h-cosmetics01.htm

  278. crazygab says:

    i have been making this laundry soap now for about a year . i have one suggestion , which works MARVELOUS for me …

    # 1 tip :
    instead of using a grater or a knife to chop up the soap … use a potatoe peeler . i tried the grater and had a heck of a time getting the oap out of the holes ,and i dont trust myself to whittle thin strips with a knife . but the potatoe peeler works really well .

  279. Sarah says:

    Just made this for the first time Tuesday and my first load is in the dryer. I used a bar of Zest as well as some small slivers of old soap i had laying around. I followed the recipe to the letter, and the detergent turned out quite watery, more so than in the video. I also noticed that there’s no scent to my batch, not even a “zestfully clean” scent I was hoping for.
    Any ideas as to why this might be?

  280. Mark says:

    I just made my second “batch” this morning. I scaled down the ingredients and used a lot less water. I have been very pleased with the results. What struck me this morning was that both the borax and washing soda recommended using 1/2 cup per load. I used 1/3 of a bar of soap, 10 teaspoons of washing soda and 5 teaspoons of borax to make 64 ounces of detergent that will do 20 loads of laundry. These companies’ products are wonderful, but we are constantly encouraged to overuse.

  281. dave says:

    Looks like you can do one load for just a little more than 2 cents/load if you make your own – that’s phenomenal. While I like the idea of making my own soap, I can come pretty close to the same cost at the 99-cent Only store – they sell a 64 oz. bottle of Totally Awesome Laundry Detergent for 1.00 – adequate for 32 loads. So that comes to around 3 cents/load – pretty close to the DIY solution.

  282. halfling says:

    Tried this out with a friend of mine, we are both now hooked and are not planning to go back. If I can find a good stain spray to go with it (have little kids at home) then we would be out of the laundry aisle forever. I also switched to the dryer balls about a year ago and love them too. The kids and I have sensitive skin and we have had no reactions and this is with using the Borax.

  283. Kelly says:

    You need to play around with this basic recipe as this all will depend on how hard or soft your water is. This is why it works for some and doesn’t work for others. i.e. Add more Borax for harder water. I liked Kirks Castille soap (Kroger) so much better than Fels Naptha. It was a better clean. Straight Vinegar in your softener compartment will not only soften the clothes but will also rinse of any residual soap. After a hard workout, I keep straight Vinegar in old windex bottle and spray the arm pits to kill the odor causing bacteria then toss into the hamper till its time to wash. Vinegar is a Panacea. It will not take colors out of your clothes and it disinfects. In fact, when I was on swim team, we soaked our new bathing suits in straight Vinegar before wearing them. It helped to set the color. It does not smell when dried!!

  284. Jee Willickers says:

    Anyone who is looking for buckets should also try paint stores. When I painted houses we had to buy paint and the paint stores usually gave us free buckets if we asked. Sometimes you can get one that’s never been used for paint so we could brew beer in it.

  285. Yvonne says:

    Cant wait to try making it, but what is the shelf life of this? is it going to get all funky (like stagnant water) if its not finished in say 2 months or even longer? DETERMINED to save every penny I can so my kids can keep going to a good school….so thanks ALOT for sharing the 411!

  286. Leah says:

    It sounds like a lot of work. Instead, I just buy the el cheapo brand of detergent that happens to be on sale. I usually find it for $2.50 per 32 loads of laundry. Sometimes I luck up and find some for less than $2.00. I don’t have the patience to make my own.

  287. James A says:

    Can natural soaps be used ?

    I buy homemade cold processed soaps that have glycerin and lye instead of the detergents found in commercial soaps .

  288. jessica says:

    This is a great thing to do. I am 21 years old and we are tring to save all the money we can and this has help us so much, my 5 month old was breaking out so bad from everything except the most expensiv e stuff it was like 33 dollars for 22 loads my doctor had to call it in for me. after I bought that i started looking and asking around and this worked, I didnt put no borax and used ivory soap and there had been no problems thanks for sharing.

  289. Cynda says:

    Tips I have found after making 2 batches.

    *Soak the Fels Naptha or other bar in a container of water for a week or more instead of grating. I had a hard time grating it the first batch and then trying to get it to dissolve. Afterwards I thought about how bar soap gets all goopy in a soap dish. I put the next bar in a sandwich size storage container, broke into pieces and stirred occasionally, and then put it in my blender for a whirl the day I made my next batch of detergent.

    *I used two pots and dissolved the soda and borax separately. (My first batch was really grainy)

    *added glycerin – about 2 tablespoons for 5 gal batch- supposed to help keep the mixture homogeneous. I did get a congealed blob much like the slime in the video.
    * used my hand held stick blender to mix up about a quart at at time in a separate bucket, transferring it all to a new 5 gal container. Yes it was a bit of work, (about 20 minutes) but after about 2 months it has stayed ready to use.

    Basic recipe used:
    1 bar Fels Naptha, 2 cups washing soda and 2 – 2 1/2 cups borax (I have really hard water) and water to make about 5 1/2 gallons. I use 1/2 to 1 cup in a front loader with excellent results.

  290. Ashton says:

    It seems like work, But I”ll just stick with not wearing a shirt ever again.

  291. Gracie Lou says:

    I know that I can save money other ways, but it is extremely satisfying to make my own household products and to NOT be putting that extra money in the pockets of the big companies that want me to use more than I need just so they can make money.

    I ust the following recipe:
    1 bar Kirk’s Castille soap
    1 cup BAKING soda
    1 cup borax
    2 cups water softener
    1 cup dawn liquid dish soap
    3 gallons water

    I use about 1/2 c per load for my top loader and adjust as necessary. I am going to start using the vinegar rinse too when I need to use more soap.

  292. Lisa Smith says:

    I love that Gracie Lou uses Dawn dishwashing soap in her recipe. I have extremely hard water and I use liquid Ultra Joy as my main surfacant and a lesser amount of Fels Naptha. Here is my recipe:

    8 ounces liquid ultra Joy
    4 cups washing soda
    2 cups borax
    1 cup all fabric bleach
    1 cup oxi clean

    Mix the Joy with washing 2 cups washing soda and let dry for 24 hours. Break up the chunks and put thru the food processor.

    Mix all ingrediants and use 1/4 cup for a large, moderately soiled load of laundry in cold water. I run the washer on hot for a few seconds to mix the detergent and water then switch to cold.

    Follow with 1/4 cup vinegar rinse.

  293. Joe says:

    I’ve now made this three times. I think it works great, but now the people at work think it’s pretty hardcore – now I’m know as the “guy who makes his own laundry detergent.” However, after our salary was cut, one of them came and asked how to make it!

  294. jdp says:

    I remember this original post! Been around a while.

    What I was wondering now that you’ve been using this for long-term, would you say your clothes are holding up as well, not wearing out any faster, etc.?

  295. Carolyn says:

    I’d love an official update now that it’s been a few years. I was making my own detergent for a while (I used this same recipe) but started noticing that our clothes seemed to be looking “worn” (dingier and pillier) faster than they used to. When we got an HE washer/dryer, I stopped using my homemade detergent and I think our clothes are holding up better for it.

  296. Amy says:

    I’ve been making this detergent for a few years now. I just substitute the bar soap for a bar of laundry soap- “Zote.” I think this stuff works great my clothes look fine after years of washing in it, and I’m washing dirty diapers and messy baby clothes in it too! For the price, I think it can’t be beat. Takes me about ten minutes to make ( heating and all that…) Love it! Thanks so much for years of saving money and clean clothes.

  297. Chris says:

    I thought about doing this once. Borax was $6, Washing Soda was $5, the Bars were $3 for a 3 pack…. So $14 to make it myself, or $4 for a 48 load bottle of SUN… Guess which I chose.

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