Updated on 06.09.07

The Laundry Detergent Battle: Costco Versus My Homebrew Formula – What’s Really Frugal?

Trent Hamm

SLIME!In response to my post about making your own liquid laundry detergent at home, several people commented that they buy it in huge quantities at Costco, so they couldn’t see the benefit in making their own.

Hearing that, I decided to look at more options to find the least expensive option for getting my clothes clean and fresh.

I stopped at Costco and found that I could get a giant bucket of Kirkland brand powdered laundry detergent for $11.99, which would do 160 loads. This is a very good deal on some very high quality laundry detergent; Consumer Reports gives a thumbs-up to the detergent. The big Costco box is $0.075 per wash.

For comparison’s sake, I looked up the jumbo size box of Tide powder detergent at Amazon and found that it would do 240 loads for $53.70. The Tide jumbo box is $0.22 per wash

The liquid laundry detergent recipe I posted earlier works quite well. A batch of that stuff comes out to about $0.03 per wash. Here’s that recipe in a nutshell, for those who would like to see it (see the full recipe for more details):

Step One: Put about four cups of water into a pan on your stove and turn the heat up on high until it’s almost boiling. While you’re waiting, whip out a knife and start shaving strips off of a bar of soap into the water, whittling it down. Keep the heat below a boil and keep shaving the soap. Eventually, you’ll shave up the whole bar, then stir the hot water until the soap is dissolved and you have some highly soapy water.

Step Two: Put three gallons of hot water (11 liters or so) into the five gallon bucket – the easiest way is to fill up three gallon milk jugs worth of it. Then mix in the hot soapy water from step one, stir it for a while, then add a cup of washing soda. Keep stirring it for another minute or two, then add a half cup of borax if you are using borax. Stir for another couple of minutes, then let the stuff sit overnight to cool.

The easiest way to compare all of the options is to calculate how many loads you do in an average year. For us, we do eight to ten loads in an average week, which comes out to about 450 loads a year. Then, multiply those loads by the cost per load to see how much money you spend on laundry detergent. In our case, we would spend about $13.50 on our homemade formula, $33.75 on the Costco brand, and $99 on the Tide. In each case, these dollar amounts come from buying the jumbo bulk containers, so if you’re buying smaller ones, it’s going to be more expensive than that.

Now, is the effort in making the homemade detergent worth the $20 we would save per year in laundry detergent? For me, it is, and it will be an even bigger savings when our second baby arrives, but you may arrive at a different conclusion, especially if you are a big fan of the Kirkland/Costco brand detergent

Whichever way you choose, though, you’re actively practicing frugality. You’re sitting down, looking at the total cost of each option, and choosing the one that is the best option for you in the long run.

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  1. Rachel says:

    Hey Trent, I was making this same laundry det’g. Started in February. I was happy with it, it was cleaning okay, and I was very happy with the price. My husband did not care too much for it, so to pacify him I suggested we buy some liquid det’g at Sams last week. I was still using my homemade goo to finish it up, then on Thurday I was peeling tomatoes for a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce and got the red tomato juice all over my white t-shirt and khaki pants. I was really afraid this would stain badly, and so many of my clothes have been ruined by stains. (Frugality is a messy business.) The det’g we had bought was Era, and I knew that it was supposed to be great on stains. I worked some into the tomato juice spots, threw in the washer and put together a full load that night. Washed with the ERa, and I am happy to say, not one tomato juice spot! The Era is a 300 oz. container and was around $10.85 I think. I will keep on hand and use for spots, and my husband can use it when he does laundry (whoever is off that day does the laundry), but I may just keep on makin the homemade stuff. I don’t think every load needs the full treatment.

  2. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Rachel: Excellent solution! Use the homemade for most loads, then when there’s something particularly bad, break out the heavy weaponry.

  3. Jess says:

    Not to mention, you know exactly what it is that you’re putting into your detergent. While I have no idea how safe your homemade soap is, I’m guessing it’s pretty safe – considering you’re washing clothing in it and exposing others to it! I have to say that’s a fair deal better than potential additives in expensive store-bought detergent. Great idea!

  4. Lise says:

    Great ideas here. I’m hesitant to go this route with my washer, however, as I have one of those “high efficiency” ones and I’m supposed to only use the HE powders. If I knew what made them different, I might go the more frugal route of making my own…

  5. Lise says:

    This is something I’d love to do (make my own detergent), but I have one of those high efficiency washers which supposedly you should only use the high efficiency detergents in… I’m not sure what makes those detergents so special, either, otherwise I’d attempt a substitute…

  6. Ron says:

    I know this site is all about frugality, but something else to think about – how safe are these cleaners? How many dangerous and unnecessary chemicals are you being exposed to? How long will the chemicals in you cleaners be floating around in our environment after they go out your drain? This is my eco-friendly plug for the day. Try Seventh Genereration (available cheaply in bulk from Amazon) or Ecover. I imagine that even in bulk from Amazon, it may not beat the cheapest “regular” brand, but think of how much better it is for you and your environment.

  7. Andrea says:

    I make my own detergent too from a recipe I found at recipezaar. It uses the same basic ingredients as Trent’s formula but it’s a powder and doesn’t require boiling. If the boiling puts anyone off, or the storing of goop, I recommend this recipe.

  8. Rob in Madrid says:

    What exaclty is washing soda? I’ve heard of borax but not washing soda? Thanks

  9. Washing sodais also known as soda ash, (sodium carbonate) Na2CO3. It’s a sodium salt of carbonic acid. It most commonly occurs as a crystalline heptahydrate which readily effloresce to form a white powder. It has a cooling alkaline taste, and can be extracted from the ashes of many plants. It is synthetically produced in large quantities from table salt.

    People mainly use it to make glass and bricks. You can use it to soften water. They also use it in pools to neutralize acid. You can use it as Trent listed because it’s pretty good at removing oil, grease, and alcohol stains.

  10. Bill says:

    I too am in the high efficiency quandary, otherwise, I’d make this stuff espeically since we have a brand new baby girl in the house.

  11. Rae says:

    Homemade detergent is perfect for use in a high efficiency washer because it is extremely low sudsing.It barely suds at all but it does a great job at cleaning.I will also add that if you can’t find washing soda in a local store,rather than buying it from the internet (thereby seriously cutting into your savings) you can buy PH Plus for pools(ingredient,sodium carbonate)at your local Wally World or pool supply store.

  12. Jaime says:

    Something else to consider is that the amount of loads a bottle of detergent says it can do is probably based on filling the cap to at least the lowest line every time. I have read on several cost saving and environment saving websites recently that you don’t need to use that much to get your clothes clean, and in fact they get cleaner using a smaller amount of detergent. So, if you only fill the cap halfway each time, you’re getting twice the loads out of each bottle.

  13. Rog says:

    I tried this for the first time and was impressed. I took two athletic socks and applied ketchup and mustard to each one and then set each stain with an electric hair dryer. I then washed one in tide liquid laundry detergent and one in the home-brewed stuff. The home-brewed laundry soap SIGNIFICANTLY outperformed the Tide in removing ketchup and mustard stains. My wife (a die-hard Tide devotee) was intrigued enough to wash a few loads with it and she is now convinced. She says the clothes come out softer when washed with the home-brewed stuff than the Tide. Thanks for the tip.

  14. right side of the river says:

    hi trent,

    this puzzled me earlier as well when you posted about washing machines a while back, comparing buying one good expensive model vs several cheaper ones, you calculated things by using an average of 6 loads per week. and here it’s 8-10. i’m just baffled as to how you need to do a load every single day. last month i did two loads of laundry, as well as the month before. i’m single right now, is that really how much laundry i’ll have to do if i start a family?

  15. Bill says:

    My family of 4 washes clothes 2x/week – sorted into whites vs. all else (so 4 loads of clothes/week)

    Towels/sheets are washed once/week – so another 2 loads there.

    We use a top loader, which doesn’t hold as much as the larger front loaders.

    Everything is washed in cold water, with half the amount of detergent (liquid All Free) recommended.

  16. Tom says:

    Another great way of saving detergent is to just let your laundry soak in cold detergent-water-mixture overnight. Then start your machine in the morning. Needs less temperature, less detergent and less energy. And is hygianically no problem as germs will hardly grow in cold detergent”poisoned” water.

  17. Darrell says:

    Save $20 per year, but how much time do you spend doing it? Even if it takes you 1 HOUR for all of your detergent for an entire year, it isn’t worth the time you’re spending, unless you really enjoy slicing up pieces of soap over a hot stove.

    I’ll shop around for better car insurance or something. :)

  18. Mark says:

    Folks, please remember to make sure your laundry detergent is eco-friendly. I am not so sure how eco-friendly homemade detergents are since they are made from all kind of soap. These by-products runs into your sewer system and supposedly is cleaned out before it is discharged into the rivers and oceans.

    Just because it may be cost-efficient does not always mean it is eco-friendly. Also, the amount of scum by-products from your detergent can break down your washing machine sooner than later. If you notice your washing machine having a lot of problems with discharge, then it is the detergent you are using. Keep using it and you may end up paying a higher bill with your repair man, and in extreme cases, your plumber.

  19. Wow, 8 loads of laundry a week is a lot. I guess that’s what having a child does. I imagine that my fiancee and I do 4 loads every two weeks (2 a week). That reduces it down to about $5 a year in difference. I’m pretty happy with my Kirkland laundry solution.

  20. Jim says:

    Mark makes an interesting point. But at least when you make your own products, you KNOW what’s in them. My wife makes a homebrew deoderant that I like to call Shreck deoderant because it’s green and ugly. It’s made out of beeswax, coconut oil, and chlorophyll. How much more natural and eco-friendly can you get?

  21. Cherie says:

    I use an eco-friendly soap I recently got at Costco. This is my first time to use and I love it. I have two kids, so here is how much I wash in a week: husband and my clothes, husband dress work clothes, son’s clothes, daughter’s clothes, towels, sheets, whites. Sometimes there are extras such as blankets or something. So at a minimum I do a load a day. Not all of them are large, but I do have an HE washer so water is not a big deal. The detergent doesn’t matter with HE, it’s the quantity used. I found that with the natural, eco-friendly one I only need 1/4 to 1/2 of the recommended amount for a load. I would love to make homemade soap, because my daughter has incredibly sensitive skin, but finding recipes that use all natural products is hard. This one at Costco comes the closest without spending a fortune.

  22. Linda says:

    When calculating the cost of the homemade detergent, you need to also add in the cost of the energy to make it. All that heat from the stove that you use to melt the soap comes from the electricity or gas you buy, and that isn’t cheap these days! If you chopped down trees on your land and built a fire to boil down the soap, I guess that might save money, assuming your time is worth nothing.

  23. Helena says:

    I have been making my own laundry detergent using almost the same recipe as Trent’s for nearly 12 years. I am happy to say all of our clothes have always come out perfectly clean – I even made a more condensed version as a pretreatment for stains and have had great success using it. I have 3 children (2 teens and a 6-year-old who loves mud,) so I do a great deal of laundry. As for the investment of time, well I make it about once every few months. It doesn’t take very long to make it and it’ll store just fine. I usually pour it into those handy bottles with a spout that I recylcle from friends and family who buy the really expensive stuff! By the way, a similar laundry detergent sells at our local organic foods store for $10 a liter!

  24. Jeff C. says:

    Should you also figure in the annual cost to belong to Costco and Sams in your figures on the savings. The added cost to belong to the “club” is one reason that I don’t belong to both.

  25. Ann says:

    I use the homemade laundry soap recipe, dry version. I have a tiny little food chopper that I use to chop the soap. I got the chopper as a Christmas gift and I only use it to chop soap. It practically makes it into a powder, which is good because the soap dissolves well. I have made the liquid goo version of the same laundry soap, but since using the chopper I don’t bother, as it seems the only reason to make a liquid is to dissolve the soap.

  26. SwingCheese says:

    I have used a bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap in this recipe. As I’m very concerned with being green, I checked all the ingredients before making it. The upshot is that this recipe is far better for the environment than standard, petroleum-based detergents, and contains no phosphates, which endanger aquatic life when they are washed down the drain. I also make my own dish-soap (for the dishwasher) using equal parts Borax and washing soda. Eco-friendly, and cheaper than the alternatives, leaving me extra money to purchase eco-friendly (and cruelty free) body soap, face soap, shampoo/conditioner, etc., which is rather expensive.

  27. Bill says:

    Boy are there some harsh critics here! I also make my own laundry soap and enjoy doing it. Sure, you might not save huge amounts of money, but you DO save. Isn’t that the point? As a side benefit, YOU decide what goes in it. do you know what is in that bottle of era or whisk?

    I like being able to try different bars of soap ( lately I have been using a bar called “Zote” laundry bar soap that is about the size of 2 large body soap bars. This costs 69 cents each and I use one bar of it to make 5 gallons of laundry soap. A side benefit is that it smells like lemon and my wife loves the smell of the laundry slime! :)

  28. Nitin says:

    Wow….This is great info here. I am going to try this out and let you guys know how it comes out. How much time does the whole process of making the soap takes anyways?

  29. kazoo says:

    And I thought I analyzed alot. The energy it takes to grate the soap can be done while watching t.v. and again the finer the grate the less it takes to melt the soap. If you think that the energy of boiling it will make it not much of a savings then just make the powdered kind. Muscle power is just good exercise. I buy enough to make a few batches at one time while everything is on sale or at differant times while each item is on sale. 1 box borax, 1 box washing soda and 5 bars octagon soap will make me 13 batches. Grate the soap at one time while watching a movie.with a hand held grater if the electricity thing will throw you off. If you don’t want to boil it just let it sit in hot water for awhile until it melts. Or set it outside on a hot day and let it melt that way. Or better yet build a camp fire out of found wood and go that route. There are alternatives if people are THAT worried about it. The time it takes to make this should not be a factor. Because it doesn’t take much time at all and because it takes time in life to think and breath why are we worried about the cost of 15 minutes mixing soap and having fun.

    Frankly I just find this to be fun. There is some much veriety out that that you can do with this soap. All these ingredients can be used around the house for other cleaning purposes too and they are alot less expensive and very effective than other store bought cleaning products. Plus you don’t need a cleaning product for everything in your house as long as you know how these products can be used around your house. If you want to save even more money save those small travel bars of soap, you know the hotel ones, and use 2.5-3 ounces solid soap or 8 ounces grated soap ( that’s the amount I use)for a 2 gal bucket. Or make your own bar soap. Just as fun and your saving even more money.

    I have heard from a person who took this soap to a laundry mat that in one case the employee came up to her and told her how clean her washing machine was and that she didn’t even see a need to clean it that day because this soap was used.

    I like using this because I love the self-sufficient life and that you can have this on hand for months without having to go to the store again to get more. It is gentle enough to hand wash with. I can see it feasible to use that dry version while camping, washing in a bucket of water, rinsing and hang drying.It will still work just as well as in a washing machine.

    The savings are real and this is from a person who does a load of wash a day.It is worth it even if you are just getting a fun hobby out of it. But this all depends on the person. If you are worried about the cost of energy and your time…stop analyzing this and have fun or stick to your store bought brand.

  30. Kathy says:

    For those who are worried about this recipe being ‘safe’ or eco-friendly…I found this link stating that borax and washing soda are earth friendly……..http://mlmgorilla.com/naturalcleaningrecipe/.

  31. Jo says:

    Hi, I tried making this recipe last night and don’t think I was too successful. I see others describe a thick substance but what I got was some thickness within lots of water. Has anyone experienced this? Any suggestions.

  32. Gwen says:

    I saw that someone said we could substitute PHplus for the washing soda….aren’t these all just baking soda??

  33. JoshuaPerry says:

    You should have looked at the prices at Costco for your soap bars, borax, and baking powder. See if you can make your mixture any cheaper. Im glad you enjoy making your own, but most are right when they say you are likely wasting time, with your method. I use borax straight up, albeit at a smaller dose for clothes washing, can’t save much more time and money than that.

  34. Annie says:

    I make the powdered version (great stuff!) and I use vinegar in my Downy ball which makes any possibility of soap scum buildup virtually nil therefore eliminating worries of machine damage. I am sure vinegar would have the same effect with the slime version and the smell disappears from the clothes once they are dry. Not a lot of vinegar is needed to be effective, I fill the ball about half way which is about 1/4 cup. I have noticed the “build up” from the store bought detergent in the discharge hose is now gone too.

  35. Gwen says:

    Vinegar in the wash (downey ball) also eliminates static cling and leaves the same effect as liquid softener. :)

  36. Eric says:

    I’d encourage all of you to base “eco-friendly” on the total package. That is, energy and waste to produce a product, energy and waste to ship a product, energy and waste to use a product, and energy and waste to dispose of spent product.

    Bar soap has little moisture and is extremely compact, as are borax and washing soda powders. Shipping them is very efficient (by mass) compared to dry commercial detergent, and tremendously more efficient than liquid detergents. Why pay to ship water around?

    As far as eco-friendly waste, consider that the surfactants in the commercial stuff (far less in fels naphtha) are not necessary for cleaning and can be very damaging to the environment.

    If you want to really be sure of your soap, replace the Fels Naptha with home made soap from fats/oils and sodium hydroxide.

    Don’t forget that making soap can be a fun family activity. I can’t remember the last time I saw a truly happy family wandering the isles at Crapco, er, I mean Costco.

  37. MJ says:

    Just a quick note. But when I bought my new washer machine, I was told to use a liquid detergent as the powdered stuff actually contains ground glass (that is what cleans your clothes and shortens there life). This ground glass also shortens the live of your washing machine, so by using your recipe, not only will you save on detergent costs, but you could potentially save on costly machine repairs down the road and even extend the life of your machine.

  38. Ella says:

    This is such a neat idea! I imagine a smear of the detergent that you make, applied to grass or grease stains before going into the machine would be a good idea.

  39. Kirin says:

    Wow those going wild with the “This is not green” thing, really need to do a little research.

    Ways to “supergreen” this recipie: Use vegetable oil soaps, not petrolium based ones. Ivory soap is tallow based (animal fat) and not petrolium based (but not vegan).

    I purchased TWELVE bars of Royal Lather Vegetable oil soap at the dollar store for 2.09…… for all of it. Soap, incidentally if vegetable and tallow based and unfragranced is extremely eco friendly.

    Borax & Washing soda: Natural products. Rediculously eco friendly.

    Want to save more? Don’t cook the soap. add your cut up soap into a container with water (cold is fine) and give it a couple of days (sometimes one is enough) it dissolves completely. Not fast enough? Boil water in a tea kettle and pour over the soap in a heatsafe bowl, works great and is quicker.

    Store bought detergents are petroleum based (except for the few eco friendly ones) and contain phospates. Home made mix? Soap, soda ash, borax. Hands down eco winner.

    This home made soap is fine for high efficiency washers, use only 1/2 as much.

    This soap will NOT break down your washing machine filling it up with scum and goo. The baking soda and borax take care of this problem, but if your worried use a bit of vinegar in the clothes rinse, it breaks down soap scum.

    One note to the hardliners stating this is not eco friendly: What do you wash with in the shower and let go down the drain?

  40. Craig Dennis says:

    Hello all,

    One great application of this is that this might not contain brighteners. This is important for military personnel who should not use detergent with brighteners, as it makes you more visible with night vision goggles (yes I am totally serious.) Military families should not use all of the regular detergents on the Army Combat Uniform, Marine Pattern Utilities, or even Airman Battle Uniform, because you GLOW LIKE A TORCH because of the UV light.

    Does anyone know for sure that there is no brightening effect of borax and washing soda? If anyone has the opportunity to check it under UV light, that would be greatly appreciated.

  41. Carol Farrell says:

    Want to really cut your costs???? Teach yourself (can do it on the internet) to make old fashioned “lye”soap. Costs just pennies per bar. Then go with your washing soda & borax. PS Us an old salad shooter to make those soap bars into soap noodles. only takes seconds to make bunchs then store them till time to make next batch. Don’t do this anymore but I had twins, and one of them had twins while still living at home. So to economize this was my choice. Cleaning supplies are the most expensive things you can save on. Bye Carol!!

  42. mariem says:

    Hi! I grew up in Tunisia and my mom always used to make this green gewy soap which was made out of savon de marseille which is made out of olive paste and baking soda. I remember she used it a lot to wash our cloth diapers when i was a baby.
    i dont know if they sell that kind of soap. here. I love the smell of the detergents. the store bought. So which soap should i go for if I want nice smelly laundry . I do not deal with spots or anything like that since I do not have kids yet. Thanks

  43. ms Bee says:

    oh gosh I just use the borax and washing soda,
    add essential oils…and add a cup of powdered oxiclean.
    Results-cleaner,softer, brighter clothes for pennies.
    I use only two tablespoons per wash! Amazing!
    I don’t need fabric softener the clothes are softened!
    If you want softener I buy tennis balls for the dryer, or you can add 1/4 cup vinegar to washload.
    don’t worry the vinegar doesn’t make your clothes stink!
    I have save so much money and I would rather spend it on other things!

  44. Q says:

    One could also consider, when talking about how eco-friendly this soap is, that by making the soap yourself and re-using the same container, we are reducing the amount of plastic detergent containers being sent to the landfills.

    I’ve been making a version of this soap for about a year now, having been given the idea by a friend of mine who swears by it. I bought a 3kg box of washing soda (approx $5), a 2kg box of Borax (around the same) and 3 packages of Sunlight bar soap (about $2 for a package of 2). So far I’ve made 9 batches of the stuff and still have enough Borax and washing soda for loads more batches of slimey goop. I’m increasing some of the amounts to see if it boosts the cleaning power this time because I do find that some of the whites are a little dingey, but I’ve always had a problem with keeping whites bright. But even if it doesn’t, $16 for a year’s worth of laundry says that I can live with less than stellar whites.

  45. Kim says:

    For those with environmental concerns, this brew is very eco friendly if you use Ivory or another eco friendly bar soap (Fels Naptha is toxic). Borax and washing soda are biodegradable and naturally derived. I use them in my eco home cleaning endevors. They are quite safe.

  46. Candy says:

    Nice thread.

    To cut costs a bit further, this would be a great use for those slivers of soap. My grandmother used to save them and mold them into a ball to get a few more uses, but I think this is better.

  47. Candy says:

    Ummm… to clarify, the little bit that the soap bar wears down to.

  48. sharla says:

    used a homemade recipe because A- soap is expensive B- everytime I open the container of soap — I sneeze. So even though people thought I was crazy to make homemade soap — they are all into it. I have a high effenciency machine… and personally no matter what soap I used — my clothese never smelled clean. But now that I use homemade soap the clothes smell and feel clean. I love it. and you can use the stuff for everything. even to wash dishes. kicks butt. not too many suds and cuts the grease. I give mine a cooler appearance by putting it through my hardcore blender and it stays pretty and foamy.

  49. Renae says:

    Our family usually does more than 10 loads and week. With two toddlers running around the house, taking off their diapers, spitting up on everything, and seeing if their baby doll can swim in the toilet, my washing machine is constantly running. It is not an even ratio. If you do two loads a week as a couple, you will not be doing four loads a week with two kids.

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  51. Charity says:

    I use homemade soap to make my homemade laundry soap. I just make a big batch of unscented soap from lard, coconut oil and lye. I then grate that up and mix with the borax and washing soda in my cuisenart. This makes a nice powder that dissolves in the wash, even using cold water. I do however keep on hand some commercial laundry detergent (The Costco variety) for washing some of the more stained loads. I have noticed that the homemade laundry soap doesn’t do such a great job on heavy loads of laundry with ground in dirt (thinking about my socks from when I go hiking, etc.) Also, I have noticed that the homemade variety doesn’t do such a great job of removing fragrances (wearing perfume) from clothing as well as the commercial type for some reason. I know Costco just came out with a “green” type of laundry detergent, but I have yet to try that one. I would guess that about 4 out of 5 loads at our house gets washed with the homemade soap. Since I hang all of our laundry on the clothesline (weather permitting) all of our clothes come out smelling very fresh anyway, despite any shortcomings from the homemade variety. With the money I save, I am able to purchase myself some small luxury items. I purchase borax and washing soda when it is on sale and stock up. With being able to make the soap at home that goes into the homemade laundry soap, I always have supplies on hand to do laundry. I don’t think I will ever go back to just doing my laundry with only commercial detergents. I think they still have their place on my laundry room shelf, but it is nice to know that I can live without them too.

    When I make up my laundry soap, I make up a huge 5 gallon bucket at a time of the powdered soap. A bucket lasts me forever.

  52. Sheila says:

    This is very interesting to say the least. I’m going to give it a try. I used to sell and use a detergent from Melaleuca that didn’t leave my clothes feeling gummy. Can’t afford that anymore! Just had to clean my washer, had a dirty ring at the top of gummy junk and the softner dispenser was gunked up. This has to be better.
    Has anyone tried to make a bath soap that doesn’t leave you sticky or a shampoo that works (Especially for oily hair)?

  53. sharon reed says:

    How much do you use per load of laundry?

  54. E. Pierre-Louis says:

    Is it possible to convert regular liquid detergent to ‘he’? I’ve just had to buy a new washer and have always bought in bulk, so I have lots and I don’t use the powder. Why don’t you ever offer the recipe with liquid soap?

  55. Terry says:

    I have been using this for 3 months- if nothing else than cost is what started me- the clean is what is keeping me. My clothes that were stained by kids getting how know what on them are clean. I was throwing out their stained clothes but am now rewashing with the homemade detergent and getting them clean. Even with though ga clay- red dirt on my sons pants come clean. And the whites look good – not as dingy! Try it to see if you like the cleaning.

  56. Bruce says:

    Your article on Frugality says that the Costco is .75 a load for detergent. It shold say 7.5 cents a load.

  57. missy says:

    Trent – you may want to check the article again – it said .075 which is 7.5 cents whereas the Tide was .22 which is 22 cents. I had to look at it twice myself.

  58. Allison says:

    We just started a few days ago making our own laundry detergent. And I was amazed how well it worked! Instance of using Fels Naptha bar soap as part of the recipe…we used Ivory, much cheaper and easier to get in the stores. My husband and I calculated our costs and it comes to approx. 1 cent per load!

    We have well water…and our clothes came out brighter, whiter and much softer! We were having to use about 4-5 dryer sheets and they are expensive to me. Our clothes came out less wrinkled and so soft! I could hardly believe my eyes, I really didn’t expect such good results. Also we are not putting phosphates into our septic, which causes die-off of the bacteria needed in the septic.

    And it was easy to make…and grated the bar of soap with vegetable peeler while watching TV…?
    We are delighted with our results.

  59. Jeri says:

    I have been making the laundry soap for a month now and I love it. I made it for my whole family for Christmas and they loved it. So I thought I would make a similar liquid soap for the shower. Guess what it worked, I took a bar of dove and grated it then used 6 cups of water melted the soap in the water and left it for about 3 hours then poured it into a liquid dispenser and viola 6 cups of soap for less than 75 cents. It will last for a long time and it cleans me great. This is a fun thing to do when you are waiting around for your bread to rise. It is not a waste of my time and it saves me money. I like to be more self suffieient and not rely on companies to make my products. If I can make it at home I do. I bake, I can, garden, crochet,sew,I make other cleaning products from scratch. It is a way of life. I love it. People are just lazy. Better learn how to make a lot of stuff people the bad times they are a coming.

  60. Jill says:

    first, thank you for your recipe and thorough directions for making the laundry detergent.I just bought all the ingredients (very cheaply) for making the detergent, but I have a question. I live in Florida-which has fairly hard water-and I’m wondering how well this recipe performs in Florida water. Are there any Floridians out there who use this recipe? I would greatly appreciate your input. Thanks!

  61. Kathy says:

    I made this soap, but have a question. After we let it sit, the kids and I had a ball playing in it, a kitten actually jumped in it and stayed put!! But when I put it in my washer I do not get suds…Is this normal?

  62. Dg says:

    8-10 loads a week? Perhaps you could save some $$ by reusing some clothes/towels etc that are not really dirty.

    We have a family of 4 and do about 4 loads a week.

  63. Lula says:

    Thanks Jeri for that tip on body wash! We buy wash over 4 bucks a bottle. Amazing to think that if we make our own how much we could really save!

  64. Janet says:

    I think we do between 10 and 12 loads of laundry in any given week with a household of six (three adults, three children under 7). It seems like our washer is always going! I am so excited to try making our own laundry soap. My husband is a tile setter and between his concrete dusted clothes and our kids country lifestyle we should give the soap a good workout! Thanks for the recipe!

  65. Kalaine says:

    Thanks for this recipe. I’m wondering, though, if you use less water at any point in the recipe would the result be a more concentrated detergent?

  66. Ron says:

    I use a cordless drill and a paint mixer attachment both can be bought at Walmart. I blend my homemade soap mixture for about 2 minutes while it is still hot. Then I let it set about 24 hours. The soap has changed to a thick white gel. I blend this again with the drill till I have a thick colorful concentrate. This concentrate I pour in empty milk jugs. It will form a slight jell from setting but a little shaking will fix that. Since I have been using this method my soap is not slimy,gooy,lumpy it looks store bought and works just as good or better!

  67. Kathy says:


    We fixed the gel issue by putting a few round clean stones in the bottom of the container. Shake the jug a bit and the rocks help agitate the soap and break up the gel.


  68. gary says:

    I too have an HE (High Efficency) washer too. I have used all kinds of detergent in mine. It is about five years old so it is one of the early HE washers. My clothes come out good no mater what I use so I am going to whip me up a batch tonight. By the way has any one tried agitating the mix to give it a more liquid consistance? I think that might help, but haven’t tried it yet.

  69. Elise says:


    Trent I just made a batch of this in a cleaned out 5 gallon “kitty” litter bucket. I think it worked fine making it, and it did not take that long. I am a stay at home mom but I do have a part time business. To those who questioned the costs of using your stove and the costs that can relate to that. Here is my question, why are on this website. Try it, if you do not like it, dont use it again. I wanted an eco friendly product that was all natural. My children have sensitive skin. The “frugality” of the detergent was a second bonus. Now I will admit I am pretty easygoing when it comes to laundry. As long as it smells fresh and is clean I am happy. Some people are really picky, but then I guess that can come with a price. I am happy I tired it and I will continue to make it. My friend has a HE machine and she called the company who makes it and they said it would be fine to use it because it is low sudsing. Again TRY it I am sure you will see it is worth the effort.

  70. joann says:

    i have 4 kids and foster also…i wash aprox.20 loads/week…not including diaper laundering. i’ve saved so much money..especially since you don’t need fabric softener or anti-static sheets when you use soap instead of detergent.
    i’m hooked…i’ll never buy expensive detergent at the store again.

  71. joann says:

    also…you can purchase pure laundry soap bars and natural soap at most bulk stores (the soap works co.)they contain no detergents. we use the shampoo and conditioner bar and many kinds of the body soaps. we’ve made a family decision to go all natural in our home…it’s time consuming sometimes, but well worth it.
    try baking whole grain bread, or sewing some diapers from old bed sheets…safe-save-save the environment!!! the internet is a gold mine of recipes, patterns, and great ideas…surf and save.

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