Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I'd read about making homemade laundry soap for the longest time, and it intrigued me, both because of the monetary aspect and because of the "green" aspect. For the past while, I've been cutting down on my use of chemicals in the house because I was making so many things from scratch. It got to the point that artificial chemicals, especially their smells, began to really irritate me and give me a headache.
I had seen recipes for making laundry soap, but never attempted them because I was unable to get my hands on borax, a key ingredient in homemade laundry soap, as it is not sold in my country. I also wasn't able to find washing soda, another integral part of the recipe. Fortunately, I discovered how to make homemade washing soda and someone brought me in a box of borax from the US, so I finally was able to make my homemade laundry soap.
I've been using this laundry soap for all my laundering needs, and I can say that it works as well as store bought expensive laundry soap- without the chemicals and without the attached price tag. The recipe makes a liquid detergent, which serves my purposes well, as the homemade powdered detergent need to be used in hot water, but I generally wash with cold.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

2 medium sized bars of homemade soap OR
1 bar of Fels Naptha soap OR
1 bar of Ivory soap
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
4 cups of water AND
2-9 gallons of water
Essential oils (optional)

1. Grate soap into small pieces. Mix with 4 cups of water, and heat it on the stove. Stir until it all disolves.
2. Add the washing soda and borax to the soap and water mixture. Mix until it all dissolves.
3. Add more hot water- between 2 and 5 gallons- and mix well. (Add 2 gallons if using homemade soaps, and 5 gallons if using Fels Naptha or Ivory.)
4. If you're using Fels Naptha or Ivory soap, let your mixture sit overnight, as it will thicken and gel. If you're using homemade soap, there aren't any chemicals in it to cause it to thicken, so you're finished at this point, unless you want to add essential oils.
5. If you let your soap sit overnight and it thickens, in the morning add another 5 gallons of water and mix well. You may need to split this into two containers to do so. If you're using homemade soap, skip this step.
6. Add essential oils if you want. I added cinnamon essential oil to my soap- nearly a whole vial, to get my laundry to smell extra nice. You don't need to add that much, but I was trying to convince my husband that even homemade soap can leave clothes smelling perfumed.
I like cinnamon oil in laundry soap because in addition to smelling great, it also has antibacterial properties, which is a plus if you don't wash your clothes in hot water and/or if you wash cloth diapers. You may also want to use different essential oils with antibacterial properties like tea tree oil, lavender oil, or oregano oil, whichever suits your fancy. Essential oils are unnecessary but make a nice addition to the laundry detergent.
7. Shake your soap before use.
8. Use between 1/4 cup and 1 cup of laundry detergent in each load, depending on whether you have a top loader or front loader, the hardness of your water, and the dirtiness of the load. Laundry detergent with homemade soap will be weaker and you'll probably need more than if you use laundry soap made from Fels Naptha or Ivory.

(P.S. Officially you're not supposed to use homemade laundry detergent on diapers, but I've used it and had no problem with it.)

I make my laundry detergent with my homemade soap and have been very pleased with it. Fels Naptha has quite a few chemicals in it, but its easier and cheaper to use that or Ivory if you don't know how to make homemade bar soap.

My recipe is based on one I got from the Duggar family's website.

Have you ever made homemade laundry detergent? If so, how did you make it?
What detergent do you use to wash your laundry? How much would you say you generally spend on detergent per month on average?


  1. great recipe! you could try using liquid castile soap to replace the soap bars

  2. Or you could buy Kirkland Castile Soap bars. I find them to be about a dollar a bar, and its pure castile soap no perfumes or chemicals added.

  3. Is this safe to use in an HE washer?

  4. I live overseas too, and was wondering how I would make my own laundry soap without the same ingredients I used before. So thanks for the washing soda recipe! I searched online with the chemical compound for Borax (Na2B4O7·10H2O) and was able to order it! I doubt it's used for laundry here, but it arrived in the mail today, and my concoction is hanging out in a bucket in the kitchen now. :)

  5. I store mine as the grated dry ingredients (soap borax and washing soda), then each time I need a refill of liquid soap, I add a small scoop (about 30 ml) of the powder into a 1kg heavy plastic (yoghurt) container, and pour in almost-boiling water to fill the container and dissolve the powder. You can use the liquid immediately, or leave to cool overnight. Use between 1/4 and 1 cup for each load as above and just repeat when you run out of it. Saves a lot of storage space. This is a Kiwi idea!! :)


Share This