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Homemade Laundry Detergent

This is a very simple recipe for laundry detergent that you can make yourself, and save a lot of money. It works very well, and is especially good for front load washing machines because it is low sudsing. The ingredients you will need are: 

 Ingredients for homemade laundry detergent 

1 bar of Fels Naptha or castile soap


Washing Soda

Baking Soda

To start, you need to grate your entire bar of soap into a medium sized bowl. Use the fine side of a cheese grater. You want it to be a powdery consistency.

 Grate the soap 

 To this you add 1 cup each of the Borax, Washing Soda, and Baking Soda.

 Measure 1 cup of each ingredient 

Mix all together, breaking up any lumps that might be in the Borax or Washing soda.

 Add all ingredients to grated soap 

  mix all together breaking up lumps 

That’s it! This is your laundry detergent. Wasn’t that easy? You just store in a container with a lid. I use a recycled candle jar. Use 1/8 cup per load. That is all it takes.

 Store in a container with a lid 

You could adjust those amounts slightly for extra large, or small loads. This stuff really does work beautifully. My laundry comes out clean, and smells very nice. You can get these ingredients at various places. Our local grocery and hardware store carries all of them, but I can also get them all at Wal-Mart. The money savings is the really great part. You will get multiple batches of your homemade detergent from just 1 box of the Borax, Washing soda, and Baking soda. The price for each of these per box will vary slightly, depending on where you purchase them. The Borax and Washing soda were both a little over $3 a box, the Baking soda I found at $2 a box, and the Fels Naptha I got for .97 cents per bar.

A word about Borax. I’m sure someone is going to say they’ve read Borax isn’t safe. After doing some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is just as safe as Washing soda, and I have no problem using it. Here is a link I found that covers the subject pretty good. If you disagree, don’t use it. You have to decide for yourself. I believe that especially today, we have to be diligent in researching many of the products we use and consume. We cannot take it for granted that because someone is selling it, a product is safe. I also believe that you have to look at who did the research, because research can be skewed, depending on how you want the results to be. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in today.

Happy Laundering! 

2/1/2015 1:32:29 AM

I've found washing soda to be a little rough on some fabrics; not so the borax. I wonder if one could cut down on it and use more borax and/or baking soda.

11/3/2014 2:23:30 PM

I use pretty much the same ingredients to make a 5 gal bucket of gel laundry soap. It only calls for Washing Soda, not baking soda. 1 bar Zote or Fels Naptha 1 cup borax 1 cup Washing Soda 5 gal bucket with lid Water, lots of water Grate Zote into a heavy stock pot, add 12 cups HOT water. Heat over med-high until dissolved. Stir often to keep soap from clumping. After soap is completely dissolved, add borax and washing soda. Stir well, mixture will become "tight" and heavy - this is normal. Stir until powders are dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 8 cups hot water into your bucket and slowly add hot soap mixture, stirring vigorously to mix well . Continue adding 40 cups more of hot water as you stir. Let soap cool completely. You can stir as mixture cool, but it's not necessary. As soap cools it will coagulate and become more gel like. If you have a mixture of gel and water, that's OK, just stir before use. Lightly soiled laundry use 1/4 c, heavily soiled laundry use 1/3-1/2 c. I also use vinegar as a softener. I'm on a septic system and they are not really powder friendly. Yvette

lori dunn
1/19/2013 11:12:49 AM

Gerry, I haven't had issue with static using vinegar, but I also hang all my clothes to dry. I don't know if using a clothes dryer would cause static or not. You could do 1 load as a test to see what happens.

gerry hess
10/18/2012 12:39:49 AM

I used this a couple of times and it works great as a softner; but what about static when it gets colder. I always use bounce and that gets rid of static; does vinegar help that as well?

lori dunn
2/26/2012 1:53:00 PM

I have a compartment in my washer specifically for the fabric softner. I fill it with vinegar to the line marked, just the same as I would with the conventional softner, so I would say use equal amounts. If you use a cap full of fabric softner, use the same amount of vinegar.

nebraska dave
2/26/2012 2:07:00 AM

How much would be used?

nebraska dave
2/26/2012 1:57:11 AM

Yeah, me too.

lori dunn
2/26/2012 12:43:21 AM

Hi Rebecca! I'm so glad you found this too. I have another tip for you that can save some money. You can use plain white vinegar in your rinse cycle in replace of fabric softener. It does the same job, but is cheaper. Your clothes won't smell like vinegar, so no worries there. I've been using vinegar for some time and it works great. Wishing you prosperous times ahead!

rebecca hamlett
2/25/2012 11:49:32 PM

Thank you for this timely post. I'm trying very hard to hold on to my house, literally every nickel counts! My daughter and her 2 little girls are moving in with me with just enough income to help with food etc. In anticipation of more laundry, I'm very excited to use your recipe. I am scouring these posts for every tip I can use. Thanks again! In Peace.

lori dunn
2/25/2012 4:50:14 PM

Cindy, Thanks for the tip, i'll be tryin that!

cindy murphy
2/25/2012 2:11:43 PM

Dave and Lori, I've got a tip for removing wax from jars that works like a charm. Just put the jar in the freezer for about 5 minutes; the wax just pops out, usually in one chunk, with an easy nudge from a butter knife. Be sure, though, to let the glass warm completely to room temperature before washing in hot water. Great post, Lori; I'm really looking forward to reading more of your homemade product endeavors!

nebraska dave
2/24/2012 11:02:36 PM

Thanks Lori. It helps a lot.

lori dunn
2/24/2012 10:26:11 PM

Nebraska Dave, I wash and rinse in all cold water and my clothes come out nice and clean, so I know it will work just fine in cold water. I would say judge how much to use just as you would if you were using conventional laundry detergent, but using the 1/8th cup per regular load as your guide. If you have an extra large load or a load that is perhaps soiled a bit more, than maybe add an extra tablespoon. If you have a stain, pretreat just as you would with regular detergent. I know it doesn't seem like much, but it really does work. You won't see many suds with this because it is low sudsing, very good for front load washers, but works just fine for top load as well. You should find all these items in the laundry detergent section at Walmart, including the Fels Naptha, if your particular store carries it. As far as using the grey water, I can't honestly answer because I'm not sure. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the borax can effect the ph levels in your soil, so it may not be a good idea, but that would take some further research. I'm sorry I can't give you a better answer. To get the last bit of wax out of the candle jar, I set the jar into another container of very hot water to soften the wax, then wiped it out with a paper towel. After the large bits were all wiped out, I washed it out with very hot soapy water. Some are easier to clean than others, depending on how uniformly the candle burned down, but I usually burn the candles completely down to the bottom and they go out on their own, so there isn't a lot of wax left to remove. If you have a lot of wax to remove, you could set your jar down into the top of a double boiler, and let the wax heat and melt, than simply pour it out and wipe, than wash. Hope this helps.

nebraska dave
2/24/2012 9:22:40 PM

Lori, This is the post I've been waiting for. I have a question about the use of the soap. Do you have to use hot water wash? I usually wash in warm water and rinse in cold. Would the grey water from this soap be harmful for garden watering? Since Walmart is only a stone's throw from my house that's most likely where I would buy all these ingredients. I already use Borax in my laundry. I'll have look for the Fels-Naptha or Castile soap. The usage is only 1/8 cup? Seriously? That doesn't seem like much. My washer has a full load at ten large bath towels. What do you think? More soap or stick with 1/8 of a cup? I know you are going to answer all my questions so thanks ahead of time for the answers. You have been busy the year you were away weren't you? Thanks for sharing all you have researched. Have a great day. P.S. Oh, wait, one more question. How did you get all the residual wax out of the recycled candle holder?