Homemade Laundry Detergent

UPDATE 4/13/2010:

Instead of the recipe I link to below, I now use a liquid homemade laundry detergent that you can find at the Duggar family website under ‘Recipes‘. It’s more cost effective and makes HUGE quantities which is great for my larger than average family.

It calls for:

  • 1 Bar Soap, grated
  • 1 c Washing Soda
  • 1/2 c Borax

In response to one of the comments below, YES, you can use homemade laundry detergent in high efficiency front loading washers. It’s perfect for those because it doesn’t lather up.

It works wonderfully, although the texture is a little funky (it separates into a liquidy gel, so you can either just ignore that or stir it more).


I had been wanting to try Lynnae at Being Frugal’s homemade laundry detergent recipe for some time but just never got around to it. Then I ended up with a big container of detergent that had a perfumey smell so strong it made me nauseous when I held my youngest in my lap. Gross. So, I decided to whip up a batch.

I don’t think she’ll mind me sharing the recipe here, as I’ve seen it in many other places around the net and doubt it’s copyrighted material. Or maybe she’ll forgive me for the link love. ;)

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipelaundry

You need:

You can either mix all this up in your food processor or grate the soap first then mix it in a container. I wouldn’t recommend doing this around kids because the dust from the Borax can be dangerous if inhaled (I mixed mine in the food processor and “smoke” came out the loading chute thing.)

Use 2 Tablespoons per load.

I think I’ll add a few drops of essential oil because it has a tiny bit of smell that I don’t like. Either that or I’ll use a nice smelling soap next time.

I actually doubled the recipe since I do a lot of laundry and since I was going to the trouble, might as well make a big batch. I found that it worked nearly as well as my other favorite detergents. I say almost because there were several items of clothing stained with the homemade chocolate pudding from yesterday. I didn’t pretreat them though, and I doubt any detergent would have been able to tackle that particular stain without help! So, it will take a few more loads before I know for sure.

It did dissolve quite well for me in cold water so that’s a plus. My suspicion is that due to the fat in the soap, this recipe might make cloth diapers less absorbent. Since everyone in my house is potty trained that’s not an issue. The soap would make the clothing a bit softer which is nice. This recipe is also very environmentally friendly. It also doesn’t contain optical brighteners and other ingredients like fragrance, enzymes and dyes that can irritate the skin.

Have you ever made homemade laundry detergent? What were your results? Was the recipe similar to this one or different?

I’m too lazy to do the math, but from what I hear this recipe costs less than the best laundry detergent deal that you could purchase at the store.

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19 Responses to Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. Annette says:

    Thanks for sharing this and we may give it a try. Wonder if it’ll work with front loading washers?? hmmmm….

  2. carrie says:

    I would think, yes. It doesn’t suds at all. You could probably use the recipe and just decrease the amount to one tablespoon, maybe even less.

  3. chele says:

    I’ve used the exact recipe years ago when I was “financially challenged”. It worked so well that I still keep all the ingredients on hand just to comfort myself.

    I had two stepchildren that wet the bed every night, no matter how many times I woke them up or limited their drink and they always went straight thru the overnight pull ups. Pee Pee sheets can reek pretty bad, but this soap always took care of it.

    The only thing I missed was the nice smells of commercially made soap, but when you are cutting corners are severely as I was, you get over that and smile because the smell of pee is gone. LOL

  4. Feel free to share the homemade laundry detergent love! I just made my second batch, and I tried using 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha instead of the full bar. I’m only on my second day using it, so I’m not sure whether it’s effective yet, but I’ll keep you posted. If 1/2 bar works, that cuts down the cost considerably, because the Fels Naptha was the most expensive part of the recipe!

    I’m glad you like it so far!

    I did the math, and with a full bar of Fels Naptha, the recipe was comparable in price to the Arm & Hammer detergent I buy at the store. It’s much less expensive than Tide. With 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha, it’s less expensive than any detergent I’ve bought.

  5. HOW NEAT Carrie. I guess the thought never occurred to me. I am going to have to try this out. Lyndsee and I both are really sensitive to Laundry detergents.

  6. Rebecca says:

    I have been doing cost-comparisons of eco-friendly laundry detergent and will post my findings on http://www.greenbabyguide.com soon. I haven’t tried making my own detergent . . . like Annette, I wonder if it’s safe for HE washers. I’ve heard horror stories about people killing their washing machines by using the wrong detergents. Does anyone have a recipe that doesn’t involve grating soap? It would be nice to just blend a few different powders together. Many of the recipes I’ve seen involve grating and even boiling.

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  15. jill says:

    there is a great recipe at farmingonfaith for liquid detergent.i have tried her recipe and it works great.no lumps like most homemade recipes.it only takes about 10 min to make if you pre-disolve your soap like she tells you to.

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