DIY Laundry Detergent

The end result! Use 1/2 cup for a FULL load, 1/4 cup for a half load.

Here is a simple and effective “recipe” for homemade laundry detergent.

What I like about it:

Very effective! I’ve used this stuff on darks, brights, whites, delicates, heavily soiled items, and everything in between. Works equally well on all of it!

It’s cheap.

It’s simple to make. Just 3 ingredients, all of which can be purchased at the grocery store, or major retailer such as Kmart, Target, or Wal-Mart.


What you will need: 

1 Bar of Fels-Naphtha, can be found in the laundry detergent aisle.

20 Mule Team Borax

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, also found in the laundry detergent aisle.

Cheese grater

A large pot or Dutch oven

5 gallon bucket

Directions:  Add 6 cups of water to your pot. Grate 1/3 of Fels-Naphtha bar into pot. Heat over low heat to melt soap. Stir frequently. Do not boil. Once soap is melted, add 1/2 cup of Borax and 1/2 cup of washing soda. Stir until dissolved, keep stirring until mixture thickens, this can take 5-7 minutes. If you are pressed for time, you can use a stick blender and be done in 15-20 seconds! Add 4-5 cups of hot water to 5 gallon bucket. Next add your soap mixture to the bucket. Give it another 30 seconds or so of stirring. Finally, add 1 gallon plus 6 cups more of hot water to mixture, stir for 1-2 minutes. Cover bucket with lid if you have one, if not that’s okay, let it sit overnight to “gel up”. Stir it in the morning to break up lumps and clumps. Now you’re good to go! Use 1/2 cup to wash a full load. Use 1/4 cup to wash a half load. Happy washing!!

A few things to note:

You can use stick blender in lieu of stirring by hand to save time.

You can add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. I do not do this. It it NOT necessary. This detergent will have your clothes smelling clean. 

This detergent will be lumpy, clumpy, and have a gel like consistency. It does not effect it at all. However, if that bothers you (it will look a little slimy and snotty) just stir, stir, and stir some more.

Use vinegar in place of fabric softener. Cheaper, and better than fabric softener in my humble opinion.  Your clothes will last longer, feel softer, and if you have a septic tank, your septic tank will thank you. And no, your clothing will not smell like vinegar! 

Safe to use in high efficiency washers, front loading washers, and all other types of washing machines.

Finished product will fill a 2 gallon bucket. I make a double batch which requires a 5 gallon bucket.

Safe to use on all fabric types.

Safe to use for hand washing, likely easier on your hands too.

From start to finish it takes 15-30 minutes to make.

A single batch will last 4-6 months. A double batch lasts me (I do LOTS of laundry) 9-10 months.

Cost wise it comes out to about 5 cents per load.


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