Homemade Laundry Detergent

| 27 Comments

I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. Maybe I’ve lived in hippy-country too long, maybe I’m just cheap. Probably both. With a little help from some tutorials (like this and this) and a lot of advice from a friend, I made homemade laundry detergent and it is awesome!

This formula is concentrated, so you only use about 2 tablespoons per load. If my math is right (mind you, I’m no mathematician) we’ll get almost 260 loads of laundry out of this jar. We do around 4 loads of laundry per week, so I’m estimating that we won’t run out until September of 2013 (!!!) or so. I spent just about $19 on supplies, so that breaks down to $0.07 per load. A $12.99 bottle of Tide breaks down to $0.22 per load. The 20ish minutes it took me to make this huge container was well worth the $30/year savings that it offers! Just think of the savings it could offer a larger family who does 8+ loads of laundry a week!

This mixture doesn’t have an overwhelming scent, which is great for sensitive skin (like mine) and dissolves wonderfully even in cold water. Want to try your hand at it and save a few bucks at the same time?

Supplies Needed:

  • Borax- (1) 4 lb + 12 oz box
  • Baking soda- (4) 1 lb boxes or (1) 4 lb box
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda- (1) 55 oz. box
  • 2 bars of Zote Laundry Soap or 3 bars of Fels-Naptha
  • 1 tub of OxiClean- 32 oz. tub, any brand is okay
  • Cheese Grater
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • 1 large, thick plastic bag
  • 2 gallon container to store the mixture in

Step 1: Begin by grating all of your soap with your cheese grater. Be prepared, this takes a while and your arm will be tired. The soap tends to build up on the grater slowing down the process. I rinsed my grater a few different times during this step to get rid of some of the buildup. It helps speed up the process a little. Just make sure to thoroughly dry your grater after you rinse it!

Step 2: Line your bucket with your bag and add ingredients. I added a little of each ingredient in multiple layers to aid in the mixing process.

Step 3: Mix everything together. A friend suggested using a gardening trowel to mix everything together which worked super well (thanks, Tristan!). Towards the end I picked up the sides of the bag (while still in the bucket) and lifted each side alternately. That helped mix it up a little more.

Step 4: Find a large container to hold your mixture. Our jar is a recycled card holder from our wedding. I think my Mom picked it up at Walmart.

Step 5: You’re ready to do laundry! Use about 2 tablespoons per load. Our OxiClean came with a scoop, so I’m using 1-2 of those per load (depending on size and the dirtiness of load).

Not only does this save us  money, but looks cute in my laundry room too! :)

Budget Breakdown:

  • Borax: $4.99
  • Baking Soda: $3.96
  • Washing Soda: $4.79
  • Store brand OxiClean: $3.29
  • Zote: $1.98
  • Total: $19.01

A few updates! (5/30/12)
I’ve had a few people ask me some questions about this and I’ve caught some of them in the comments but thought an update might not be a bad idea! Hope it’s helpful!

  • For those using cold water: Its been brought to my attention that if you use straight cold water the granules may not dissolve all the way! My Mom has a great way to avoid this- fill a cup/measuring glass with hot water from your tap and mix in your scoop(s) of soap until completely dissolved. Then, pour that into your washer. I realize this is an added step, but it may ease your mind a bit about it all dissolving!
  • For those who use a front loading machine: Try the trick above and either pour directly into the drum or through the normal liquid soap dispenser.
  • For those thinking about using Fels-Naptha: The scent may be a bit overpowering to you. If you don’t like strong scents or have very sensitive skin, try Zote. It has a pretty  mild scent. I found mine at The Home Depot.
  • For those having a hard time finding Arm & Hammer Washing  Soda: I had the hardest time finding it! I finally found it at our local Ace Hardware (along with all of the other ingredients needed). I would recommend looking at Ace or your local mom & pop store.

Another update! (6/22/12) I just found ALL of these ingredients in the Laundry aisle at Walmart! Our closest Walmart is about 45 minutes away and the one place I didn’t try…go figure.

Update (12/24/12) I added sizes of each ingredient! Let me know if you have any questions :)

With squeaky clean clothes and a fatter wallet,
Mrs. Edwards

27 Comments

  1. Terra…. Thank you for passing on such a neat thing as this laundry soap. I have been using it for a couple of months and really am pleased with the results and the cost efficiency. Love your blog…. love phyllis

  2. Hi Terra…I am a little worried that since I use straight Cold water (our Hot water hose isn’t even hooked up to the back of our Washer) that this won’t dissolve. Regular Oxy Clean won’t dissolve in it and neither will straight Borax. What do you think? (Say, my husband is super thrifty with the hot water heater). I know that the Duggers of ’19 Kids and Counting’ use this same type of mix but I’m afraid to spend the money and then have it not dissolve. Love you.

    • Hi Roxanne! I typically wash in cool/warm water, but the blogs that I’ve read who use straight cold water claim it works. But, sounds like from your experience it may not! One thought that may help it dissolve better is to blend it in a food processor once you have it all combined. That will make it a more powder like consistency and may help it dissolve! Just a thought! Let me know if you try it and if that helps! -t

    • Another thought from my Mom! She has a HE front loading washer and uses only cold water. She made this mix and adds it to a cup or so of warm water and then pours it in the washer. It’s an added step, but would guarantee that the granules dissolve!

  3. So it actually works? We had someone come into ACE the other day wanting to do this, and I’ll admit, I was skeptical that a) it would work, and b) it would actually be cheaper.

    • So far, so good! It’s seems to dissolve pretty well in cool/warm water and cleans like a champ, too! And if my math isn’t completely wrong, I think it’ll save us some $$ over the next year and a half :) -t

  4. Wow this is a like that next level of DIY! I’m intrigued… how’s it work on whites?

  5. Pingback: Homemade Liquid Handsoap | {Simply Mrs. Edwards}

  6. that’s not cheep , it’s frugal. good work.

  7. Your recipe calls for 2 bars of Zote soap, but your photo only shows one. Can you confirm that you used (2) 14.1 oz bars of Zote?

  8. Im reading that its cheap but how well dose it really clean? also how is it on the skin? my son has eczema and detergents really irritate his skin.

    • Hello Mrs. Rye! Thanks for reading. My husband works a maintenance job and comes home with very, very, dirty clothes. I’ve had no problem with this detergent getting all of the gunk out! I separate his clothes from mine, and on his loads that are especially dirty sometime’s I’ll add an extra half scoop of detergent. I haven’t had to re-wash anything yet! I also have very sensitive skin and have previously had reactions to many other detergents, too. This detergent has a very light smell from the Zote or Fels-Naptha when it’s dry and no smell at all when the clothes come out of the wash. I haven’t had any troubles with it, so I’d definitely recommend it for your son. Thanks for asking!

  9. Terra, I made some of your detergent and gave it as a Halloween gift to a couple people to try. My ex-wife asked about using it in her HE washer and now I can’t find the comments on HE washers that were here. Could you please re-inform an absentee man so I can tell her?

    Thank you,
    Bryan

    • Hi Bryan, thanks for reading! You can definitely use this in a HE washer. I would recommend dissolving a couple of tablespoons in a cup or so of hot water and adding it that way. My mom has a HE washer and does it this way and says it works like a charm. Good luck!
      -t

  10. I’ve been reading several posts and I guess your not supposed to mix baking soda and the super washing soda, if you think about it baking soda mixed with other ingredients can fade clothes. That’s why its used a lot when trying to get whites back to white instead of using bleach. But i think it was with the liquid laundry detergent not 100% sure. And maybe to make it smell good use an essential oil/ purex crystals. mmmm!!! If you find anything about this let me know. thanks!!! :)

  11. Can you tell me how many ounces of oxy clean you used? I bought a giant tub and I cannot see if your tub is 12 or 32 oz. Thanks! I scoured for all the items at Lowes and Target and then finally broke down and went to Wal-Mart as you said. I’m excited to give it a try. PS. I like your blog!

  12. So call me crazy, but I have no idea about what sizes you used for making this. Are you using entire boxes of the items listed? There are various sizes for these ingredients and I just don’t know what ones you used for this recipe…help! :o)

  13. I also have tried this but I’m having trouble with the “soap” not sudsing. I have hard water, (it takes a hammer to break thru, lol ), do you think if I added calgon it would work or is it because there are no sulfate in this.

    • Hi Tresa – this mixture is not meant to suds much and that is okay. The borax and washing soda are definitely doing their job in cleaning the clothes without the suds. I’ve never used a water softener since we have relatively normal water. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to try the Calgon! Good luck!

      • I went to the store today, and looked at what the Calgon does. It brightens and doesn’t fade colors because it “pulls” the minerals that gather on your clothes out. It more or less works the same as Oxi-Clean, Biz, Trend, Dirty Jobs now has one out.
        Thanks for your comments.

  14. For those who don’t like to use the cheese grater, you can also buy Zote flakes and I love the smell of the white it’s clean , I found it at the local Flea market for only .50 cent more.

  15. May I suggest ditching the arm and hammer and using red hill baking soda as it’s cruelty free:)

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