Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to Make Laundry Detergent

About three years ago, my sister gave me her super simple laundry detergent recipe.  It was around the same time when coupon deals for nearly free laundry detergent quit coming as regularly and it just seemed easier and much, much cheaper to make it than deal with the hassle.

Our family has had zero skin issues from this detergent and that's worth something!  We all of sensitive skin and I used Dreft for my Little Guy and Little Gal until they were about two, at which point I began using this without skin problems.  I find that it cleans our clothing/towels/sheets well, leaves them smelling fresh, and I don't find that it fades clothes or leaves them dingy.

Some people love tide or another detergent, have had bad experiences with homemade laundry detergent, or just don't want to fuss with it.  If you want to save money from your household budget, though, I suggest you at least try it.  Even if you only make one batch, Borax and Super Washing Soda have other uses.

1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Super Washing Soda (NOT regular baking soda!)
1 Bar Fels-Naptha soap, grated finely

Use the fine side of your grater and grate the entire bar of Fels-Naptha.  Pour it into your detergent container.  I believe my sister cuts her bar into small cubes and then she uses her food processor and washes it really well afterward.  Not really sure!  I'm sort of old school with my grater.

Add 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup Super Washing Soda.  Break up any clumps that you may find.  Tightly place the lid on your storage container and shake to combine the mixture.

To Use:  Add 1-1.5 TBS detergent per load of wash, following your machines instructions for when and where to place the detergent.  I am unsure of how much to put in a High-Efficiency washing machine, but probably the same amount since it is so little and this detergent doesn't really make a lot of suds as it doesn't have the added ingredients that make bubbles.

NOTE:  If I have towels or clothing that is especially soiled or mildewed, etc., I will pour in 1 cup distilled white vinegar with the water.

I did a little math for you so you can know (roughly) the cost.

Borax:  $.41 per 1 Cup/Batch
Super Washing Soda:  $.43
Fels Naptha Bar:  $.97

Total for one batch of Homemade Laundry Detergent:  $1.81

Number of Loads per Batch (rough estimate and determined upon about 1 TBS per load:  44ish

Cost of Laundry Detergent per Load:  A hair over $.04

Now, I usually like to do a full load of wash, and I usually have heavily soiled clothing (my kids like to play outside and they're 3 and 5), so I use a slightly heaped scoop.  I run at least 1 load of laundry per day and the last time I made laundry soap was just before October 7th in my Ways I Saved post.  I just made this batch on the 16th, so I'd say that's pretty stinkin' good!

Do you make your own laundry detergent?  Do you add other things?


  1. Thanks for this, Katie. Do you wash in cold? And will this dissolve in cold water for you? Our cold water is quite cold, here, and I'm having a hard time finding an inexpensive detergent (that actually cleans) that dissolves in our cold water.

    Have you ever made your own washing soda? I'm not a scientist, but baking ordinary baking soda will make it more like washing soda. I don't know if it actually becomes washing soda, but I've found that it works like washing soda (it makes the water feel slimy like washing soda). Bake at about 400 degrees, for about 25 to 30 minutes, on a shallow tray.

  2. Hi Lili!

    You're welcome! I wash in warm sometimes, but I usually use cold water and I haven't had any trouble with it dissolving. I do put it in the bottom, so perhaps that helps? Our water gets pretty cold.

    I have never made my own washing soda! I had never even thought of that. I'll have to try it out. Thanks!