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How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent & Save Money!

Still Life of Natural Cleaning homemade laundry soap shavings and a metal grater
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If you have read about tradtional laundry detergents, then you know that most are packed full of chemicals like sulfates, phenols, fragrances and much more.

Some popular brands even contain petroleum distillates can be harmful when breathed in plus they can cause skin irritation. The fragrances may also contain toxic chemicals that can be quite harmful on your skin.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe:

So, if making your own homemade laundry detergent is of interest, here is a fast and inexpensive alternative that gets the job done. It’s surprisingly simple to make plus saves a lot of money!

You only need a handful of basic ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store. This type of laundry powder is still the main type of detergent used around the world.

Interesting Article on the World’s Use of Powdered Laundry Detergent

The best part of all of this is that once you switch to homemade laundry detergent, you’ll find that you end up saving a lot of money while having a safer product!

Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at a simple step-by-step guide on how to prepare DIY laundry detergent.

The secret ingredient in this recipe is Fels Naptha Laundry Soap! (you actually won’t believe the price!

making homemade laundry detergent with grater, bowl, little wooden scoop and bar of soap

Ingredients You’ll Be Using:

  • Fels Naptha® Bar Soap (5.5 ounces)
  • 20 Mule Team® Borax
  • Arm & Hammer® Washing Soda
  • Baking Soda (optional but helpful for hard water)
  • Oxi-Clean (optional but helpful for stains)
  • Favorite Essential Oil

These are the ingredients we prefer using. But, feel free to use any brands that you’re comfortable with or prepare your own at home.

If you are not familar with Fels Naptha soap; this soap has been around for decades. It’s clean power is amazing especially for spot cleaning and pre-treating. It is so economical and so handy to use. It even is helpful in treating Poison Ivy.

One bar lasts almost forever when using it as a pre-treatment on spots which is so much more economical than bottles of laundry sprays. Plus, Fels Naptha Soap is wrapped in paper so is totally recyclable.

I remember using Fels Naptha soap to pre-treat the collars of my dad’s shirts before putting them in the washing machine and all the stains came out beautifully.

Consider ordering this complete laundry ingredient set.

Or, Grab Your Individual Ingredients Here:

Other Types of Bar Soap

I have not tried other types of bar soap in this recipe but you may want to try something like Kirk’s Castile Soap or Zote White Laundry Bar Soap if you would like.

If you or someone in your family has sensitive skin, then consider using a natural laundry bar like Mom’s Laundry Cube Soap Bar.

Equipment and Ingredients

Small Batch Ingredients:

  • 1 Bar of Grated Soap
  • Borax – 2 Cups
  • Super Washing Soda – 2 Cups
  • Oxi-Clean or Store Brand – 2 Cups (optional)
  • 40 drops of Essential Oils (optional)
  • For Hard Water add 2 Cups of Baking Soda
  • Carefully mix to combine and store in a sealed jar

Large Batch Ingredients:

  • 3 Bar of Grated Soap
  • 1 Box of Borax (4lbs size)
  • 1 Box Super Washing Soda (3lb 7oz size)
  • 1/2 container of Oxi-Clean or Store Brand (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of Essential Oils
  • For Hard Water add 1 Box Baking Soda (4lb size)
  • Carefully mix to combine and store in a sealed jar

Instructions

  • Grate a bar of soap into flakes using a box or hand grater into a bowl, whatever you have available. You can grate more than one bar; it just depends on how much laundry detergent you’re planning to make either a small batch or large batch
  • In a separate container, mix together borax, washing soda, baking soda, & Oxi-Clean.
  • Add the grated soap to this mixture
  • Add essential oils if desired.
  • If you wish to make more, you can increase the quantity as long as you’re keeping the ingredients in the right proportion.
  • Thoroughly stir the ingredients together and there you have it; your homemade laundry detergent is ready to use.
  • Store in a sealed jar or container with a scoop.
  • Use 1 to 2 tablespoons for small loads of laundry
  • Use 4 to 6 tablespoons for large and/or dirty loads of laundry
homemade laundry soap was used to wash this stack of towels that are in a wicker laundry basket

Notes

  • You can also take it a step further and mix small amounts of the ingredients in a food processor to create a fine powder that will easily dissolve even in the coldest water.
  • Once the ingredients have been blended together, wait for the particles to settle down before taking off the lid to avoid inhaling them.
  • I like mixing the ingredients outdoors to prevent breathing any particles
  • Only process small amounts at a time and then pour into your container.
  • Use around 2 tablespoons for a small load or about 4 to 6 tablespoons for large or dirty loads.
  • You may have to use more if you’re working with hard water.

Tips

  • If you want your laundry detergent to have a fresh and long-lasting scent, consider adding Purex Crystals. (but, if you staying more natural then look at the next tip)
  • You can also create your own naturally scented crystals with essential oils and use them instead of the Purex crystals. The ones that I like are orange, lemongrass and lavendar.
Yield: Small Batch or Large Batch

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Still Life of Natural Cleaning homemade laundry soap shavings and a metal grater

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent & Save Money!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Materials

  • Fels Naptha® Bar Soap (5.5 ounces)
  • 20 Mule Team® Borax
  • Arm & Hammer® Washing Soda
  • Baking Soda (optional but helpful for hard water)
  • Oxi-Clean (optional but helpful for stains)
  • Favorite Essential Oil
  • Find instructions for Small Batch or Large Batch below.

Tools

  • Box grater
  • Measuring cup
  • Rubber gloves (washing soda can irritate your skin)
  • Canning Jars or Some Type of Storage Container

Instructions

  1. Instructions for Small Batch or Large Batch

SMALL BATCH Amounts:
1 Bar of Grated Soap
Borax - 2 Cups
Super Washing Soda - 2 Cups
Oxi-Clean or Store Brand - 2 Cups (optional)
40 drops of Essential Oils (optional)
For Hard Water add 2 Cups of Baking Soda
Carefully mix to combine and store in a sealed jar or container

LARGE BATCH Amounts:
3 Bar of Grated Soap
1 Box of Borax (4lbs size)
1 Box Super Washing Soda (3lb 7oz size)
1/2 container of Oxi-Clean or Store Brand (optional)
2 teaspoons of Essential Oils
For Hard Water add 1 Box Baking Soda (4lb size)
Carefully mix to combine and store in a sealed jar or container

  1. Use either the small batch or large batch quantities and follow the instructions.
  2. Grate a bar of soap into flakes using a box or hand grater into a bowl, whatever you have available. You can grate more than one bar; it just depends on how much laundry detergent you’re planning to make either a small batch or large batch
  3. In a separate container, mix together borax, washing soda, baking soda, & Oxi-Clean.
  4. Add the grated soap to this mixture
  5. Add essential oils if desired.
  6. If you wish to make more, you can increase the quantity as long as you’re keeping the ingredients in the right proportion.
  7. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together and there you have it; your homemade laundry detergent is ready to use.

Notes

  • Store in a sealed jar or container with a scoop.
  • Use 1 to 2 tablespoons for small loads of laundry
  • Use 4 to 6 tablespoons for large and/or dirty loads of laundry
  • If you want your laundry detergent to have a fresh and long-lasting scent, consider adding Purex Crystals. (but, if you staying more natural then look at the next tip)
  • You can also create your own naturally scented crystals with essential oils and use them instead of the Purex crystals. The ones that I like are orange, lemongrass and lavender.
  • Liquid Laundry Detergent

    If you would rather use a liquid homemade laundry detergent then take a look to see if this DIY liquid concentrate recipe will work for you!

    Final thoughts

    Add your powdered diy laundry detergent in the bottom of your washer before adding the clothese or try mixing the detergent in warm water before pouring it into the washer to make sure it dissolves easily.

    All the ingredients will work together perfectly to help clean your laundry and get rid of stubborn dirt stains.

    References for Homemade Laundry Detergent Ingredients:

    • Borax which is Sodium Borate from Wikipedia
    • Washing Soda which is Sodium Carbonate from Wikipedia
    • Fel Naptha Soap – from Wikipedia
    • Baking Soda which is Sodium Bicarbonage – from Wikipedia
    • Oxi-Clean which is a mixture that contains Hydrogen Peroxide – Wikipedia
    image of a wicker laundry basket with folded towels on a wooden floor

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