How To Make Your Own Homemade Laundry Detergent

There are a lot of reasons to make homemade liquid laundry detergent!

  • It’s cheaper – a LOT cheaper! This recipe will make 2.5 gallons of laundry detergent for about $1.65. That’s only two cents per load!
  • No added chemicals. Sulfates (like SLS and SLES), Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) give me a rash.
  • Better for the environment. Stop buying the big plastic single-use containers that don’t recycle well!
  • It works better! I have had several dingy items look brand new after one or two washes in homemade detergent.
  • It’s easy and fun!


  • One bar of soap. Any soap will do. I chose Ivory, because I always have a few extra bars around the house, and I know it doesn’t irritate my skin.
  • ½ cup borax. “20 Mule Team Borax” is the most common brand. You can find it in the laundry detergent section at many stores, including Safeway, Fred Meyer, Meijer, Walmart, and Haggen.
  • ½ cup washing soda. “Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda” is the most common brand. It can be found at all the above stores, and in the “Painting Prep” section of hardware stores like Ace Hardware.

NOTE: Be sure the box says “SUPER” washing soda. Some stores like Walmart only carry “Arm and Hammer Washing Soda.” When in doubt, check the ingredients list: you want sodium carbonate, not sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).


  • Knife, cheese grater, food processor, or blender – to shred the soap.
  • Clean 3 or 5 gallon bucket with a lid – for storing your detergent.


Shred up the bar of soap. You can do this by hand with a knife, giving it as fine a mince as you can manage. Or you can grate it on a cheese grater. If you have a food processor or a blender, you can easily shred it up that way.

Bring a pot of water to a good simmer, and stir in the soap flakes. Stir the mixture until the soap flakes have completely melted.

Stir in the borax and washing soda. Remove the pot from heat and stir until the powders have completely blended in.

Pour the mixture into a clean bucket. Add water to make 2.5 gallons, and mix it thoroughly. Set the lid on loosely, and leave it to cool overnight. The result will be gelatinous and may separate. That’s fine – just give it a good stirring before you use it.

Use ½ cup for each load of laundry. You may need to stir it a bit to break up some of the globs. They will melt quickly in your washing machine.

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