How Well Does Homemade Laundry Soap Really Work?

Does homemade laundry soap work?
Does homemade laundry soap work?

I’ve seen many recipes for homemade laundry detergent. So many, in fact, that I decided to take the initiative myself and make a batch.

I whipped it up in less than an hour, and as I admired my 5 gallons of laundry detergent decided to text my accomplishment to a friend. His response was simple. “How much did it cost? And does it work?”

That stopped me in my tracks. Yes, I knew how much it cost, but I had no idea if it would work. This sweet, southern, but clearly pragmatic, friend of mine really got me to thinking. Did I just waste my time and money? Would my laundry detergent work? Could it possibly work better than something I purchased at the store? For that matter, does store bought laundry soap even work?

Surely, I’m not the only one who would have these questions. So, I took it upon myself to test out so that others who had the same questions could see for themselves if homemade laundry soap really works.

I decided to use common everyday stains three cloth diapers. All three would be washed alone in cold water.

Diaper one would be thrown into the wash with no laundry detergent. This is the control diaper. It will show how clean the diaper gets just by agitation in the washer in a normal wash cycle.

Diaper two would be washed with store bought laundry soap. I won’t disclose the brand of the laundry soap. Just that it is a name brand detergent that can be purchased at any discount or grocery store. I used the amount of soap the manufacturer suggested for a small load.

Diaper three would be washed with laundry detergent I made using the Easy Laundry Detergent Recipe. I used a ¼ of the soap as suggested by the recipe.

Here's an image of one of the diapers before they were washed.
Here's an image of one of the diapers before they were washed.

The Stains

Assorted markers: I used some that toted the words “washable” and some that did not.

Make up: I selected various eye shadow colors and some blush. The blush is in the center and is surrounded by the eye shadows.

Spaghetti Dinner: The center of the circle is spaghetti sauce. I also added some margarine to the top and bottom of the circle to see how well the soaps get out oil based stains

Lipstick: I took the worst colors in my collection for this one making sure to use a variety of brands.

Grass Stains and Ground in Dirt: A parent’s worst nightmare, no laundry soap test would be complete with out it.

Ink: Both blue and black ink were used in this circle.

Diaper one was washed in no detergent at all.  Surprisingly, many of the stains were removed.
Diaper one was washed in no detergent at all. Surprisingly, many of the stains were removed.
Here's the diaper that was washed in a store bought laundry detergent...Yeah, its still a mess.
Here's the diaper that was washed in a store bought laundry detergent...Yeah, its still a mess.
This final diaper was washed with my homemade laundry soap.   Yep, still a mess.
This final diaper was washed with my homemade laundry soap. Yep, still a mess.

The Results

After washing all three diapers the next day, I was a little surprised at what I found. All three pretty much looked the same. There were a few differences, but nothing earth shattering. In fact, in the pictures, you can barely tell the difference. Below, I’ll detail what small findings I did have.

  • The diaper with no soap used had residual from the pink sharpie used to make my circles. In fact, the whole thing has a pink tint to it which the two washed in soap did not have.
  • All of the marker stains came out on all three except the purple. The homemade laundry soap took out the purple marker the best.
  • The homemade detergent got out the make-up completely, but there was very little left on the other two.
  • The store bought detergent removed the spaghetti sauce the best, but the stain was still pretty bad.
  • All three of the diapers still had a massive amount of lipstick left on them.
  • The dirt came out on all three diapers.
  • The grass stains didn’t come out on any of them.
  • The ink was still very prominent on all three after the wash. It did fade a little. There was about the same amount of fading from the store bought and the homemade detergent.

My Conclusions

I honestly thought I would see more of a difference between the diapers washed in soap and the one that was not. I guess that just the agitation in the water goes a long way in cleaning clothing. As far as the two different soaps are concerned, they both cleaned different items better. In all honesty, if I saw any of the stains I used on my clothing before I washed it, I would use a pre-treatment product. Until now though, I never really realized their importance.

So, really, if you're looking to save a few bucks...might as well make your own Homemade laundry detergent. Now...the quest is on to find a great recipe for a homemade laundry pre-treatment product....

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Comments 8 comments

Faceless39 profile image

Faceless39 4 years ago from The North Woods, USA

Wow, I've never seen someone do this type of experiment on HubPages before--awesome job! It's a topic that I've often wondered about because natural solutions to everyday problems are great to find.

The results are not what I expected at all. I'm also surprised by how much the water alone accomplished. But the real surprise is how well the home made soap did, and how poorly the store bought soap did.

I think you're right about a pre-soak. Perhaps you could do another set of tests with a pre-soak first and see how things turn out?

Rated up, useful, and interesting.


Krysanthe profile image

Krysanthe 4 years ago from Bloomington, Illinois Author

Thanks so much for your kind words Faceless. I felt like I was back in school conducting a science experiment. I was also quite surprised by the results.

What a great idea to try a pre-treat test. Never know what I might learn. lol!


krillco profile image

krillco 4 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

Great proof that expensive is not always better! Voted up!


amyrechar 4 years ago

Very interesting. I wonder what might be learned from testing different homemade detergents to see which one works the best (or even different store bought detergents).


Krysanthe profile image

Krysanthe 4 years ago from Bloomington, Illinois Author

It would be interesting to see the results, that's for sure.


Jennifer 3 years ago

Very interesting! I want to make my own laundry soap, but my biggest question was if it would fade the colors in the clothes like the cheaper store bought brands do. Any idea?


Krysanthe profile image

Krysanthe 3 years ago from Bloomington, Illinois Author

I've used it for almost a year now, and I haven't noticed any fading of my clothing. I actually think it would fade less since you really aren't using any harsh detergents in the homemade laundry soap...but that's just a guess.


LadyV 18 months ago

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