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Homemade Laundry Detergent, Soap, Stain Remover, Softener

Updated on November 15, 2016
janderson99 profile image

John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

Commercial laundry detergents are a rip-off. They are expensive, hard on the environment, hard on your hands and tough on you clothes. The manufactures don't say what's in commercial laundry detergents. Ever wondered why? The cheapest brands simply don't work. All brands are very hard on your clothes. The good news is that you can easily make laundry detergent at home using readily available ingredients and minimal equipment. Homemade Laundry Detergents and soaps clean you clothes, as well as. or better than commercial detergents. They are cheap, effective and good for the environment.

A typical batch of homemade laundry detergent costs only one quarter or a half of the commercial varieties. These detergents have low suds and are safe an very effective in both front and top loading machines. You can also make your own stain remover and fabric softener at home.

All you need to make homemade laundry detergents are three simple ingredients:

Simple Bar Soap - These simple soaps that have no perfumes or other additives gives the detergent its cleaning power. There are many varieties available Kirk’s Castile, Dr. Bonners, Sunlight Soap, Fels Naptha, or Zote. These soaps can be found with the other soaps and labelled natural or simple soaps. Similar soaps can be found in the laundry section.

Borax (sodium borate) - is a naturally occurring mineral that acts as a deodorizer and whitener. It can be found in supermarkets, hardware and health food stores.

Washing Soda - although similar to baking soda, washing soda is much stronger and is caustic. Washing Soda is Sodium Carbonate and Baking Soda is Sodium Bicarbonate. Washing Soda has a pH of 11. Baking Soda is much less alkaline with a pH around 8.1. Incidentally dishwasher detergent contains sodium or potassium hydroxide (pH of 14) which are extremely strong and corrosive chemicals and we eat of the plates! Washing soda is sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash, and its function is to remove odors and dirt.

Essence oils and Fragrances - Add some of your favorite fragrances and oil essences to provide a pleasant fragrance to your detergent and clothes. Use about one to two ounces (50-100g) per load. One of the best is tea tree oil which is a natural and mild disinfectant.

Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe
1 bar of soap
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
Powdered Fragrances

Use a coarse cheese grater to grate the soap bar into small flakes. Mix well with washing soda and borax to produce an even powder mixture. Store in a properly labeled, air-tight container (be careful when reusing food containers). This recipe makes approximately 2 lb (1 kg) of detergent, which will keep indefinitely. For washing use 1-2 tablespoons per load depending on the size of the clothes and your washer. If you like you can dissolve in a jug in warm water prior to adding to the wash to ensure all the powder dissolves.

Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe
This recipe makes laundry detergent for about 90 front load washes or 45 top loads. It will store indefinitely. You can downsize for smaller batches.

4 cups hot boiled Water
1/4 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 natural Soap Bar
30 drops Lemon essential oil
30 drops Lavender essential oil
30 drops Grapefruit of Clove essential oil

  • Grate the soap bar into flakes using a cheese grater.
  • Mix the soap flakes into hot water in a large pot or saucepan. Stir the mixture over a medium-low heat until the soap melts.
  • Fill a 5 gallon (15 litres) container about half full of very hot water. Stir in the soap mixture, borax and washing soda and the borax and keep stirring until everything is dissolved.
  • Top up the bucket, cover and set aside for 8 hours or overnight, to cool and to thicken, then add essential oils and fragrances.
  • Transfer the detergent to a set of clean used detergent containers or other bottles.
  • When using, shake the bottle well before each use to dissolve any lumps. Pre-dissolve in a jug with warm water if you are concerned about the lumps, which can be simply squeezed through a strainer to disperse.
  • Use about 1/2 cup per load for front-load washers and 1 cup for top-load washing machines.

Pre-Wash Stain Spray
1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 cup white vinegar
3 cups water
Mix and pour into a labeled spray bottle. Use to spray on soiled areas just before washing. Always test the spray on a hidden spot or the clothes if you are worried about bleaching or staining.

Brightener and Bleach Substitute
12 cups water
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup lemon or grapefruit juice
Store in a labelled plastic container or jug. Use about 2 cups per load along with the detergent.

Fabric Softener Recipe
Simply use 1/2 -1 cup of white vinegar per load or just fill the fabric softener dispenser with white vinegar.

Another fabric softener recipe is:
6 cups of water
3 cups of white vinegar
2 cups of hair conditioner
Mix these ingredients together and use as you would store-bought softener.

Extra tips:

  • For extra dirty clothes add 1/2 cup of borax after the detergent
  • Add 1/4 cup of baking soda at the same time as detergent. It softens the water and freshen clothes and linens.
  • Use a scented bar soap like Dr Bonner's lavender you won't need essential oil.

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • msshandriaball profile image

    Shandria yanay Ball 4 years ago from Anniston

    great hub !I am about to make some now.thanks

  • janderson99 profile image

    Dr. John Anderson 4 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

    Thanks for the hints and comments - very helpful!

  • profile image

    buffycar 4 years ago

    I found Washing Soda and Borax at Kroger.

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 5 years ago from America

    Where do you buy Washing Soda? Enjoyed your hub.

  • alipuckett profile image

    alipuckett 5 years ago

    Yay! This is awesome. I've been wanting to make my own laundry soap for some time now. Thanks for the easy recipe. Voted up!