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Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent for Pennies a Load

Updated on June 1, 2016

No Bubbles here

The bubbles or suds as they are sometimes called, in our commercial laundry detergents, are not present in homemade laundry detergent. Whether you use liquid laundry detergent or powdered- the bubbles give you the feeling of cleaning power- your clothes getting clean- the detergent is working!! The bubbles are created by adding one of a few ingredients that make bubbles (really hard to pronounce ingredients). Bubbles or the lack of can indicate hard or soft water.

Your homemade powdered laundry detergent won't bubble very much. The only bubbles I've seen are from the Fels-Naptha laundry soap. Get used to your water simply looking milky and wait for the amazing results and price savings from this powdered detergent you made at home.

Commercial Laundry Detergents-Expensive

Is your laundry basket or laundry bag full everyday like mine is? The costs of doing laundry everyday was huge before I discovered this fantastic washing machine detergent that I can make at home.

Not only is it cheaper than the powdered commercial laundry detergents but I know what is going into it.

Dateline-the year 2016: I am still making and using this homemade laundry detergent everyday. I make the detergent twice a year with a much lower cost than commercial detergent. I find the "bubbles" or "suds" effect doesn't matter, the cleaning is amazing, and the clothes smell fresh.

A Proven Homemade Product's success

This past Christmas I made a casserole using Chicken and Frank's Red Hot Sauce. To get it to my friend's house I wrapped the casserole in a towel. Of course during the trip the casserole tipped and the towel became saturated with the oily red sauce.

I threw the towel in the laundry and a few days later got around to washing it. I thought that stain would never come out. BUT IT DID!! Yes I sound like a commercial but I was amazed, once again, at the quality of this homemade laundry detergent.

My granddaughter plays softball. The combination of red clay, grass stains, and the occasional snow cone syrup can be lethal to the whiteness of those knit baseball pants. I always have a bar of Fels-Naptha to pre-treat. The pre-treating combined with my Homemade Laundry Detergent successfully brought back the whiteness to those baseball pants.


Two Great Reasons to Make Your Own Detergent

Reason #1: The Cost Savings! A typical batch of homemade laundry detergent usually lasts me 304 days.....304! In 2016 the average cost of the 4 ingredients is around $12.85, giving me a cost per laundry load of .07. When I was buying top-rated commercial liquid laundry detergent I was paying so much more for each bottle of detergent over the same 304 days.

Everybody is trying to save money; pinch a penny here and there. Everything is so expensive and the prices keep going up. Time-saving laundry products are wonderful, most of them are quick and easy to use; however, that convenience comes at a price...usually a time-saving product costs more.

I found this laundry detergent recipe on a really wonderful Blog which features items that are very reasonably priced.

I do feature name brand products but encourage generic/store brand products. Also some people like to add an Oxygen laundry booster to the mix.

Reason #2: Allergies are everywhere, including being allergic to ingredients in laundry detergents. I see so many laundry products on the shelves boasting of being for sensitive skin, containing no dyes or scents. I have purchased many of them because of a family member who breaks out with traditional detergents.

By making the homemade laundry detergent recipe below, you know exactly what's going into the mix; avoiding what might bother the skin.

Laundry Detergent Ingredients & Tools

Powdered Laundry Detergent Booster
Powdered Laundry Detergent Booster
Powdered Washing Soda
Powdered Washing Soda
Powdered Baking Soda (the same you use for baking)
Powdered Baking Soda (the same you use for baking)
Laundry Soap in a bar
Laundry Soap in a bar

How to Make and Use the Detergent

Ingredients You will need (I have mentioned name brands for recognizably but I heartily encourage store/generic brands.

  • 1 Box of 20 Mule Team Borax (76 oz.)
  • 1 Box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 oz.)
  • 1 Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4 lb.)
  • 3 Bars of Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap Bar
  • Optional- 3.5 lb. of a dry Oxygen laundry product

Utensils / Containers Needed

  • METAL food grater (Metal because it can be thoroughly washed after to use for food)
  • Plastic Air-Tight Container (I bought a very large plastic container intended for pouring juice out the spout and you can also choose one of those wide-mouthed round jars - either one needs to be able to be sealed (to shake the ingredients together)

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

I make my homemade laundry detergent in batches of 3 - this way I make sure they are mixed together completely. The Fels-Naptha grating is the hardest part and grating one bar of the Fels-Naptha at a time saves your hand from getting sore (maybe you can find someone else to do this).

1. In your container, pour:

  • One-Third of the 20 Mule Team Borax
  • One-Third of the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • One-Third of the Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
  • If you choose to add the Oxygen product add One-Third now.
  • Grate the (1) bar of Fels-Naptha. Use the smallest side of a hand grater. The larger side of the grater might make the pieces too big to dissolve. If you can, grate the bar directly into the container or on a piece of wax paper, foil, or parchment (something smooth- a paper towel doesn't work well) grate the bar then pour it into the container.

2. Put the cover on and shake thoroughly.

3. Repeat this process 2 more times. The container is just easier to manage and shake by mixing the ingredients in these one-third increments.

How to use it

Use 2 tablespoons per load no matter top load or front load style of washer.

Bubbles and tons of suds...the marketing for detergent always features bubbles and suds as being equated with cleaning ability. So not true...there is an additive in all commercial detergents whose sole purpose is to create these bubbles and suds. They have no actual purpose or role in the cleaning process.

Because of its low-suds count, you might be tempted to add more soap, but there’s no need! As long as you pre-treat tough stains before washing, you’ll do just fine.

This detergent is low on suds, which is perfect for high-efficiency washing machines.

Front Loading Machines

For Front Loading Washing Machines:

Dissolve 1 - 2 Tablespoons of detergent in hot water to make a liquid detergent.

The Cost Breakdown

As of October, 2014 the Cost Breakdown:

$12.85 \ 12.18lb (not counting the 3 Bars) = $1.05 per lb \ 16=.065 per oz.

2 Tablespoons=1 oz. So the cost per load = .07 cents and there are approx. 185 washes per completed recipe which means it lasts you a very long time.

I make about 2 batches each year so the cost is dramatically lower than commercial brands and it works great! I have a youngster in the house and never have issues with stains, etc. For tougher stains I do have a bar of Fels-Naptha in the house to rub on the stain which I have done even using the commercial brands.

One of the many brands of White Vinegar available.
One of the many brands of White Vinegar available.

Fabric Softener

Another tip Leann from The Old Parsonage gave was to substitute 1/2 Cup of White Vinegar instead of your normal more expensive liquid fabric softener. The White Vinegar won't leave any trace of the vinegar smell but will soften the clothes.

Also, if you like a scent for your detergent, you can add about 20 drops of an essential oil of your choice.


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    • howcurecancer profile image

      Elena@LessIsHealthy 4 years ago

      I use baking soda too....and soap nuts.

    • MimiKat33 profile image

      MimiKat33 6 years ago from Northeastern NY State, USA

      Update! I just purchased the ingredients for the homemade laundry detergent...$11.80+tax. What a great bargain!

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      I never thought about making my own laundry detergent. Great ideas!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Reason #3 to make your own laundry detergent at home is that big companies use their profits to support causes I don't support!