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Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

Updated on October 13, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Commercial laundry detergent like ALL, Cheer, Tide, Gain, and Arm & Hammer, can be expensive, especially if you have a large family or you're running your household on a limited budget.

I used to think that 'buy one get one' deals on detergent was a great deal, and it is. You can definitely save money using coupons and watching the local sales, but even if you stock up and use coupons, it's still hard to beat the price of making your own detergent.

The original start-up costs may seem like a little more than one container of detergent, but those start-up boxes of washing soda and borax will last you about 950 loads.

The ingredients can be purchased at your local grocery store and drug store. You may find better deals at Dollar General or overstock retail stores, like Big Lots or Fred's.


The best part about making your own laundry detergent, is that you only need three ingredients. If you want you can add 25-60 drops of essential oils for smell, but for to keep it simple, all you need are three things.

  • 1/3 bar Fels Napth Laundry Soap
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax

If you can't find Fels Napth laundry soap, you can use 1-4/5 oz bar of Ivory soap.


  • 3 to 5 gallon bucket
  • Cheese grater
  • Measuring cup
  • Stirrer
  • Saucepan

Click thumbnail to view full-size


  1. Grate the soap into a large pan.
  2. Heat 6 cups of water and the grated soap until the soap dissolves.
  3. Stir in the borax and washing soda, and mix until dissolved.
  4. Boil for about 15 minutes, and then remove from heat.
  5. In a 3 or 5-gallon bucket, add 4 cups of hot water. Add the soap mix and stir.
  6. Add 1 gallon and 6 cups of hot water and stir.
  7. Let the mix sit for 24 hours to gel to the consistency of honey.

This mix makes about 2 gallons or detergent.

Before each use make sure to shake/stir the mix. Use about 1/2 cup per load.

Cost Efficiency

Making your own laundry detergent is one of many things that you can do to save money. The ingredients for the initial setup are pretty cheap, and you'll find that once you start making your own detergent, you probably won't have to buy all the ingredients at the same time again.

  • Fels Napth Laundry Soap - about $1.50 a bar (3 batches per - $0.50 per batch)
  • Washing Soda - about $3.45 a 55-oz box (about 15 batches - $0.23 per batch)
  • Borax - about $3.45 a 4-lb box (about 20 batches - $0.1725 per batch)

You'll find that on average, you're spending about $0.902 per batch of laundry detergent.

You will get about 64 loads per 2 gallons of laundry detergent, so you're spending about $0.014 per load.

If you opt to use Ivory soap (about @2.25 a bar), you'll spend a little more per gallon and per load, but you're still only spending about $0.04.

Powdered Version

If you prefer powder detergent instead of a liquid detergent, you still only need three ingredients. Using the same amounts that were used in the liquid detergent, use a blender or food processor until the ingredients become fine like dust.

You only need to use 1 teaspoon per load.

With the powder detergent, you will only get about 32 loads per batch, and the cost per load ends up a little more, but you're still saving a great deal when compared to the price of commercial laundry detergent.


  • If you feel like there's a buildup of detergent on your clothing, you can use a 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar in the rinse water. I've not had this problem, but some people may experience it depending on their preferences.
  • Do not use bleach with the soap. You may not notice it at first, but mixing bleach with the detergent can create toxic fumes, just as mixing bleach with just about anything.


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    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Ok tamron, what's your recipe? Vinegar and....?

      Whitney, thank you for this. I will try the powdered version--my blender needs cleaning anyway. =: )

    • tamron profile image

      tamron 5 years ago

      Laundry soap is getting so darn expensive. I have made my own laundry soap but not with a bar of soap. Vinegar works better than bleach and does not damage your clothes.

      If anyone is wondering. No your clothes does not smell like vinegar!

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile image

      Michelle Clairday 5 years ago from Arkansas

      I pinned this article. I'll definitely use it later. Thank you.