Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Make your own laundry detergent

I am thrilled to have found a homemade laundry detergent that is way more economical than buying commercial detergent! In fact, it's so much more economical that I can't even figure out the math!  I honestly think it's more than 100x cheaper....but I'll let a true mathematician figure it out for me.

Here is what you need....

Borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, and Fels Naptha bar soap....all found on the laundry aisle at Wal-Mart
I also bought a new, clean 5 gallon bucket to store the detergent in, and used a funnel  for easier transferring.

The recipe:
1 bar Fels Naptha
1 Cup Super Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
4 Cups Hot Water plus extra to fill bucket

Using a cheese grater, grate the bar of Fels Naptha and add to 4 Cups of hot water in sauce pan.  Heat on stove on med-low until the soap is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.

It might look like cheddar cheese, but please refrain from tasting.

Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/2 full with warm water.  Add the dissolved soap mixture, borax, and super washing soda.  Stir well and add more warm water to fill bucket to within an inch or two from the top.  Allow to sit for several hours. (I started mine at night and let it sit overnight.)

The kitchen sprayer works well for this

The soap will thicken after several hours.  Stir well.

The next morning

Using a funnel, fill an empty laundry bottle 1/2 full with detergent.  Add warm water to fill the bottle to the top.  Shake well before using.

The finished product....

I only had 2 empty bottles, so the rest of my detergent is stored in the 5 gallon bucket that I will use to refill my bottles as needed.  This will end up making 10 gallons of detergent once it is mixed with water. 

To use:  Add 1/2 cup to top-load washing machines or 1/4 cup to HE machines.

The price breakdown:
1 bar Fels Naptha -    $0.97
1 Cup Washing Soda - 0.34
1/2 Cup Borax -             0.15
10 gallons H2O -            0.10
Total -                             $1.56

Of course I had to buy the entire box of Borax and Washing Soda, so my actual cost was $6.26 for this first batch....about the same price (or less) than 1 bottle of Tide, and I won't have to buy the Borax or Washing Soda for many years to come!

I also calculated the cost per load for Tide and homemade detergent...
Tide - $0.21 per load
Homemade - $0.0002 per load (that's way less than even a penny, and I don't even know what to call that)

The outcome:

For my first load of laundry using my homemade detergent, I washed the boys' clothes (the dirtiest we have) and was very pleased with the results.  They smelled fresh and clean, but not overly perfumy.  I even checked their socks and some burp stinky, sweaty foot smell or soiled milk odors. 

For heavily soiled items, you could always use the undiluted detergent from the 5 gallon bucket for more powerful cleaning, but for everyday laundry, the reconstituted detergent seems to work just fine.

Happy and Frugal laundering!


  1. I am so doing this. I'm so happy you provide me with such economical "recipes!"

  2. What about for HE washers... is it "safe"?

  3. I've been using this in my own HE machine for 4 months now and have had no problems. No excessive sudsing and the clothes come out clean every time!