Homemade laundry soap

I have never been so excited to run out of laundry detergent OR to do laundry before in my life! :)

Cross your fingers... I'm using my first batch of homemade laundry detergent as I type. In my quest of being an even bigger cheapskate and wanting to try to go a bit "greener" I decided to make my own. Although I am in love with Gain and obsessed with OxyClean, I have high hopes for my detergent. It really wasn't difficult to find the ingredients and the hardest part was not tripping over Ellie who seemed to be greatly worried at my stint of being homemaker-ish!

The ingredients (minus the baking soda because I forgot about it until I was mixing it up)
And, because I went to the store without my list, I bought the wrong kind of castille soap. That will be going back. I only needed the Fels-Naptha OR the Ivory, but I already had the Ivory and was surprised I found Fels-Naptha in town so I bought it too... we can always use the ivory in the shower.  

The recipe I used:
3 cups Borax
2 cups baking soda
2 cups washing soda
2 cups grated bar soap
Mix it all together and store in a sealed tub. I used the Gain box I just emptied. Not exactly "sealed" but it will get the job done.
You only use 1/8 cup per load. I looked it up online and it is only 4 tablespoons per full load. I actually cut the recipe I was following into fourths. I didn't want to make such a huge batch on my first go 'round.

Doesn't it look like food with cheese on top?
This was before I poured it into the Gain box and mixed it up.

Grating the soap wasn't exactly fun, but it wasn't difficult. I could probably have cut it into chunks and put it into my food processor, but Mom didn't answer her phone and I didn't want to do it without asking her first. (She's used to answering the phone to a "Mom, can I..." or "Mom, how do I...." or something similar.... a lot of times I think it is more like "Mom, will you....." :))

We have a front load HE washing machine that we bought in April, so I was a little weary. However, all my research says that the most important thing for HE machines is low sud and that's what this is supposed to be.

I was also afraid that it wouldn't have a "clean" smell. (see above mention of  my love for Gain) Fear not-- my entire house smells like the detergent I just made. It just smells clean. It is overpowering in the kitchen, but it starting to fade as the dust settles. --it was a bit of a dusty experience.

And, although this isn't the exact recipe I followed (mine had a bit more in it) I just discovered this cost saving breakdown...

I copied and pasted this from another site (http://www.tidbitsandstuff.com/household-tips/laundry/142-homemade-laundry-detergent) I'm going to try the recipe on their site next.

In May of 2007, in the Northeastern region of the United States, the recipe cost as follows:
  • 20 Mule Team Borax: $2.50 for 70 oz.
    Cost per batch: .28 (8 oz needed for recipe)
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda: $2.50 for 55 oz.
    Cost per batch .18.(4 oz needed for recipe)
  • Ivory Soap: $.99 for 3 3.1 oz. Bars.
    Cost per batch: .33 (1 bar of soap needed for recipe)
Cost to make: .79
Yield: 442 oz.
Cost per oz. = .00178
Cost per ½ cup = .007 or rounded to .01 cent per load
The cost to wash 110.5 loads is $1.11. How does that compare to your store-bought detergent?

I feel like I have a whole lot more than $1.11 invested in my first batch/110.5 loads, but this is the trial run! Laundry detergent is SO expensive. I'm happy that I'm finally out of Gain and can start experimenting! I might save the type with the Fels-Naptha for Dustin's work clothes, which tend to be a bit dirtier, and try out the other site's recipe for our everyday type of laundry.

I'll let you know how the sheets in the washer turn out.....


  1. How did it come out? Granny and I were wondering if you have to use warm water in the washer with your homemade soap or if you can use cold water (what she and I use for most everything). I just did start in with a new bottle of laudry detergent, but if yours works out ok, I just might have to try it instead when I run out! =)

  2. Wow! I'd like to know how it turns out, too! Sounds fun! The only problem I have is that my kids have eczema. I have to use the free and clear detergents. I wonder how this is on the skin?

  3. Vanessa-

    Well, we don't have any allergies or anything....

    If you are weary of the Fels Naptha I've seen that you can use any bar soap. They recommend Ivory. And really, other than the bar soap, it is only baking soda, Borax, and washing soda.

    I know this is a stretch... but... our puppy was very allergic to Gain. I couldn't wash her bedding, blankets, toys or anything in it. Since I've been making this, she's perfectly fine.

    Here is a website that talks about it being ok for babies/sensitive skin--
    This is actually a link from the site that I used. HOPE THIS HELPS! I'll see what else I can find :)

    Sarah, do you have any suggestions/ideas? (she's my cousin who is allergic to, well, just about everything... =))

  4. You've inspired me with your detergent making... we bought a box of borax this weekend, and are looking forward to giving it a try!

  5. 3 years later, lol....

    I started making my own 2 years ago at least and used Ivory that I ground up in the food processor. Totally ruined it for food cause of a soap residue that I could never get out. I can probably tackle it and get it cleaned up but I just stuck it in the closet and bought a new one. The soap never really dissolved in the wash either and left clumps of it and a residue on the laundry and in the washer.

    I could not find the washing soda so I was told to use pH plus from the swimming pool section because it is exactly the same product sodium bicarbonate. Now that so many people are making it borax has caught on and even designed a new box. The stores have caught on too and now carry the washing soda right next to it along with several soaps to use.

    Anyway after a few experiments I figured out that all I need to use is simply a 1:1 ratio of borax to washing soda (or pH+), mix it up in a plastic shoe size bin with a 1/8th cup scoop and use only 1 or possible 2 scoops per wash.

    I was also concerned about getting the odors out but it actually has a slight sweet smell. Don't know what that's about but great! For whites I will sometimes add regular bleach if I just feel I need extra whiteness but don't really need to on a regular basis.

    I don't even have to use dryer sheets or any sort of fabric softener. It just does not create much if any static. Winter is coming on though so there is naturally static in the house so I am going to try a tip I read a couple places of balling up some aluminum foil and tossing it in the dryer with the clothes. They say the one ball will last a month or more and does not catch on clothes and tends to get smooth after several uses. I want to try it for the fun of it, lol.

    Anyway so how are you doing with your detergent and have you altered it since then?


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