DIY Laundry Detergent
When I started my blog ten years ago, I wrote a post about making DIY laundry detergent. Some people may call it laundry soap, either way, you get the idea.
I had a friend teach me how to make it years ago and that’s how I was able to write that original post. I decided to update this post to show my readers how to make it. Let me know if you make your own detergent and what you use. In case you missed this post, How To Make Emergency Washing Machines
I highly recommend a Lavario Portable Washing Machine (currently out of stock)
What I love about this recipe is you can make as little or as much as you want at any given time. Yes, I stockpile the ingredients.
Dry DIY Laundry Detergent Over Liquid
It is really easy to make laundry detergent, it really is. I prefer the dry over the liquid because I’m one of those chicks that like to be prepared for the unexpected and we all need to do laundry.
Yep, I will probably never run out of the stuff. I have several years stored in a closet in five-gallon buckets. I couldn’t do that with liquid detergent.
I only use 1-3 teaspoons of laundry detergent in my front-end loader washing machine (HE). I started out using 1 tablespoon, but I got the same results with half of that, so now it makes my cost even less. Gotta love the savings, and it does a great job getting my clothes clean!
Grater And Blender
If you have a cheese grater and a blender you can make this stuff. Some people say it makes their cheese grater or blender smell like soap. When I’m done I soak them with a little bleach and rinse them with really hot water and that works out great for me since I don’t taste or smell the detergent on the tools.
Then I wash the items to rid them of any bleach residue. This year I used my Nutriblender to blend the ingredients instead of my Bosch blender. I used a Vegetable Grater to shred the bars of soap. You can use a cheese grater as well, just be careful while grating so you don’t damage your fingers.
You will have to let your blender of choice cool down between batches because it may overheat. I waited about an hour and went back and made a few more batches in order to fill the gallon container. You could also use mason jars, but I opted for this glass jar. One Gallon Jar
DIY Laundry Detergent
Here’s the deal, you don’t have to invest in a lot of equipment to make laundry detergent. I make it in huge quantities to share with my daughters. You can use a salad shooter or just a plain grater to grate the bars of soap.
Any blender will work as long as you make sure it doesn’t overheat. I love the smell of Fels Naptha bars, but I have seen people using castile soap bars as well. I think it is just a personal preference. I stick with the Fels since I’ve had such a good experience with the job it does, my clothes come out clean.
On Facebook, I’ve noticed families getting together on a weeknight to make their own DIY laundry detergent together. What a great idea! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Saving money is a huge thing for all of us!
In case you missed this post, 15 Ways to Clean Your Home with Borax
Kitchen Items You May Need:
- Cheese Grater
- Containers (to store the detergent)
- Electric Grater
DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredients
- Fels-Naptha Bar
- Borax Detergent Booster
- Super Washing Soda (not regular baking soda)
DIY Laundry Detergent Recipe
Step One: Gather Your Ingredients
The first thing I like to do is gather all of the ingredients, and this recipe only has three. I love it! You can use different bars of soap, I understand but I have only used these Fels-Naptha bars because I’ve learned over the years that they actually work. I used one 65-ounce box of Borax and one 55-ounce box of Washing Soda and 5-6 bars of Fels-Naptha to fill the one-gallon-size jar.
Step Two: Prepare Soap for Grater/Shredder
Because I’m using my electric salad vegetable grater, I cut the bar of soap in half lengthwise to fit inside the top of the grater. Here you can see one cup of Borax, and one cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.
Step Three: Grate or Shred the Soap Bars
It’s really easy to use my Presto Salad/Vegetable shredder. Mark and I have grated many bars of soap by hand, so don’t think you need fancy equipment to make it.
Step Four: Grind Ingredients Together
Because the soap powder is pretty thick, I opted to “grind” a half batch at a time to keep my unit from overheating. So, you can see below, 1/2 bar of soap, 1/2 cup of Borax, and 1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. Then after mixing that batch, I started mixing the other half of the recipe. Yes, it takes two steps, but I and my equipment stay sharp.
Step Five: Store Detergent in Container
This picture shows you how much ONE batch of my recipe filled the one-gallon jar. You can fill mason quart jars, or even pint jars, if you want to, depending on storage space and how easy it is for you to lift things. Because you use so little detergent for each load of laundry, it lasts a very long time.
Homemade Laundry Laundry Recipe
- 1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap-grated either by hand, food processor, or salad shooter
- 1 cup Borax Detergent Booster
- 1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (not regular baking soda)
Grate the bar of soap by hand, or use an electric vegetable grater. Put these 3 ingredients in a blender to blend. After doing this, it will look just like the store-purchased detergent, but will not include all the “fillers." You will use less product per load and will have fewer “soap bubbles." Remember, just having bubbles doesn’t mean clean. I use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per load, depending on the size of the load. I have a HE-High Efficiency washer, and it works great in regular washing machines as well. Store the finished product in an airtight container, preferably glass to keep it dry. I store some in 5-gallon buckets, but I don't live where it's humid. Just giving you the heads up.
Will Borax take the smell out of my clothes?
Borax works by absorbing the smells and odors in our clothes, so yes, it will take out many unpleasant smells.
Is Borax good for laundry?
Yes, it’s very good for your laundry. When added to your wash it will help brighten and whiten your clothes, especially bright-colored items.
How many boxes of Borax, Super Washing Soda, and Fels-Naptha soap bars fill a one-gallon jar?
This is a little tricky, I used one box of Borax, One box of Super Washing Soda, and 5 bars of Fels-Naptha soap bars. I had a little bit of the product left in each box. I will save it for the next batch. It will never be exactly an even number of boxes and soap bars to fill a one-gallon jar.
How do I store these products in a humid area?
I highly recommend storing the detergent, the Borax, and the Super Washing Soda in glass airtight containers.
How do I store Borax, if I live where it’s humid?
This is actually a really good question because humidity causes havoc with borax. Over time it will become clumpy, or even like a total brick. I highly recommend you store your borax in an airtight container as shown above filled with detergent or use mason jars.
Please let me know if you have tried making my DIY Laundry Detergent, I would love to hear. We are all aware of how much everything has gone up in price, right? If you’re like me, you’re willing to try new things that save money while still providing the same quality results.
Well, the ingredients I used today have really gone up as well. Even so, this recipe uses so little per laundry batch, I’m still saving money. May God Bless this world, Linda
55 thoughts on “DIY Laundry Detergent”
I made this some time ago and tried it out. It was too rough on clothes with any polyester. It was fine with 100% cottons, but I noticed the clothes were creating more fuzz in the dryer (meaning fibers are broken) and a few items actually wore out very quickly. So I keep it around if I want to do a load of 100 % cottons, but other than that, I went back to commercial pods. And that makes me wonder if I should keep full cotton clothing in case SHTF. But I hate ironing. I did inherit my g-grandmother’s non-electric iron. I hope I never need to use it.
Hi Debbie, oh that’s too bad. I have not had any issues, I use such a small amount in my loads I have never had a problem. And I do not buy 100% cotton clothing!! I have to buy wash and wear clothes! No ironing here! LOL! Linda
Hi Linda! I’ve used this for several years now. I love it! It cleans better than any other laundry soap I’ve ever used. This is soap, not detergent. I like that I know what’s in it.
Hi Deborah, thanks for the 5 stars, my friend! Soap sounds good! I like it!! Oh, my gosh, I found a really old recipe that I’m making for tomorrow. SQUEAL! I bet you have this recipe! I can’t wait to share it. Linda
I can’t wait to see it. LOL I love old recipes. Ok, new ones, too. I love good food.
Hi Deborah, I love baking, I mean I LOVE baking! I wish everything was low-calorie. LOL! Linda
I’ve used this for some time, and haven’t noted any breakdown of fabrics. Perhaps I’m just unobservant?
However, I look at most recipes as a mere suggestion! When I put these ingredients together, I also add a cup of Oxy-Clean to the mixture. …Not sure “WHY” other than it was there on the shelf, so Why not?
Hi MarilynBarnard, it’s funny you mentioned the Oxy-Clean, I almost added that to the recipe! I have heard other friends use it!! Thanks for the reminder!! Linda
I used my food processor to shred the fels naphtha. It shreds really nice if it is dried out. I had used some old ones I had. Then when that is done I ran it through again with a regular blade. Worked great and it was finely ground.
As to the old iron, I have one of those too. Easy to heat on a wood stove. You could even heat it on a cast iron surface over an open fire.
While I was thinking about the iron, why couldn’t you use and old electric iron on this surface to heat it up? Much lighter than the antique ones. Just a thought.
The more I think about it we could start a new style. Wrinkles are good. Or you could hang the clothes out on a windy day and let nature do the work.
Hi Mary, great comment! When the bars are a bit older they are harder to shred!! A food processor would be great! I say wrinkles are lovely, LOL! Oh, I remember ironing blouses, boy, I’m glad I don’t buy those anymore. Ironing, oh my, that’s how I put my husband through college. I guess that’s why I never iron anything today. Maybe napkins for a fancy dinner. Linda
I also ironed to make extra money. I had a neighbor who hated ironing and wouldn’t do it until she ran out of clothes. When I visited her I would do her ironing just to help her out.
I learned to iron when I was 9. Ironed my baby sister’s little dresses. I loved it. I thought it was fun, to the relief of my mom. I still iron my pillowcases and some other things. I still like to iron. Things look so nice when ironed.
I agree with Harry too. Wish I could iron out my face wrinkles.
Hi Mary in mn, LOL! I would love to iron out my wrinkles as well!! Best comment ever! I used to love ironing pillowcases, I had forgotten all about that. My grandmother ironed sheets, not me. I thought they looked fine to sleep on! It really was fun to iron little girls’ dresses! I had 4 daughters, I totally get it! I don’t mind ironing, but I only buy wash and wear clothes now. I agree things look nice when ironed! This is so fun today, thanks for sharing! Linda
Addressing the two previous comments about non-electric irons, if the SHTF wrinkles are the least of your worries. A simple solution, which is my normal daily casual dress, is to wear denim jeans and lightweight denim shirts. They are 100% cotton and need no ironing. When dried either in the dryer or air dried, they have very few deep wrinkles and who cares about tiny wrinkles. I would worry more about the wrinkles in my old face at my age. LOL!!!!
Further, unless clothes are truly soiled with ground in dirt, they really only need a few minutes of washing with mild detergent to remove any body odors. And, that makes the clothes last much longer. Too many folks put their clothes in a washing machine on the longest cycle, which beats them to death needlessly and then wonder why the clothes wear out so quickly.
Just my two cents worth.
And, yes, I do my own laundry and my wife does hers. If I dirty them, it is my job to clean them. ROFL!
Hi Harry, oh my gosh, I feel exactly the same way! No one will be ironing any clothes, in fact very few iron anything now. I have 4 daughters and only 1 of them owns an iron. I was shocked the first time I heard that. Then I realized I rarely use mine. When I sewed and quilted I needed one. I still have one but use it rarely. I have more wrinkles on my face than my clothes. That’s how I roll. Now, I have the giggles, thanks for making my day! I agree we use the shortest washing cycle possible!! It saves on our clothes, water, and utilities! Great comment as always, my friend. Linda
I won’t be making any soap in the near future because I am overstocked on All. I did read recently about using a shorter wash cycle, so we cut from 57 minutes to 33. I do iron, but not by choice. My sister is an amazing quilter, and has blessed me with numerous place mats, napkins, table runners and tablecloths. Different colors for every season. It would be disrespectful not to treat them right. She is currently using an old bed dust ruffle and curtain valances of my favorite watercolor fabric into a 90in round tablecloth for my library.
Hi Chris, oh my goodness, that will be a treasure for sure!! I love hearing you are stocked up on All!! That shorter cycle is amazing, right?? I love handmade things, especially those that are recycled. Love it! Linda
Harry, I shorten my cycle too!!
Hi JayJay, I agree these new machines have shorter cycles. Yay!! Linda
I used to make my own detergent all of the time. I’d make 2gal at a time and would only have to make it maybe twice a year. I stopped a few years ago when we bought an energy efficiency washer/dryer. The recipe I used was about the same except I also added a bottle of fabric softener pellets which was nice because we could customize the scent.
I’d love to go back to homemade. Do you know if this safe for energy efficient washers and dryers?
Hi Jerilea, I’m not an expert on HE washing machines, but I have been using this recipe for over ten years and I have an HE washer and dryer. It uses less filler, so fewer bubbles, which is what HE requires. I use so little of it, it has been fine for me. You will have to make that decision. I do like to add Gain pellets for the scent to it as well. Linda
I didn’t think of it till now, but it could be the pH of my well water or some other mineral in it that doesn’t mix well with it…or I used too much? I’m not sure. I still wash 100 % cotton sheets with it, and they come out fine. I don’t iron sheets. If they are wrinkly, no one will notice under the duvet cover. All I know is that there is a reason non-electric irons are called SAD irons. Anyone using one is SAD. LOL
I’d love to have a non-electric iron. I’ve looked for one, but they are so rare.
Hi Deborah, oh I hope you find one. I have my mother’s in my storage shed until our house is finished. I would take a picture. I’ll keep an eye out for one. Linda
Well, congratulations!! You are the first person ever I have found that uses the 3 ingredients I use. Since widowed, I use a lot less detergent…Arm & Hammer, Borax, and shaved Amish bars.
I figured 1 gallon lasted me 2 years…from September, 2019 to way after September, 2021 but you can figure why since I lost Gene.
So, a great gauge is 1 gallon lasts two years with one at home person and one working person.
I just made a batch yesterday..how appropriate timing for this article.
And, I love dry crystals instead of liquid; less worry if spilled, and much lighter, and pretty!!
Hi JayJay, I would love some Amish bars!! I love everything Amish!! I love hearing that you use the same recipe!! It has to be simple or I get overwhelmed. Isn’t it wonderful that you know one gallon lasts two years!! I’m so sorry about Gene, I think you mentioned it before. I love hearing about family stuff. He’s looking down from heaven at you! Hugs, Linda
I really need to get this recipe made! I’ve been wanting to for some time. I stopped using pods when I watched The Laundry Guy on Discovery Plus. I even bought his book. He’s really practical and his suggestions work! I got the worst ring-around-the-collar out of a white shirt of my husbands this week. We were both amazed. I’m kinda big chested and stuff spills “right there” all the time! I’ve always got some sort of spot or stain that needs to come out and I’m glad I found his book/show. I have most of the ingredients I need for the soap but I think I need more Fels Naptha bars. Heaven knows I have enough canning jars for storage.
Now I’m really weird but I love to iron. I iron all my husbands shirts, my tshirts, skirts, etc. but I do stop at ironing sheets. Ugh, that’s just too much. I’d love to find a SAD iron to have on hand for when SHTF. My daughter doesn’t own an iron or ironing board either. She refused to learn to sew either and I do all the repairs to her clothes that are needed! I still hang all my clothes and all else on a clothesline outside, even in the winter so long as snow isn’t on the ground. I love the smell of fresh line-dried clothes and towels!
Hi Robbie, I love hearing that you love to iron! Someone has to do it, right? LOL! I love everything hung outside it smells so good!! Linda
You always post the best ideas! I will definitely be making this! Thanks for all you do 🙂
Hi Alli, thank you for the 5 stars, my friend!! Thank you for your kind words!! Linda
I made a big batch of this laundry soap and I have been using it for a long time. I love it! It works great! Thank you for sharing! I love all of your recipes!❤️
Hi Camille, thank you for the 5 stars, my friend! I’m so glad you like it! Linda
Thanks for sharing! What a great idea!
Hi Heidi, thank you for the 5 stars, my friend! Linda
Linda I have used this recipe for a lot of years and I think it’s great I live in Florida and too use the clothes line outside except now that the pollen is falling I’ll have to stop for awhile. I don’t think this generation knows what a clothes line is used for!!LOL
Hi Debbie, thank you for the 5 stars, my friend!! I think you may be right about the clotheslines! We all grew up with the sheets blowing in the wind!! Linda
This is awesome! I just made a version similar to this last week! I tried the microwave trick for the bars instead of grating. Worked really well but needed to let the microwave off-gas for a while after that because of the strong fumes! I chopped a block of N into 6-8 pieces, spread it out on a ceramic plate, and microwaved for 2:30. The plate gets super hot, and soap too, but once cooled, the expanded soap pieces crumble pretty easily. : )
Hi Heather, wow, this is interesting! I have never heard of the microwave trick. Awesome! Linda
I use this recipe too! (Although I do also like Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.) I’ve also made it as a liquid, but that was mainly so I could try it as a dish soap (it was not a huge success, although it would have been better than nothing in a SHTF situation!) I’ve usually done it with Fels Naptha, but also with other soap simply because my mother left me with a big box of various bar soaps! I always have Fels Naptha on hand, though, because it helps remove poison ivy oils if you know you’ve been exposed.
What is this “ironing” so many speak of? Asking for a friend…
Hi Rhonda, oh my gosh, asking for a friend! Now I have the giggles!! Best comment ever!! I have heard of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds!! Wow, a big box of soa[, gotta love it! Ironing…..I still have the giggles! Linda
P.S. Thanks for the 5 stars, my friend!! Linda
I’ve used this recipe for years and love it!
I do add a cup of regular baking soda and notice I use much less fabric softener. Like 1/4 sheet or less and my loads are very soft! So I save money on those as well!!
Hi DLopez, thank you for the 5 stars, my friend! Thanks for the tip on the regular baking soda, I love it! Linda
I use the same ingredients as you show, but make the liquid detergent. My husband mentioned last week it was time I made some. After reading your article and seeing how good the powdered detergent was reported to be, I decided to give the dry recipe a try.
My Fels Naptha soap bar was old and dry. I used a food processor with the grating attachment on the soap. A few seconds into grating/blending had me and hubby coughing and opening the doors on a day with snow still on the deck!
I continued the process adding the borax and washing soda until it was made. We will try the powder before I see about making more batches. Oh, and I’ll wait to my hubby is out doing yard work and its warm enough I can have the doors open.
We’re in our 70’s but still hanging in there!
Hi MtGrammy, yeah that powder can be bad!!! Life is good even in our 70’s, my friend! Linda
I have made the liquid version of this recipe for years and recently started adding 1/4 cup of dawn per gallon.
I have always used cold water wash and hing out everything whenever possible. My question is does the powdered
version dissolve completely in cold water? I would love to make this recipe. Sue
Hi Sue, I can’t vouch for the cold water, but I would try a small load. It’s so little soap I would think so. That’s a great question because if we lost power for an extended length of time we would all be washing in cold water. By Hand. Great comment! Linda
In the same vein, have you seen these?
Get ready, citizens; once all of the current problems we are experiencing with shortages fully mature, probably by October, many products we are used to having in plenty will be scarce. And if you haven’t started a vegetable garden yet, you’re living on borrowed time.
Hi Tim, they gave me a clothesline and I have a YouTube on their website. https://eartheasy.com/breezecatcher-clothes-dryer-rotary-clothesline/. They are sold out. I love that company. I totally agree with you on borrowed time. Linda
I’m old enough to remember when all houses had clotheslines in the back yard. And I marveled that wet clothing could be hung out to dry in freezing weather and still dry. What’s old is becoming new again.
Hi Tim, I know, right??? We will all have clotheslines very soon! Hopefully, people get good clothespins!! We all grew up with sheets blowing in the wind on clotheslines!! Love it! Linda
I have a septic tank and I’m very careful what I use. I was cautioned to use only liquid laundry soap. Do you know if your recipe would be ok for septic tanks?
Hi Jeanne, I can’t say whether it would be safe or not for a septic tank. I’m not an expert on septic safety issues. Please check the ingredients and see if the ones you purchase are septic tank safe, maybe? Linda
Hi Jeanne, I forgot to thank you for the 5 stars, my friend! Let’s see if anyone else knows about the DIY detergent for septic tanks. Linda
I posted a link to your homemade laundry detergent recipe in the New, Revised, and Vastly Expanded Edition of “Bugging In: What To Do When TSHTF and You Live in Suburbia,” which will be released in February of this year, provided my new book cover is ready by then.
I also posted a link to your blog’s home page and recommended you to my readers.
Hi Ray, oh you are so nice, keep me posted so I can share the link in several posts. You’re an excellent writer! Linda