Monday, November 1, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I made a lovely batch of homemade laundry soap this weekend.  It is incredibly simple, frugal, and extremely environmentally friendly.  I use Trent Hamm's recipe, and he's extremely detailed, so check it out if you want to see how he does it.   I'm going to apologize in advance for not having the costs of my borax and washing soda, I've had my boxes for 2 years and I can't remember what I paid for them. 

1/2 cup Borax (add more if you need more cleaning power)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
1 bar of soap (people use different types, I use whatever I have on hand that is not scented, I think I used 5 little bars of hotel soap)
Approx 3 gallons of water
5 gallon bucket, or other large lidded container


Chop or grate your soap until it is in small bits.  I have found it easier to chop the soap with a butcher knife, but I've also heard of people using a food processor.  Additionally, to save time, I chopped 4 batches of soap at once and stored them for future use.

Bring 4 cups of water to boil.  Once your water is at a rolling boil, add the soap bit by bit, and stir until it is all dissolved. 

 I would also recommend lowering your temperature once get the soap all added.  It is a HUGE mess to clean if the soapy water boils over. Also, I have always had a little soap that didn't quite dissolve.   Don't be alarmed if this happens to you, it hasn't affected my laundry in the past. 

Let your soap soup sit on the stove for a bit.  Meanwhile, fill your bucket with 3 gallons of water.  Add your borax, washing soda, and finally your soap mixture.  Stir until all of the washing soda and borax have dissolved.  Cover and let rest for 24 hours.

Helpful Hint:  Your detergent will vary in texture, but it can come out a kind of chunky slime (Which is ok, don't worry!).  I recommend stirring several times within the 24 hour rest phase to break up that texture.

After 24 hours determine how you will store your detergent.  You can leave it in the bucket, or funnel it in to old laundry detergent bottles.  I have previously left it in the bucket, but the detergent separates, so it work best if you can shake it up before each use.   This batch I used a vinegar jug, laundry jug, and an OJ container.  Use whatever works for you.  Also, one other note, this detergent doesn't really suds, so don't worry if you peek in your washer and don't see a lot of bubbles.

Top Load Machine:  5/8 c-1 c per load
Front Load Machine:  1/4- 1/2 c per load

 Trent has his cost breakdown, measurements, etc. here.
You can also check out my cousin Tonya's take on the recipe here

We have a HE washer, and my last batch lasted us 7 months and I tend to do around 7 loads of laundry a week.  I use this on everything from Emerson's diapers, to J.C.'s work clothes.  It's fabulous.

Happy washing!


  1. Where do you find the washing soda?

  2. I found my washing soda at a Payless, which is part of the Kroger chain of stores. I know it is also available at Meijer, some Walmarts, and I've also heard Ace Hardware has it. You can also buy it online, but that is a little expensive, so I'd use that as a last resort. Good luck!

  3. New to your blog, so WAY late with the comment (really, a question) - but do you find that you lose color in garments using homemade vs store bought? We've used only all natural laundry detergents over the past 5 years, and I feel like sometimes it dulls our colors (but I won't go back to conventional brands). I made a batch of my own when our son was born (4 1/2 years ago) and I felt like it was even HARDER on colors... but I don't think it was the same as your recipe... LOL Just wanted to get someone else's take on it. :)

  4. I have to say I've never noticed losing color, but I wash all of my clothes in cold water, so maybe that has something to do with it. I would think that if I was having color fast issues I would notice it, and in the past year I haven't. I would give it a try again, and maybe just make sure to wash your clothes in cold water. Hope that helps. Thanks for the comment.


  5. I found it. Thanks. My dad was a truck driver so I have 100's of little hotel soaps. I'm not kidding Maybe 1000's . They are in a box in my moms closet.

  6. I recently (finally) made my own detergent! I made it powdered though & it's fabulous & cheap! woohoo! ;-)

    It's a bit easier because you don't have to boil anything...I prefer it cause I don't have any way to safely store the liquid version w/ the toddler & nosy dogs around. ;-)

  7. Thank you very much for sharing this great way. Actually home made detergent is very effective for our cloth and also our skin because it is hygienic and also positive of environment. Specially smelling laundry detergent is best for us.