Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

March 20, 2012

When I thought about spending some time trying to make things from scratch this month, one of the things I was most excited about was this laundry powder. I followed this tutorial and the soap came together pretty easily! I did take it one step farther and put everything in the blender to really get that powder look/texture and it turned out perfect!

I can’t get over how cheap this was to make. I spent $6.69 on everything (found in the laundry aisle of your favorite store) but only used 1 cup of each of the powders so the actual cost for this laundry detergent was just $1.49! Here is the recipe and cost breakdown:

1 bar soap (I used fels-naptha) $0.97
1 cup borax $0.36
1 cup Arm Hammer Super Washing Soda – $0.16

Grate your bar of soap into a bowl using a cheese grater (like this). Add in both cups of powder and stir to combine. Place entire mixture into blender, making sure top is securely on and blend for 30 seconds. **I’ve made this twice now, and love it. The second time, thanks to my friend Amanda’s tip, I just diced the bar up instead of grating it. If you’re going to throw it in the blender, you don’t need to grate it. It made it EVEN faster and easier than before. Also, thanks to several readers advice, I added in 1 cup of oxi-clean to the overall mix.

Pour into a glass jar and store in your laundry room. Just one tablespoon does a regular load of laundry. This is a very low suds formula so it is safe in HE washers.

  • Kerry

    Wow. This is great. Is there a scent to it? What about shelf life?

    • Bethany

      The fels-naptha bar has a slight lemony/citrus scent but after they come out of the dryer they just smell “clean” I’m not big on scented detergent and I think my clothes smell wonderful after using this!

      If you do like scent, you could add in some of the new Downy Unstoppables :)

  • Corina Burch

    This has got to be one of the coolest ideas I’ve ever heard of.  I’m going to try it this weekend.  Thanks so much for the tip!  

    • Bethany

      I hope you like it Corina! I’ve had some readers tell me adding in a box of baking soda and a cup of oxi-clean (in addition to the original recipe) turns this into a fabulous super powder!

  • NLanigan

    If using Oxyclean, per this recipe-I would suggest only using 1/4 to 1/2 cup as it greatly fades colors, & quickly. One thing I noticed is that it causes “naps” (stuck lint-type balls) on cotton. Also, Dr. Bronner’s & Meyer’s Clean Day soap bars work as well as Fels Naptha.

    • Bethany

      thank you for the great information!

      • NLanigan

         Glad I could be of help :)

  • Vanessa

    Can this be used in cold water? Will it still dissolve? Thanks!

    • Bethany

      yes, it will. I used it on a cold load just last night :)

  • Jessicalagena

    Does this smell good? Can you add in any kind of essential oil or anything to give it a pretty smell?

    • Bethany

      the fels-naptha bar has a very pleasant smell. I don’t usually like scented detergent but I love the way my clothes smell after using this. You could use an essential oil but I would add it right before blending to ensure it is evenly distributed, since this is a powder and not a liquid. I hope that helps!

  • Katrina L

    I use Ivory soap because my son and I have skin allergies.  You don’t have to grate the Ivory.  I just throw all of it in my food processor and whiz it up.  It’s awesome!!!

    • Bethany

      Katrina – I actually have a sensitivity to Ivory soap! So strange how different things affect different people. So glad you found a substitution that works for your family!

    • Kathi

      If you put ivory in the microwave for a short time it puffs up and you can break it down without a grater or blending.

  • Avenice

    Can the new laundry fabric softener crystals be added to this recipe for additional softness and scent?

    • Kaijosie6800

       Yes, The New Crystals or “Unstoppable” can be added, I use the Gain Sented unstoppable s & blend them up with the mix. My family loves the sent so we use 1 Bottle per batch of laundry soap. it dose bring the cost of the mix up a bit, but adding it you will not need to add softener. its awesome! & well worth it.

  • wife89

    How many loads do you get out of it?

    • Allie Murdock

      I’m planning to make this detergent at the end of the week and was wondering the same thing.  As written originally (with just bar soap, borax, and washing soda), I’m estimating 48 loads of laundry.  Here’s how I came up with it:

      * This link ( states that a bar of Naptha soap yields approximately 1 cup of soap when grated.  With the other cups, that totals 3 cups.
      * There are 16 tablespoons in a a cup.  16*3 = 48.

      As amended (adding one cup Oxi-Clean to the recipe), you’ll end up with 64 loads.Hope this helps!

  • VRE

    I made this soap about one month ago and it worked very well.  To my dismay, I had an allergic reaction to it (vaginitis).  I had three weeks of pain with two sets of antibiotics  with no improvements.   My doctor didn’t figure it out, but I found it on the web.  It’s called “Non-bacterial Vaginitis” and is mostly caused by laudry detergent, douches, soaps, etc.  Once I went back to my old laudry soap, the pain went away.  So be careful!

    • Jen

      Anyone can have a reaction to any soap at anytime. Even after years of use.

    • snickerdoodlewy

      Try another kind of bar soap. I have seen the recipe using others. I have been thinking of trying Ivory because it is what the Dr recommended for my son when he had a reaction to the other bar soaps that we used.

  • Christieleander

    How many bars of soap for a 4 lb box of borax and 4 lb box arm and hammer

    • Allie Murdock

      If you take a closer look at the recipe, it appears to be a 1:1 ratio. So, if you’re using 4 cups each of borax, washing soda, and Oxi-clean, you’ll need 4 bars.

    • Bethany

      Christie, I usually just measure out a cup at a time in my blender with the broken up bar. I also know that some people have used 2 cups of each per one bar but I don’t want to dilute the soap content so I keep it 1 to 1. I hope that helps!

  • Ducksback1

    I make this same recipe without the oxiclean….however from the website i found it, we use only 2 teaspoons and clothes come out very nice. If I have very dirty clothes (like hubby’s greasy ones)I have used 3 tsp with great results. Further saving $$

Previous post:

Next post: