Saturday, April 2, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent–4 Basic Ingredients

Yesterday I made my own laundry mix!
What?? You can do that???    Yup :)
I got the original recipe from  I used recipe #9 which is located on this page:
I tend to like powder mixes more because I think they last longer (I could be wrong). But, as you can see if you click the link there are plenty of liquid detergents you can make as well.
Here is the recipe (scroll down for more pictures too):
Powdered Laundry Detergent – Recipe #9
12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda [or Soda Ash apparently from a craft store – my note]
8 cups Bar soap (grated)
  • Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
  • Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.
Just to let you know, this recipe above ^ makes 36 Cs of detergent (244 loads). I cut mine down to make a total of 18 Cups detergent which is 6 C Borax, 4 C Baking Soda, 4 C Washing Soda, and 4 C grated Bar Soap. You should be able to find these items in the laundry isle at any grocery store or Wal-Mart, although I have read some people do have problems getting a hold of the washing soda. The bar soap I used was Ivory as is suggested in the tips found at the top of their page before the recipes:
“First Some Tips:
  • For the bar soaps required in the recipes, you could try Fels-Naptha, Ivory soap, Sunlight bar soap, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile, and Zote. Don’t use heavily perfumed soaps.
  • Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found in the laundry and cleaning aisles.
  • Some people with really hard water or well water may have to adjust the recipes if the clothes look dingy.
  • Although several of the recipes have the same ingredients, the measurements are different–some contain a higher soap to water ratio. Test and see which works best for your laundry needs.
  • You can make huge pails of this at once, or smaller quantities. Also if you can get your hands on a few empty liquid laundry detergent bottles they work great for storing the detergent. Just make a big batch and pour in bottles, cap then use as needed–shake before use.
  • Some of the recipes call for large amounts of water. Check with a local restaurant to see if they have any empty large pails from deep fryer oil–that’s how many restaurants buy the oil. See if you can have one or two of the pails after they’ve emptied it–just wash them out really well before using. They’re big, heavy plastic and very sturdy when stirring the soap and hot water.”
As you can see, I used an old ice cream container. I also had a scoop that measured out to the 1/8 C from a previous detergent as is suggested in the amount to go in the wash.
IMG_0073 I also wrote in permanent marker (which does scratch off) of the different recipe proportions. The 18 C that I made is 144 loads. IF I did the math correctly, it came to be half a cent per load. So when they talk about this homemade mix being pennies worth per load, they really mean it!
Some people do not like powder. My mom even hates it. I find if you let it dissolve in the mixing water before you add any clothing it does just fine. My husband used to put it on top of the clothes already in the wash while the water was going…yeah…that’s a problem! :)
Another thing about the grated bar soap. When I grated mine it came out like a small mozzarella grated cheese consistency. I grated 4 bars, and I think I used about 2-2 1/2 bars and I was left over with maybe a little over 2 cups grated soap. You may only need 3 bars then to be safe for the 4 cups called for.
It did seem to do okay with dissolving, although I think I still want to make the soap smaller. I found a little bit of soap on ONE shirt, and that was my fault because I added just a little bit more on TOP of the clothes after they were in the wash – I didn’t fully trust the amount I stuck in to wash at first because this was my first load using the mix.
IMG_0072 Also, make your container pretty too if you want and be proud of your own work!
SO… How Does it Clean??
Well, I think it passed the test! Underwear is clean, no smelly arm pit sleeves, and my whites are amazing (those ingredients are used for laundry boosting to begin with, so of course my whites should look great!)
There are a few things to remember too. Adjust your wash according to where you live. I think we have hard water here (just moved to this location so I don’t know exactly) but the recipe works for me.
Also note, the mix will not suds up like what you may be used to – that’s normal and it still cleans your clothes. It does not have a fragrance either. It is completely neutral. If you want a scent, people usually add a few drops of essential oils to a batch and mix very well. I do not know the appropriate amount to use though.
So, what do you think? Are my whites clean (well, as much as you can tell since a photo is not real life)?
Have fun experimenting!


  1. does this cost less than just going out & buying the pre-made stuff?

  2. @Melissa,
    Hey :) I don't know what the price of say, Tide for instance, but compared to a cleaner/green version it is at lease 1/2 in price to buy all of the materials and the green one I bought only gives me 64 loads worth ($15 detergent - at least I had a coupon!). This batch I made is 144 loads. This calculation of course does not have fragrance oils in it so that would add to the cost. Maybe when I come to visit I can get you and Mom to make some :)

    Also, that very large bag of baking soda we got at SAMS and I don't remember the price, but I had to have been cheap when I got it at that time, otherwise I wouldn't have picked it up then.

    Another point, this mix is much cleaner than the store bought stuff, it does not have any dyes, fragrances, "cleaning agents" that people basically consider a plastic that gets stuck onto clothing and doesn't really clean very well. Now that most of us are allergic to things, this is a safe route.

  3. it'd be an interesting project...well i've been using that new arm&hammer/oxyclean liquid gel's awesome...& doesn't it

  4. @Melissa
    We haven't watched TV in forever so I am clueless there was a new one :D I know people put Oxy-Clean in there recipes, and of course Arm & Hammer is in this recipe, so it sounds like it can clean :)