Homemade Laundry Detergent

I got a great super astronomical deal on laundry detergent over a year ago, so I of course bought as many bottles as I could and if I wanted to I could have stuck with that and been good for the next, I don’t know, 200 years. But I didn’t want to. I want to rid my home of the chemicals in most commercial cleaning products, but I also don’t want to take out a second mortgage to be able to afford the green cleaning products from the store. I had first heard of making your own laundry soap from the Duggar family (fyi, I ❀ Michelle Duggar and don’t care what anyone says), but at the time I figured it only made sense to make your own soap when you had that many people in your family. Then when I started wanting to become more natural, I again looked into making my own detergent. There are two ways of making it – powder or liquid (big shock, huh?). The powder is so simple that if you have five minutes to spare you can do it…and have time left over. I, however, am a liquid gal, so that detergent requires a little more effort. But it is still worth it to know I have all natural ingredients in my detergent. Plus it is super cheap! Before I give you the recipes let me briefly discuss what each ingredient is.

  • Washing soda is not baking soda (though they are both excellent cleaners and are both made my Arm & Hammer). It is sodium carbonate. You can buy it at many grocery stores (though none around here apparently!) as well as online at drugstore.com. During the summer months you can also find it among the pool supplies as something like pH up.
  • Borax is not a toy for children. There is some (minor) debate out there about whether or not you should actually use Borax around your children at all, but I think the general consensus is that it is fine (especially in this small amount!) as long as they don’t mix the detergent. It is not a man-made chemical but occurs naturally. It is sodium borate or sodium tetraborate. This is pretty easy to find, you can pick it up even at Walmart, and you may even have a box lying around your house.
  • Soap choice is not firm (I had to think of a not sentence so it would fit…). Many recipes you will find call for you to use Fels Naptha soap, but that is yucky, harsh stuff. I use Kirks Castile soap. I buy it at Cracker Barrel for about $1.50 a bar. You can also use Dr. Bronner’s Castile Oil soap, though it is significantly more expensive. But please do not use something like Ivory or Dove – we are going for natural here.

Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1 bar soap
Slice soap into strips and run through food processor to make “soap beads”.

Combine soap beads, borax, and washing soda. Done!

Use 1-2 tablespoon for small loads, 3-4 tablespoons for large loads.
(more or less depending on your water quality)

* recipe from Diaper Swappers

Liquid Laundry Detergent

4 cups hot tap water
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1 bar soap

See how the ingredient lists are almost identical? There are, however, a few more steps to this detergent.

Grate the soap (by hand or as above) and add to pot with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted (this was my least favorite part – I figured it would dissolve a lot faster!)

Fill a 5 gallon bucket (I store my wheat in these, but they can also sometimes be picked up at the grocery store) half full of hot top water. Add melted soap, washing soda, and Borax. Stir until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken.

Stir and fill a used, clean laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of the way with water. Shake (gently) before each use.

Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil (a wonderful disinfectant in itself)

Use 5/8 cup (the size of my laundry cap) per load for top loaders – about 180 loads

Use 1/4 cup for front loaders – about 640 loads

* recipe from Duggars

I have read several times that the powder detergent is best dissolved in hot water first if washing in cold. I would rather not do that everytime I wash in cold, so I prefer the liquid. Plus it goes much farther!

You may be hesitant to try either of these, but they do work! I gave four bottles to my mom for Christmas (along with a coupon for free fill-ups for a year) and she loves the stuff! It also works great for my sensitive skin hubby. When I asked him how he likes it, he says the clothes smell “clean.” What more can you ask for out of laundry detergent?

This is what works for me!

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Laurie L said,

    I really prefer this type too. Not just because it’s cheaper, but it also seems to get the clothes “clean” as opposed to making them smell good by adding a bunch of perfume. My only issue is that my husband has a terrible skin reaction to Borax. So much so that I can’t wash with homemade stuff and then do his clothes in store bought detergent in the same washer. He’s that sensitive. 😦
    I have also heard that some people add essential oils to this stuff when washing things like sheets or towels that will be folded and left in a closet or something for an extended period. It’s supposed to keep them “fresh”. Just thought I’d mention that.
    I love your blog, chickie! πŸ™‚


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