Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

homemade-laundry-soap

As I’m starting to branch out into more money saving advice, not just for food but budgeting in general, I’m excited to share my latest recipe with you.  That looks like grated cheese in the photo, but it’s actually soap!  I’ve started making a lot of my own household cleaners and detergents to save money, and one of my favorites is laundry soap.  It’s really easy to make, does a great job cleaning your clothes, and totally saves money even over buying the large bulk amounts of laundry soap.There are just three ingredients (and water) in my homemade laundry soap.  I researched a lot of different ways to make laundry detergent and found that this one was the cheapest and the easiest for me to store.

grating-soap

For soap you need a plain soap like Ivory, a laundry soap like Fels Naptha or even better, homemade soap!  My sister in law Heather actually makes soap, really good stuff!  You can get pre-grated plain laundry soap made with olive oil in her etsy shop.  One batch of that can make you two batches of laundry soap.  If you’re not in the mood for hunting down all the ingredients at the best deal, she also sells an easy laundry soap kit that will still give you a great deal for an all natural scent free laundry soap.

laundry-detergent-recipe

In addition to 2 ounces of grated soap, you’ll need washing soda and borax.  You can buy both of these online but the cheapest place I’ve found them is ACE Hardware.  If the ACE store near you doesn’t carry them, you can even order them on their website to be delivered there.

A 4 lb 12 oz (or 76 oz) box of Borax is $5.49 at my local ACE, which means it’s 7 cents an ounce.  A 3 lb 7 oz (55 oz) box of washing soda is $4.79 so that’s 8 cents an ounce.  You can typically get plain soap for anywhere from $1-2 an ounce.

So one batch of laundry soap from this recipe cost me 21 cents in Borax, 40 cents in washing soda and $2 in soap.  That’s $2.61 for 76 loads or 3 cents per load!!!!

boiling-soap

Yes, that sounds crazy cheap, but is it actually cheaper than store bought laundry soap?  We used to get our laundry soap at Sam’s Club, and it’s a pretty good price if you’re going to buy it.  Their cheapest I’ve seen is “All” brand, which comes out to 10 cents per load.  Now 7 cents might not sound like that big of a difference, but let’s do a little more math.  Hang in there!

I don’t know how often you do laundry, but between us and our two exchange students, we do at least 4 loads a week.  That means in one year, if you’ve thrown in an extra couple loads for bed sheets we’ve spent about $6.50 in our homemade laundry soap.  Doing that same math, I would spend $21 a year on laundry soap.  Okay, maybe still not that shocking, but over time it adds up.  I’d rather have that extra $14.50 a year for fun money!

Some people have said that $14.50 a year isn’t worth the time it takes to make, but what if the cheapest detergent brand doesn’t work for you because the scents and other additives.  A lot of us have very sensitive skin, and this is a big part of why I started making my own homemade laundry soap.  Sam’s Club was the cheapest place I found an unscented, dye-free laundry detergent, and that came out to a whopping 33 cents a load!!!  That means spending at least $75 a year on laundry soap.  Now we’re at $68.50 in saving a year.  Can you see why I switched?

homemade-laundry-detergent

The bottom line is that it’s really easy to make your own laundry detergent.  Making it yourself is just one more way to save a little bit of money, and that adds up in the long run.  By saving a few dollars on things like homemade laundry detergent, homemade mayonnaise, homemade potstickers (items I might normally buy in the store) I can shave up to at least $100 a month off of my budget!

I’ve got a bunch of other household supplies I’m working on homemade versions of.  Do you have a favorite homemade cleaner?grated-soap

Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: 76 laundry loads

Ingredients

  • 2 oz
    grated plain soap
  • 1/2 cup (5 oz)
    washing soda
  • 1/2 cup (3 oz)
    borax

Cooking Directions

  1. Place grated soap in a very large pot with 6 cups of water. Heat on high until soap begins to melt.
  2. Add the washing soda and borax and stir well until everything is dissolved.
  3. Fill your storage container with 13 cups of hot (not boiling) water. Add the soap mixture to the container and stir or seal and shake.
  4. Let sit 24 hours until it has formed a watery gel (kind of like egg drop soup!).
  5. Use 1/4 cup of soap per laundry load.

Approximate cost/serving: It’s just 3 cents per laundry load.  You can read all the math in the post above.


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25 Responses to “Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe”

  1. Heather
    September 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Making homemade things are great! We’ve made laundry detergent and it works just as good. It’s also nice to know that the soap doesn’t have a ton of chemicals in it. Also, it’s one less thing to drag in from the store since the washing soda and borax lasts soooooo long (unless you’re using it for other purposes!)

  2. Cindy
    September 21, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    What kind of storage container did you use? That’s my biggest problem with making my own homemade soap – something big enough to store it in.

  3. diana
    September 21, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    I stored it in my old laundry soap jug which works great. If you don’t have one big enough you can try a few different ways. You could store it in a two gallon bucket with a lid (from a hardware store) or use a couple empty milk or juice jugs that have been well washed. If using two 1 gallon jugs, just pour 6 1/2 cups of hot water into each jug and then pour half of your soap mixture into each.

  4. David
    September 21, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    This is really smart and a great way to avoid all those scents and things some laundry detergent has. Appreciate the tips! (Now off to find Borax…)

  5. Deb R
    September 21, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I use a food processor to grate the soap ( I use castille soap-Fels is toxic plus it comes in tons of scents-tea tree, mint etc…) and then put it all in the processor and whiz til it is fine. No need to cook super easy-just wash that processor!
    Make a double batch and you are set for a while.
    2 cups borax, 2 cups washing soda, 1 bar soap makes a single batch-easily fits in an old quart yogurt tub or the like-use a soup (dinner) spoon per load. I find all ingredients at the grocery store in Oregon.

    • diana
      September 21, 2011 at 9:17 am #

      Great idea Deb, will have to try the non liquid version next.

      • Robin
        September 26, 2011 at 9:45 am #

        Psyched! Just got all of the ingredients! How about adding powdered water softener? We have HARD water.

        • diana
          September 29, 2011 at 7:36 am #

          Good question Robin. I can’t think of any reason powdered water softener would be a bad idea. We don’t have a hard water so I haven’t thought of that. Let me know how it goes!

  6. Daphne
    September 21, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    What about energy saving machines? Our warranty requires us to use a special low suds version branded HE. Is there a recipe for that?

    • diana
      September 21, 2011 at 9:21 am #

      Daphne this is definitely a low suds soap. I have read on several forums people with HE machines have used homemade laundry soap of borax, washing soda and plain soap with no issues.

  7. Lisa
    September 21, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Has anyone used this in a front-loading machine?

    • diana
      September 21, 2011 at 9:23 am #

      Although I don’t have a front loader, my mother does and has had no issues with using this recipe.

      • Lisa
        September 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

        thanks!

  8. Daphne
    September 21, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Hmm, the main “issue” I am concerned about is the voiding of my warranty!

    • diana
      September 21, 2011 at 9:35 am #

      Totally understandable!

  9. Betsy
    September 21, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    The best all-purpose cleaner EVER is one a friend of mine taught me to make. It takes 2 minutes, costs about 5 cents a batch, works like a charm on practically every surface (including walls and painted woodwork) and you can choose the scent. The recipe, from “Better Basics for Living” can be found here:

    http://lessisenough.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/spring-
    cleaning/

    And the thing is that if you have the ingredients for the all-purpose cleaner and a little vinegar, you have everything you need to make cleaners for 90% of your house: http://consciousshopper.blogspot.com/2010/02/recipes-for-homemade-household-cleaners.html

    • diana
      September 21, 2011 at 10:52 am #

      Great resources, thanks Betsy!

  10. Kelly
    September 22, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    You’re always so creative. This sounds very smart and I agree, it’s especially fantastic for those with sensitive skin. Have you tried it against something like Tide to see how it compares in stain removal.

  11. Damaris
    September 22, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    You’ve totally convinced me. This is a great post, super informative. I hope you continue this series. i would love to know how to make my own conditioner. xoxo

  12. Maria
    October 8, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    I’d love a recipe for shampoo and conditioner. I have pretty severe allergies and washing my hair is a real trial.

    • diana
      October 18, 2011 at 8:49 am #

      Oooh, I’d like that too. Let me do some research. We’re almost out of shampoo and conditioner so I’ll start experimenting when it’s gone.

  13. Cindy
    February 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    I know I’m a few months behind here – I clicked through some of the links in the comments, and am now wondering about a toilet bowl cleaner? I use Ajax or Comet, whatever I find @ Walmart. It usually does a pretty good job (not perfect), but was wondering if there is something people use for that, a more natural solution? I’ve never used a liquid (not sure of a good container that would squirt up under the rim etc), but might be willing to try..

    Thoughts?

    • Diana
      February 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

      I’ve heard that 1 part baking soda to 4 parts vinegar can work well but I haven’t tried it yet. My husband always cleans the toilet!

  14. Heather T
    July 14, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    I’ve been using this exact same recipe for about 2 years now…it is so cheap, easy and yes, gives you a wonderful feeling of self satisfaction. It really is better for the environment and your family’s health. I love to see others that have kicked the dirty little “name brand” habit and come over to the clean side!

  15. Marie
    January 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    Question on the laundry soap. 1/4 cup per load. Assuming that is a large load?

    After I have it mixed and using it, I notice lots of borax or soda stuck to the side of my 2 gal container, is that normal? I have made this 4 times now. I like it, but wonder if I am doing something wrong. Thanks.

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