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Easy, DIY Laundry Detergent -- It's Simple to Make, So Inexpensive, & It Works!

I recently took the plunge and tried a frugal experiment I'd been thinking about for awhile. Some of you may want to try this one yourself.

I'm talking about making my own laundry detergent! It was incredibly easy and very inexpensive. I'm wondering now what took me so long to try it.

I used a simple three-ingredient recipe I found online for a powdered detergent. The liquid ones seemed like too much work, but this recipe is as easy as mixing together dry ingredients in any baking recipe. If you can mix flour and sugar, you can do this!

All of my ingredients cost about the same as just one bottle of good quality liquid detergent, but should last for several months, may-be longer. The recipe I used only requires two tablespoons of detergent per large load, since it's so concentrated. By the way, all the ingredients were available at my local grocery store. (I'll give you the recipe below.)

So far, after many loads of laundry, this detergent's doing a great job for me. It smells like "soap" but the clothes come out of the washer with almost no scent. 

If you'd like to add scent, you can use dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener. Many people with sensitive skin like this detergent because it is free of artificial dyes and fragrances. And, I should mention my family's clothes are coming out clean--may-be even a little brighter than before.

If you want to save money--and you can save quite a bit--don't be afraid to trying making your own laundry detergent. It is so easy!

Here's the recipe I'm using--
Mix together:

  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer (or other brand) Washing Soda --not baking soda 
  • 1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax (note the look of the box has changed since I took this photo) 
  • 2 cups (or approximately 1 bar) very finely grated Fels Naptha laundry bar -- some people use Zote brand soap 

Use 2 tablespoons for a large load (adjust for smaller or less soiled loads of clothes)

I found all these products at the end of the laundry area up on the top shelf in the grocery store. They are also available in Walmart. My parents are giving this a try too, and they found these products at Ace Hardware.

Update: I have been using this detergent for over three years, which tells you I'm very pleased with it. I use dryer sheets in the winter to cut down on static cling and to add fragrance. By the way, I cut them in half, and they work just as well.

I hope you'll consider giving this recipe a try. It's so easy to make a part of your routine, and you'll feel great when you get to walk past those expensive laundry detergents.

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Lita said...

This is wonderful...thank you for posting..I will definitely try and retweet and share on FBook. Yahoo!!

Alicia said...

thats awesome!

Anonymous said...

I have been making my own laundry soap for about a year now and love it. I make liquid. I found the recipe on the Duggar Family offical web site. Michelle Duggar also, has a fabric softener that saves me lots of money. It is offered on that site under her recipes. Basically, it is 1 cup of your favorite fabric softner to 2 Cups of water. Cut up sponges and keep all in a rubbermaide container. Squeeze out the sponge and throw it in a dryer like a dryer sheet. said...

The fabric softener sounds like a great idea. I may give that a try too! Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Does this dissolve well in cold water? I'm excited to try this! said...

I do use this in cold water, and it's worked fine for me!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I've been using this detergent recipe for a week now and I can honestly say that it cleans so much better than the more expensive laundry soap.. said...

You're welcome! I agree that it does clean much better. I recently went back to my old detergent just to use up one old bottle I had and then I really noticed the difference. I will never buy detergent again. I am definitely sticking to this recipe!

Anonymous said...

is this recipe safe for the newer HE washing machines? said...

Yes, as far as I know it IS safe for HE machines. It is VERY low sudsing, and is similar to HE recipes I have seen. said...

UPDATE: One year later, I'm still using this detergent, and I love it. In fact, I had some old "store-bought" detergent I needed to use up, and I don't think it cleaned as well. I really noticed the difference when I'd been using my own for a while.
I do add fragrance to my clothes once in a while by using dryer sheets (cut in half, of course).

Beth said...

I am a soap maker, and started making my own laundry soap also, with my handcrafted soap. I loved it, but either the detergent I used previously or the soap I made ruined my HE washer. So please, if you have an HE machine, check to see if your soap is OK.

I don't know that the problem was my soap, but I don't know that it wasn't either. said...

Re: the last post, I have seen these recipes recommended for HE machines, but I don't have one. This is a VERY low-sudsing detergent, however.
About the soap --the one I mention in this recipe is a "laundry" bar that is meant to be used for laundry. I do NOT recommend handmade soaps or any other type of soaps.
If anyone has experience with this recipe (or a similar recipe) in an HE machine, please leave your comments. Thanks.

Parag said...

Very useful blog. Must try and save money.
Ways to save money

Katrina said...

Pinned this!

susanbellnc said...

Do you have to add the soap in and let it dissolve before you put in the clothes? I was going to try the recipe for the liquid version, but this is so much easier. But if I have to wait to add in the clothes, I might still go with the liquid.

Teresa Britton said...

@susanbellnc If I'm not using hot water, I often DO put in the soap and start the water before putting in the clothes. I literally only let the water run for a few seconds though. I don't always do this, and I don't know if it's necessary.

The liquid detergent seems like such a chore with as much laundry as we do, that I still think this would be easier.

I usually take those few seconds (or minute) to start folding what I just took out of the dryer or start sorting another load of clothes, etc. It hasn't been a bother.

nautry said...

This is great. I have been wondering about this for quite some time. Do you find it very effective on getting out some tough stains like grass stains?

Teresa @ MomsWhoSave said...

I don't have a LOT of tough stains to deal with, but I do keep a bottle of stain remover handy. I will pretreat stains when necessary, but I was doing that even when I used store-bought laundry detergent.

And, if there's a whole load that's particularly bad or smelly, I use a little extra of my detergent or use extra borax right from the box.

Anonymous said...

Jan: Hope this works for me :)

Annette W said...

I have a different recipe but similar I intend to try soon. :) Happy party night!

Sarah Massey said...

We use homemade detergent when we aren't cloth diapering! You can add essential oils for a wonderful fragrant scent ;-)

Denise Low said...

You have very helpful tips here. Thanks alot.

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