Saturday, May 1, 2010

Home Made Laundry Detergent

A while ago I was browsing through some of Tipnut's Home-made Laundry Detergent Recipes.
I was intrigued, but have merely been toying with the idea for some time.

When a good friend of mine told me that she had started making her own, I decided to finally try it.  It always helps hearing that it has worked for someone you know personally.

The recipe she tried and gave to me was Recipe #3 on the link above.
Over time she made some changes of her own, and after making it for myself, I totally agree with her.
This is her new and improved recipe (which I am currently washing all of my clothes with).

Home-made Liquid Laundry Detergent
1/2 c. borax
1/2 c. washing soda
1/2 bar Fels Naptha Soap
Essentail oils (optional)
2 gallons water

All 3 of these ingredients will cost you around $10.00, and can be found at Macey's and Harmons in the laundry isle.
Walmart carries borax and washing soda.

Here is a little info about each ingredient:

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral: Sodium Borate.
It is a white powder.
It’s purpose is as a laundry whitener and deodorizer.
The brand to look for is 20 Mule Team.  It comes in a 76 oz. box.

Washing Soda
This is not to be confused with baking soda.  They are not the same thing.
Washing soda is sodium carbonate or soda ash (baking soda is sodium bicarbonate).
It is a white powder.
Its purpose is to help remove dirt and odors.
The brand to look for is Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.

Fels Naptha
Fels Naptha is an old fashioned type of soap used mainly to remove stains.
I've seen it in yellow and light blue - color does not matter.

Here is the recipe again, with all of the directions and pictures.

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/2 bar Fels Naptha
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax powder
You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size

Grate the soap.

Put grated soap in a saucepan and add 6 cups water.  Heat it until the soap melts.
Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.
Remove from heat.

Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.
Now add your soap mixture and stir.

Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.
Finally, add your favorite essential oil (optional).
I would probably add 30-60 drops of oil (you may choose more or less).
The EO will make the soap a more effective cleanser, make the soap more effective at getting rid of bacteria and microbes, and will of coarse make your laundry smell incredible.

Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.

After stirring, the finished soap will not be a solid gel.
It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as and "egg noodle soup" look.

Now pour it into some old laundry detergent bottles (or apple juice containers :)
 Makes 2 gallons.

The amount you use depends on your preference, load size, and how dirty the clothes are.

The original recipe called for 1/3 of a bar of soap (instead of 1/2), and said to use 1/2 cup per load.

If you aren't going to use essential oils, I would use 1 c. per load - 1/2 c. works great with essential oils.

I just took an Ikea cup and marked measurements.
 As a side note, I should mention that I have never been "in love" with any particular brand of detergent.
I always seem to filter through them all, usually buying what is on sale.
This detergent has proven to be just as worthy as all that I have tried.
Here are my personal pro's and con's:

What I don't like about it:
This is a zero sudsing soap.
You pour it into the water and it looks like nothing but water...
I don't know why but seeing bubbles just makes me feel better.

What I do like about it:
It works: I have noticed no difference in this detergent form others that I've used. 
The smell: It isn't as powerful as other detergents, but my clothes do come out smelling fresh and clean (even without essential oils).
It is inexpensive. Around 5 cents per load (if you use 1 c. per load without oils).
Around 2-3 cents if you use 1/2 c. per load without oils).
That is based on buying all products (except essential oils) when it is NOT on sale.
Try figuring out what your regular detergent costs you to see if it is worth it.
Less Storage Space.  Even if you choose to buy your detergent, this is a good backup for emergencies.  Spend $30 and you now have a years supply of laundry detergent that can easily fit in a small box (just add water).
It dissolves easily in cold water.  Again, going back to using this in an emergency, whether or not your detergent dissolves in cold water is going to make a huge difference on whether or not it will be any good for you (this is especially true for powdered detergents).
Also, I've never had a problem with things like this, but this recipe includes far less chemicals than other laundry soaps; ie, cleaners, dyes, fragrance, etc.
This makes it helpful for those with allergies or special skin conditions.

And that's it!
Realistically, I can't say that I will never buy pre-made detergent again, but I will definitely always have these ingredients on hand just in case I need to make my own.
Plus, it's kind of fun!


  1. i just went to the new Winco and they sell all 3 of these items for less than anywhere. $7-8 for all 3.

  2. wow, I'm going to have to give you a hug next time I see you and see how you smell. lol J/K I'm really interested in trying that out. Does it work fine for HE washers since it's no sudsing? Do you ever find small white specks from the Borax on the clothes after? I used Borax to help counter our hard water but I would sometimes find tiny specks on my darks. hmmm

  3. Don't use smelling me as an excuse to give me a hug... I know you want to anyway. ;)
    I have never had issues with white specks. Come over and I will show you the actual soap if you want.

  4. Now a days laundry detergent powder is very famous to us. specially when you try to make it in your home it would be better but caution if you have no idea about it don't try to make it your home.