Sunday, January 9, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

This is an updated tutorial of one of my all-time most requested homemade cleaner recipes!

There are a several different recipes for homemade laundry detergent on the internet, most of them involve giant buckets of thick, gloppy liquid--which is what I used for several years, but when we had to down size into a tiny townhouse we just didn't have room for a bucket anymore.  I didn't want to give up the cost savings of homemade detergent for the convenience of the tiny bottles of concentrated detergent, so I came up with a way to concentrate the homemade detergent to fit my space.

Depending on the cost of your ingredients, this detergent only cost between $.01 and $.03 a load! Compare that with even the cheapest detergents on the market and you can really save.  We find it is not necessary to use fabric softener with this detergent, except occasionally in the winter.  You can find my tutorials for homemade fabric softener/dry sheets here.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

You only need 3 ingredients and 10 minutes!

1. 1/3 bar of soap (I prefer fels-naptha, but I know others have had success with ivory, dreft and even dollar store soap, so choose something you like the scent of that doesn’t bother your skin) (cost. approx. 33 cents)

2. Borax-1/2 Cup (this is available at just about any department or grocery store in the detergent aisle)(cost. approx. 7 cents per 1/2 cup)

3. Washing Soda-1/2 Cup (this is a little harder to find, but check your local grocery-again in the detergent aisle) (cost. approx. 10 cents per 1/2 cup)

4. Water -1 gallon (plain ole tap water is just fine–I would avoid pond water, smelly lake water, etc… :0) (cost. approx 5 cents per gallon using tap water)

 Total cost:  Approx. 55 cents per gallon.  64 loads per gallon. 

Step 1:
Grate 1/3 bar of soap.  I like to use the fine side of a hand grater.  You don’t want powder, just small shreds.

Step 2:
Dissolve soap shreds into 1 qt. warm water over low heat.  Stir until completely dissolved.

Step 3:
Add 1/2 cup EACH of borax and washing soda.  Continue stirring over low heat until powders are dissolved and mixture becomes thickened (only take a couple of minutes) –sorta like a soft-set pudding.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t thicken up too much, it still is effective.

Step 4:
Pour thickened mixture into 3 quarts of cool (not cold)water in container.  Stir thoroughly.  This will fairly quickly become a giant mass of jelly like substance.  You can stir as it cools for a few minutes to thoroughly mix the gel.

That’s it- you have made homemade laundry soap!   You can store your soap in whatever you find convenient.   A bucket works well, especially if you have a loose fitting lid to keep stuff from falling into the bucket.  Also, you could reuse a laundry detergent container you already have.

To use the detergent you only need to add 1/4 C. to each load.  Your laundry will come out clean and fresh smelling!  The bonus to this detergent is that I have been able to virtually eliminate the need for fabric softener.  Occasionally in the winter I find the need for some fabric softener.

This laundry detergent does NOT produce a lot of suds and is safe to use in the new HE washers and front loaders!  It does not look like it is doing much, but it really does work.

If you feel your soap is too thick and gloppy, you can add an extra gallon of water (be sure to use a 2 gallon bucket) when you are mixing it up and then use 1/2 cup per load.  You might have to let it sit overnight to really set up if you use this much water.


Tina said...

I appreciate this post so much. We have been using the powder version which has worked wonderfully but moving into an apartment with a basement washer has made it more than difficult. I can't lug the laundry, the soap, & the kids downstairs to wait for the powder to mix up before adding the clothes. I was looking at "liquid" recipes but again, couldn't lug a huge bucket around. This looks great! Now, you may have covered this but is this detergent a more liquid consitency? Say I use an old laundry detergent container is it gonna just pour right out for me?

Holli said...

Awesome! I have wanted to make my own laundry soap for a while now, but I couldn't see myself making this HUGE bucket and it possible not working. Now I can try a smaller batch and see if it works for our family. I have a little one with sensitive skin, so I have to be careful what I use on everything that she will come into contact with. Thank you so much!!

Cowandpigdesigns said...

what did you use to label your jar?? I LOVE IT!!

HeartHandsHome said...

I used vinyl cut on my silhoutte machine. I have become addicted to vinyl and have been labeling anything that doesn't move. :)

Chesirechelsea said...

You mentioned using a 2 gallon container if you add another gallon of water...did you use a 1 gallon jar here?

Hearthandshome said...

Yes, I only use a one gallon container, it is easier to carry and store in small spaces.  The detergent in the one gallon batch can be quite thick.  If you want it to be more pourable you can add a second gallon of water and store it in a 2 gallon container or bucket.



Chauntel said...

I have spent my entire morning here with a cup of coffee (numerous, actually) and 
I am so grateful for the wealth of knowledge you have shared. Now to put it into action!!

Ellenschram11 said...

I haven't purchased laundry or dishwasher soap since November 2011. I use the Ivory Soap bar (because I like the smell & I give it as presents, so it is hypo-allergenic) and I make it in 2 gallon lots. I save creamer bottles & empty milk jugs. Works great for me.

Michelle said...

hello there,
 I am completely new to this homemade stuff, but my husband and I are really excited to save money, and be more independent! I just finished trying this recipe out, and it turned out thin, and really frothy.  Do you have any possible advice, solutions, etc as to why that may have happened?  Will it still be usable?

I followed your directions as closely as possible, but I did turn the heat up from the lowest setting to about a 3 on the 1-10 scale on my stove top.  Would heating it too quickly be part of the problem, or possibly allowing it too much time on the stove after adding powder?  (We couldn't decide on exactly what a soft-set pudding is like!)

Any thoughts on this would be SO appreciated!  And, thank you SO much for sharing your wealth of knowledge and ideas online!  I only recently found your site, and have already made the instant oatmeal mix (brown sugar maple...yum!), with plans to try other things as well! 
 Wife, Mom, and Art Teacher  :)

Kjhayes said...

copy and paste the link

Pdohaney said...

I have made my own washing soda by cooking 6 Tablespoons at 400 for 40 minutes.  It becomes grainy when done.  Stir often. 

Pdohaney said...

I was using baking soda and baking for 40 minutes at 400.  Sorry I forgot the most important detail.  

Lauren said...

If you don't add the water - then you can use 2 tbls per load and it also works great on cloth diapers :) 

Kiddo said...

I know this detergent recipe was posted many moons ago, but I have a question. I made a gallon of this and it worked wonderfully! It's now time to make a new batch. My problem was that the first batch was quite lumpy after it had cooled. Is that normal? If not, is there a method you use to make it less lumpy?

Jenni said...

You can turn baking soda into washing soda-just bake on a cookie sheet at 400* for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring.

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Momma3kc said...

Ellenschram11, do you use this in the dishwasher?

Mel said...

Hi I see here that you have made dishwasher soap, could you share the recipe? I would love to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Lunch: Black tea or coffee, one boiled egg and a slice of toast.
Malnutrition is another risk on a rapid weight loss diet.
Try taking pictures and weighing yourself
week in and week out.

Cristy said...

I have made this and I love it but I am having a lot of trouble with the last batch separating any advice as to what I may have done wrong?

Tania Taylor said...

just made a 2 different recipes for home made laundry detergent. one was a bit loose and the other was quit thick. I like the thick one way better. It also made the clothes very soft

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enrichment academy said...

I have been making my own laundry soap for quite sometime, I use the same ingredients but dont add water. i mix the dry ingr. in a pail and add 2 tablespoons of the dry mixture as the washer is filling up. works with hot or cold water. Removes stains and colors come out bright with fresh clean smell. I have a few little ones with super sensitive skin and they have had no problem

Malinda said...

Made this todayfor the first time and I followed directions but it came out really thin......what did I do wrong?

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Missy said...

I use an immersion blender after it gels. Helps big time!
I've used Fels-Naptha, ivory, Zote, Castille and glycerin bar soap for my detergents. The only problem I found is that the glycerin won't dissolve into the gel. It is still usable and works great, you just have to shake it in a container to mix completely before putting into the washer. I have some vegan friends that are ecstatic about it.