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