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Homemade Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent ingredients get the job done effectively
Learn About Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Homemade laundry detergent is economical, earth friendly, and a chemically sensitive option for your family. Depending on how much laundry you do per year, you can cut your laundry bill in half by using homemade laundry detergent.

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Making homemade laundry detergent is actually quite easy but it does take time. The soap can cost you about one or two pennies a load. To begin, you'll need some basic ingredients.

Fels Naptha Soap

Most liquid laundry soap recipes call for Fels Naptha soap. This is an old fashioned type of soap and can be ordered online or found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store. If you can't find Fels Naptha, you can also use Ivory or Zote.

Washing Soda

Don't make the mistake of looking for baking soda. . .this is washing soda and can generally be found in your laundry aisle. The most commonly found brand is Arm & Hammer. If you can't find this locally, you can order it online through


Borax is a white powder and can also be found in your laundry aisle at your local grocery store. It deodorizes and helps the washing powder lift stains.

Other Necessities

You will also need a large, clean bucket to mix the soap together. Some people like to add essential oil to their laundry detergent to help give the laundry a scent. Other people add this to their homemade fabric softener. The addition of essential oil is completely optional.

Step By Step Directions

  1. Being by heating six cups of water. It doesn't have to be boiling, but it's easier if it's hot before you add the soap.
  2. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of grated soap bar to your hot water. Stir until the soap is melted.
  3. Add 1/3 cup of borax and 1/3 cup washing powder. Stir into soap mixture until dissolved.
  4. Add one more gallon of water, plus six more cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit overnight. Your finished soap will be somewhat of a mushy gel.

To use the homemade soap, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup to each load of laundry. This soap also seems to be safe for HE machines as it doesn't sud which is what can cause issue for some HE machines.

What About Powdered Laundry Detergent?

If you prefer powdered laundry detergent, you can use the above ingredients to do that too! Simply add equal parts of the above ingredients, mix together, and cover. (Use one to two tablespoons of this in your washing machine.) One advantage to making powdered detergent over liquid is that it's easier to make. . .no boiling, or cooking or cooling. You can simply grate the soap bar, add the washing powder and the borax, mix it and you're good to go.

What About Homemade Stain Treaters?

Interestingly, Fels Naptha soap can be used for pre-treating stains. You'd simply read the package directions. Also, laundry "naturalists" would point out that if you're diligent in treating stains as you get them, they will easily come out in the wash.

What About Fabric Softener?

It is well known that adding vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine will soften your clothing. Despite what you might think, it will not leave a vinegar smell either. However, there is a homemade fabric softener recipe for those who insist on making their own.

Step by Step Directions for Homemade Fabric Softener

One advantage to making your own is that you can add essential oils that will make your clothing smell fabulous:

  1. Add 1 part baking soda to a large bowl or bucket.
  2. Add 6 parts vinegar to the bucket. Wait for the fizzing to die down a tad.
  3. Add 8 parts water to the bucket--this will quell the fizzing.
  4. For every batch of fabric softener add about 10 drops of your choice of essential oil. Remember that you can always add more but you can't take it out!

Tips for Homemade Laundry Soap

Homemade laundry is economical. For people with allergies it can be helpful as they are not likely to react to the ingredients. However, homemade laundry "experts" (people who are actually using the stuff they make) offer these tips:

  • Experiment a tad first. . .you may have to adjust a bit to accommodate your water conditions.
  • Once you get the proportions correct, make a large quantity at a time so you're not constantly making laundry detergent.
  • A cup of baking soda (not washing soda) is a laundry booster and will get grimy clothes cleaner.
Homemade Laundry Detergent