Love Story

Friday, June 25, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been planning to make my own detergent for a few months now but was waiting to run out of my store bought detergent. That finally happened this week so I excitedly gathered all the ingredients I needed to make my own (I know, it is pathetic the things that excite me these days). Now there are literally dozens of homemade laundry detergent recipes out there. I settled on this one and will decide whether to stick with it after a few uses. I already did 3 loads of laundry with it yesterday and am pleased for the most part. I am thinking about upping the washing soda and borax though as I read that that helps with getting the clothes really clean.

1/3 bar Fels Naptha
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax powder
Two gallon bucket 
*essential oil (optional)

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.

Add 6 cups water and 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.

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

You use ½ cup per load.

*I also added 1/3 oz of orange scented essential oil for a nice scent. 
 **Mine didn't really gel after the 24 hours. But I read that that was normal for it to come out watery and that it can still be used that way. I am going to play around with this a little bit but was happy how it turned out for my first time. This really didn't take much time at all so it wasn't an extra hassle.

Now while I am pleased that one side effect of using homemade detergent is getting rid of the chemicals used to clean our clothes, the main reason I am doing it is to save money. To make sure this was really a money saving endeavor, I kept track of what I spent on all of the ingredients. Here is the breakdown:
-Fels Naptha: 0.99
-Arm & Hammer Washing Soda: 2.69
-Borax: 3.67
-Essential Oil: 4.99
TOTAL: 12.34

The Borax and Washing Soda will last me quite awhile but I am going to figure this based on the Fels Naptha and Essential Oil for which I get 3 batches. Each batch will do 64 loads of laundry. So a third of $12.34 is $4.11. 64 loads at $4.11 comes out to .06 cents a load. Now if we compare this to a leading brand of detergent (I looked at Tide): For 64 loads of Tide it is $14.99 which comes out to .23 cents a load. It is almost 4 times the cost. I say that makes it well worth the effort!
For those of you wondering where to find these items, they can be found at local grocery stores. I was able to find all 3 items together at Fred Meyer, which is what the prices were based on. I picked up the essential oil at a organic store.

*** For an updated version of this post please read HERE*** 


  1. Very interesting! I might have to try this. I wonder how this detergent would work with washing cloth diapers?

  2. Here is a link that talks about homemade detergents and cloth diapers. My recipe wouldn't work because of the true soap but on this page are three recipes good for cloth diapers:

  3. I have been researching making my own and thinking about it for a while. Once I get home from visiting family I will try to make some! : )

  4. Let me know what you think...I like this recipe except for big messes like vomit. Definitely not doing the trick for things like that! Maybe you have found something more effective.


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