DIY Laundry Detergent

Sick of paying ridiculous amounts of money for laundry detergent?  Do you feel like your chemical ridden laundry detergent is harming the environment and your skin?  Want a more cost effective solution to store bought detergents such as Tide and Whisk?  Do I sound like a bad infomercial?  I’m done…I swear.  I don’t know what came over me there for a second.  So this week I decided that I needed to start making my own laundry detergent thanks to a little Pinterest inspiration.  I did a lot, and I mean A LOT of Googling how to make powdered detergent at home and pretty much found the same recipe everywhere.  It looked simple and easy and involved only three ingredients: borax, washing soda, and bar soap.  I picked up my ingredients at a local grocery store and a jar to house them all in at Target:

Here is the cost breakdown:

Glass jar:  $7

Borax:  $3

Washing Soda:  $3

Bar soap 3-pack: $2

For a grand total of $15, only $8 for just the ingredients.

The recipe that I settled on called for 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda, and 1 bar of soap shredded.  Many people I found via Google recommended Dr. Bronner’s natural soap, which I looked for but couldn’t find.  I settled on a simple Dial soap that didn’t include perfumes or lotions, which can stain clothing.

The process was really simple and only took me about twenty minutes tops to complete.  I first poured the two different powders into my glass jar:

Then shaved the bar soap using a regular old cheese grater:

And then mixed it up until it formed this clumpy mess:

The idea behind the shredding is to break down the soap so it melts and dissolves better in the wash.  Then, voila, homemade laundry detergent:

Before I made too much of the stuff, I wanted to make sure that I liked it and that the soap I bought didn’t stain our clothes.  So I gave it a little test drive and did a load of laundry.  I filled the washing machine with the dirtiest (Colby’s work shorts) and stinkiest (Colby’s softball tee shirt) clothes I could find to see if this stuff really worked.  After loading the machine I sprinkled the suggested 1-2 tablespoons of the homemade laundry detergent on top of the clothes and let ‘er rip:

One of the warnings I read about was to make sure you choose a soap that doesn’t suds up too much.  I didn’t want suds all over our kitchen floor so I checked on the washing machine a few times during the wash cycle, just in case.  But it worked like a charm!  I even sniff tested each and every article of clothing as it made its way from the washing machine to the dryer.  Even Colby’s stinky softball shirt came out smelling so fresh so clean!  Ah…mazing!  WOW…this stuff really works (she said in her annoying infomercial voice)!!!  Ahhhhh….clean clothes:

Technically that was my second load of laundry with the new detergent.  I couldn’t get enough of the laundry this evening.  You see, I have a bit of a laundry problem.  I love it and am probably the only person in the world that loves doing laundry.  Just ask Colby.  He hasn’t done a single load of laundry since we moved in together almost two years ago.  And it’s not by his choice, I don’t let him.  It makes me sad if he does his own laundry because I like doing it so much.  Weird sickness…I know.

I’m now officially in love with homemade laundry detergent, especially after doing a little rough math.  I calculated that I could make at least 12 batches with the powders I got for a total cost of about $14  ($8 for 12 bar soaps, $3 for borax and $3 for washing soda).  That’s only $1.17 per batch and each batch lasts 24 loads (if you use the max recommendation of 2 tablespoons per load) for a max cost of $0.05 per load.  Compare that to my favorite Tide product which costs $14 per jug and lasts 30 loads for a cost of $0.47 per load.  So lets say you do a load of laundry a day for a year for a total of 365 loads of laundry.  The Tide product would cost you $171.55 and the homemade laundry detergent would cost you $18.25.  Big difference!  Just think of how many beers you can buy with that?!  Man…I’ve been living with Colby too long!

While we’re talking about laundry, here’s a little looksie into our laundry room:

It’s like opening the door to a time warp with fake wood paneling, yellow plaid wallpaper, metal cabinetry and that light!  Oh that light!  We don’t photograph this space too often, obviously.  Can you blame us?!  But now that I have a super cute jar for my homemade laundry detergent it needs a super cute spot to be stored.  I told Colby that maybe our weekend project should be a laundry room redo.  He expressed his veto power and reminded me that we have precisely zero rooms completed, three rooms in total disaster mode, and about 34 other half finished projects.  Needless to say, we won’t be working on the laundry room anytime soon.  Le sigh!

Pssst…anyone else out there discover homemade laundry detergent?  I’m curious what soap you all use so comment and let me know!

Psssssst…almost forgot to mention that this detergent is much better for you and the environment.  Neither borax or washing soda contains harsh chemicals unlike traditional, store bought detergents.  Both products are all natural.  Combine that with an all natural bar soap and you’ve got yourself a little homemade, all natural laundry detergent.  Score!


  1. I recently made my own laundry detergent too, and was also very pleased with the results. The only difference in my recipe was that I also used Fels Naptha, which did give a very pleasant smell to the clothes, and apparently is good for stains. Although, you seemed to do quite well without it!

    1. The general consensus I found while reading about the detergent is no. You can use the same amount. I don’t have a HE washer, actually I have probably the world’s most inefficient washer, so I’m only basing my comment off what I’ve been reading. High efficiency soaps are essentially low sudsing soaps so as long as you use a bar soap that isn’t high sudsing you should be fine. There was also a lot of caution about being careful about voiding your warranty since homemade detergent isn’t one of the recommended detergents to use. They only recommend store bought HE labeled products. Hope this helps!!!

  2. I was thinking the same thing is Charissa G in the HE washer & all recommendations said that as long as you use a low-sudsing soap (Ivory, Fels Naptha, or Zote) it should be fine. Thanks for this inspiration – I can’t wait to try it!

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