Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

Three years ago I first learned of homemade laundry detergent.  Though I knew it would provide significant cost savings for our family of five, I resisted.  Recently I decided to try a different recipe.  This recipe for homemade laundry detergent is surprisingly simple to make.   
Homemade Laundry Detergent
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1 cup Fels Naptha soap, grated (1/2 bar)

Mix together and store in an airtight container.
Use 1-2 tablespoons of detergent per load.

  • All ingredients can be found in my Walmart's laundry aisle and likely yours.   See what the boxes look like at my homemade dishwasher detergent post.
  • If you prefer a fine consistency, similar to store-bought, you can grate the Fels Naptha soap with a food processor to make it even finer.  I have tried both ways.  I wasn't certain if grating my soap would possibly leave remnants of soap in my laundry.  In my water I had no problems with the grated soap, even in cold water washes.  
  • Homemade laundry detergent produces little suds.  This makes it a great choice for HE washing machines.
  • I use cold water for most of my laundering.  Even our stinky and dirty clothes come out clean.  Actually, some of our stinky clothes come out of the washer still a little stinky when I use store-bought detergent.  The homemade detergent eliminates all odors except the occasional gym clothes of certain family members.
  • Fels Naptha soap has a strong scent when you first open the package.  By the time it mixes with the borax and washing soda, it is mild and barely noticeable on the laundered clothing.
  • You can substitute a Ivory soap for the Fels Naptha according to my friend who gave me the recipe.  In a Facebook discussion, I also learned that you can substitute Zote Flakes for the Fels Naptha.  Zote Flakes come ready to use, so no grating is needed.  They are also available in your laundry aisle. BUT I really like the cleaning power of Fels Naptha.
  • All of these products are much, much cheaper locally than on Amazon.  I believe I paid $3.29 and $3.99 for the borax and washing soda.  (They are 3 and 4 pound containers!  You use 1/2 cup at a time.)  The bar of Fels Naptha is less than $1.  MANY batches of homemade laundry and dishwasher soap can be made with the borax and washing soda boxes!  And it costs just pennies per load.  Just think, you don't have to buy "fillers" for it like when you buy store bought.
  • The first time I made this I made a single batch.  The next time I made a triple (since I had half a bar of soap left) batch. 
  • I intend to continue to use homemade laundry detergent because it is easy to make and more effective than store-bought detergent. 
Have I convinced you to try it for yourself yet or do you still believe homemade detergent myths?

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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  1. I'm sleepy, so I may have missed it, did you give a price difference for the two? Because it sounds tempting, but at the same time if I'm paying the same amount for that as I do for my laundry detergent.....

  2. I did not say how much per load it costs, but for $7, I can get enough of the borax and washing soda to make at least 20 batches of this recipe...And the soap is $50 per batch. I did see someone else's numbers and they said $0.04 per load of laundry, but she added several additional ingredients including a box of Oxiclean.

    This is, by far, much cheaper than Tide. Even All and Arm and Hammer will cost a lot more.

  3. I so love your creativity and ingenuity!

    1. Thanks, Antionette! I really have my friend to thank for sharing her recipe!

  4. I didn't think of borax as a green product, but since you presented it as one I've checked and it appeared we use it a lot in our household. Thanks for the great article.


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