Homemade Laundry Soap

Okay, so I know fully that some of you will deem me crazy with this post.  Really?  Homemade laundry soap? Why the hassle?  Does it really work?

I've been wanting to try to make laundry detergent for a long time.  But then I think...I always buy laundry detergent with a coupon, so it's not really that expensive. And I always think, if I go through an extensive labor in the kitchen, then I'd like to be able to eat it.

Just randomly today, as I was shopping for laundry detergent, I decided I would give making it a go.  I also picked up some commercial detergent in case my idea backfired.  In typical Jackie fashion, I don't just give a recipe a try.  Instead, I devise my own through researching.  I perused the internet, looking for examples of ideas.  I consulted 10 different recipes and then hid them all and devised my own, using ivory soap (which creates a bit of nostalgia for me, as my grandparents used ivory soap for guests at their Blue Top Motel). 

Here's what I did:

Jackie's Homemade Laundry Detergent

3 1/2 gallons water
1 bar of ivory soap
3/4 cup washing soda
3/4 cup borax

1) Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil.
2) Grate the soap.  I used my kitchen aid grader attachment.
3) Wisk in the soap in the boiling water.  Simmer until completely dissolved.
4) Add the washing soda and borax.  Wisk until dissolved.
5) Add it to 3 gallons of hot tap water (I had the 3 gallons of water waiting in a 5 gallon bucket).  Stir.
6) Divvy up the detergent into smaller canisters if desired.  Let set before use (it turns into a gel).

Use 1/2 cup of detergent for each load of laundry, 1/4 cup for HE washers.

This was very, very easy.  Took 35 minutes from start to completion, and I was doing other things around the house while making it. And like with most things, the more you do it, the quicker you get at making it.  And I think it works great!  And as an added bonus, all of the supplies come in paper packaging.  No extra plastic will need to be manufactured for our laundry needs from this point forward.  How cool is that?!

Note...it does separate.  You can prevent much separating by mixing it with a burr mixer once set. You can also throw a few marbles in the container and mix it up by shaking or 1/4 cup of gel and then one 1/4 cup of liquid per load. I've also used it for spot treatment...dipping the area that got a spot on it in the liquid to pre treat it before washing. I hope you're as impressed as I am with the results.

Cost:  I spent $9.51 for all the supplies, and I can make 3 gallons of detergent 10 times with what I bought.  Since I am a nerd, I did the math.  That will equal 3840 loads of laundry, costing less than a quarter of a penny a load.  Compare that with low to high end commercially available products- Purex was $0.20 load; Tide was $0.30 load.  If you do one load of laundry a day for a year, making your own will save you a minimum of $70-$105. 

Needless to say, I will be returning the $8.00 commercial laundry detergent that I bought.


  1. That sounds really cool. Since you use tea tree oil for the baby wash, would you be able to use something like that in this too? Maybe some other kind of oil, like eucalyptus? (It's my personal favorite scent.) Another question, is the 9.51 pro-rated for the amount of the ingredients you used today? Or is $9.51 an initial investment and you'll be able to make the next batch much cheaper? Thanks and keep up the good work!

  2. I didn't add any extra oils to this, although I suppose you could. It smells like ivory soap, which I like. See my continued laundry post tomorrow to see where I use the essential oils with laundry.

    With the supplies I bought for $9.51, I'll be able to do this same recipe 10 times without needing to buy anything else, making enough for 3840 loads. After I did the recipe 10 times, the supplies with be used up, and I'd have to spend another $9.51 to buy the goods to make it all over again. So, to make 3 gallons of detergent (which was one recipe), it cost me $0.95. Does that make sense?

  3. I'm curious - why did you choose liquid over powder, and do you use a frontloader? We were told to use HE detergent in our frontloader for less suds. How would you rate your sud quantity? ;)

    You have inspired me again. I'm going to give it a go.

  4. I chose liquid over powder for none other than I'm not a huge fan of powder. It goes back to the college days when it didn't' fully dissolve in some of my loads. I actually have a washer we bought when we moved from a $100 craigslist score. We were hoping it would get us through the year, and here we are 5 years later. It's not a front loader. But the bonus about it is it has cloth diaper settings (prerinse, extra rinse included). The soap is definitely not very sudsy at all on cold. But it worked well. In my research, I did find it was safe for HO or top loader. Can't beat the savings! Although I will still buy separate detergent for the cloth diapers because I don't want to mess with what's working with that.

  5. I just had an idea, Cricket. Would you like to sample my detergent? That way if it works in your HE machine, you can make some, but if it doesn't you don't need to waste your time or money.

  6. Thanks Jackie for explaining that. I love love love your blogs. Also, if Cricket tries it, would you mind telling me if it works for front loading HE? That's what I have and would like to try it if it works.
    Have a good one!

  7. Where did you get the washing soda & borax? I have another bottle of detergent already but I might have to make some come summer.

  8. Walmart had all the supplies I needed...the washing soda and borax was on the shelf where the fabric softeners were.

    I must admit these were hard to find...I had looked at a number of places...even whole foods...and they didn't have what I was looking for. Not all of the Walmarts had this stuff, per my experience. Just keep looking, I'm sure you'll pick it up somewhere.

  9. I totally forgot to come back here to see your reply! I would take you up on your offer, but I already decided to make a batch. Once I find the washing soda. I never would have found it at Walmart. I despise that place. But they do carry a couple things I can't find elsewhere.

  10. Hey Jackie! Have you ever made the detergent portion and diluted it with hot water later? I have some of the (what I refer to as) "concentrate" that I made up to use like a stain stick. Now I'm almost out of regular detergent but I'd rather not have to go to the store for a bar of soap if I don't have to!



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