Make Your Own Laundry Detergent {A Simple How-To}

Laundry Detergent HomemadeAfter a few request, I’ve finally written down exactly what I do to make my laundry detergent.  There are about a hundred variations of the same basic recipe out there, so if you’re interested in trying it out and find that my particular setup isn’t ideal for you, don’t fret!  Turn to Google.

 This recipe makes a gel.  It’s not completely jellied, but a loose gel.  If you want to thinner, more pourable detergent, cut the ingredients in half, with the exception of the water.  The water measurements will stay the same.

You only need a few things:

a BIG pot

1 bar Fels Naptha Bar Laundry Soap

1 cup Borax

1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda


Containers to hold 4 gallons of detergent (I use 4 Mainstays Gallon Canisters)

Homemade Laundry SoapStarting with your pot and your bar of Fels Naptha, you need to get the soap into meltable pieces.  The easiest way to do this is with a veggie peeler, straight into the pot.  Think of it as shaving a block of cheese.  It will take you a few minutes, but it’s worth it as the soap will melt quicker this way.  If you don’t have a peeler, you can use a grater or simply shave the bar off with a knife.  Both of those options result in slightly larger pieces of soap, thus taking longer to melt.

Once you’ve shaved down your bar of Fels Naptha, add 8 cups of water to the pot and give it a stir.  You’re going to bring this to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the Fels Naptha soap is completely melted.

Once your soap has liquified, add in the Borax, Washing Soda and an additional 8 cups of water.  Stir until mixed and continue to simmer until everything has dissolved and you have one cohesive liquid.  Once that has happened, remove the mixture for the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

Once the detergent has cooled enough to handle, split it evenly between your containers.  At this point, you will then fill the remaining space in each container with water.  Seal your containers and shake them vigorously to mix.

You will need to let your detergent ‘cure’ for about 24 hours before use.  You’ll notice it thickening as it sits.

The container you’ve selected and whether you’ve opted for gel or liquid will really determine where you go from here.  I personally use the gel.  I keep a long handled plastic spoon in my laundry room and use it to measure my detergent.  I always give my container a good shake first to mix everything up a bit (there is a minimal amount of liquid that separates, even with the gel.)  If you’re using the liquid version, you’ll want a container with a tight lid so that you can shake it as well, or something with a wide enough mouth that you can stir your detergent before pouring.

For the gel, I use 1-2 tablespoons per load (based on the load size) and for the liquid 1/4-1/2 cup.

I’ve been more than pleased, not only with the cleanliness of our clothes, but also with the massive savings that making our own detergent has brought me.

Have you tried making your own detergent?  What do you think?

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24 Responses to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent {A Simple How-To}

  1. Stacy Kaiser says:

    I love making my own!

  2. Lizzy says:

    I’m a huge fan of Fels Naptha, so I know your detergent must be fabulous!!! Neat idea~

  3. YAY! I am so excited this is finally posted! I cannot wait to try it. I am totally going to wear a bonnet while I make it and pretend I am Laura Ingalls Wilder! 😉

  4. Smldada says:

    I have been doing a homemade powder for a few years now. I love it! Super easy and minimal time investment. 5 yr old had a blast helping me with the last batch.

  5. Laurel says:

    I might just give this a try… Thanks!

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  7. Momma Juli says:

    Question! How does this mix work in keeping clothes bright? We are having trouble with the natural method and our clothes getting dingy. But I have not tried this mix yet and wondered if this would brighten us up a little.

    Momma Juli

    • You can add a few drops of Dawn or a little OxiClean to your load if you have an issue with things being dingy. Sometimes that can be a result of your water as much as your detergent. I’ve been pretty happy with our results using this, and my husband – the laundry guru – has been too.

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  9. Jamie says:

    I love making my own laundry detergent, my laundry comes out so clean!

    • mamamommymom says:

      That’s always the first question “Does it clean well?” Of course! If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be using it!

  10. Deanna Ritz says:

    I love it when I can find a good cleaner that I can make myself and that it’s cost effective! Thanks for sharing this! 😉

    • mamamommymom says:

      This is definitely cost effective! You can even get the Borax and A&H Washing Soda at the dollar store on occasion!

  11. Chelsea says:

    This is a great idea. The cost of detergent sure does add up if you’re doing a lot of laundry!

    • mamamommymom says:

      Sadly, we do a TON! We were probably spending $40/mo on laundry detergent at one point in time. It was crazy!

  12. Kendra says:

    I’ve been doing my own dishwasher detergent for a while. Laundry detergent is next on the to-do list. Thanks for the tutorial.

  13. Oh wow! I don’t quite trust myself enough to make my own detergent! Looks so easy though!

  14. Carly says:

    I totally need to try this!

  15. I’m curious my daughter’s skin is sensitive and I have a 16 month old son, do you think this would be ok for them? I’ve been itching to make homemade detergent for awhile now! Thanks for the tutorial!

    • mamamommymom says:

      My husband and daughter have always had sensitive skin (Hubs is allergic to just about everything – we always used dye/scent free) and we’ve had no problem.

  16. Tausha says:

    I love this. It saves so much money at our house when I do this:)

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