Homemade Laundry Detergent

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By Contributor Sarah from Chickie Momma Crafts:

I started making homemade laundry soap about two years ago-first as just a “trial.”  I had my doubts that it would really clean, but I researched how much money it would save me and thought it was worth a try!  I haven’t bought laundry soap since!!  And an added benefit, my boys and my husband’s eczema has been better since using the homemade detergent!!

Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

{This recipe is for high efficiency washers as well as regular – you’d use the same amount in the HE washer as a regular washer}

(Update: We’ve had some questions about where to find these ingredients. Sarah found all of these ingredients at her local Fred Meyer store in the laundry aisle. However,  you can also find these ingredients at Winco, Walmart, & Ace Hardware, to name a few places. Or just shop on Amazon to have it delivered to your house. We have the links in the recipe for each product)


You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size, a sauce pan, and cheese grater.


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.

The finished soap will not be a solid gel.  It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an “egg noodle soup” look.


I save the Costco size apple juice containers to store it in.

Optional: You can add ½ teaspoon essential oil if you like for fragrance or a 1 cup of your favorite fabric softener.  I don’t add either of those because I want mine “free”, but I do add 1 cup Oxi-Clean as a cleaning booster.


The savings:

  • The average cost per load of store bought laundry soap is about 60 cents a load (based on price of Tide from Amazon). This is without coupons – it would be lower depending on the coupons & sales that you find.
  • The price per load of homemade detergent is 3.5 cents per load!!  That means if I do one load a year it will save me about $80 a year!!

Here are more DIY posts you might be interested in:

Have you ever made homemade laundry detergent? What are your tips for making your own laundry soap?


  1. Jessica says

    i have done this for about a year. I do 1 bar, 2 cups Borax, 2 cups washing soda. I shred the bar in my food processor, then at the powders to it to make in finer. I dont heat it. And yes you can use in He

  2. Clara says

    i only use about a tablespoon of the dry recipe in my HE washer unless it’s a particularly dirty load. now, if i use commercial detergent, the smell overwhelms me. i LOVE this stuff!!! i did the liquid version for a while, but the dry version is easier to make and more compact to store.

  3. Misty M says

    I’ve been wanting to try this for some time, and am about to go buy all the stuff for it… Just an fyi, http://www.tipnut.com has a ton of “recipes” for homemade laundry soap and other things, as well as tips and trouble shooting. (I’m not affiliated, just a fan of it)

  4. Dianna says

    mine uses
    2 small unscented bars of locally made soap ( they are seconds so they run $1 total)
    1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
    ½ Cup Borax

    it make a a 5 gallon bucket that your suppost to cut in half with water. I don’t water it down any further and only use an 1/8 c in my HE

  5. Larissa M says

    I make a dry version

    1 Cup Borax
    1 Cup Washing Soda
    1 Cup Biz
    1 Cup Baking Soda
    1/2 grated Fleps Napa
    4 oz of grated bar soap. (My husband travels alot so I have lots of hotel soap.

    Mix all together. I have an old top load washer and I use 2 Tbsp. Front loads just 1 is needed.

    I like the dry better then the gel. I tried the gel first and my clothes still smelled funny.

  6. Heather D says

    I’ve tried both, the powdered version and liquid/gel version, and the biggest problem I have is the bar soap not dissolving enough and sticking to some of the clothes. I notice it most frequently in my cold water loads, since the cold water doesn’t do anything to melt the little soap flakes or grated pieces. I thought the liquid version would solve that problem, but I still notice soap residue on some of my clothes when I take them out. Does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do to help this problem?

    • Barb says

      I use vinegar in the rinse cycle. I have an HE and I’ve heard the vinegar breaks down the soap even more and I don’t have an issue with musty smelling clothes if I forget and leave them in there for a day. Oh and there’s no sour vinegary smell either!

  7. Corrie says

    Making this for over a year now and love it. First I made the liquid and then switched to the powder. We use it in our HE machine since it is a low sudsing detergent. I can also make a large batch that lasts us 6 months. You only use 2 Tblspns at most per load.

    Another helpful tip that I finally discovered to make grating the soap for dry mix easier. Chunk the soap and put it in the small Magic Bullet cup with chopping blade. Add just a little of one of your powders. Don’t put too much in at once. It works amazingly well and the pieces are a lot smaller. The powder helps it from sticking so much to itself and balling up.

    Zote soap is a little easier to work with and is only 80 cents a bar at Big Lots. Plus it’s big enough to do a double batch. Fels Naptha is $1 – $1.50 per bar. Fels Naptha is also the perfect stain remover and couldn’t get any cheaper. 1 bar can easily last you a couple of years. You just wet the garmet, wet the bar and rub them together.

    1 bar Zote, 4 cups Borax, 4 cups Washing Soda
    1 bar Fels Naptha, 2 cups Borax, 2 cups Washing Soda

  8. Corrie says

    A rinse agent would help avoid this. You can use a fabric softener or vinegar. Vinegar works very well and is cheap. The scent does NOT stay on the clothes. Plus vinegar is great at removing smells from clothing and helps set colors. Put 1/4 of a cup of it in your softener cup and you should notice a difference.

  9. says

    Heather, I make the liquid version, and I think the main thing is to make sure you completely melt the grated pieces in the saucepan before you mix it into the bucket. There shouldn’t be any visible pieces of anything when you are done, just a gel. Hope that helps!

  10. Shannon Slish says

    We’ve been making our detergent for about 6 months now, and LOVE IT. I honestly think this gets stains out of my kids clothes better than regular detergent. We use the liquid method above, and would caution anyone on a septic system against using the dry version due to the caking habit (also why you sometimes find it on your clothes).
    This last time we tried adding a little of some left over liquid detergent (XTRA that I got on a super great almost free sale). We added about 16 ounces to the total mixture. It adds just enough fragrance to be appreciated, but not anywhere near the overwhelming smell from most store bought detergents.

  11. holly says

    I would make sure you’re not overload your washer. I’ve been making the liquid for 2 yrs now and haven’t had any problems. Good luck

  12. Carmen says

    I start my washer on hot water/small load and let it agitate for a minute or so, then continue to fill with warm or cold water (and the clothes). This seems to thoroughly dissolve the powder.

  13. Mark Moberly says

    Yes, it is good for HE washers as it is a very low sudsing soap. This is the concern with HE’s. Do not use more that recommended amounts. The idea of more is better does not work here in HE’s.

  14. Holly says

    sound like you may be overloading your washer. Try a vinegar rinse. Both of these should eliminate the problem

  15. casey says

    We just made our first batch yesterday and it turned out better than expected. It gelled up perfectly; nice and smooth, just like a brand-name store-bought stuff. We’ve done several loads of laundry and we couldn’t be happier with the results. It works just fine in our He machine. We used Zote as our base soap, and added the Oxy (we found a small tub of the Sun brand for dirt cheap where we got our Zote, so why not?).

  16. LEXI BOND says


  17. Christine says

    Thanks for the great recipe! I tried making this about 2 weeks ago and am loving the results. I am now a convert from expensive detergents to this!