How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent


If you’re looking for new ways to cut costs, you can make your own laundry detergent at a cost of just a few cents a load. Homemade detergent gets your clothes just as clean and is less toxic to the environment. Read on to learn how to make either powdered or liquid detergent.

Method 1 of 3: Making Powdered Detergent

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Gather supplies. This easy, inexpensive method for making powdered detergent requires just three ingredients:

  • A bar of castile soap. Choose either unscented or buy a bar with your favorite scent, like lavender or lemon.
  • A box of washing soda. This is also called sodium carbonate or sodium ash, and is available in grocery stores.
  • A box of borax. This is a naturally occurring mineral that comes in powdered form, and is also available in grocery stores.[1]
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Finely grate the bar of soap. Stand it in a bowl and use a cheese grater to crate the entire bar. You can also put it in a food processor to grind it to a nice fine consistency. When you’re finished, no large chunks should remain; you want it fine enough to mix with the other powders.

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Mix two parts washing soda and two parts borax. Place them in a big bowl that you won’t be using for food purposes, and mix them well with a spoon.

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Add one part grated soap. If you used 3 cups of washing soda and 3 cups of borax, mix in 1 1/2 cups of grated soap – you get the picture!

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Add baking soda or essential oil. This is an optional step that you can choose if you wish to personalize your detergent to meet your family’s needs. Baking soda helps freshen clothes that have heavy smells that need to be removed, and essential oils add an extra scent that you might enjoy. A few drops will suffice.[2]

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Store the detergent in a sealed plastic container with a measuring cup. If you tend to do extra large loads of laundry, plan on using 1/4 cup per load. For smaller loads, use 1/8 cup.

Method 2 of 3: Making Liquid Detergent

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Gather the supplies. Liquid detergent requires the exact same ingredients as powdered detergent, only this time, water is added to liquify the powder. The supplies you’ll need are listed here:

  • A bar of castile soap, scented or unscented
  • A box of washing soda
  • A box of borax
  • Several gallons of water
  • A 5-gallon bucket
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Grate the bar of soap. Use a cheese grater or a food processor to grate the soap until it’s a fine powder, and no large chunks remain.

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Heat the soap with 2 quarts of water. Place the soap flakes and 2 quarts of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture as it heats, and keep mixing it until the soap completely dissolves in the water.

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Heat 4 and a half gallons of tap water. Pour the water into a large pot and heat it up until it’s almost boiling. Pour the water into the 5-gallon bucket when you’re finished.

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Stir in a cup of washing soda and a cup of borax. Keep stirring until the powders are dissolved.

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Stir in the soapy water mixture.

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Cover the bucket and let it sit. The ingredients need to meld overnight.

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Distribute into storage containers. Keep a measuring cup nearby. For a large load, use a cup of liquid detergent; for a smaller load, use 1/2 cup.

Method 3 of 3: Fels Naptha Bar Soap Detergent

  1. 1

    Grate one Fels Naptha bar soap.

  2. 2

    Measure out 1 cup each: Borax, baking soda, and washing soda.

  3. 3

    Mix together in a food processor.

  4. 4

    Store in a coffee can. Use a whisk to break up any clumping over time; it does tend to chunk up at times, or if in a high humidity area.

  5. 5

    Use as follows:

    • 1 tablespoon for small or light loads
    • 2 tablespoons for medium/large/heavily soiled loads
  6. 6

    As an option add downy unstoppables to make a scented soap but this is not necessary.

4 thoughts on “How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

  1. Good one Katie, I’ve done this for about 5 years now, saving is great. I make 5 gal. I use liquid soap, its easer, but works great.

  2. For 2 years now I have been making my own powdered laundry soap but I add:

    1 – Three 16 oz. containers of Awesome Oxygen (similar to Oxywash) from the Dollar Store to the following:

    2 – Grate 3-4 bars Fels Naptha bar soap.

    3 – Add one box each: Borax, baking soda, and washing soda.

    4 – Mix everything together with a very large, long-handled spoon in a 5-gallon bucket. This will last you at least a year.
    . . .

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