How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes

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In addition to Homemade Fabric Softener… several of you have asked me how to make Homemade Laundry Detergent, and I’ve got the recipe for you right here!



I’ve been planning on making this for almost a year {yes… it’s taken me awhile to get to it}!

When I was up in Washington visiting my friend Joli this summer, I put her detergent to the test, and she sold me on the idea of Homemade Laundry Detergent!

It’s thrifty, simple to make, works great, and smells yummy!  Yup ~ I’m sold! ;)

What You’ll Need: {check your local store’s laundry aisle}

  • 1/2 Cup: Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda {not Baking Soda}
  • 1/2 Cup: Borax
  • 1/3 Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap {you could also use Ivory soap, but if using Ivory… use the whole bar}
  • Bucket {2 gallon size or larger}
  • Empty laundry detergent containers or bucket with lid to store detergent.

Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe from TheFrugalGirls.comPin It Post Buttons

What You’ll Do:

  • Grate 1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha Soap over large pot or saucepan…

  • Add 6 cups of Water.
  • Heat over medium-high until soap dissolves and melts.
  • Add Washing Soda & Borax, and stir until dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Pour 4 cups Hot Water into bucket, then add Soap Mixture.
  • Stir, then add 1 Gallon + 6 Cups of additional water.  Stir.

  • Transfer to a bucket with a lid, or pour into empty laundry detergent containers.
  • Set aside, and let it sit overnight, or up to 24 hours, to thicken and gel up.
  • Consistency and color will vary depending on your soap & water ~ it may be lumpy and watery… kind of like a watery gel, but it works great!
  • Stir or shake before each use, as it will continue to gel.
  • Good job… you did it!
  • Don’t forget… to save even more money, you can cut your dryer sheets in half and make Homemade Fabric Softener!

Then… go check out this BIG List of more Homemade Cleaners + Cleaning Tips!

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Have you ever tried making your own detergent at home??

Leave a comment and let us know your favorite ways to save $$ in the laundry room!

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310 Responses to How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. Amber says:

    I make my own laundry detergent. I like to add a little stain remover to the mix because I have 3 small children. :)

    • Anna says:

      Do you use this same recipe? Does it fade your clothes? Is it worth the money you save? Sorry for all the questions! :)

      • Anna Dobbins says:

        i just starting using this “recipe” and really like it. your clothes are clean when they come out of the wash and if you want to add some essential oil, you can. so far, my clothes have not faded and i’m saving around $40 a month in laundry detergent. i use the ivory soap version because it’s cheaper.

        • Shelia Thompson says:

          What size bar of Ivory do you use?

        • debbie buchanan says:

          where can i get the essential oil .. please help i want to make it and i wanted to put a little smell to it
          thanks in advance

          • Amanda says:

            You can order them off of my web site above. I love doTERRA Essential Oils. You can also join for $35 and get them at cost. Just go to the bottom of the page and click the purple links that says sing up/join. They are pure with no additives. My favorite is the lavender which i use daily. Good luck!

          • Ashley says:

            Amanda, I Love doTERRA too! The last batch I made I used 1/2 of the ivory bar and 1/2 of the citrus bliss bath bar and added a few drops of purify and i loved it! Worked just as well and smelled good!

          • Darlene says:

            I have been using the liquid home-made laundry detergent, I would like to try it some essentials oils, I don’t know at what time I should put the essential oil in, could someone please advise me? Thank you, Darlene

        • Kimberly says:

          How much of the laundry soap do you use for each load?

        • Sherry says:

          Where do you buy the essential oils? Would the liquid potpourri work?

      • Andrea Sayers says:

        Yes, yes yes it is worth it. I recipe use a recipe that called for a whole bar of fels naptha with 1 C washing soda and 1 C borax. (plenty strong!) I have a hint that saved me LOTS of work and time. I start a bar of fels to soak in an ice cream bucket when I am making a batch. It soaks for the time it takes for me to use a batch. When I go to use it weeks later,it is gooey and soft. It melts very quickly that way and there is no “grating” that way.
        I figured it costs $1.56 at that time 2 years ago to make 10 gal. That saved me $100 EVERY batch I make. My detergent (name brand but not sure I should say here???) because my husband is very allergic cost $10.00 a gal then.I can’t afford NOT to save that much.
        AND Fels Naptha is one of the best stain removers so really not necessary to add another unless you just want to. LOVE IT LOVE IT…and shared with lots of friends.

        • Renee Arnold says:

          Question- did your ingredients make a 5 gallon bucket? (with one bar Fels Naptha, 1 C borax and 1 C washing soda?) You mentioned 10 gallons so I wanted to be sure. I want to make a 5 gallon bucket.

      • Anne Ruble says:

        I use this formula BUT I use it as a powder. 1 coffee scoop per load. I used to use liquid Tide, and I’m very happy with this. However if I have a really smelly load of Laundry like dog blankets I’ll add just a bit of vinegar.

        • Suzanne Perez says:

          How do you make into a “dry” mixture?

          • Lyn says:

            Mix 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax and 1 bar of the Fels Naptha soap (grated). I also put it in my food processor for a couple of pulses to blend it a little finer. You only need about 1 Tbls per load. I use this in my HE washer with no problems.

        • christina says:

          I have used the powdered in the past. I had been told that powder is hard on you machine, but i didn’t listen. by the end of summer my machine was busted. The powder didn’t dissolve completed and ruined the motor.

          • katie says:

            If using as a powder add a scoop to some warm water and shake till dissolved. Works well if you wash on cold. This way you know it is dissolved

        • Paula M says:

          I tried the dry version and only used a little bit for each load, and it disappeared in a month.. the liquid version for me lasts about 3-4 months when I follow this recipe (above). Thanks for helping me save money!

    • Joanne says:

      what do you add for stain remover?

      • Andrea says:

        Fels Naptha IS an awesome stain remover, probably the best & then the Borax on top of that is amazing stain remover. I know there is a recipe here for spot treating if that is what you mean. I’ve always kept a bar of FelsNaptha next to the washer to pretreat with.

        • Joanne says:

          Years ago, when Ringer washers were THE washer to own, my Aunt and Mother both had a bar of FelsNaphta near the washer for all stains. I have continued to use it with the same fantastic results.

          • linda blose says:

            All my family used roller washer and FELS n. i HAVE NEVER USED A ROLLER machine in my life although I have washed alot in creeks!

  2. C.A. says:

    I make my own laundry detergent using a similar recipe but it’s a dry detergent. 2c washing soda, 2c borax & 1/2 a bar of Zote (grated). A whole bar of ivory or 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha may be used as a substitute for Zote as well. Stir together & use 2tbs per full load. It smells great & the Zote keeps my clothes bright & clean.

    • lori says:

      I also use this Dry recipe (with the Fels-Naptha). I feel it works well. It is also much easier to store.

    • Shelly Kidd says:

      I also do a dry detergent. I use one bar castile soap (can use fels naptha or ivory), 2 cups borax, 2 cups baking soda, 2 cups washing soda.

      1 TBS per load for toploader
      1/2 TBS per load for front loader

      Don’t know how many loads per batch but it lasts for a long time and I have 2 kids at home.

      • Ruth says:

        Is this safe to use with a septic system? I read soap flakes WILL clog your system because of the vegetable oil in the castile soap.

        • John says:

          This should be septic safe! The oil in a castile soap is olive oil, when properly saponified with either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, it no longer has the molecular structure of an oil. Avoid any extras that contain bleach to protect your septic system.

      • carolyn says:

        In your recipe for laundry detergent what do you mean by “washing soda”?

        • Miriam says:

          See the picture (above) of the orange “Arm and Hammer” box of Washing Soda. I find it at Kroger here in Michigan.

      • tiateresa says:

        Made my first batch of the dry detergent the first week of December. I have a front load HE washer, I LOVE IT!! I have save over $100 on laundry soap. It’s awesome. Wish I had learned about this sooner.

      • Leslie says:

        You do not use more than 1 table spoon PER load of clothes? How can you use so little per load and it be effective?

    • Anna says:

      Do your colors fade? Also have you ever added any kind of stain remover?

      • Justin says:

        I just started using this, only with my hard water I used 1.5 bars of Naptha, 2 cups of soda, 2 cups of borax, 1 scoop of oxiclean. So far so good. I added the oxi after it had trouble with my sweaty lawn mowing shirt. Pretreat those stains with wet naptha too.

        • Ashley says:

          So you can add the oxiclean straight into your mix? I have been a little hesitant to do this and have been adding it to each load.

        • Jodi says:

          I had found this recipe on another site but on that site they didn’t add all the water. Just enough to fit into 2 quart size mason jars. It also said NOT to add Oxiclean because after about a week the jars will explode so if you do add that, you might want to be careful how you store it. Also if you put it in mason jars, right after putting mixture in the jars, turn upside down for about 4 hrs until the mixture separates. You then can take the blade attachment off your blender & put it on the mason jars. The mason jars can then be put on your blender & you can blend the soap right in the jars. This mixture is more concentrated so instead of using 1 cup you only use 1 tbsp.

          • Jennie says:

            Can you please reply back with your exact laundry detergent recipe? I want to make sure I get it right. I like the idea of a concentrate. What I think you do is mix 1/2c Borax, 1/2c washing sode and 1/3 of a bar of FN soap, grated. Mix. Divide between 2 quart size mason jars. Fill mason jars with water and blend to disolve the ingredients. Use 1T of concentrate per large load of laundry. Thanks for your help!

          • Angela says:

            I use mom’s super laundry sauce too and it works great! My husband even posted on fb about how well it works! So easy to make and we have 6 kids so anything that saves this much money is a blessing.

      • cyndie gibson says:

        I have been making and using this same homemade laundry soap for years. The borax is a laundry booster (to fight stains) and the fels naptha is a pre treat also. My grandma used a bar to rub on stains, as do I. It leaves no smell, no soap reside on clothing so is great for sensitive skin and babies. No need to use fabric softener unless you just want too. This recipe (liquid) also neutralizes poison ivy oils in clothing.

    • Lori says:

      I made a huge amount of the dry laundry detergent using zote, the 20 mule Borax, Arm and Hammer washing detergent, baking soda and oxy clean. The only problem I am having is that the zote does NOT dissolve in cold or even warm water really. I find pieces of it sticking to my clothes and I have to go back and rewash them in plain water! I grated my zote and then even put it back in the food processor and really chopped the grated pieces up! Anyone else have this problem? I have been trying to start each load with hot water and get the soap to melt then switching it over to warm or cold. Does anyone else have this problem?

      • Terri Miller says:

        I use the dry method, but I use 1 bar of Fels Naptha, 1 cup Borax and 1 cup washing soda. I will also put a small container of off brand oxi clean in it as well. I was having trouble with the soap not dissolving, so I put the dry mixture into my Magic Bullet to make into a finer powder. That worked great.

        I made my own soap today from scratch. Check out my website in a week or so…if it works, I’ll post about it!

      • Alice says:

        I had this problem with the first batch I made then I paid extra attention to the dissolving process when making it and with the 2nd and 3rd batch I have not had a problem. :)

      • Shannon says:

        If you leave a bowl beside your washing machine, you can then mix your soap with a little bit of hot water to dissolve your soap before putting your soap in the washing machine. Then you can use whatever temp water you want.

      • Jennifer says:

        To avoid this issue I first set my washer on the smallest load with hot water – add my Zote mix and allow it to fill and aggitate for just a minute. I then reset it to large and adjust my water temp and add my clothes. This has worked nicely for me.

      • Brenda says:

        I use Zote and have no trouble but I make the liquid laundry detergent.

      • Rose says:

        I had this same problem. I keep a pint Mason jar beside my home made detergent. I fill it half full with water and put it in the microwave for about 1 min. while the washer is filling up. I take it out, put my measured detergent in the jar, screw the lid on tight, and shake it up and pour into washer.

      • Mar says:

        Yes, I’ve had that problem so I stopped using it. I don’t have the time to re-wash or re-rinse. If any one has a solution I would like to know also.

      • Victoria says:

        Just a suggestion… I too make this dry detergent and I learned a little secret…. If you shred your fels naptha … then mix it with the Borax & Washing Soda… put it in the microwave for about 1 minute…. then mix it together…. and put it in a food processor and pulse it… it comes out the same fine consistency as store bought powdered detergent….. and it dissolves better in warm or cold water. :)

      • Irene Karns says:

        I also make my own dry detergent. I use the Fels Naptha soap. Instead of grating it, I put it in the microwave on a paper plate for about 2 minutes or until it fluffs up like cotton candy. Let completely cool and it will smash into a powder that won’t stick to your clothes.

      • Weaver Gilbert says:

        Check your water pressure. If it’s low, then your clothes aren’t going to be in the “Wash” cycle long enough to disslove the soap completely. Another option would be to allow it to wash go through the wash cycle twice… Just a thought.

    • karla says:

      Im wondering I have a front load and use HE soap will this liquid soap work in my washer

    • Wondering what to do about the zote stink? If it works so much better than the fels nephthala, how do you get around the nasty stink of the zote brand?

  3. Stephanie Hosack says:

    How much of the wet detergent to put into your washer?? 1 cup, 1/2 c?? I want to try this, but I am hesitant. And do you use regular laundry sheets in the dryer? Or do you use liquid softner? Currently I use Purex Powder with vinager as a softner and put in the dryer w a purex luandry sheet.

    • Cristie Van Gorden says:

      I use a 1/2 cup and it works wonderfully! I make the liquid soap though, so I’m not sure about the powder soap amount.

  4. Betsy C. says:

    I’ve been making my own laundry detergent as well, but make powder since its faster and really effective. I really, really dislike the smell of Fels Naptha (heavy petroleum smell) and have used castille soap instead in a variety of scents. I just bought Ivory, so I’ll give that a shot. I use the recipe from Discovery’s Planet Green Channel: 1 finely grated bar of soap, 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda. Mix really, really well, or throw it in your food processor. 1 tbsp for HE washers, 2 tbsp for regular. I’ve used 2 tbsp in really dirty loads. LOVE this soap!!!

    • jill buretta says:

      any bar of soap?

    • Rhiannon says:

      Have you made it with the Ivory soap yet? If so what did you think? I have been making the laundry soap for a whole and love it but the Fels Naptha gives me a massive headache while I am melting it down. I can’t find the Zote in my area and I have read that the Ivory soap goes back into a solid while in the washer causing problems with the machine and pipes. please let me know what you think of the laundry soap made with the Ivory. Thank you.

      • Weaver Gilbert says:

        Yes….I’ve made this soap with ivory (using the Dugger’s recipe) it works well. You can avoid the headache problem by wearing a mask or head scarf (like a bank robber) while handling the dry products. The problem is cause by inhalation of the product itself. Some people are more sensitive than others to such things.
        The powdered borax bothered me until I cut on a fan blowing away from me my first time. Now I just stand back as far as I can while adding each.

  5. Krista Carter says:

    Hey is this safe for He machines?

  6. Martha Armour says:

    How much of this homemade detergent do you use per load?

  7. Leah says:

    I make a dry detergent similar to the one C.A. mentions and love it. Although I will say that I used Ivory soap one time and regretted it–it did not always dissolve completely and sometimes my darks came out of the wash with little white bits of soap on them so I had to re-wash/rinse the loads. I’ve never tried the liquid version, might have to try that sometime.

    I also use vinegar instead of fabric softener in the rinse cycle–works great!

    And, I nearly always hang my clothes on the line to dry rather than putting them in the dryer. I estimate this saves us about $20/month on our electricity bill, and I find it oddly relaxing to hang a load on the line.

    • Pati says:

      I love hanging clothes on the line too and also find it relaxing, Leah…maybe it’s cos it reminds us of days gone by ? ;o)

  8. Heidi says:

    I use approximately 1/4 cup per load on my top loader.

    I don’t personally have an H.E. machine, but I know several people who use this with their H.E. machines.

    ~ Heidi

  9. Tammy says:

    Question for those that mentioned it. What does the vinegar do for the laundry?

    • Leanne says:

      I use white vinegar as a fabric softener. It makes my laundry fluffy. So maybe that’s why it is used in the laundry soap.

    • Ang says:

      I know this is an old question but I use vinegar in my wash when I do hubby’s nasty Army uniforms-it takes the stink out of his dripping-with-sweat uniforms (can’t use fabric softener on them so that part is just an added bonus).

    • Val says:

      My mother always told me that vinegar cuts soap residue.

  10. polishirishmomma says:

    I forgo the cooking and just make a powder with ivory soap that is grated fine, washing soda, and baking soda. It works wonders on our clothes. I do not use borax since it is a bit of a toxin.

    • Lori says:

      polishirishmomma – Can you tell me exactly how much of the washing soda, baking soda, and ivory you use to make a batch? I’ve just made my first batch using the borax but I’d prefer to not use the borax. Thanks!

    • MaryLynn says:

      polishirishmomma
      I didn’t know the borax was toxic but figured it must be b/c my adult daughter tried the dry recipe I had made. It made her break out with a really bad rash under her bra and around the elastics of her underwear. Thanks for the info about the borax. I’m going to try just the plain baking soda next time.

      • Lila says:

        I read that if you use this formula you have to use white vinager and water ir mix with a little favorite hair conditioner and vinager and water. to get soap out. i have been doing this works good no problems.

      • Amy says:

        It’s not baking soda that you use, it’s washing soda. They’re totally different things. If she used baking soda to make her detergent, THAT might be the problem.

    • Bonnie says:

      I am looking to make this without Borax. I found the recipe once and forgot to save it. It was washing soda, baking soda and soap. Can anyone help please?

  11. Jen says:

    I use the duggar family’s fabric softner recipe. Buy a bottle of fabric softener ( I use purex). It is one capful of that to three capfuls of water. Mix in container. Cut up a kitchen sized scrubbing sponge in half and soak in liquid. Wring and throw one into dryer each time. Works great and smells good!

  12. Julie says:

    I’m eager to try this. One thing I’d like to add about regular detergent from the store is that I use about 1/4-1/2 as much as they suggest and I’m obsessive about my family having clean soft clothing. I also usually use 1/2 of a dryer sheet. Everything still looks and smells great.

  13. Christy says:

    I make my own laundry detergent, and I love it!!! So much cheaper and super easy to make. I add a little baking soda to mine and it seems to work very well. I make mine without using the water and keep mine in the powder form and just use 2-4 tbs at a time.

  14. Leslie says:

    I’ve been making this recipe for a few months now. No problems so far, except you need to make sure to pretreat stains, but other than that, everything seems to come out of the wash fine. I use 1/2 cup per load and if I’m doing underwear or towels, I like to add some vinager for the germs.
    I do have to remind myself to make it at least a day or 2 before I run out. Being unemployed, this money saving trick couldn’t have come at a better time! ;)

  15. Wendy says:

    We have 7 people in our family so laundry is always an issue. about 6 months ago I started looking at ways to save money on laundy and saw many great reviews for home made laundry detergent. A little hesitantly I made my first batch and it worked GREAT. I use the recipe from the Duggars website and it makes 5 gallons at a time. with my latest batch I added some liquid fabric softner to it and so far it has been great. Before I added the liquid softner I would add vinegar to the rinse cycle and it made a world of difference in the softness of the clothes. I used 1/4 cup when I had a front load washer but now that I am back to a top load washer I use 1/2 cup. When I use vinegar it is 1/4 cup that I add to the water.

  16. deb says:

    After my 3rd baby, I started using white vinegar as a fabric softener. Works great! No vinegar smell, just soft, static-free clothes. No allergens either. Plus, buying the gallon 2-pack at Costco saves a ton of money over the national brands.

  17. Julia says:

    Do you know if Publix carries the washing soda? I haven’t been able to find it anywhere here. We don’t have Kroger’s. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for several years, but have looked everywhere for the washing soda & have been unable to find it! THANKS!!!

    • cd says:

      Our walmart now sells everything you need to make it!

      • Lori Ceresia says:

        Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, is available at Kroger also. I bought all my ingredients there. But fyi, washing soda which is “sodium carbonate” is found at pool supply stores! And from what I heard its less expensive than Arm & Hammer per ounce. So if you have a pool supply store in your area check it out. Ours are all closed now since I live in Michigan. But if you live in warm climates then your in luck. I am making my batch today for the first time. I can’t wait to try it.

    • Libelula says:

      Publix does carry the washing soda.

    • Rhiannon says:

      you can also find the washing soada in the pool section. Its used to help with a pools PH.

    • Delores Isaac says:

      My daughter found her supplies at Ace Hardware.

  18. Amanda says:

    Does Walmart carry the washing soda?

  19. Penny says:

    How is this recipe on sensitive skin? I have to use All Free and Clear or Dreft…

    • Jeanette says:

      I have 3 with very sensitive skin, 1 with eczema and 2 who get itchy. This is wonderful for it!!

      • Kara says:

        I really want to try to make my own detergent but I have very sensitive skin. I cant even use window cleaner or snuggle. What is the recipe that you use, I would love to try it from someone that is kinda the same situation im in. Thanks

    • Adrienne says:

      I have severely sensitive skin and this recipe works great! I make the powder and add baking soda to it. :)

    • Delores Isaac says:

      My grandson broke out in a fine rash…my daughter adjusted to recipe and used a soap other than Fels Naptha.

  20. Amy says:

    I’m going to try this… I always use Tide free, but I think I’m willing to give it a try and save some $$
    I learned about vinegar from a Friends mom. It’s great softerner and also on smells, have you ever left your towels in the washer and forgot them… that musty smell… Vinegar takes the musty smell away… and I’ll smell it while the wash is going but never after. I now keep a small spray bottle of water and vinegar in my kitchen for little clean ups.

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