How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

I had to laugh this morning when I read Soulemama and saw she had posted a recipe for laundry detergent, because that was the exact thing I wanted to share with you today too! I have been using a liquid homemade laundry detergent since about January and I really do love it! I have to add in the disclaimer that I’ve never been that picky about laundry detergent, I can’t seem to see a difference in any brand I use, but I do know that this recipe is insanely cheap to make much like my handmade lotion recipe.
I first heard about making your own liquid laundry detergent last year when I was researching garden safe laundry detergents, (although I have since found out that borax is not good for the garden) but I couldn’t seem to find the right ingredients here in town. But last December I stumbled upon all three things I needed at Sonoma Market while I was grocery shopping. For the Sonoma locals, you know that Sonoma Market isn’t the place to get things inexpensively. It cost me about $9 to buy the washing soda, borax, and Fels-Naptha there. However the washing soda and borax will last through years of detergent making, so I figured it was well worth the investment. I have a strong feeling that if you can find them in your town, they will be cheaper. Or you can order them online through the links below, if you can’t find them where you live.

I’ve since learned that Fels Naptha is made up of chemicals taken from petroleum, so in an more earth friendly move, I suggest that you make this recipe using either Dr. Bronners or another kind of all natural soap, which I’ll do next time. Although after keeping the Fels Naptha around, I’ve found that if you rub it on stains before washing they come out like magic! This recipe makes about 2 gallons of detergent and I found that they fit perfectly into two empty and well cleaned milk containers. I found an old detergent scoop in the back of my laundry room and I pour it out into the scoop as I would a store bought detergent. Super easy! The best part about this recipe is that it only takes about 15 minutes to make which is fantastic!
Onto the recipe:

Liquid Laundry Detergent

1/3 bar of soap, grated. Such as Fels-Naptha
1/2 c. Washing Soda
1/2 c. Borax

In a large pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add in grated soap and stir. Meanwhile in a seperate pot heat up another 4 cups of water until hot. When melted add the washing soda and borax. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour in additional 4 cups of hot water.
In each empty, clean milk jug put 11 cups of tap water and half of your hot soap mixture. Let sit for 24 hours and it will gel together and look like egg drop soup. I like to stir the mixture every couple of hours with a bamboo skewer to help in mixing the solid and non-solids together.
Use 1/2 cup of liquid laundry detergent in each laundry load.
In this last batch I made I tried adding essential oil. I used about 30 drops of lavender into each gallon and it was strong enough that I could smell it when I use it but that the clothes didn’t smell when they were dried. That makes me a happy laundress, smelling the beautiful lavender, and makes the three guys in our house happy too, as they would prefer not to smell like lavender.

If you’ve read about making your own detergent before but thought it might be too much of a hassle, you really should give it a try. It’s so easy and so very, very cheap!

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129 responses to “How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. Pingback: Garden Friendly Detergents and Soap « A Sonoma Garden

  2. My friend got me soap nuts for my birthday, and I am loving them so far. I, like you, am not picky about laundry soap at all. I have unfortunately stocked up on an eco-friendly liquid that I have to use up, but I’m using the soap nuts for some loads. I guess these are even more earth friendly than making your own, in terms of processing, but they do come from India or Nepal.

    • My sister works for Naturoli. She makes their soaps! She got me hooked on soapnuts. It is awesome for people with skin problems.

    • Laura

      I looked up these soap nuts, and turns out they are also called soapberries. I grew up with a soapberry tree in my neighbor’s yard. It never occurred to me why they were called soapberries. They would always fall to the ground, and we would just have soapberry fights and pelt each other with them! Maybe I should have my mom mail some up to me, and do my laundry with them!

  3. I mix my own up as well, although I’m a dry powder lover. So I simply don’t add water. I grate the soap with my smallest microplane grater, I us Dr Bronner’s lemon scented. Then I mix with the other 2 ingredients and put in a jar in the laundry room. Works like a charm!

    • Bonnie Benedict

      I like this idea, too. How much of the “powdered” detergent do you use?


    • Catherine Farrington

      I found using Fels Naptha, (powder version of the detergent, like what you described) left some yellow-ish spots.. and was harder to grate. I stick with Ivory. and I am thrilled with it on every level from the cost, to the chemical free aspect, to the effectiveness!

  4. Jo

    This is SO awesome. I beat you to the posting punch, my post is dated April 27. BUT, I mixed up my third batch yesterday. I am using lavender EO as well, I used 20 drops this time and I put it in my bucket rather than into the mix that was heating.

    Sorry to hear about the petroleum in the Fels! YUCK! On the other hand, it works a real charm against poison oak/ivy/summac. When my guys come in from working in the stuff (we have it on our property so it has to be controlled because my hubby and one of my sons are HIGHLY sensitive), they strip at the washing machine then head straight for the tub. I put dish soap in the tub water as well. Double duty surfactants between the dish soap and the Fels.

    Have you tried using white vinegar for a fabric softner? It helps keep the washing machine clean, does a great job of removing residual soap, easier on environment, AND no one smells like Italian dressing at the end of it! I’ve tried adding the EO to this as well, still no lingering fragrance in the clothes. Last mix I put 20 drops into a gallon of vinegar.

    I hope to be posting soon about using vinegar as a weed killer. It would be great if you gave this a shot on your side of the country and posted your data!

    • Julie

      I have used apple cider vinegar as a weed killer with great success. Just put in a spray bottle and adjust the mist to target only the plants you want out b/c it will not discriminate. It will kill grass and plants that you want to keep as well. I used it mostly in a stone patio where the weeds kept growing up between the stones. The apple cider vinegar was the only thing that killed the weeds. Follow up with a sprinkling of salt and nothing will grow back for several months. The vinegar/salt one-two punch works really well on cracks in the sidewalk too.

  5. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing. I have really been wondering about making my own soap, and now you have inspired me. Congrats on your baby news too. Love your blog!

  6. Have you ever seen the family with 19 kids? The Duggars make their own soap in 5 gallon buckets. Too much for me to tackle.

    • Emma Arthurs

      The problem with the Dugger recipe. Is it turns your whites gray I have used it and my sister that’s why I need a new recipe

  7. Laura

    I make mine with the same ingredients, but keep it dry. I keep my laundry soap in a quart size canning jar. For those of you on a budget, you can get coupons for both fels-naptha and borax just by calling them and asking. And, Arm & Hammer frequently has coupons on their website “for any laundry product” that work just fine for the washing soda. It makes that cheap detergent even cheaper!

  8. Thanks for this recipe. I bought the bar of Bonners to grate and the search is on for the other ingredients. Our best natural food store didn’t have them which is surprising.

  9. Ben

    I’ve seen something similar on another blog I follow. Finding Washing Soda locally has been impossible.

    Someone at work told me it was a component in bomb making so its hard to find. I don’t know if that’s true or not,

    • Sarah

      Washing soda is also called “soda ash” – the actual chemical name is sodium carbonate. Soda ash is most often used when dying textiles. If you have a craft store close by that sells clothes dye, they will likely have soda ash. Look for it to be labeled sodium carbonate.

      I order my soda ash online from dharma trading company (google them if you are interested) as their prices are much better that the local craft stores. Waiting a few days for shipping saves me a significant amount of money.

      I too have heard that ordering too much of the chemical may get you “flagged” so don’t order 200 lbs. on your first order.

      • Susan

        I make this detergent in the dry form. It makes a lot but stores well in containers with lids. It is very simple, cleans well, and smells devine. I got all the ingredients from Wal-Mart for about $20 and it made enough for about 6 months worth. Great investment.

    • Chris has both Arm and Hammer Washing Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax at very low prices…and they ship for free! (You just have to buy 6 items…but that is easy to do, as they have so much…except they don’t carry Fels Naptha.)

    • Georgia

      Try Walmart they carry all three products.

  10. We LOVE our home-made laundry soap but thanks for the tip on Fels Napa….guess I’ll have to look for the Dr. Bonners!

    Also, I’m not sure if you’re recommending using this as grey-water in the garden but since you mentioned ‘garden safe detergents’ I thought I would suggest caution in that regard. We have been looking into using our washing machine waste-water in the yard, but in doing the research found a lot of sites claiming that Borax can be toxic to plants. I don’t want to give up our homemade soap but we may have to find another recipe that will be less harmful to vegetation.

    • Quite right, Maureen. Anyone using this recipe should avoid letting the runoff into a garden. Boron and borax are potentially toxic to plants and the salts in any soda-based soap will accumulate in the soil. Potassium-based soaps are preferred for this use. Check out:

      I researched this issue while looking for a recipe which can be used safely in our greywater system. My conclusion was to let somebody else make the appropriate stuff and went out and bought a big bottle of Oasis.

  11. I am wondering how this mixture would be if used in the new “front load” washing machines. I know when we just purchased ours at Sears that they stressed to be careful what detergents we used in it. Our machines were a large investment and I would hate to use something that might cake up the machine. We love our new machines–especially the washer. Our water bill has almost been cut in half since we got rid of our topload machine from the early 1980’s.

    Does anyone else use this recipe with a front loader??? Do you have an residue left inside the machine???

    • asonomagarden

      Wendy, from what I’ve heard this works just fine in front loaders, just use 1/4 c. scoop instead of 1/2 c.

    • Melissa B

      Homemade soap doesn’t have a lot of suds so it works great with any HE washer. I use the same amount the recipe calls for without any problems.

    • Belinda

      I have used this and similar recipes in my front loader x 5 yrs. Love the results. Hate it when I ru out ans resort to tide. A recent recipe from Everyday Cheapskate uses original Dawn detergent. Havn’t tried it but will.

  12. Jo

    I use my soap in a front loader. If it’s a normal load, I use between 1/8 and 1/4 c. NEVER more than 1/4 c. If you are having trouble finding ingredients, try “Soaps Gone By”. They are a bit slow getting orders out because it’s a family business out of their home. It took a couple of weeks for my order to be shipped. On the other hand, I wasn’t in a big hurry. The folks are nice as well.

    By the by, one of my friends tried it as an additive to her regular soap because her hubby likes “sniffy” laundry. She says her clothes are noticeably brighter and stains get out MUCH better.

  13. Ditto on the responses to Wendy’s question. We’ve been using ours for over a year in our Sears front-loader and it works just fine.

  14. I’ve been using the dry version of this recipe for almost a year and love it! To make a batch I use a full box of both borax and washing soda with 2-3 bars of finely grated soap. I’ve found the best container for mixing and storing is a plastic kitty litter tub. I use between 1/8 and 1/4 cup in my front loader.

    Thanks the tip about using Dr Bronner’s instead of fels-naptha – definitely going to look into it 🙂

  15. Bonnie Benedict

    I whipped up a batch of the liquid detergent and am using it for the first time. There are no “suds” which doesn’t bother me in the least, just want to make sure everyone else is experiencing the same. I did use the Fels-Naptha because I wanted to try the original recipe first before deviating, but will use Bronner’s next.

    • asonomagarden

      You know I haven’t looked at the wash mid cycle, but I haven’t noticed that there aren’t any bubbles when detergent and water first mix.

      • Bonnie Benedict

        I didn’t check mid cycle either. But good to know that you weren’t getting any bubble when they first mix. Maybe it is always like this, and I just couldn’t see due to bubbles from regular detergent, but the water seemed really dirty.

        The detergent seems to have done a great job. My husband also commented that his shorts that I just washed in this detergent seemed much softer. So far, so good. And what a bargain.

        My husband’s white athletic socks never seem to come clean (the bottoms still have residual dirt “stains” for lack of a better word)no matter what I use. And I’ve tried lots of things. I’m hopeful that when we get a new batch of socks, that this detergent will maybe do the trick.

        Thanks so much for sharing. I’m lovin’ it. My sister and I are planning on making your body lotion when we are next together.

  16. Bonnie Benedict

    Guess I didn’t read too carefully. Sounds like you were getting bubbles. Who knows, maybe it has to do with the hardness/softness of the water. We have relatively soft water.

    • asonomagarden

      No, I think I worded it wrong (that was a pre-coffee response). I am not getting any bubbles either. This detergent hasn’t gotten my husband’s socks white either! Unfortunately the only thing that does is an occasional bleach wash and dry in the sun.

      • Bonnie Benedict

        Gotcha! I’ve even tried bleach and it hasn’t gotten the ground in grime out of his socks! Hadn’t thought about laying them in the sun though. However, with the high 90’s/heat index in the low 100’s we’re having in Atlanta right now, if I did, they might spontaneously combust 🙂

      • Mandy

        I have two boys ages 9 and 7, that both take the game of baseball seriously. So normally their white pants are covered with grass and dirt stains from sliding and diving. I take a 5 gallon bucket and add a scoop of oxy clean, enough homemade laundry soap to equal a full load, sometimes I even add bleach, and a gallon or two of HOT water, add the pants (socks in your case) and let it sit overnight. The next day I just pour the entire bucket with contents into the washer and run it through the cycle. Line dry and they look as good as new. This has worked with all our grimy whites. Best of luck!

      • asonomagarden

        Mandy, thanks for the tip! We had our first rain last weekend and the clothes these boys have been taking off at the end of the day have been MUDDY! I’ll have to try you technique out.

      • Jen

        Try wetting the fels naptha and rubbing it on the socks before washing them.

      • When I added the 11 cups of water it made the detergent extremely watery and I was using 3x’s as much just to get it done. I don’t remember if I added the 11 cups with my first batch but it was the best one I made. So I’m going to adjust and maybe not add 11 cups and see what happens. I too have very hard water so the no poo thing didn’t work here either. I just wish there was an additive you could put in your laundry to help with the hard water. I have an HE washing machine so I can’t wait until the tub fills up because it doesn’t fill up right away like the older machines.

    • Julie


      Try cutting up a lemon and putting it in the washer with some salt to whiten. Do it in a prewash or in the rinse cycle. Hanging the wash out to dry will produce the whitest white with this method, but I get good results using a drying rack near a window and even with the heat of the dryer when need be. For tough stains, rub a cut lemon directly onto the stain and hang in sunlight (outdoors or in) before washing. I’ve been able to remove some really stuck stains that have been previously washed and dried this way. Hope it helps you too.

  17. tippy

    Love making my own laundry detergent! But when I made my batch (the liquid variety) it separates and is kind of gloppy. Has anyone else had that problem (not sure if it’s a problem) Any ideas on how to make the mixture blend better (trying to convince the kids that this is just as good as the manufactured, highly advertised stuff!)

    • asonomagarden

      Tippy, mine seperates too, but as it cools I keep mixing it with a bamboo skewer so that it sort of become equal parts of liquid and solids.

  18. Pingback: Wash Wednesday « A Sonoma Garden

  19. theCmom

    Great pictures! Great post 🙂 Another favorite cleaning item I LOVE is my ecloth.

    Between homemade laundry detergent and this cloth, life couldn’t get any more simpler, inexpensive or cleaner.


  20. Bonnie

    Mine is gloppy even though I shake it vigorously before using. It doesn’t bother me one bit and it cleans like a champ!

  21. Jessica

    I just made the soap today and haven’t used it yet. Obviously when I made it (which I didn’t think about) it left the smell of soap in my kitchen and open living area. I don’t like the smell, especially since I am pregnant. I feel like it might be poisoning me, but that’s probably paranoid me. I’m glad I have done it anyways. So, don’t do it before company comes over, unless you’ll have really great air ventilation to get the smell gone quickly. I am hoping the laundry I wash with the soap, won’t have the same smell.
    Another warning, when I put the washing soda and borax in, I still had the heat on pretty high, and the pan, which was less than a 1/4 full, grew much larger automatically, so I turned down the heat quickly and it simmered back down to the previous amount, but I just wasn’t expecting it.
    Question…can I just shake the jugs every 2 hours while it gels for the first 24 hours instead of stir it with a skewer. It seems easier. I wonder. I’m glad I did it even though I didn’t enjoy grating the Fels Naptha (I know how sad) I had 2 girls other than my boy I was watching at the time and one of the girls decided to cry her eyes out about her sister saying she couldn’t play with a toy. (By the way I used 1/3 bar of the Fels Naptha and I forgot to measure if it was 1/3 c.) Is a 1/3 of the bar the same as 1/3c. of it grated?) All in all I think it will be worth it.

  22. jamie

    did you mean 1/3 c. of grated soap or 1/3 of the bar grated?

  23. Lisa

    I’ve made this before, this time I used Dr Bronner’s and it didn’t turn glopy like it did before, did I do something wrong?

  24. Lesa

    A friend and I made this recipe several years ago. We got this same recipe off of Mary Hunt’s website I had no trouble with the soap, but my friend did. It would leave a residue in her dryer lint screen. She would have to scrub the lint screen out every week. I think maybe she was using too much soap, not sure though. She is also on a different rural water route than me, so that could be a factor. I found the borax and washing soda at the local grocery store, but had to order the Fels-Naptha from Soaps Gone Buy. I don’t remember why I stopped using this recipe, but plan on starting again, but I will use the Dr. Bronner’s instead.

  25. Amanda

    Hi I made the laundry detergent & it works great for me. I did it pretty much the same as you said except I turned the sink water on HOT when I added the water to the soap mixture instead of heating the 4 cups water on the stove, and it worked well. I have a top load super capacity washer & use 1/4 cup per load and the laundry comes out clean. Thanks for the GREAT idea!

  26. Pingback: Do-It-Yourself: Make Your Own Lotion :: Money Saving Mom®

  27. Julie

    Want to try another laundry bar besides Fels-Naptha? Go to It’s the site for a family-run business that raises goats and makes soaps and lotions from the milk. They make a great laundry bar soap. I use it to make the recipe with Borax and washing soda. However, I prefer to keep mine in dry form. For those who don’t want to make their own, goatmilkstuff makes the laundry powder as well.

  28. I will have to try this.. I have been looking for a recipe for laundry detergent… We already make goat milk soap but as many dirty cloths as farm work produces I need to start making our detergent too. One tip for husbands smelly work cloths- I always add baking soda to the wash. Works like a charm!

  29. Caitlin

    Hmm! I think I might have to try this! I need to find a soap bar…does it matter too much what kind of soap bar I use? Does it have to be Dr. Bronner one?

  30. Grating the soap is the worst part. I finally found that I could easily chop the soap into chunks and put it in the blender for a minute. Originally I was worried that it would “gum up” the blender, but it worked perfectly and saved me tons of time!

  31. Paimbia

    Does anyone know if this is septic safe?

  32. Paimbia

    Does anyone know if this soap is septic safe?

  33. Theresa

    I read about Fels Naptha soap and it NO LONGER contains Stoddard Solvent (Mineral Spirits) that was the petroleum product. I believe I read about it on the MSDS or on Dial’s website about the Fels.

  34. Jon

    I’ve been looking for a recipe that doesn’t contain borax. Borax is actually a natural insecticide. I drain my grey water onto the lawn and the last thing I want to do is kill off the various insects my chickens feed off of.

    Anyone have any good ideas?

    • Amanda

      If you do not want to use Borax you can leave it out and just double the amount of washing soda. Borax is normally used because it is like a color safe bleach alternative. Also if you can’t find washing soda, Ph plus for pools is 100% sodium carbonate, the same ingredient as washing soda. Always read the label to be sure though. I have been using homemade detergent for 5 months and love it. I use Zote soap now because its much cheaper than Fels-Naptha at my Wal-mart.

      • I used zote too. I used the same amount as I would the Fels. I ended up with total GEL, I had to transfer everything into a 5lb bucket and add water. It filled the bucket 2/3’rds full. Gave me lots of laundry soap that’s for sure. Next time I will only use about a 1/4th bar of zote LOL.

  35. Hi, I am disappointed to see the automatic negative reaction to the fact that this Fels Naphtha product contains petroleum derivatives.

    Naphtha is generated as a byproduct of petroleum distillation: it is mixed in with the natural petroleum generated over millions of years of compression in the earth. It is used for many things and is not an “unnatural” thing. I understand wanting to be green, but automatically rejecting stuff this way is unfortunate.

    It probably works better than your substitute, I’d try it next time you make more.

    Great recipe, I’ll definitely give it a try!

  36. Elliyahnna

    I find it odd that people are having a hard time finding the ingredients for this recipe, it was super easy for me! The Borax, Washing Soda and Fels-Naptha were all in the laundry detergent aisle at both my local Walmart and Winco. In fact, they were all RIGHT next to each other on the shelves almost like whoever stocked them knew that people make their own soap with them! Not sure about other places but like I said, all three ingredients are at all the Walmarts and Wincos out here in Western Washington. Hope that helps 🙂

    • Elliyahnna
      I just wanted to tell you that you have a BEAUTIFUL name.

      • Elliyahnna

        Thank you 🙂 I wish I could say it’s my real name but it’s not. It’s a character I had created years ago(for both a game and short story project way back in high school, lol) and use her name as an alias on the internet. Although, if I have another girl in a few years, I would name her that 🙂

  37. Hey all,

    I have all these ingredients, except solid soap. I do, however, have liquid bronner’s castille soap in lavender. Can I substitute? Excited to make this! Love your website, stumbled upon it and I’m hooked. Going to try “no-shampoo” policy as well…

    • Elliyahnna

      Hi Hilary,

      I’m not sure of a recipe or ratio to using liquid soap but I from what I’ve read, you can pretty much use any bar of plain soap that has NO added oils, moisturizers or fragrances. This website: lists a few variations on recipes for making your own homemade laundry detergent and says you can use simple Ivory or Sunlight bar soaps. Not sure if that will help or not, but I haven’t really looked around for a recipe using liquid soap since I have plenty of bar soap on hand 🙂

      P.S. I’ve been shampoo free for over a month now! I still wash my hair about every day or two because my roots tend to get oily at around the 36 hour mark, lol. I just use water, baking soda and a few drops of tea tree oil, that’s it! If my ends are looking a bit dry than I usually just whip up a homemade hair ‘smoothie’ conditioner, something like bananas and honey or the like. And my hair is so much better and healthier too! You’d never know that I haven’t shampooed it in over a month 😀

      • Thanks! I went ahead and bought some Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. We have a lot of soap around, but none unscented really.

        I’m glad to hear about your hair…I started today! Eek. I decided to wait until after Mother’s Day. 🙂 Great! Tea tree oil…good idea.

  38. Was just reading your post about your baby girl’s skin rash and how you’ve been switching back/forth betw your homemade laundry soap and a Lavender Detergent from Whole Foods… since you make soap, you can make your own laundry bar and ditch the Fels Naptha…or, use Dr. Bronner’s instead. When I first read your post, I tried the recipe with Dr. Bronner’s since the bar soaps I have on-hand are ‘super-fatted’ and therefore not suitable for washing clothes. Then, I just made a 0% super-fat soap will all Coconut Oil. made a super hard bar of cleansing soap that I grated up and cut a few pieces into “sticks” that I use as “stain sticks”. Works great! So…I was thinking that if you re-made your Laundry Soap without Fels Naptha, it’s be better for the baby. My 11-year-old has always had super sensitive, reash-prone skin which started me on my “all natural products” quest. Since I have been making and using truly homemade Laundry Soap, her skin is clear – no more itching or those little bumpies 🙂
    I also make liquid/Potassium soaps and just made a successful batch of real liquid laundry soap, all the way from scratch (as opposed to rebatching a bar of soap)… Again, it is 100% Coconut Oil, added some dissolved Borax Solution and a bit of Baking Soda and a blend of different Lavender essential oils – WOW! Makes a fantastic laundry soap undiluted as well as a general house cleaning liquid, when diluted. I digress…the point I was really trying to make is the Fels Naptha may be contributing to the rash 🙂
    Thanks for all your wonderful, informative posts! I have tried many of them with great success!

    • Tammie

      ES Garden, Do you have recipes for the things you are using. I have similar issues with my skin, soaps and other products really irritate me and I have had to go completely natural in almost everything. I would like to do a laundry detergent with coconut oil in it but I don’t know how much to use. The household cleaner sounds great too, what is your recipe if you don’t mind sharing?

      BTW- I am really loving this blog, I have been able to tweak the recipes to best fit my family and I, but this has been a great starting off point for me. Thanks so much!

  39. PJ

    I’ve read all the comments and I don’t think I saw anything about using the liquid mixture as a concentrate. Can you just add a small amount without diluting it with the 11 cups of water and if so how much should I use. Thanks for this info, I had the Fels and DH picked up the soda wash and borax when he ran an errand. I’m really picky about laundry detergent and can’t wait to try this.

  40. My wife and I made this soap taday, it looks wonderful, I found all the ingredents at our local hardwear store. which is a true value. very good recipe. thanks

  41. Lisa

    Do you have soft water? Just wondering because I think that makes a huge difference in how well any laundry or body soap for that matter is able to work. We have extremely hard water here and I don’t have a softener to combat that. It makes certain natural soaps unable to work properly. I purchase a natural laundry detergent in bulk that seems to be working as well as any other commercial one currently. I’ve made something like this before, but a dry version and it worked so-so and I’m thinking that’s why. I also wanted to attempt the no shampoo and think that people who have dry, flaking issues probably have very hard water. But if you do too and it works for you maybe that is not the case, so that’s why I was curious.

  42. Caro

    I don’t make laundry soap — I just put 1 T liquid Dr. Bronners and 1/2 c Borax in the washing machine (we have very hard water) and let the machine swish it around a bit before adding the clothes (imagine I’d do the same if using a bucket and plunger). If I think I need more deodorizing, I dump in 1/2 c vinegar. If I’m doing laundry for someone who’s a big laundry soap user (like my mom) I put in 1 T Tide powder. All the grating, premixing, and decanting into a new container seemed like extra work to me when I could just dissolve the stuff in the wash water to begin with.

  43. I just mixed up a bath using Ivory soap, washing soda, and Borax. Have yet to try it, though. It’s a powder, in a canister, and I will use about 1 TBSP per load.

    • Lisa

      How did the Ivory soap work? I live by that soap!

      • Ivory soap works great! I wonder, can you still buy the Ivory soap flakes? I used to wash my daughter’s baby clothes in those 20+ years ago. Would beat grating those bars down! A bar yields about 1 1/2 cups of grated soap.

      • Melissa B

        I love using Ivroy soap for it. We don’t grate it though. I microwave it because the kids love to watch what happens to it.

  44. Laura

    Very excited to try all of your natural homemade recipes. I was looking for a hand cream recipe for gift-giving and stumbled onto your site. Fantastic tips and recipes here! Going to give the no shampoo thing a try. I’ve been brainwashed so long, I’m kinda scared. I look forward to trying everything here. Keep up the great work!

  45. Kassy

    I started using this receipe but in powder form a few weeks ago, and I like it. I use to have trouble with my clothes smelling funny if they were forgotten in the washer overnite, but recently I forgot them and when I transferred them to the dryer they did not have that funny smell to them…perhaps the smell was caused by the build up from the commercial soaps???

  46. Toffy

    I love your site, very informative. I have been using and making my Homemade Laundry/Cleaning Concoction now for 3 years. We have the Front Loader HE Washer/Dryer, and I have no problems with the Homemade soap. I do use white vinegar in the softener cup as it is also a good fabric softener and keeps the HE clean. We do have a Water Softener and if we are low or out of the salt for that, there is a huge difference in the performance of the Homemade Laundry Soap cleaning.
    There will be a scum on the top of the water, with the water being cloudy and not clear.I use this homemade laundy/cleaning soap for my hand washing of dishes. It is wonderful for stainless steel and glassware. My China too, countertops, stove everything is quick to clean with little streaks. I also use it on my mirrors, and windows. I basically use it for everything. I even have washed my car with it with no problems. Just make sure you rinse as you go. I use a 5 quart ice cream bucket, filled 1/3 to 1/2 with hot water and about 1 heaping tsp…to a tbls

  47. Toffy

    I am having some difficulty with leaving this comment, the cursor wants to jump back a couple sentences in the wrong places then won’t let me continue where I left off. Trying to continue the above comment.
    To the 5qt bucket that I leave with soap water in the sink thru out the day, I add 1tsp to a tbl of soap add hot water to 1/3 to 1/2 full of the bucket. I change the water when it gets dingy or dirty. I use this fresh clean water and a clean terrycloth washtowel to wash my Stainless Steel Refrigerator, the towel has to be clean and wrung out pretty well, and I never have to dry the fridge. I never have any streaks. Play with this soap for your cleaning needs other than just for laundry. You will be amazed. It works great to soak dirty pans for 1/4 the time it takes to soak in normal dishwashing detergent.

  48. Toffy

    I do use Fels Naptha and Zote together in my concoction. I also use a 3 gallon paint type bucket with a good fitting lid for storage. I use an old whip and leave it in the bucket with the measuring cup, and stir the soap before using it as it does separate and some liquid is always in the bottom of the bucket and needs to be stirred in before using. I keep a wide mouthed decorative jar with a cork lid filled with the Laundry/Cleaning Soap on my kitchen counter so access is very quick. It is great stuff.

  49. sewhappy

    Penniless has instructions for making your own WASHING SODA using baking soda that is very easy. I would post it here but I’m not sure if that would be breaking any copyright rules?… Just go to her website and search for her homemade laundry soap recipe. Thanks for all the great info on your website!

  50. RE: Amanda’s post of April 8, 2011: I’m going to try making it with double washing soda and no Borax, as we need the gray water for our garden, and Borax is no good for that.

  51. Jen

    Does anyone live in the UK and know what equivalents I can buy as there are no Fels-Naptha or Borax here. Thanks so much!

    • Jennifer


      It seems that a lot of people on here are using Ivory in place of the Fels Naptha and going with all washing soda instead of Borax to be able to utilize their grey water. You might try that.

  52. Jennifer

    Started using your recipe for laundry soap and I love it. I’ve stopped using dryer sheets (ran out and forgot to get more) and have noticed that my things have a lot of static. Know any solutions for that? I put vinegar in my liquid fabric softener dispenser because I usually hang everything on the line and it really softens the clothes right up. We’ve been having a lot of rain recently and I can’t hang the clothes so I back to the dryer I go.

    • asonomagarden

      Jennifer, I’m glad you like the laundry soap recipe as well as all the others! I don’t know how to clear static from the dryer besides vinegar or dryer sheets. I do use dryer sheets, but I rip them in half and use each one twice, for frugality sake. I’ll make sure to post if I learn anything new.

      • Mbella77

        Try Wool dryer balls to replace softener sheets. If you have any fleece items you will still have static.

  53. Debbie

    Does this work in washers that require “HE” detergents?

  54. Kendra

    I have made the laundry soap but mine is runny and not lumpy like the picture. Should it still work the same? And what could I be doing wrong?

  55. Erin Rose

    I’m making my first batch of dry laundry soap next week but using the all-natural soap Kirk’s Original Coco Castile soap from amazon. It has just 3 natural ingredients in it and is very cheap. I hope it works! Can’t wait to try! Also found a tutorial online for homemade dryer balls made from 100% wool yarn I’m making today! Can’t wait to try them out and save money and get rid of chemicals! 🙂 Happy laundering everyone!

  56. Okay I watched her video on the dryer balls. But she didn’t explain what they are supposed to do. Do they take the place of dryer sheets? Do your clothes come out soft? What is felting and why do we need to felt them before we use them in the dryer? Sounds interesting and if I can save money using them it will be worth it!

  57. I’ve been making this recipe for about a year now, and no longer buy laundry detergent. Instead of using empty milk jugs to pour the finished detergent into, I now use gallon- size orange juice jugs, which are sturdier, and have bigger handles.

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  59. Erin Rose

    To get rid of the clumps/gel it helps to run it through a flour sifter.Also, if you store it in glass jars (I use big Ball jars) then it shouldn’t gel very much at all. The plastic in containers causes the detergent to mimic it’s plastic molecules and gel up. Glass helps it to separate more. Hope these tips help!

  60. I know most of these comment are old, but if you want some interesting info on Borax, go to this site…
    Read the first few pages, then type or briefly hold down ‘CTRL’ (control key) and ‘F’ to open your find box at the top of the screen. Enter ‘United States’ in the box and ‘enter’ to read the first entry. I was totally shocked to learn one of the things Borax/Boron was used for. Can you believe it!?

    • Uga Dano

      Boric acid weak solution is used in eyewash to remove harsh chemicals. I don’t know the concentration, of course! I wear the contacts and have seen it on the labels also. I enjoyed reading the article and comments. I hope to make some of this for laundry and cleaning without the borax for graywater use on the garden, possibly with a swale and drywell that others have mentioned, hoping it will migrate through the soil under the mulch and be improved by bacteria along the way. In SW Okla we have had it ‘down to here’ with the drought! Just have to find smarter ways to do all with less water. Yah bless.

  61. Gretchen

    So I made this recipe but found that my kids clothes weren’t coming out quite as clean. Also, on my kids polo’s (uniforms for school) there looked to be dark/light splotches. Like irregular placed oil stains or a part of the shirt that was just a touch lighter. I can’t replace all their uniform shirts so I might have to stop using it. I did add it as a booster for my regular laundry soap and it seems to work great. Haven’t noticed any more splotches yet. Also, i rub the Fels naptha on stains and it works great as my “stain stick”.

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  63. Natalia

    can anyone specify the number of ounces the ungrated bar of soap is? bar soap doesnt exactly come in a standard size across brands so im not sure what 1/3 of a bar would be…. i see some that are 3.3oz and some that are 6.5oz so 1/3 of a bar doesnt make for an accuate measure. help please!

  64. Bb81

    Do you think this recipe would work with liquid castile soap and less water?

  65. Rebecca

    I had found a powdered recipe that I made and liked, but I’m a liquid laundry ‘detergent’ girl at heart. The 5 Gallon bucket recipe was a bit too much for me in my quest to go natural for my family, so finding this 2 gallon recipe was wonderful! I’ve been using the Dr. Bronner’s bars for my powder, due to the things I had heard about the Fels-Naptha bar (but I will look more into that). I mixed up my first batch over the weekend, and stirred it with a bamboo skewer, but noticed it remained pretty watery. I stuck the jugs out in the garage overnight in hopes that they would ‘gel up’ a bit, but when I checked them the next morning, they had separated into water on top, and the soap/washing soda/borax mixture settled on the bottom. Gently shaking the jug does mix everything back up, but it remains completely watery (I still tired it, though). I know another person posted a watery problem, and am beginning to think it’s the Dr. Bronner’s bar. Has anyone else had this problem, if they tired the original recipe, then switched to another soap bar? I have a hard time believing this watery mixture is really cleaning my clothes, and also wonder if the 1/2 cup is still the amount to use for our top loader? I’m pretty sure that the amount is just fine, and just because it didn’t gel up or suds up doesn’t mean it didn’t clean well, it’s just something new to get used to. The powder version doesn’t suds up much either (due to the natural products), and I’m okay with that, so I guess it’s just more of the consistency issue that bugs me. Thank you!

  66. Pingback: Homemade Laundry Detergent | Achieving Clarity

  67. Mine turned out watery as well. Any suggestions to fix that?
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Rebecca

      Next time I will add less water like another post suggested, OR better yet, use the whole bar, not just 1/3 of it. I have used up almost one of the two gallons with the Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. The untouched gallon is still totally separated with over 3/4 of it looking like water. I decided to try this with a Fels Naptha bar, since I had an extra one. It turned out just like egg drop soup (with only 1/3 of a bar), so the type of bar soap DOES matter. Must be something with the Castile soap?! Will post again if I try the whole Dr. Bronner’s bar, and let you all know how it turns out.

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  69. Jon

    As much as people hate Walmart, it carries the washing soda, borax, and fels naptha bars. They are all together on the shelf right next to each other.

  70. roy


  71. links for borax and essential oils are broken

  72. I dont have time to make a liquid soap. I use 1 cup each of Borax, washing soda, and oxyclean. Shread one bar of Zote or Fels Naptha. Then i put about 1/2 cup of the soap and 1/2 cup of the mix in the blender to make a fine powder. Only do about 1/2 cup at a time. Blenders dont really like the soap. You only need 2 tablespoon per large heavy soiled loads. Gets smelly boy shoes smelling good. Tide could not do that one. For Fabric Softner is use 6 cups vinegar, 1 cup baking soda, and i am not counting drops of essential oils so i just pour i little in. You can also use this laundry soap in the dishwasher. I am going to try to make a cleaner out of it and see how that goes. everything i founf for cleans say to add castile liquid soap which i cant find. so hopefully this works.

    • Belinda

      How much of the fabric softner do you use per load.

      • Dawn kelley

        I have a cup for fabric softener built in the washer I just fill that up. I have also used the downy ball and filled it to the full line. I’m guessing about a cup.

  73. Grant

    Can this be used as dishwashing soap?

  74. Emma Arthurs

    Wondering if this recipe turns your whites gray?

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