Perfectly Practical #36 - Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

My friend Do-It-Yourself Mom is amazing!  She will roll her sleeves up and tackle anything she feels would make life for her family better - she's not afraid of a little work.

Besides her $5 meals (she feeds 5 people, 3 of which are hungry males, for a total sum of $5, not per person) her lye soap endeavor, and her cheese making, she also has learned to make laundry detergent.  She let me try some and I really liked it.  She thinks her clothes are softer even without fabric softener due to the soda involved.  Also, the ingredients are gentler on your skin than most other laundry detergents - no dyes and no perfumes.

It's very easy to make and makes A TON of soap.  We are talking 10 gallons all told.  That's over 600 loads of laundry worth if you have a front loader and about half of that if you have a top loader.  And the cost of said 10 gallons of laundry detergent?  A whopping $2!   Now the initial outlay is about $10 but you are only using $2 worth of the products; then you have tons of Borax & Washing Soda leftover with which to make other detergents.

Do-It-Yourself Mom came over the other day and oversaw my first time at making the detergent.   So now I have a 5 gallon bucket of laundry soap at the ready to mix up as I please.  I didn't take pictures step by step (what was I thinking?!) but I can give you the recipe and urge you to try this at home:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

4c. Hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha or Zote soap bar (found in your grocers laundry section) or even 2 Ivory soap bars
1 c. Washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1 c. Borax
A long handled spoon

Grate the soap bar & add to the saucepan with water.  *NOTE* You want the soap bits small or else they will take forever to melt in the pot of water...ask me how I know...

Stir continually over medium heat until soap dissolves.

Meanwhile, fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.  Add soda & Borax and stir until dissolved.  Add melted soap and stir well.  Fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water.  Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken.

This is the cool part:  the next morning, the detergent should be a somewhat solid gelatinous goo so give it a good stir and if you want to add about 20-30 drops of essential oil to the soap, feel free to do so. 

After adding the essential oil, stir well.

To use:

Put equal amounts of detergent and water in a container and shake well before each use.
For front load machines, use 1/4 c.
For top load machines, use 1/2 c.

I have a top loader and what I do is fill an old detergent bottle 1/2 and 1/2 with homemade laundry soap and water.  I give it a good shake before each time I use it, fill the cap with the mixture, and pour it over the laundry in the machine.

That's it.  Super easy, super fast (takes about 35 minutes) and economical.


  1. Hi there Pary Moppins~
    Love your name!
    Just found your blog. I used to make *Gloop* but haven't for years as one of my daughters, unbeknownst to me) had thrown in some potatoes into the gloop and it went really rancid.....kind of put me off making it. But your post reminded me of the fun of making it again. I currently make my own laundry powder which is less messy and takes up miles less room. Anyhoo, I digress.
    You mention in your post (I shall copy and paste so that I don't get confuzzled),

    "Put equal amounts of detergent and water in a container and shake well before each use.
    For front load machines, use 1/4 c.
    For top load machines, use 1/2 c. "

    Where you say put equal amounts of detergent and water........are you meaning not to take a 1/4 cup straight out of your 10 gallon bucket, but you put 50% mixture into another container and add 50% water and mix it, using 1/4 of the diluted mixture???

    When you have a spare moment I would love to hear back from you. I am saving your blog to visit again.

    blessings Sandra from New Zealand

  2. Howdy Sandra! Thanks for visiting!
    Yes Ma'am, you are exactly right about using a 1/2 & 1/2 mixture.
    What I have been doing is putting 2c. detergent (gloop) and 2c. water in a quart jar and voila! I have ready made detergent that I just shake up whenever I need to use it!
    Sorry that my post wasn't clear on this matter. :)

    1. Hi, I was just wondering the reason behind adding the water after the detergent is made and congealed? Instead of diluting it with 1/2 water, why don't we just use half as much? I have a top loading machine, so can I use 1/4 a cup instead of 1/2 a cup? Just curious! Thank you!

    2. You know, I'm not sure...If I had to guess, I would say that it's to make the detergent a little thinner before going into the wash. That way it dissolves easier and doesn't clump on your clothes. Thanks for the question. :)

    3. I don't dilute mine. I mixed up another batch and divide it into containers. I leave a little bit of room and shake it really good before each use. I use 1/8 in my front loader - if I use in a top loader I'd use 1/4. Not diluting it will make it separate so you HAVE to shake it good! I suggest clear containers. if I have to use a big container or colored then I dilute it and use the 1/4 for top loaders as suggested. I see no difference in my clothes.

    4. Thanks for the tip Ms. Hollie! :)


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