The DIY Life: Homemade Laundry Detergent

6 Jan

As some of you may know, I am on a mission to make as many things from scratch as possible. When I listen to my gram talk about her childhood, things were simpler. Sure, times were tough, but they always had full bellies, fun, and ate the things they grew and cooked from scratch. Today, we are all so busy that we become reliant of fast food options and quick fixes for everything. The chemicals they put in products and the preservatives in foods are causing havoc on our bodies. There are a variety of homemade laundry soap recipes out there, some with more exotic ingredients that I cannot get at my local stores (ordering online is not keeping this a thrifty project, so those were out!) Others seemed just too simplistic. So I essentially put all the ingredients together, and took out what I couldn’t find to come up with this. The ingredients listed were ones that showed up in multiple recipes so they seemed to be the most important ones. I liked that there were some people adding the oxyclean for a boost to your whites and colors. My gram remembers having to grate or shave off pieces of the Fels-Naptha bars when they did laundry, and using that in tandem with some baking or washing soda, so those were a must! When I told her about my plans and asked for her advice, she said I should use at least 3 bars of the Fels-Naptha because of the size of the other stuff I wanted to add.  (I was using whole containers of stuff, I didn’t want to have to measure!)

In an effort to save money as well as be more aware of what is in the products I’m using, I decided to give homemade laundry detergent a try. My first batch I made and shared with a few ladies who came to Christmas Eve, like a party favor. The cost for the laundry detergent ingredients, 4 containers, and 2 coffee scoops was under $25!!!

The cost for just the laundry ingredients? Wait for it…wait….$10.83!!! Yes, you read that right. If you use only 1-2 tablespoons of the detergent at a time you’ll get over 400 loads of laundry out of it! I use a heaping coffee scoop (or the scoop from the oxy clean is the same amount) so I’ll get about 200 loads of laundry out of it. 200!!! Holy bananas!

This laundry soap is safe for colors, and can also supposedly be used in the fancy HE washers based on what I’ve read on the internet to recipes that compare to this one.

I found every ingredient in the laundry aisle at Wal-Mart.

Be sure to do this somewhere you don’t care about dust. To avoid the dust, I used a 5 gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag, added all the ingredients, twisted the bag top and shook it all up. Store in an airtight container or a lidded 5 gallon bucket. It smells pretty strong when you start mixing everything up, but leaves only a very mild scent on clothes.

I haven’t found any spots of unmelted Fels-Naptha or detergent on any clothes. I sprinkle the detergent around the washer and start it filling, then I add the clothes just like I normally do. This detergent has little or no suds, so no worries about the movie nightmares of  a washer overflowing with soap bubbles.

Once I figure out the ratio to turn this to liquid detergent, I’ll post those details. Next up is homemade fabric softener! I still use good old snuggle for my fabric softener because I love the feel of laundry with fabric softener. Without everything feels like sandpaper. One step at a time!


1 4 lb 12 oz box Borax (76 oz)

1 4 lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (1.81 kg)

1  box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (55 oz) found in the detergent isle

3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap

2 small containers of oxyclean or store brand oxyclean  ( I used the store brand – it was 1/3 of the price of oxyclean!)

Grate the Fels-Naptha on a cheese grater. Add all ingredients and mix until combined! That’s it!

9 Responses to “The DIY Life: Homemade Laundry Detergent”

  1. charredandbitter January 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Ooh, I’m running out this morning to try and make a small batch. Did you see about adding 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar to the softener compartment to help soften the load?

    • seasonedwithsarcasm January 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

      I did! I’m thinking of trying it when I run out of snuggle. The laundry soap is great! Got my hubby’s work clothes the cleanest they’ve been since they were new!

  2. Kim Barnes February 15, 2013 at 2:25 am #

    I have been using this recipe for a couple months now, but I am starting to get some oily-looking spotting that I am suspecting might be from this. Wasn’t too worried at first, seemed to be on my older clothes, but just ruined 2 nice items and can’t get the stains out. I was just putting it in whenever, so I will have to try making sure I put on bottom with some water first. Might try stain remover & all hot water on the stained items, can’t ruin them further. Would my hard water have anything to do with it, do you think?

    • seasonedwithsarcasm February 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Wow I’m sorry to hear you’ve had that issue Kim! I don’t know what could cause any oily spots since there is not oil added to the mix. The fels naptha bars are actually generally used as a pre-treater to help remove oil based stains from clothing. I haven’t had this issue at all – the only thing I experienced was I tossed a little too much laundry into the washer and I found a couple of the grated Fels Naptha bar pieces mixed into the clothes when I went to put them into the dryer. It just left a white soapy spot, so I rewashed and it was fine. I do put the detergent into the water and let it dilute before adding the clothes, so that might be an easy solution for you.

      • Kim Barnes January 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

        Thank you, I haven’t been having that problem with the oily spots since this post, and I have made 2 more batches of a similar homemade detergent, letting it dilute before adding laundry to machine. I don’t know what caused it, but seeing as it is a hand-me-down washer the homemade stuff may have loosened up some old gunk, like Viki thought. Hopefully I don’t have that problem again!

    • Viki Hersh May 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      More than likely, that’s your washer. We had the same thing happen a while back. Run 2 loads of the hottest water with just bleach in it – it’ll help!

      • Kim Barnes January 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

        Thank you Viki, it is a hand-me-down commercial washer so there was probably a lot of built up gunk. I did a couple washer-cleaning cycles with Tang, then once a week for a bit, and I haven’t had this problem since starting up again with my last 2 batches of homemade detergent.


  1. The DIY Life: Homemade Fabric Softener « seasonedwithsarcasm - March 26, 2012

    […] here in my neck of the woods. So being frugal and making my own fabric softener to go with my homemade laundry soap isn’t really a far fetched idea. This recipe is cheap, easy, and you can customize it to your […]

  2. The DIY Life: Candy Cane Sugar Scrub for holiday gift giving! « seasonedwithsarcasm - November 13, 2012

    […] yet. I haven’t yet decided on a home made gift to give!!! Last year it was a canister of this Homemade Laundry Detergent – it went over well and was easy to do. This year, I thought what about something pampering for […]

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