Homemade laundry detergent is all the rage these days but do you ever wonder if it really works? I love the idea of homemade laundry detergent, that costs a fraction of the price but I want to know that my clothes are actually getting clean, before I jump on the bandwagon! So today I’m sharing a homemade laundry detergent recipe and why it works so well.
The 4 basic ingredients of homemade laundry detergent are Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and Fels-Naptha bar soap. I also added Oxi Clean and doTERRA Wild Orange essential oil, to give it a little extra cleaning power, and a delicious citrus scent. Here is how each of these ingredients work to create the best, most effective laundry detergent.
Borax, also known as sodium biborate, is a natural mineral compound. It is used as a natural laundry booster because of it’s unique ability to clean, and bleach, by converting some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide. Because of the boron, salt and oxygen in borax it is able to disinfect. Borax also has an enhanced cleaning power because its borates bond with other particles to evenly disburse its particles in a mixture. It is best used in hotter water.
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
“In laundry, washing soda accomplishes several things. The high alkalinity of washing soda helps it act as a solvent to remove a range of stains, and unlike bleach, washing soda does not usually stain. It is also used in detergent mixtures to treat hard water; the washing soda binds to the minerals which make water hard, allowing detergent to foam properly so that clothing will come out clean, without any residue. Sodium carbonate is also used by some textile artists, since it helps dyes adhere to fabric, resulting in deeper penetration and a longer lasting color.”
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Baking soda is a great laundry additive because it has mild alkaline qualities. By adding baking soda to the laundry, dirt and grease get dissolved, while clothes are softened. Baking soda is even more beneficial in homes with hard water because it softens the water, and help to prevent the stain buildup that comes with hard water. It also works great to remove stains, such as perspiration, it removes odors, it’s a great all-natural fabric softener, and it’s a bleaching agent that won’t harm your clothes.
Fels-Naptha bar soap
Grating up a bar of Fels-Naphta, and adding it to the laundry detergent, helps eliminate residual stains. It works as a stain remover, for tough stains and oil-based stains.
If you have tough stains that don’t come out in the wash you can rub the stain with a wet (whole) bar of Fels-Naptha soap to get it out. Let it sit for a few minutes and then throw it in the washing machine and wash as usual. A wet bar is also great for pre-treating greasy, oily stains, like perspiration and rings around the collar of a shirt.
“OxiClean is a chlorine free, color safe oxygen based stain remover. It serves not only as a stain remover, but a detergent booster, whitener and brightener and presoak for tough-to-remove stains like ground in dirt, grass and color transfer (dye). OxiClean can be used safely on any washable fabric, but cannot be used on wool, silk, leather or fabrics that are dry clean only.”
How does it work? “Water activates the oxygen powder and enhances the pH of water to improve detergent’s cleaning power.”
Wild Orange Oil from dōTERRA
I also added drops of the wild orange essential oil to my detergent because it’s citrusy aroma is energizing and revitalizing.
When I was done with my research I was actually shocked at what I had discovered! Reading all the materials on the ingredients for homemade laundry detergent made me feel confident to use it in my own home because I think any of these ingredients on their own would clean our clothes efficiently but when you add them all together they make an incredibly efficient detergent with maximum cleaning power for all types of water! Years ago we lived in a house with hard water and it was impossible to use a dry detergent because it wouldn’t mix with the water, I wish I had known about this great recipe!
If you would like to make your own detergent here is the recipe.
1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax
1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 (3 lb) Container of OxiClean
2 (5.5 oz) Bars of Fels-Naphta
1 (5 lb) Bag of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
20 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil from dōTERRA
All of these ingredients can be found in the detergent isle at your local grocery store, except for the Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, that will be on the cooking isle.
1. Using a cheese grater, grate the Fels-Nephta soap. Once it’s grated put it in a blender, or food processor, and pulse until it’s a powder.
2. Add the Fels-Neptha powder to a large bucket (at least 2 gallons), then add remaining ingredients. Stir well with a large spoon.
3. Scoop about 1/2 of the mixture out into a smaller bowl. Add 20 drops of the wild orange essential oil. When you first add the oil to the powder it will be chunky but mix it with a fork until it is all broken up, then add it back to the bucket and stir. If you want the citrus smell to be even stronger, repeat this step.
Once the detergent is mixed well, add it to an air tight container(s) to store. When using the detergent, start the washing machine, let it fill up with a little water, then add 2-3 Tablespoons (I use the scoop that came in the Arm&Hammer Baking Soda bag) of the detergent to the water before adding your clothes. This detergent will not sud or bubble, but don’t worry it’s cleaning your clothes like a champ!
It can also be used in front loading HE washing machines! Since homemade laundry detergent doesn’t contain a sudsing agent it is safe for a high-efficiency washer. For front-loading machines, use about two tablespoons of your homemade detergent and mix the detergent with two tablespoons of hot water before adding to the dispenser. (source)
For a printable version of the labels click HERE.
- 1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax
- 1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
- 1 (3 lb) Container of OxiClean
- 2 (5.5 oz) Bars of Fels-Naphta
- 1 (5 lb) Bag of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
- 20 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil from dōTERRA
- Using a cheese grater, grate the Fels-Nephta soap. Once it's grated put it in a blender, or food processor, and pulse until it's a powder.
- Add the Fels-Neptha powder to a large bucket (at least 2 gallons), then add remaining ingredients. Stir well with a large spoon.
- Scoop about ½ of the mixture out into a smaller bowl. Add 20 drops of the wild orange essential oil. When you first add the oil to the powder it will be chunky but mix it with a fork until it is all broken up, then add it back to the bucket and stir. If you want the citrus smell to be even stronger, repeat this step.
- Once the detergent is mixed well, add it to an air tight container(s) to store. When using the detergent, start the washing machine, let it fill up with a little water, then add 2-3 Tablespoons (I use the scoop that came in the Arm&Hammer Baking Soda bag) of the detergent to the water before adding your clothes. This detergent will not sud or bubble, but don't worry it's cleaning your clothes like a champ!
More washing machine posts!
Disclaimer – I have included a few affiliate links to the products I used in this project, if you buy through the link I get a small commission but you don’t pay a cent more than you normally would. Thank you for supporting Ask Anna!