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.
Homemade laundry soap
- 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
- (Optional) 20 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil
- 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 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!
NOTE: This detergent 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)
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, but you can add any scent you’d like to your laundry soap!
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!
For a printable version of the labels click HERE.
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Hi there. I’m not sure if you stated this in your post, but will this be compatible with high efficiency washers?
That is a GREAT question Jocelyn! I went back and added that in, here’s the answer: 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.
J. Ivy Boyter says
Is this the same for top-load HE washer with the detergent dispenser?
Add a little water to the soap to help it dissolve and then place it in your detergent tray. I’ve also seen recipes for liquid detergent on Pinterest but I’ve never tried any of them.
We have an HE front-loader, and I just put my 2 tbsp dry detergent directly in the bottom of the drum before loading the clothes, no extra water needed. Works great! I’ve heard if you put the homemade detergent in the dispenser, it will eventually gum it up (probably due to the soap shreds). I also fill the fabric softener part of the dispenser with white vinegar.
I use Zote bar soap instead of the Fels Naptha. I found that the Fels made our white dingy. We are also fortunate enough to have a Kitchen-Aid mixer with a cheese grater attachment that we use to grate the soap. I just made some more detergent a few weeks ago. When I make it, I put the date on the container that we started using it, and it has lasted our family of 5, with 3 dirt loving kids, 6 months and 3 days (an average of 8 loads of laundry a week)!
Thanks, Alayna, that answers my question about how much it makes!
Did you use two bars of the Zote or would one work since it’s so much bigger than the other…
I don’t know, I’ve never seen a Zote bar, sorry. :/
It’s okay….hehe…our Walmart carries both kinds, but the Zote bar is like twice as big…
The zote bar is a bit larger, but I still like to use 2 bars of that or 3 bars of fels naptha. The Zote comes pre grated, so that saves some time.
I have seen Zote bars somewhere recently, though not sure where. There was a white version and a pink version. They smell better than the Fels Naptha. I always have a bar of the Fels Naptha around for stain removal, especially sweat related stains. Fels Naptha has been around forever.
I wonder what the difference is between the two? Which would work better?
I keep reading where Zote comes pre-grated. That would be nice!!
I have yet to try the recipe. I just received my Do-terro essential oil. I bought the citrus blend. I will have to hand grate the soap. I do not own a food processor. I am wondering how that will go.
I also noticed this recipe creates a large amount of detergent. I want to make about 1/4 of it to try it first. I wish the recipe would have exact measurements so I can divide the amounts.
Anna, do you have exact amounts that can easily be broken down?
I was hoping for a smaller ratio too….
I am making this for the first time and was also wondering about a trial size version?
Just cut the ingredients down, however much you want. Last time I made it I cut it in 1/2.
Love this idea! How much does a whole recipe make and are you using this instead of ECOS now?
Mine filled a 2 gallon bucket!! And yes, I’m using this instead of ECOS now, just as of this weekend when I ran out of my ECOS. 🙂
What is the best way to store it? I LOVE your cute little jars(where did you get those by the way?), but if its filling a 2 gallon bucket…I will need a cute container for my laundry room! 🙂
I have something similar to this in my laundry room: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000KKI7GY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000KKI7GY&linkCode=as2&tag=askan01-20
You can buy those Anchor 2 gallon jars at Walmart for $9.99….I just love them!
This makes about 2 gallons which is 512 Tablespoons. So if you use 1 Tablespoon per load you’ll get 512 loads. I use 2 Tablespoons per load, so I’m getting 256 loads. Even if you use 3 Tablespoons you’ll get 170 loads.
Thank you Alayna! I have been making the liquid version for a couple of years and my whites are DINGY!! Thank you for the answer! I am going to try this dry version with the Zote!
Since Borax has bleaching properties, I assume this can’t be used on dark clothes?
I haven’t had a problem with my dark clothes.
Me neither. Use it for all laundry.
I have used Borax for years. I use it every time I wash dark towels and washcloths, dark colored underwear and socks, and jeans. I have never had issues with it “bleaching” anything. I also use it a lot when I was my nursing scrubs. I do use it with hot water when I wash those items because I can not use chlorine bleach.
Tara Bilbao says
I am going to try this now after your explanation of the active ingredients . I have been reluctant given that I have a 12 yr old boy that attracts dirt and stink like a magnet:). Can’t wait to see how it cleans his shirts.
Hi! I was wondering if this homemade detergent is safe for colors as well. Don’t want to turn my colors white! 🙂 Thanks and I can’t wait to try it.
Yes, it’s great on colors! 🙂
Is this laundry soap good for those with sensitive skin? Any substitutions I should make so I can use it on my baby’s clothes? Thanks for sharing!
Yes, it would be great for sensitive skin, my sister has used it for all her baby clothes! The only thing I would take out is the OxiClean because it’s the only thing that’s not all-natural.
You can get dye/perfume free oxiclean at Walmart.
I get rashes from regular laundry soap. I use the A&H washing soda, Borax and either Ivory or homemade soap in mine. I don’t use baking soda or Oxi-clean and we have hard water here. The Oxi-clean has chemicals in it which is a problem for me. For bleaching purposes I add hydrogen peroxide in my bleach dispenser about 1/4 cup for a large load. No problems with rashes or itching. Its probably safer for babies than the chemical stuff you get at the store.
I have been wondering about the Irish Spring soap instead of the Fels Naptha. Do you just grate it the same as you do the Fels? I would think it would make your clothes smell better. I love the way Irish Spring smells. Has anyone tried this?
T Johnson says
I would be cautious of the borax & fels naptha (go with the zote) with sensitive skin. According to: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/2507-20MuleTeamBoraxNaturalLaundryBoosterMultiPurposeHouseholdCleaner There is some concern with borax causing skin allergies and irritation. EWG is a great website to look up any household cleaner or cosmetic product and it breaks it down by ingredient and rates it on a scale or being safe or harmful. Just a food for thought
Hi T Johnson. I just read your reply and am wondering what you recommend in place of the borax. It seems that the Fels Naptha is low concern on the site you referenced but Zote isn’t listed. I have skin allergies to at least a few detergents and currently use Arm and Hammer and sometimes Gain to avoid itchy skin.
Can you use other oil scents? Does it have to be that brand. We have lots of other essential oils we use for certain things and I’m wondering if lavender or lemon would be okay.
Oh yeah, use anything brand/scent you want! 🙂
I have always wondered if the homemade detergents worked well. I’ll have to give this a try. I love that you added the light scent to it too!
Me too!!! That’s why I finally decided to write this post! 🙂
Christi Wilson: Founder, Girlfriends Coffee Hour says
I don’t use Arm & Hammer BAKING Soda. I use the A&H Washing Soda, and I don’t use the essential oils. We have extremely hard water here, and the dry version, as you said, works like a charm. I made a 5 gal batch about 3 months ago, and we still have almost two gallons to use up! I just LOVE the homemade version, and how cost-effective it is! We used to keep track of how many loads we were doing, but after 250 loads we stopped counting!
Hi! I have been reading a lot about bluing lately for getting whites extra clean. Would this homemade detergent work as effectively on whites or would bluing be useful in conjunction with the recipe? I use OxiClean now with my front loading HE machine, and it is somewhat helpful. Will probably give this recipe a try, thanks for posting!
Bluing doesn’t clean clothes, it is a dye that creates an optical illusion of whiter whites by countering the grey colour. OxiClean actually cleans the clothing. In my experience, bluing is annoying to master in regard to how much, how long, how even the results are.
I was wondering if the powder laundry detergent works with cold water? Or do you wash everything in warm/hot water?
I’ve been making homemade laundry detergent for the last year and am extremely happy with it. I don’t use the Arm and Hammer baking soda or a scent and I still have great results. One thing I’ve noticed is I don’t need to use fabric softener anymore because my clothes are naturally soft after drying. I know a lot of people like the “clean” scent they get from fabric softener, but I like how my clothes feel after they’ve been washed with this detergent. It’s almost as though my clothes used to be coated with chemicals using store brands and now they’re chemical free. I have been meaning to make wool dryer balls. Does anyone use those and do they actually cut down on dryer time?
I will second the question above from Annie, can this homemade soap work with cold water? And does it work well if you hang dry your clothes? Weather is warming up, but when I put my clothes on the line to dry they are crispy from hanging out (that is with store laundry soap). Wondering if this type of soap might help.
I use warm water in my washer but I am sure it would do just fine with cold water. Just make sure you put the water and soap in first so that it can dissolve, before putting the clothes in. Also the baking soda works great as a fabric softener so your clothes will dry softer than with store bought detergents! 🙂
alice simpson says
Dryer balls made with wool work great, I went to Good Will and got old wool sweater, It made a lot of balls. Another one is foil wrap in balls. I also make my own softener.
I have made wool balls and I found that they work best with light weight stuff. If I fill my dryer with jeans, towels, etc. Didn’t work so well. I would not spend money getting wool. Not worth the money, but would get some wool sweaters 2nd hand and make them. Must be 100% wool or they won’t felt. Also, the more you use the better. I used 8 balls.
I have an old towel I keep in my dryer which has reduced my drying time to about 2/3 to 1/2 depending what the load is. As far as line drying the clothes are a little crispy either way. Snapping them a couple of times will help or throw them in the dryer for about 5-10 minutes and they will be soft as ever. I have been line drying clothes off and on for over 50 years. I learned from my grandmother. Our expectation of clothes softness is a fairly modern thing (within the last 25+ years or so). Oh, and the vinegar rinse works very well on static cling and keeps your washers cleaned out as well. Most instructions for household appliances recommend a vinegar flush occasionally. I use the homemade powder laundry soap on all temps. with no problems. For hard stains like blood, cherry juice, etc. just get a wet toothbrush, dip in the powder and give a gentle scrub. Let the mix dry and throw in machine. It has worked about 99% of the time for me.
May I ask if you could store the detergent in ziploc type bags?
Sure, I don’t see why not!
Randi - Dukes and Duchesses says
That’s really similar to the recipe I use … I might try adding Oxi Clean to mine though. Thanks for sharing!
I have a septic tank and a top loading washing machine. Can I use this detergent in them?
Yes it is safe for your septic system. I looked up the individual ingredients and all of them are safe to use with a septic system. Also my sister’s house has a septic and she’s been making homemade detergent for a couple years with no problems. 🙂 Oh and yes, it is okay for top loading washers, see my instructions for that at the bottom of the post.
is it safe for septic tanks? our septic tank is old and we have had no problems, so far, I would like to start making my own laundry soap, but I need to know if is safe
Yes it is safe for your septic system. I looked up the individual ingredients and all of them are safe to use with a septic system. Also my sister’s house has a septic and she’s been making homemade detergent for a couple years with no problems. 🙂
Does the Fels-Naptha soap ruin your food processor container for food?
It really sounds wonderful but I am a bit concerned mixing soap with food.
No, not at all. I pulsed it in my blender for a few minutes and then dumped the powder in with the other ingredients. Then I washed my blender well with soap and water. My mom told me that she uses the grater on her food processor to grate the soap but I just used a hand grater.
I use my food processor to grate the soap. I cut the bar of soap into large chunks and then put the chunks and some of the washing soda into the food processor. The soap grates down into a much finer powder than I can get with a hand grater. I have also found that adding the washing soda to the processor aids the grating process. The soap just doesn’t break up as well without it.
I use a hand crank cheese grater, similar to the one they use at Olive Garden. I bought it just for my soap. I don’t like to mix soap stuff with my food stuff. It was about $8, and it saves my fingers from the hand grater. Not to mention, it is a finer grate.
Trish @ Uncommon says
This is suc;h a great idea and I love the label, too! Have a wonderful week!
Sarah Harper says
Anna- I have a HE front loader but I don’t have a sink in my laundry room. My machine has a spot to add powder laundry detergent, do you think I could get away without mixing the powder with warm water before starting the load?
Yep, totally! 🙂
I’m looking into making this soap for the first time….was wondering how many loads of laundry does one batch make. Trying to figure out if it’s really cheaper to make or is it more expensive than store bought? I’m all about saving money! Also for the fels-naptha soap, do you use a total of 14.1 oz or does each bar have to be that size. It seems like there is different sizes out there.
This is my first batch so I’m not sure how long it will last but I only use 3 TBSP and it made 2 gallons, so I think it’s going to last me awhile. 🙂 Also I’ve only ever seen one size of the Fels-Naptha bars but if you found smaller ones, just make sure you’re using a total of about 28oz.
I figured this out a while back- I made a single recipe of a similar recipe, not including the oil, and this is my breakdown. I have a family of 3 but do a lot of laundry, with my 6 year old tomboy always coming home muddy.
The cost of making this was $18.70 for the ingredients, $8 for the container and $1 for a Tbsp. to keep with the soap. This soap should last me between 9 months and a year, depending on how much I use. I was spending at least $35 a month for laundry detergent. I saved myself just under $400 a year by using this soap.
I thought it was (2) 5.5 oz. bars.
Ellen Whitehead says
Question about the homemade laundry soap recipe:
Is it safe for the environment? We live on a lake and I don’t want things to leak into the water if they are bad for the environment. Thank you!
All of the products, except the OxiClean, are all-natural products so I would say yes it’s safe for the environment.
T Johnson says
Ellen when in doubt check out this website! http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners It breaks down any household cleaners by ingredient and if they are harmful or not. You do have to be weary of products. They may say natural on it but just because a chemical is natural does always mean it is good.
Hello Everyone!! Just a quick comment or two. I have been using homemade liquid laundry detergent for over two years now. When I make it I get about 5 gallons of soap and it lasts about 6 months. I saw a price breakdown on another sit(sorry, I don’t remember where), and what they came up with was about .01 per load. I’ve estimated about .25 per load. For fabric softener I use plain white distilled vinegar. Just pour it right into your softener ball or softener dispenser on you machine. You can also pour it right with your clothes. My clothes come out fluffy and soft and with very little static. There is no smell once the clothes are dried.
Where did you find a recipe for a homemade LIQUID laundry soap??? Please share! I much prefer a liquid laundry soap. I’ve had bad luck w/powders not dissolving and leaving residue….
Julie Atkins says
Thank you for sharing your laundry soap recipe. I will make it and use it. I enjoy the look of your web-site. It’s soft, and comforting feeling. 🙂
Bethany Twine says
Hi I was wondering if you could use any type of essential oil or scent type? Also, can I grate the fels-naptha bar super fine or will that diminish the effectiveness of the soap?
Yes you can use any scent you want, or none at all. 🙂 I think grating the soap bar super fine is good because it makes it dissolve in the water easier. I grated mine and then put it in the blender to make it a powder.
hi anna! i’m in the process of mixing my first batch of detergent and realized that my bars of fels-naptha are only 5.5oz. each. will this cause any major difference in the performance of the recipe? I can go buy more later and mix it in if you think it’s absolutely necessary. thanks!
I think that’s fine. You can add more if you want to but I think with all the other ingredients you’ll be fine. 🙂
Hi, I have really sensitive skin and have always broken out when using store bought powder laundry detergent. I am wondering if you know if this would do the same thing or not? Thank you
If your skin is really sensitive I wouldn’t add the oxiclean, but other than that these are all-natural ingredients so I think you should be okay! 🙂
I have seen perfume/dye free oxiclean at Walmart. I get hives and itches from all store bought laundry soap except the sensitive skin stuff. I’ve been using the special oxiclean from Walmart and love it. No itches or hives at all!
Wondering if it would work with cloth diapers-any idea?
Yes, it should work just fine. You can use 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide for large loads, to bleach them and kill germs, which is much safer than chlorine bleach. Then rinse with vinegar, about 1/4 cup for large loads. Vinegar cuts any soap residue, softens, anti-static and cleans your machine as well.
I’ve been using a slightly different recipe, with no oxiclean or baking soda. I’ve also tried other soaps (ivory) and our “whites” were definitely gray. Switched to this recipe with much better results.
That’s good to know! I’ve always wondered if the Ivory soap works.
I’ve noticed that the baking soda really clumps up. I’ve taken to leaving mine out and I’ve not really noticed a difference. Anything you would recommend to fix this problem?
I usually double the recipe and use half the scoop that came with my Oxiclean instead of measuring the 1-3 tbsp. I purchased an 8 gallon trash can with a flip lid for storing it. I have been using a double recipe every 6 months or so. Depends on how dirty my daughter gets!
I also prefer to use Zote soap because for the same price as two whole bars I can get a box of pregrated soap. Just saves a little time.
I store mine with a nylon knee-hi that is full of rice that functions like a desiccant (like in salt shakers in the South) and I have never had problems with clumping.
Do you have to process the fels nephta? I am nervous about using my processor and having it stink! Anyone have exp. with not doing it?
I grate my soap on a hand grater, no food processor here. I use the smallest sized grate holes and it works fine. I unwrap my soap and let it sit out for about a week. This dries it out so it grates to a powder much faster. I’ve been using Ivory or handmade soap in mine with no problems. My whites are a bit gray but they were when I was using commercial soap and bleach every wash. My mom explained it was my gas dryer as she had one many years ago. I looked it up and, sure enough, that is documented as a consideration when buying dryers. I started using hydrogen peroxide which is safer to use (you can rinse your mouth with it to whiten teeth just don’t swallow it) plus it whitens and kills germs. Better for our environment too. It seems to be helping.
Sorry, I forgot, no problems with taste, smell or other from my hand grater. I throw it in the dish washer with my other dishes. The reason, in my opinion, you want it fairly powdery is for better, more even distribution in your mix and dissolving ability in a cold wash.
I have a top loader HE machine where I have to add liquid soap before I turn it on, once its turned on it locks the top. Has anyone tried just putting the powder into the drum and then turning on the machine?
With this soap about what does it cost to make it?
How much does it make?
I am willing to try if Budget friendly.
I am very Frugal or Cheap how ever you wanna call it.
I am looking for cleaning ideas that if we had to go back to our ansesters way of leaving ways to make what you need from very little.
I don’t remember how much it cost me because I bought the stuff months before I made it but I think I remember is was less than $15 and it made a TON! I had to mix mine in a 5 gallon bucket because there was so much of it.
sounds good I am going to make some and try. Will let you know what I think.
Just wondering if any one has washed their micro fiber clothes in this soap and if the cloth still worked fine after. This is my frist batch and excited to try the soap
I wash mine with this soap. I haven’t had any problems since I started a couple months back.
Just wondering if anyone has any ideas to make whites whiter with this recipe. I love the detergent , but is it safe to add bleach to? I also recently did a load of whites and had pink spots on some things! Any idea what could have caused that? I did a add a bit of extra oxiclean to the load in an effort to whiten better.
I add bleach when I do my whites. I’m not sure about the pink spots though, sorry. 🙁
Chlorine bleach and oxiclean (powdered hydrogen peroxide, called sodium percarbonate) should never be mixed together, it forms hydrochloric acid, a very corrosive mineral acid.
DOLLAR TREE SALES A 16 OZ JAR OF OXYGEN CLEAN IN POWDERED FORM same as oxiclean for $1.00
much better price than Oxiclean, buy 3 = 3#’s and fill up your old oxiclean tub.
The only size bar of fels naptha available is 5.5 oz. Are you using 28.2 oz or 2 bars?
2 bars. I need to go in and update the recipe. 🙂
Mallory Pitts says
Have you ever made this recipe into a liquid? If so, how much water did you use to dissolve everything and how much did you use per load?
I haven’t because I have a top loading machine so I don’t need to use liquid detergent. But if I did I would use the same amount, about 2-3 TBS and follow these directions from the post, to turn it into a liquid: “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.”
Debra Dunklin says
I love the labels for the soap above. Thinking of doing this for .church group. Can you tell me where you got the labels?. I am going to try it.
I made them. 🙂 I can email you the image if you’d like.
Elizabeth Sunset says
I also love your labels for the detergent. Would you please send me a link? They are adorable! Thank you.
The recipe looks good; but, I was wondering: all the other recipes I’ve read say to use the same ingredients that you list, but to cook everything until it’s a gel-like consistency and use it like that. Do you ever do this with yours? It seems that by cooking it, it won’t be a dry powder that most detergents have the problem of sticking to the clothes at times and not dissolving completely. With it being more of a liquid, I would think it would dissolve better. Please advise; thank you.
Hmmm, I’ve never heard that before, that’s interesting. I’ve never had a problem with it sticking to my clothes because I start the water in the tub, add the detergent and then add the clothes after it’s dissolved.
How do the clothes smell after they are washed and dried? I made some homemade laundry soap with scented Dr. Bronner’s grated bar soap and essential oil and the clothes washed in it always smelled musty. I even tried putting the same essential oil on washcloths in the dryer as dryer sheets and it made no difference. 🙁
My clothes smell great! Dr. Bronner’s definitely has it’s own distinct smell so maybe that was the problem. Using the ingredients that I have listed my laundry smells fresh and clean when it comes out of the wash.
If yours smell musty, there is a good chance you’re using too much in your load. You might try using less and adding vinegar for the rinse.
I grated the bars of soap & tried to use the blender to make them into a powder, but they just stuck to the sides. Has anyone else had that happen? This may be a dumb question, but should I freeze the grated soap before putting it into the blender? I can’t rate the recipe yet. Walmart didn’t have one of the ingredients so I haven’t been able to use it. Checking another Walmart today.
It’s actually best to microwave your soap bars first. I know it sounds crazy, but it makes them MUCH easier to grate.
If you unwrap the soap bars & let them dry for a couple of weeks, they will grate much better. I don’t have a blender or a food processor. Grate on the second finest side of a box grater, put into a zip type bag and roll it with a rolling pin and your soap will be super fine. I measured grated soap before and after rolling it & it reduced the volume by half!
Thanks for the tips, my Fel-Naptha was stuck all over my blender too. I did my best to incorporate it into my powered ingredients, so hopefully it does the job. I will remember to plan ahead for the next batch.
I blend a bar of castille soap, cut into chunks, along with a cup or so of the borax or washing soda in the VitaMix. The powder mixed with it keeps the bar soap from sticking in the blender and makes for a superfine powder mix for the wash! 🙂
I too was wondering about this problem you had, I grated the soap as fine as possible, added the washing soda, and borax, mixed it all up with my hands and the tossed it into my blender, hit the MIX button and it made it into a great powder just like the store bought varieties, I imagine the borax and washing soda mixed with the grated soap absorbed the moisture from the soap particles, Placed it into a Ball Canning jar, used just 1 Bar Fels Naptha soap, 1 cup Borax, and 1 cup Washing soda, it made a quart Mason Jar of detergent, I do not want huge tubs sitting around, it was so easy that after the 40 washes I can just whip up another batch really quickly, so easy, and smells great !
So I have been using this recipe for the past few weeks, with only a few tweaks. I nixed the Oxyclean and used Zote since it was pre-grated and I was lazy. I was using Gain right before I tried this and I am in LOVE with the results. My clothes are so fresh and feel so clean. Although they smell like clean laundry, I attempted to scent my detergent with grapefruit EO (I used a TON too) with no success. I would suggest skipping trying to scent the soap and just scent some dryer balls. I am also considering on trying a different bar soap next batch to make it more natural. Has anyone tried using the organic Dr Bronner’s castile bar soap?
i just add a couple drops of essential oil directly into the washing machine dispenser (I have a front loader) along with the soap and find this works well instead of adding it to the detergent mixture.
Misti N. says
Anyone else have a problem with the white Zote bar leaving a film on their grater? I grated it by hand and it left a film on the grater that I had to litterally scrub off with baking soda and vinegar–more than once 🙁 don’t want this to leave a film in my washing machine—that is why I’m trying to make my own–washer was stinky when I used the commercial stuff… Help Please!!!
hi…so i just made this detergent cause i am all about saving money and doing things more naturally…but when i washed my clothes, it left white streaks on some of my black and darker colored clothes? has anyone else had this problem? i’m thinking maybe i didn’t dissolve it enough in the washer before i put the clothes in? i have extremely hard water too, does hot or cold work better with hard water? thanks for any help!
Hello. I’ve never tried using/making homemade detergent before but this one has great reviews so I’m going to give it a go. I was wondering if the 2-3 tbspns were for any size load. Second, will it be safe in a top-loading he washing machine? Thank you.
I use 3 TBS for large loads and about 2 for small loads. And it’s safe for top and front loading machines. I have a top loader. 🙂
It is good that you know you are blessed. We are all blessed but most only think of how bad off they are. We do serve a wonderful God who is merciful and loving to us. I enjoyed your recipe and thank you for posting it on the internet. I like to use natural things whenever I can and I can hardly wait to make this soap. I’ve made lye soap many times before but never this kind of soap.
I’d love to give this recipe a try, but I don’t want to make such a large batch. Has anyone made like a quarter or half batch? If so, what are the measurements for each ingredient? Also, I’ve heard really good things about substituting Zote for Fels-Naptha. Has anyone done this & did you use the pink Zote or white?
I have been making homemade laundry detergent for a few years now. I make an all natural type and a heavy duty one using fels naptha. If you want to cut down the batch size I would use two parts of the Borax, washing soda, and oxi clean to one part of soap. My exact recipe is one bar of fels naptha (about 1 cup grated) and two cups each of the other incredients. I think it has a higher soap content than this recipe but it works great. I am going to start making larger batches but think that I will add more fels naptha than this recipe uses. Also, I have a front loader and find that 1 tablespoon is plenty, but I do not have hard water.
For ‘all natural’ I use an all natural bar soap and leave out the oxi clean (borax and washing soda are all natural ingredients). It cleans great and does not aggravate my daughter’s eczema.
I’ve made me a batch of this with a slightly different recipe, the one with the purex crystals, and it works perfect for my clothes. I find I that I have to use 2 of the purex crystals cap of detergent to give the clothes a good smell. But the only thing that wont get clean, is my boyfriends work shirt. Its looks spotless…but it still smells like arm pit. Does that mean I need to use more detergent in my wash?
A great way to get rid of that smell is to soak the stinky garments in vinegar first. I have to do this with my husband’s running clothes. I soak it for 30 min or so and then toss it in the wash with everything else.
My husband’s running clothes are very odorous and I can never get the smell out 100% of the time when I wash them. How much vinegar and water do you use when you soak your husband’s clothes? Thank you so much!
I throw them in a bucket and just dump a bunch in. I buy big jugs of it at Costco so I use a bunch of it.
I made this the other day. But was disappointed that my laundry didn’t have a orange smell at all. I added 35 drops of it and nothing ..
Remember, baking soda absorbs smells/odors. We use it in the frig, right?! Why? Too capture funky smells from mingling together! I use it in the freezer and diaper pail too! So you will need to work with the oil levels to compensate the B.Soda.
My dad used to take a wash cloth and pour about 1/8 – 1/4 c baking soda in middle and then tie it up to make a satchel then throw it in the dryer with the load. It softens and helps to eliminate “missed” odors. It also helps with static a bit – not alot, just a bit. 🙂
Try adding a couple drops directly in the washing machine when you add the soap. This works for me!
Where can I find the orange oil? I have made the soap without the Oxi Clean and the baking soda. This one sounds much better. Also is there someplace I can print out your pretty laundry soap label? Thanks, Barb
So, I love this idea, but do you know how to make a laundry detergent for TOP loading HE washers? I have one that takes liquid only.
Here’s one I found on a site I like: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/03/super-concentrated-no-grate-liquid-laundry-detergent.html
Considering using Ivory Soap instead of the Zote on a special batch for my colors. Has anyone ever done something similar. I’m just concerned about my colors staying vibrant with the Zote.
Im curious if you need to still use dryer sheets with this recipe. Do i need to add a fabric softener? Or is that not necessary? Been scrolling through all the comments and couldn’t find the answer to my questions…
I still use dryer sheets because my husband likes the way his t-shirts feel better when I use them. 🙂 Also you will not need to continue to use fabric softener because the baking soda works as a softener. In fact before I started using this detergent I would add baking soda to each load of wash, instead of fabric softener.
Hazel Caswell says
Hi, thank you so much for the recipe for the laundry detergent. My daughter made some, not this recipe and it didn’t work for me because I love working in the yard so therefore I get my clothes unusually dirty. I will be anxious to try this one. I always dreaded the week I had to buy laundry detergent because it is so expensive. I have just bought a new washer and is a water saver model an so far I am not very pleased with it so maybe this detergent will help.
Thank you. Thank you! Tried it this week. I’m a convert. Thank you.
Hi, i did this without the oxiclean or essential oil and used Zote as I could not find the Fels-Naphta locally. My first time using it created an awful odor during the wash cycle. It reminds me of old cat-pee, and we have not cats here. My daughter said it smelled of sweaty man syndrome (lol!). But there was definitely an awful foul odor. I also used vinegar for extra softening agent too. Now here’s the kicker: after I dried it, the smell disappeared.
I did a second load; same thing. Third load the smell is either dissipating or I am getting used to it. It is not removing scents from clothing though. I have a HE front load washer with steam cycles both in the washer and dryer. I used 2 Tbsp first load and 1/4 cup each load after. First load was done Hot/Cold, second and third both in Warm/Cold and last load with liquid softener; the latter load consequently had no awful smell, but the scent of the liquid softener was subdued.
I have one more load to do tomorrow, whites, and will be using oxiclean for that. I didnt use it this time around because I wanted to see how cheap my laundry can be done and just how clean and bright it would be without it! Plus it can aggravate my toddler”s eczema.
So…the smell? What gives? I’ve checked around on the web and alot of people have experienced this. My washer is less than a year old and has never had any funky smells/odors before now. I am a bit confused!
Thant is so weird, I don’t know what that smell is/was! Maybe some of my readers will be able to help you out…
Does this cause any problems with septic systems?
Sorry, I read in the comments that the ingredients are septic safe but have been reading online powdered detergents and this one in particular with the soap can cause clogs. Any ideas on this? I want to save money but not cause clogs 🙂
Anne F says
How on earth do you stir this much powder? Is breathing it in bad? Any suggestions would be appreciated!! A lot of powder in the air!
Thanks for the recipe!! It’s great!!
lo- just saw this, I use my husband’s drill in a five gallon bucket and a paint stirring attachment.
will definitely be making this tonight! Thanks so much for sharing! I love the jars you shared them in for gifts. Where did you find them? And the tags as well? Just curious-they’re adorable! Thank you!
Thanks Gina! I made the tags, there is a link to the printable on the post. The jars I think I got from amazon.com.
Gayle Ibizugbe says
How much does this recipe make, volume-wise?
When I made mine I had to mix it in a 5 gallon bucket because there was so much, but I can’t remember how much it made. I just ran out of mine so it lasted me about 5 months, which I think is pretty awesome for how cheap it was to make! 🙂
Love the recipe. The recipe calls for 2 – 5.5 ounce bars of the Fels Naptha, but in a comment in May you said to make sure to use 28 ounces. Just want to clarify so that our clothes are clean. I also used Purex Scent crystals instead of the oil.
Is it necessary to use the essential oil? Can I use a different oil? Lavender maybe?
It is totally just a preference. You can make it with our without the oil. 🙂
Natalie Muoio says
I’ve been wanting to try this out for a long time, I’ve heard about the recipes for homemade detergent floating around all over tons of blogs, but not quite like this one. I really appreciate your indepth research on each of these products.
Your dedication to providing us with this important info i am going to try it.
Thank you tons,
If I am mixing 2 tbl detergent with 2 tbl hot water for my front loading machine. Do I add that to the liquid cup or the powder cup in my machine?
I would add it to the liquid cup. I don’t have a front loader though so I would also check with the manufacture.
I made this detergent today. Bought Zote pink and the Fels. First I grated the zote and then tried to grind it up in my food chopper. This stuff is so sticky that it just balled up. Then I stuck it in the freezer to harden up as another reviewer suggested. No luck. It stilled balled up and was hard as heck to even dissolve in hot water. As much as I love the pink color and wanted my detergent pink (what can I say! I’m a girl) I didn’t like that it didn’t dissolve well and the citronella smell. I don’t want to smell like bug repellant honestly. So I resorted to the Fels soap. Loved this stuff. The scent as well as how hard the bar was and easy to grate up. Mixed all my ingredients together, minus the essential oil and voila! I had detergent. Now was the test on how well it would clean my clothes. I have a brand new HE front loader Kenmore washer. I did a load of whites and well, I wasn’t that pleased with the results. I washed my husbands white socks and a few other white things, like kitchen towels. The stains were still there and any smells previous to washing (as in funky body odor, etc) did not come out. They were still there. Didn’t work for me (we have hard water) but glad if it works for others. Now I’m stuck with a butt load of detergent!! Guess I will wash dog bedding with it, lol.
Okay, update….I have tried several more loads of laundry using this detergent and vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. Results have been improved, greatly. My whites still aren’t totally vivid and all the way stain free, but that’s because I haven’t been pre-treating them. And I don’t even remember them being ‘vivid’ or stain free while I was using Tide. Everything else has come out clean and bright. The odor is gone. Maybe in part due to the vinegar? who knows, but all in all the results are improved. I will continue to use this detergent. Thanks!
I made up this detergent today with 1 bar Fels Naptha (I neglected to buy the two bars!) and 1/2 bar of Zote I had on hand: It worked great in our local laundromat front loader! I think I’ll add the 2nd bar of Fels and see if it improves even more. The Zote is great for hand washing, but just is a mess to grind. So, that is my plan. I do use the Mobile Washer occasionally, and will try it with this detergent. Thank you for this recipe. I’m also going to try it on my vintage polyester yard goods saved from the 70’s and see how they come out – should be groovey!!!
OOPs – forget to rate your recipe: so far, I give it 5 stars!
I made this recipe exactly as the instructions say, except for the essential oil. I bought the blue Purex crystals and use those instead and the laundry has a wonderful smell. I use a full “oxy scoop” with every load. I use more than the instructions say because I have a large capacity, energy efficient top load washer and the clothes weren’t smelling as clean as they should with the half scoop. I mix it with a 1 liter tea pitcher of warm water first before pouring it into the washer, then throw the clothes on top. And start the washer. Anyway, I’ve only been using it for 2 full months now and I still have half the batch left. I absolutely love this! I have saved so much money! I will continue using this but I’d like to note the two things I noticed since I’ve changed from using gain/ tide (for 14 years) to this new soap:
1. After about a week of using this new recipe I noticed a white cloudy film on the (inside) lower half of my washer. When I scratch at it, it comes off. I noticed if I add a cup of vinegar to each load, that it’s slowly cleaning the film away.
2. I noticed several different brands of my black yoga pants are faded and have splotchy spots here and there all over. And my son had at shirt from old navy that faded in spots. But the shirt looks just fine because the faded spots are so even that it looks like the shirt was made that way. So, no harm done here, but I wanted to share my experiences so people know there may be a possibility of this happening depending on certain clothing items being made differently… It has not stopped me from loving this soap though! It looks like the batch will last my family if 4 about 4-5 months! I spent $21 total on all the ingredients.
What in this recipe would irritate my husband’s skin? He said it makes his skin itchy.
I don’t know, I’m so sorry. :/ If I were to guess anything I’d say it might be the borax.
Might be the Oxyclean. Some people are sensitive to Borax, but it shouldn’t be any more irritating than baking soda.
I want a liquid recipe for laundry detergent that is borax free, any ideas?
After doing the research for this post I honestly believe that you could still use all the rest of these ingredients, leave out the borax, and you’d still have perfectly clean clothes. Each product on its own has a lot of cleaning power. To make my recipe liquid form here’s a post I found that’s similar but they made it a liquid. I should probably write a follow up post for all the people out there looking for liquid detergent. 🙂 http://www.duggarfamily.com/content/duggar_recipes/30455
Vicky McDaniel says
Not sure if anyone else has recommended this, but if you have a VitaMix, a Blendtec, or a Ninja (super-duper blenders!), this will be rendered into a fine powder in no time at all!
That’s what I did, I used my BlendTec.
I made a similar recipie and it didn’t clean as well as I hoped and it didn’t smell clean is this because I used cold water and because I add my clothes before adding the soap?
It could be. I always add my soap first so that it dissolves in the water before adding my clothes. If you add the detergent last the clothes on the bottom won’t get soapy until toward the end of the wash cycle. :/
Ok I have been using this recipie for a few weeks now and have notice spots on my clothes. Why is it doing this?
Do you put the detergent in the water and let it dissolve before adding your clothes? I always add the detergent first to make sure it’s mixed well with the water and I’ve never noticed any spots on my clothes.
I use castile soap in place of the fels-naptha. it’s more expensive, but i found the fels to be rather caustic when i was grating it. my skin is very sensitive as well as my daughters, so the castile works for us more.
THANK YOU for the great recipe! My in-laws decided to do “homemade” Christmas gifts this year…and I think this is going to be a great gift!! Thank you so much! And I’m also going to gift our pregnant next door neighbor some as a shower gift! Although…I wish I hadn’t added the OxiClean. (Even though I swear by it for everything!) In your opinion, would it irritate a baby’s skin??? Thank you SO much for the great recipe!
I’d only add Oxi Clean as needed. Not with the entire mixture of detergent. Just my opinion. When you need the added Oxi Clean, then just add it 🙂
Hi, I’m new to this idea of making my own laundry soap. Just ordered all the ingredients. After reading some of the comments I’m going to try the Zote soap. I’m tired of the chemicals and I’m tired of my bath towels getting so rough!
Since I work with vintage linens, “reuse and re-purpose” vintage chenille bedspreads I’ve been trying different laundry detergents. I will not use Tide, Cheer, or other similar detergents because they are to harsh for the old linens. I use Dreft or other baby detergents. With that said, I’m going to make my own. I use Borax all the time, it is a natural brightener and softener, and does not bleach colors as it is not a bleach.
One other comment is to not add Oxi Clean to your mixture. Use it only when you feel you need to seriously clean something and use a full load of water and let the items soak over-night. Use the hottest water possible. If you have an HE washer it would be better to soak in a laundry tub or bathtub so you have more water. Oxi Clean does work but it needs a lot of water.
Oxi Clean will desintegrate (break down) any metallic fiber in your linens. Metallic fiber like seen in Christmas table cloths, or silver/gold lurex threads in vintage chenille bedspreads!
I was just wondering if I could use any type of soap? I live in Australia so we don’t have the soap that you have mentioned above. And is Oxiclean a necessity as we do not have that either?
Oxiclean is not a necessity, just an added wash booster. I’ve heard of others using regular bar soaps, my only recommendation would be to maybe research the best soap that’s available in your area. 🙂
Don’t ever mix the oxi clean with the other ingredients in the water based detergent. I did this and had a foaming mess on my hands. Had my granddaughter not notice the lid on the bucket rising up it would have exploded in my home. My husband took it outside and pulled the lid off and it exploded everywhere. I am sure it works in the dry method, but not in the wet one.
Good to know!
could this be used as a dishwasher detergent as well if using kirk’s castile bar soap? Or would the bar soap need to be left out. It just would be so nice to mix this up and use it for both having just one multi-purpose container!!! I would put vinegar in rinse agent compartment like I use it in the rinse for laundry.
I use Kirk’s soap bar and just grated up a fresh bash. I like it using it as it is unscented and it works just fine. I would think about using equal parts of washing soda, baking soda and borax as a mixture and use one to two tablespoons at the start of each dishwasher load. Vinegar corrodes the rinse agent department – pour a 1/2 cup on the bottom of the dishwasher prior to the start of washing.
I use 2 tbs of dawn 3tbs borax 3tbs of baking soda and mix in a gallon milk jug with hot water and some Purex crystals for smell. Now I have a top loading he machine Sony think that would be safe?
I use this recipe but use zote. instead of fels-naphta. I also add 2 containers of the purex scent crystals instead of the scented oil. Live in a house with 4 adults and this lasts forever! A good DIY fabric softener that leaves your clothes noticeably softer and is super inexpensive:
1 (15 oz) Hair conditioner (suave, v05, etc.)
2.5 cups white vinegar
5 cups warm water
20 or so drops essential oil of choice.
Thank you for sharing the softener recipe!
Forget the Shout – the following knocks it out of the park:
Use 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and 1 part Dawn liquid dish-washing detergent. Put both into a spray bottle (shake) and spray down the stain, toss into the washer. You can let it sit for a bit but NOT overnight. The peroxide will bleach the material out if left on overnight – learned the hard way… 🙂 Cheap and WORKS great. Debra
I have just started making my own laundry detergent. I use the same recipe with the exception of using On Guard instead of Wild Orange essential oil. My question is this- why are my white (primarily anything with nylon, like undies) items all turning super dingy gray? Anything that will whiten them back again? Thanks.
That’s really weird, I’ve never had that problem! My whites actually started getting whiter when I made this recipe. The only think I can suggest (that I’ve actually done) is adding a little bleach to your white loads. I’m sure there are other solutions but none that I’ve tried.
This recipe is AWESOME!!! I agree with Melinda. 3 bars of Fels Naptha, works even better! The Oxy-Clean got my whites really white, and there was NO smell, if you don’t include the essential oil. I have a friend that is sensative to perfumes, so this recipe the scent, is great! I look forward to trying the tips in the comments about the white Zote bar soap. Not only am I saving money, but I can give my environmentally and chemically conscious friends, a gift of this laundry soap. Thanks also, for the PDF page for labels. It makes it look real purdy!
Who doesn’t want to save money as well as use products that are less harmful to people and the environment? My husband and I were super excited to be able to make our own laundry soap which proved to be pretty quick and easy so no problem there. The Fels Naptha grated in our food processor then turned into ‘powder’ by switching to the blade and running for a long time really turned into balls of waxy soap. It was very stuck to the food processor and I had to scrub with a brush and use pure hot water to get it off all the surfaces. About that time I was wondering how it would dissolve in the washer since the hot water did not budge it. We have a year old LG washer that does not have an agitator but is top loading, works fantastic and we have never had soap stuck in the powder dispenser until we did our first load with our homemade soap today. This was a small test load washed for 58 minutes in warm water mind you and at the end of 2 full cycles there was still a small amount of soap stuck in the dispenser. There was so much leftover soap stuck in the dispenser the first time that we had to run it twice. Obviously this will maybe work in pure hot water loads only and probably best not to put it in the dispenser. I added maybe 25 drops of the essential oil…just shook a bunch in to the mix…and it was strong enough to fragrance our house while we were making it but honestly all I smell in my ‘clean’ laundry is the strong stinky odor of Fels Naptha! Very disappointing!
Made this yesterday and so far it’s working out great. I did not add any scent because my family is so allergic to dyes and perfumes. Everything came out nice and clean and I wasn’t sneezing! Thanks Anna!
I used this (without the essential oil) in my front loader and a friend uses it in a top loader. It smells sooooo good! I love this stuff! I use cleaning vinegar found at Walmart for softener and my laundry looks and smells so clean. I am a mother of 5 and have always thought my children’s clothes looked clean and fresh, but after using this for a month, this recipe makes my family’s clothes look even better! Great recipe!
PS., My friend is a smoker and says this recipe takes all the cigarette odor away. She is amazed!
You said you use “cleaning vinegar”. Is that different from standard distilled vinegar? Where in WalMart would I find it?
I have been using this mixture since July 2013 for all of my warm and hot loads…LOVE IT…but I still had cold water detergent left so I had been using that up on my cold loads and finally ran out about a month ago. When I started using this mixture with my cold load (delicate dark clothes specifically), it left lots of white dots all over the clothes when they were done. After 3 rinse and spins, there were still some white dots left…any ideas on what to do differently? I have a top loader HE machine so we typically mix the powder and warm water in a measure cup and then put it into the dispenser since you can’t fill with water first or open once it starts since the lid locks. I know I could go to a liquid soap, but love this recipe and its worked so well the rest of the clothes we wash…any advise would be greatly appreciated!
This is Monique, Anna’s assistant. I am helping Anna answer some of these questions. Her response is that she has never had this happen before and she is really sorry that it has affected your clothes that way. She is not sure of a solution and hoping that maybe some of her readers can chime in! Sorry we could not be more helpful!
Just made my second batch. I absolutely love this recipe and am a total convert from Tide Free. It costs $21 to make (without the essential oil) and lasted my family of 5 almost 7 months. One tip I have is to grate your soap bars with a cheese grater and mix it with approximately 1 lb of the baking soda to keep it from sticking. Then l just run it through my Ninja and it comes out in a powder. My son suffered terrible eczema last winter and since we switched to this homemade recipe he hasn’t had one outbreak! I have a front loader, put 1 Tbs in the powder detergent drawer dry and my clothes are clean and fresh every time. Thank you so much!
So glad that it could bring your family some relief!
I just made my first batch…I put the bar of Fels-Naptha in the microwave for less than 2 minutes to “puff it up”…then put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes….It crumbles with your hand effortlessly. I then ran the crumbles through my processor to a fine crumble. House smells Wonderful! No need to get out the grater.
I recently made my own washing powder using a similar but slightly different recipe – borax is actually banned here in the UK and, I believe, Europe as it can be toxic to children and animals. I would imagine that would need to be in large quantities, but either way it’s not available here. Instead, we have a natural borax substitute that works just as well – my washing powder is still going strong and I love it!
what is the substitute you used for the borax, tors?
I already mixed all of my ingredients together, but I didn’t have a way to crush up the grated Fels Naptha to make it smaller, will the bigger pieces hurt my clothes? Do I need to try to dig it out and make it smaller? Thank you!
This is Monique, Anna’s assistant. Anna replied that the size does not really matter, it will not hurt your clothes. However when there are smaller pieces it help them dissolve in the washer faster and easier. Anna suggests going through and hitting it with a meat tenderizer or something of the like to smash the pieces a little more. Hope this helps!
Hello! I just tried this recipe for the first time on cloth diapers – just the liners and inserts turned orange like the Fels Naptha. Everything looks really clean and the diapers are still white – any thoughts?!
Thank you – great site!!
I have no idea, I’m sorry. I’ve never had that happen!
How well does this laundry detergent work with well water?
It will work fine as long as your water isn’t too hard. I always add my detergent in first so it dissolves in the water before I put the clothes in.
alice wright says
How many loads do u get out of this?
I’m not one to count those sort of things but I got a lot out of it. It lasted for months!
If you only use 2 tbsp/load that’s about 8 loads per cup (16 tbsp/8oz)…so when I made mine I got about 29 cups which translates to aprox. 253 loads – I think! 😉
Nancy Walkenford says
Have you heard of a recipe for homemade liquid laundry detergent adding corn starch and glycerin?
A recipe was given to me to use Ivory Soap, Borax, Washing Soda, Glycerin and Corn Starch-then adding a fragrance oil if wanted.
Can’t wait to find out if adding Corn Starch is okay, and if using the above ingredients is good to use in HE washing machines.
What would this be on a smaller scale, say in cups? It’s just my husband and I and his work washes his uniform so we don’t do a lot of laundry. I don’t want to make 5 years worth at once if possible.
Haha, I totally understand! I would just cut everything in 1/2. You have to buy the boxes and soaps, they all only come in one size but just use 1/2 the ingredients and then save the rest for next time. Or you can make a full batch and give away a bunch of it as gifts with the cute printable. 🙂
abby smas says
I have making and using the 3-ingredient laundry soap (fels naptha, washing soda, borax) for a year and I’m very pleased and highly recommend this. I’m glad to know about the orange essential oil – I shake in those Downy Unstoppable pellets for scent if I think I need it.
Check around on Pinterest – I’ve pinned tons – to find out how best to use dishwashing powder (citrus), hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, ammonia, Dawn dish washing soap, sunshine, and salt. NOT ALL TOGETHER 🙂 It’s amazing how you can make your clothes look like new. Sometimes multiple treatments or a soaking for days is what it takes.
I made this detergent in January and started using it. The only thing I didn’t use was the DoTerra oil. I am all the sudden having a lot of “oily” dark spots on my dark cloths. They look like oil stains but they are not there before I was the cloths. I was washing on cold and I upped to warm. And I started adding vinegar to my softner dispenser to help clear out an residue. I don’t use any regular softner. I have had this problem with store bought detergents before, but it is WAY worse now after a few months of this detergent. Have you heard of this before with this detergent? Do you know of any modifications I can make to the recipe that might help? Thanks!
That’s so strange! I’ve never had that problem. If you’ve had this problem before, it might have something to do with your washing machine. I would contact a local repairman and see if they have any insight.
is this safe to use on cloth diapers with PUL?
I’m not familiar with PUL, what is it?
Just made this, Great idea, but…I will be swapping our the Fels-Naptha for something with less chemicals next time, smells terrible! I will donate my second bar of Fels-Naptha and head to Whole Foods or my local food co-op for some castile soap instead.
Hello, I hope you are doing well.
What a great recipe, thank you 🙂
Can I use a natural soap ? Does Fels-Naphta is a natural soap ?
I mean not a detergent in bar with a lot of bad chemicals.
Thank you very much and have a wonderful week-end 🙂
Karen S. says
Question. I can’t seem to find the orange oil. Is it okay to use orange extract?
I’m sure that would be fine. The orange essential oil adds disinfecting power but the orange extract would definitely make it smell yummy!!! 🙂
Jen Ward says
2 questions for you 🙂
1 – Can I add chlorine bleach to my whites while using this as well? If not then what do I use to get the clothes clean and white
2- Where do I put the soap in my HE machine? I saw mentioned on here in the drum? but I’ve not done that before? If I put it in the normal spot for detergent I’m afraid of clogging someone else mentioned? Just curious what everyone does and what I should not do? Thanks
Yes you can add bleach to your whites in fact this is what Anna does with her whites. If you prefer not to use bleach you can add another scoop of baking soda or Anna suggests some Oxi-clean. We hope this helps!
-Monique (Ask Anna Assistant
So, I made my first batch of this homemade detergent……I’m so upset that I didn’t do this sooner!! My clothes are so much cleaner and there is no residual that causes dinginess. I’m looking forward to how much longer it lasts cos we’re full swing into softball season and uniforms need cleaned constantly! My family loves it as well because of the fresh scent. They told me I don’t need to add the scented oil. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.!
Jim Budd says
Hi Anna; I’m a divorced man who is looking for a cheaper way to use laundry detergent. My sister and daughter uses a recipe like yours, but I decided to go with yours because of your about the Author section. Your love for your daughter and husband is wonderful but without God we are nothing. Your honesty rings true and I thank you for it. Blessed indeed we truly are.
Thank you Jim. 🙂
I make homemade liquid laundry soap using the same ingredients minus the essential oil, baking soda, and oxy-clean. Works good, I’ve had no issues with discoloration of clothes which was a big concern of mine in the beginning. Only issue with the liquid version I use it that it gels up a lot so I have to stir it before use, but this way I don’t have to worry about my clothes getting powdery residue left behind which sometimes can happen with powdered detergents.
You keep referring to your great soap in the directions, as detergent. Soap uses Natural ingredients, detergent uses synthetic chemicals and petroleum (petra-chemical.s) as they are frequently called.
The reason might be because when people do a search they usually do not put in “homemade laundry “soap”‘ they usually put in “detergent”. But that is just a guess.
Can you use vanilla or lavender oil without any issue?
Yep! Use whatever you’d like. 🙂
About a year ago, I noticed an odor from the front of the washer (Samsung frontload, 3 yrs old) Then it was not spinning out every time, have to do an extra spin. (small or large loads). Then it started to leak. Hubby and son removed it from laundry room , I tore up the click flooring on top of cement. Dried room. Hubby diagnosed it was the soap dispenser was clogging up. (also he did find a piece of plastic (like from dress shirt) I always sort and check pockets, but missed that) Gunk, from dispenser to tub. We do have hard water too, I use liquid soap and fabric softener. And was doing rinse loads which is cold water for blankets. That said, washer is fixed, and I stated looking for a better soap, searches said NO to liquid and softener, and I found your recipe. I am about to buy the ingredients, and make the soap. I have a front load because we have a well and septic, New septic. We have it cleaned yearly. I was trying to do it all right, no javex (bleach) but did not know that detergent would do this to my washer. I will post again after I make a batch and clean the many loads of laundry I have after washer was off line for so long. Thank you .
Laura M says
I am planning on making this but Im wondering if it is ok for sensitive skin since the feels Nathan is scented. I have a 3 & 1 year old and need it safe for baby skin.
My daughter has pretty sensitive skin and I’ve never had any problems with the fels naptha soap but if you aren’t comfortable using it you can use an all-natural alternative. 🙂
Is this powdered detergent safe for septic systems?
I would imagine so, since it’s a very gentle product, however I’ve never lived on a septic system so I would call your local septic system company to find out if those ingredients are ok for the septic.
Is the home made laundry detergent safe for the newer HE washers?
I bought the ingredients for this recipe yesterday and am excited to try it. I keep noticing that you and others recommend using vinegar along with this detergent to soften clothes and keep residue down etc. I checked out what happens when vinegar and baking soda (I assume washing soda as well) are mixed. Nothing. Meaning the acid in the vinegar and the base in the baking soda cancel each other out and you end up with water and no cleaning. Does putting them in separate compartments in my washing machine use them at separate times and thus allow each ingredient to work on its own?
Interesting. I’ve never thought to look that up but now I guess I need to do some research. Thank you for the tip! 🙂
I haven’t made my own detergent for about a year or so, but after spending time on your blog this morning, I am super inspired to start making my own home products again.
Cut down the cost considerably by purchasing Borax and Washing Soda from ceramic Supply venders
I made a batch of this beginning of March and now have only a few loads left (its beginning of August). That means it lasted for approx. 5 months. I was using 3 tbsp. per load. I have 3 boys: 7 month old, 20 month old, 3 year old, so that means I’m doing AT LEAST 7 loads of laundry per week, if not more. It works really, really well. My whites definitely stayed very white and my colors did not fade. I didn’t add fragrance to the laundry powder so I continued to use softener because I like the smell. Thank you for a great recipe! I’m headed to start grating soap for the next batch 🙂
Hey anna glad to see you are sitll answering questions to this post 2 years after it’s been posted. Do I have to use hot water in order for it to work? Can I use cold water? Will that be an issue?
I use cold water in my wash. I just get the water started in the washing machine, dump the soap in, then swish it around with my hand a little to get it started dissolving. It works great!
Can this be made liquid? Will Oxiclean work in a liquid version?
This is Monique, Anna’s assistant. Here is the answer to your question: “I haven’t made this in a liquid version because I have a top loading machine so I don’t need to use liquid detergent. But if I did I would use the same amount, about 2-3 TBS and follow these directions from the post, to turn it into a liquid: “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.”
Nicole Gorney says
Hi! Thank you for sharing your recipe! I’m considering trying it, but I prefer a liquid, so I’ll take some advice from others who have posted liquid recipes (you pretty much just boil the soap with water & mix with more water in a bucket!). Anyway, you said that you included links where you would get a small commission & I can’t find your links. If you can send them to me, I’m happy to help you out!
There is a product list that should have a link to where you can purchase each item! Which items were you thinking about purchasing 😉
I usually use cold water- can I use this with only cd water?
I do! I just make sure I put the detergent in the water first, then I slosh it around with my hand a little, to make sure it’s getting dissolved, then I add the clothes. It’s a little extra step buy I think it’s worth it to be able to save money and not have to use warm/hot water. 🙂
I’m excited to try this laundry detergent recipe and have already mixed all of the ingredients together, but I’m having a hard time finding the do Terra oil and don’t want to have to order and wait for delivery. Where can I purchase that locally?
I so appreciate your helpful tips. I’m a blessed mom with 6 (5 boys and 1 girl) and you can imagine how filthy boys clothes can get….especially socks!
You don’t need to add the oil, it’s just to make it smell nice. If you’d like to have oil though, I’d check your local health food store, they always carry essential oils. 🙂
Does this reduce that horrible musty/moldy smell that develops in HE washers? We just bought one and the guy who installed it warned me to keep the door open when it’s not in use so that it will dry out and not develop that smell. I just hate leaving it open like that all the time…
After reading about your homemade laundry soap, I am very curious about trying it. I have found that some brands of commercial detergent fade my clothes more and sometimes cause faster deterioration of the fabrics. After using the homemade soap for a while now, have you noticed any fading or increased lint in the dryer?
Thanks for reading this and answering my question,
Great question! Anna said that she has started to notice her darks were beginning to fade and she believes that it is because there is so many whitening products in the mix. Therefore she does not always use the detergent on her extreme darks. She will usually do a black load separately from her darks. Thanks for your question!
-Monique (Ask Anna Assistant)
Backing soda is one of the favorite home made detergent for me as its much easy to make and result are also more effective,
how toxic is this soap recipe compared to detergents on the market
I don’t think this laundry detergent is toxic at all.