Homemade Laundry Detergent

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Ok, who hates to buy laundry detergent?? This girl, well, that’s one for sure. And there’s got to be more of you out there. I always cringe when it starts running low because it’s so dang expensive! Well, months ago my friend Michele {and Claire’s childcare provider, sounds too formal to start with that} showed me how she makes gallons of homemade laundry detergent for pennies. It barely took any time to make and we were sent home with 10 gallons of laundry soap {or more I can’t remember exactly how much}. It lasted us well over 6 months. We started running low on our supply so Colin decided he wanted to try and make some ourselves.

We picked up the supplies {this is the only part I will take some credit for, because it was entirely my husband’s idea and he did all the work}

1 Bar Fels-Naptha Soap 
1/2 cup Borax
1 cup Super Washing Soda
5 gallon Bucket

{Ok, I will take credit for taking these photos}


Colin had already started grating the soap before I got a photo…

Grate the bar of soap into a large pot.


Add 6 cups of water and heat on stove until soap is melted, stirring frequently.


Add the Borax and washing soda to the bucket. Then add the soap and water mixture and stir.

borax-washing-soda-homemade-laundry-detergent mixed-homemade-laundry-detergent

Add water to the top{ish} of the bucket and continue to stir.


Transfer soap into containers to store. We used milk jugs and old laundry detergent jugs. At this point you probably will want some sort of funnel. We cut open an old mouthwash container {because lets be real, we weren’t using the mouthwash}, but It was a little faulty because the spout end was exactly the same size as the milk jug tops so a lot of the soap spewed out the sides.  We came out with about 5ish gallons or so.


gotta find a prettier way to store these…let me know if you have any ideas!

I know this may sound like some work, but it was quicker than making dinner {like way quicker}. It took like 30 minutes tops…that’s worth the savings for sure. Let’s do the math:

1 Bar of Fels-Naptha soap = $1.33
Box of Borax = $4.35
Box of Super Washing Soda = $3.49
Total= $9.17 

That right there is cheaper than a regular thing of laundry detergent, but one batch of this could make up to five times more AND you don’t even use all of the Borax and washing soda, so when you want to make another batch you just need to pick up another bar of soap for $1.33! These dollar amounts may be different for you depending on where you live. I did go to one of the more expensive stores to do this price comparison, so it could be even less.

We stored the leftover supplies in the bucket and wrote the ingredients and directions on the outside so we don’t have to look it up each time. Before each use, make sure to shake as it does separate.

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13 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. Mary Kambak

    I haven’t made this yet but I will. I have used it many times @ Colin & Emily’s home and am impressed with how effective and efficient it is. At home, I only use Tide Free and Gentle so was quite impressed that our clothes appeared and felt just as clean, soft and bright with C & E’s homemade laundry detergent. There was no residue and no scent. Not to mention the cost savings: 100oz liquid Tide costs $15 on a good sale! I’m curious to compare

    1. Emily Post author

      You should be able to find it at most grocery stores in the laundry detergent aisle. If you can’t find Fels-naptha, any brand of bar laundry soap will do!

  2. dml4jc

    I made a recipe that uses the same ingredients, but it hardened and we had to mix it and it became the same consistency as mayo. Does yours stay liquid?

    1. Emily Post author

      Mine hasn’t ever hardened. It does separate, but when I shake it has a gelatinous consistency. Maybe try adding more water? Or boil the soap and water a little longer.

  3. shannon

    I love this recipe! I made this 5mo ago and just made a new batch last week, we have saved so much money! The only difference is I use a full cup of borax and washing soda. I store it in an air tight, 5 gal clear storage tub. It does firm up to a pretty solid gel so I mix it after it hardens and just fill the containers, as needed, half way with soap and the rest with hot water and shake, I haven’t had it separate. This is such a great thing for you to share Emily, a lot of people don’t realize how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own! (I didn’t either until I tried it)

  4. shannon

    I also make my own fabric softener for the dryer! I should share the recipe with you. It makes your clothes smell like you use store bought laundry soap! 🙂


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