Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe for $30 a Year
If you're like me, then you are always looking for ways to cut corners, but not quality. I am a big fan of DIY everything – from recipes to cleaning products.
- This article contains a tried and true laundry detergent recipe that can be customized a bit to meet your own families needs.
- It will work and dissolve properly in cold cycles as well, saving you more money. This was very important for me, as we wash nearly everything in cold water. It's more gentle to your clothes as well.
- This detergent is powerful. You will only need a couple of tablespoons per load max. Seriously! I use it on everything from delicate wash to my hardest to clean laundry (think teenage smelly socks etc) and it works beautifully every time.
- The supplies to make it will cost around $30–$35 on average, and will vary a bit depending on where you live. Most items are very easy to find, some items like Fells Naptha and Borax are not carried by every store anymore and you may need to do a little digging or purchase online. Double check, because often buying online in bulk will save you money, especially if you use Amazon.
A couple of years ago, I tried a recipe I saw online. It cleaned well, but ended up leaving flakes all over my clothes. I decided to do what I could to tweak and re-test the recipe. I wanted something that met all of my criteria. It had to clean well, dissolve even in cold water, be gentle on the skin, simple to make, and not cost a lot of money. Simple enough right? Actually, as it turns out, yes it is pretty easy. I mixed a lot of products I used individually and the following is what I came up with.
(You'll see by the poll at the bottom of the hub that over 500 people have voted and the majority have used this detergent recipe as I developed it and have LOVED it.)
- 5 gallon bucket, or a very large container with a tight-fitting lid
- 1 box of Borax (4lbs 12oz)
- 1 large box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (3.7 lbs)
- 1 4lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (or any other brand, if you're penny-pinching).
- 2 bars of Fells Naptha Soap
- 1 3lb container Oxiclean Versatile Stain Remover perfume and dye free
- Optional: 1 13.2 oz Downy Unstoppable in wash Scent Booster. Use this for scent if you want your detergent to have a smell. The other ingredients are natural and perfume free. I'm sure there are other brands on the market of something similar to this you could try. This is just what we used. Go without if you have sensitive skin or allergies and it will still work just as well!
Fells Naptha soap is sometimes hard to find locally. Try your local hardware store, or you can purchase it inexpensively online here.
- Empty the Borax, washing soda, baking soda, the Oxiclean, and the Downy (if you opted to use it) into the bucket.
- Remove the bars of Fells Naptha from their wrappers, cut them up into very small pieces, and then run it through a food processor until they are ground very fine. This step is extremely important if you want your soap to not leave residue behind. These bars must be ground as fine as you can get them. Once you've processed your soap bars, add this to the other ingredients.
- At this point you will want to wear latex gloves and a paper mask to keep from breathing the powder as you mix. Dig in and mix it well for several minutes. Make sure you get all the way to the bottom and really pull it up and blend. As you do you will see the yellowy flecks from the bars of soap and the purple or bluish flecks from the Downy, and it will look very similar to the powdered detergent you buy in the store.
- Store it with an airtight lid to hold in the scent. When you do a load of laundry, use only a couple of tablespoons and run it under the water first to dissolve as the washer fills. (This isn't necessary, it will dissolve anyway, but just to be safe I always dissolve my powdered detergents – it's an OCD thing of mine ;))
- There will be a ton of this from this recipe. If you run an average couple of loads a day this mix should definitely last the better part of a year.
- Remember, do NOT overuse it. You only need a couple of tablespoons per load. I'm sure you'll be skeptical about this initially, but try it. Most of us overuse commercial detergents because they add so much filler and water. There is none of that in this recipe – it's extremely concentrated. You'll be pleasantly surprised just how little it takes to do a very good job. Used properly, this batch will give you hundreds of loads of laundry for a very low initial investment. It's so easy to do, you can't go wrong :).
Feel free to drop me a line in the comments section if you try this and enjoy it.
Homemade Laundry Detergent
Other Things to Consider
- This detergent (without Downy) is fragrance and dye-free and can work great for those with allergies.
- As mentioned, but it bears repeating: You use very little of this soap to clean a full load of laundry. I like the "good smell" so I add the Downy for extra softness and a nice, clean scent. A tiny bit of this is very concentrated and goes a very long way! It will be difficult to not overuse this at first because we are so accustomed to overdoing commercial detergents that are full of water and other fillers. This is not — it is pure clothes washing goodness throughout.
- Use it on pretty much anything. However if in doubt, spot test first. Brightens colors and whitens whites.
- This recipe makes enough for hundreds of loads! :D Enjoy!
Share Your Thoughts
Will you try this recipe or did you?
Thoughts or Questions?
If you have any comments or questions about this recipe or just want to share your thoughts drop me a line in the comments box below. I love to read your feedback!