Recipes for Homemade Laundry Detergent and Soap

Homemade laundry detergent cleans well, saves money and can easily compete with store-bought brands.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Ingredients
Although there are a number of ways to make homemade laundry detergent, the ingredients are usually the same:

  • Bar soap. The most effective bar soap for laundry use is called Fels Naphtha. You can find Fels Naphtha in the laundry section of your grocery store or order it online. A dye and oil-free bath soap like Ivory can work as well.
  • Washing soda. Not to be confused with baking soda, washing soda can also be found in the laundry section of you grocery store.
  • Borax. The most popular brand name for Borax is 20 Mule Team. Available (where else?) in the laundry section of your grocery store.
  • Baking soda. Finally, a trip to another aisle of the grocery store-although sometimes you can find baking soda in the laundry aisle as well.
  • Essential oils. This ingredient is optional, but can add a pleasant scent to your laundry. Not true oils, essential oils won't stain your clothing. Lavender, citrus and cedar oils are all good choices.

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Dry
Dry (powdered) homemade laundry detergent is easy to store, make and use. Feel free to play around with the following recipe to get the most effective mix. Adding extra Borax will help those with hard water. Increasing the amount of bar soap may only deliver a small increase in cleaning ability.

  • 1 bar of soap or ½ bar of Fels Naphtha (grated)
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup Borax
  • ½ teaspoon essential oil (optional)

Stir the ingredients or pulse several times in a food processor until well mixed. Store in a sealed container. Use 2 tablespoons per load.

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Liquid
Making liquid homemade laundry detergent can be a bit of a task. You'll need a 5 gallon plastic bucket (available at most home centers) and a large spoon or stirrer. Having several empty laundry detergent bottles on hand makes it easy to store your liquid detergent.

  • 1 bar of soap or ½ bar of Fels Naphtha (grated)
  • ½ cup washing soda
  • ½ cup Borax
  • ½ teaspoon essential oil (optional)

In a large pot, heat 6 cups of water to near boiling. Add the grated soap, stir and continue to heat until soap is melted. Stir in washing soda and Borax until melted. Boil mixture for 15 minutes. In the 5-gallon bucket, add one gallon of hot water. Pour the soap mixture into the 5-gallon bucket. Add 1 gallon of hot water and mix well.

After the liquid detergent has cooled, pour into empty detergent bottles or keep in covered bucket. Liquid detergent may form a loose gel and must be shaken or stirred before each using. Use ½ cup of liquid detergent for each load.

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