Instructables
Picture of Homemade Laundry Detergent
What's that on your shoulder? Oh no, could it be teriyaki sauce spillage from lunch? We all like our clothes looking clean and fresh, and free of eye-catching stains. Usually, our store-bought laundry detergent does a good job of keeping up appearances, but could get pricey fast. Here's a simple 5 minute do-it-yourself at home laundry detergent recipe that doesn't require soap grating! Best of all, it'll cost you pennies per wash load!

 
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Step 1: Supplies

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The Dream Team:

1/3 cup Super washing soda
1/3 cup Borax
1/4 cup Dawn dish soap (any flavor works great)

1 container that can hold at least 6 cups of liquid. I used an 8-cup (64 ounce) mason jar.

Step 2: Boil water

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Don't worry, we're not delivering a baby. Just making some laundry detergent...

Heat 6 cups of water until it reaches boiling.

Step 3: Pour it all together

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Pour about 1 cup of the boiling water into your chosen container
Begin pouring the rest of your Dream Team (Super washing soda, Borax, Dawn)

Pour in the remaining amount of water.

Step 4: Shake it out

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Tightly fasten the top unto your container. You'll notice some of the white powders gathering on the bottom. Now shake, shake, shake! 2-3 minutes should be sufficient.

The hot water mixed with the shaking will help dilute all the powders.

You are ready to enjoy an awesome, cost-effective laundry detergent that you made yourself! Talk about gratifying!

For a regular sized laundry load, 1/2 cup of this detergent should be more than enough. Don't let the watery consistency fool you, this detergent is potent!
gluvit1 year ago
I wanna make this
camp6ell1 year ago
Can you provide an approximate cost here of the ingredients. Thanks.
amalkhan (author)  camp6ell1 year ago
Borax $3.30 (target)
Super Washing Soda $3.24 (walmart)
Dawn dishsoap $7.99 (costco- w/ coupon)
for a total of $17.77

You could make more than 20 quantities of this detergent for $17.77. The amount I outline in my instructable will last you at least 12 washes. That adds up to about $.063 a wash load.
I bought of Borax (76 oz.) at Wal-Mart for $6-7.00 The washing soda (76 oz.) and Dawn (52 oz.) should be priced about the same. $23.00 should get all three.

For laundry I use Gain. Buy a 1 1/2 gal. jug of it for $8.00 or so that'll do 120 loads using 2 0z. for each. This formula costs $23.00, requires heating the water then mixing and will do 280.5 loads. Gain is cheaper! Get some borax and TSP to combine for a pre-soak. I use a big Rubbermaid bin for that and hang the clothes above it when removed so the excess water can drain back into the tub. Then I put the lid on and save it for the next batch of clothes, adding more water/soap solution when it gets low. Borax is a disinfectant so nothing funky grows in the water.
Ninzerbean1 year ago
Because of the newish water/energy saving mandates, new front loading washers use very little water - about a few gallons to do a large wash. The results are dirty clothes. After a year of fighting with the repair companies and the manufacturer I was able to exchange my new washer and dryer for a top loader that uses more water - but the "hot water" setting went to only about 96ºF. My clothes were still not getting clean. I switched the cold and hot on the back of the machine (yes, you can fool machines) so that now I actually get hot water with a wash (I have to set it on 'cold'), but before I did this the hot cycle was only cool. Everyone should test their water temp and see if this, along with this recipe, helps get clothes cleaner with one of the stupid new washers. If you have an old one do whatever it takes to keep it, you will not be happy if you have to buy a new one. By old, I mean about 2006 or older.
Your problem is likely the washing powder, especially if you use the cheap stuff. or even worse, DIY recipes like this one. Have you tried using a washing powder that's designed to work at low temperatures? With enzymes responsible for most of the cleaning process? It works wonders, and you'll save a lot more on your electricity bill than you're doing now by buying cheap washing powder.

We wash most of our clothes at 40C (104F), some at 30C (86 F), and the wool (mainly NZ merino) at 15C (59 F) with special wool washing stuff. Never had a problem with not getting them clean, and we have a 1 1/2 year old, so they get plenty messy.
eclark91 year ago
I let it cool... Poured it into the old Detergent bottle... A LOT easier to dispense from...
I just shake it before I use it every time... I've done six loads and just use the first line in the cap as the measure... And have quite a bit left... this stuff WORKS great!!!
Does anyone know what the home made stuff does to the washing machine?
PennyPoet1 year ago
I like using a bar of grated Fels Naptha soap (grate the bar on a metal kitchen cheese grater) instead of Dawn. I make 10 gal at a time in a big bucket. My recipe: 1 cup washing soda; 1/2 cup Borax; 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap, mix in 5 gal of hot water, stir, add the other 5 gal of tepid water. Put a lid on it & let it sit overnight to congeal and then use. I divide it up into old liquid laundry containers to store, but it could stay in the big white bucket. Shaking (or stirring) before use is important. However, if I had to wash greasy clothes I would make the Dawn version because that's a great idea for oil-stained clothing.
I figure the 3 ingrediants will run around $23 and will be enough for 281 loads. I buy Gain detergent at the Dollar Store for $8 that'll do 120 loads. This custom mix cost per load is $.082 while Gain's is $.067 . It's even cheaper when you add in the cost to heat the water and your time required to mix it up.
jesse40151 year ago
Would the baking soda part lose it's power after sitting in the jar for more than a couple hours? I feel like it would
It is Borax you use, not baking soda, No Borax will set like concrete in the bottom of the jar unless you shake the living daylights out of it or use a stick mixer to blend it in. I always add borax on its own, slowly into the hot water, using my stick mixer, then when it is dissolved, add the soap and then the washing soda. Also, if you grate a cake of soap and use this instead of dish liquid (sort of defeating the healthy idea here) it will gel slightly into a gloop when you add the washing soda. This is ideal for laundry. For the rinse cycle, I add half a cup of my fabric softener..... 1 cup of epsom salts dissolved in 1l (quart) or white vinegar with 1 tsp of essential oil. I use about half a cup or what ever your rise compartment allows. Been using this method for about 6 yrs now.. Works great.
Yeah, the Arm&Hammer logo is confusing, but baking soda is "sodium bicarbonate" (NaHCO3) and washing soda is "sodium carbonate" (monohydrated--Na2CO3). I have no idea why it works better than bicarbonate. Maybe because it has two sodium atoms instead of just one as in bicarb, and it has no hydrogen atom.
Baking soda is not a good ingredient for laundry soap. Washing soda is a much better ingredient and what the recipe calls for.
Instead of shaking use a paint mixer attached to a drill motor. I believe he uses a dishwashing liquid to supply a surfactant. This mixture should be a decent all purpose cleaner if mixed 1 to 1 or 2 with water then poured into a spray bottle. I use a mix of borax (8 oz.) white vinegar (8 oz.) and 16 oz. of water for that and then cut with an additional gallon of hot water for cleaning my carpeting. I should try that in the laundry since it works great on nasty carpets.
ets4141 year ago
Can this be used in an HE washer?
I've been using a very similar recipe for over a year now except mine does have soap grating instead of Dawn and I make a 8L at a time (a little over 2 gallons for those not using metric). Works fine for me!
With any really tough stains though, you really should pre-soak and use a little of the washing soda in the recipe when pre-soaking.
I once was out at an archaeology site where I had a fall and was covered in mud. I soaked my clothes in water to get the excess mud off once I got home and then used my home made laundry detergent and everything turned out fine.
The good thing about home made detergent other than saving money is that you can control what goes into it which is great if you're allergic to some soaps and detergents (like me).
Me too. Any idea how the home-made recipes compare to All free & clear? I know that lower wash temperatures remove fewer allergens (cat dander etc) but do you know if any studies have been done into what, if any, ingredients are good for this?
icemanxxxv1 year ago
I've been making my owm laundry detergent for a while now. I mix it up in a big pitcher and dispense it out of an old Tide detergent jug. I mix 1 cup of each ingrediatnt for every 6 cups of hot water. I t works well. I fix big jets for a living and lead a very active hunting and fishing life. Cleans my clothes as good as any store bought stuff at the fraction of the price. I do pre treat heavy stains with Shout. I also use white vinegar in the rinse cycle as a fabric softener. I have a Whirlpool Duet HE washer. No problems at all!
so if you take 3 cups instead of water and use 1/4 cup would that work the same? in the sense of making it more potent and less space taken up?
You might not even have to use 1/4 cup if you cut the water in half, but 1/4 cup seems legit.
lygirajo1 year ago
I like castile soap rather than dawn so I can go as low chemical as possible and it works :)
Nightninja87...In order to maintain the same ratio to halve this recipe, you would use 3 C water, 1/6 C each of the borax & other powder and 1/8 C of Dawn.
I think nightninja's question was whether he could just reduce the water content, making a more concentrated detergent. I don't know the answer, though offhand I don't see why not.
mailmam711 year ago
I've been making homemade laundry soap using a recipe similar to this for over a year and it's GREAT! I only use 1/3 cup in my high efficiency washing machine and have saved boo coo bucks.
dbess1 year ago
so..how well does it work? can it handle tough dirt?..would it work well if adding a few soap berries?
remember to add a toxic sign on the jar, to avoid someone confuses it with lemonade ;-)

TOXIC
johnray2k1 year ago
Any results?