Introduction: Homemade Laundry Detergent and Gift Idea!

Picture of Homemade Laundry Detergent and Gift Idea!

Homemade Laundry Detergent!

Laundry soap is expensive!

I walked down the soap aisle of a store as a young mother and just cried while looking at the prices of laundry detergent. It was so expensive for our tight budget! On top of price, we all have high allergies and soap is packed full of scents and stuff that we are allergic to.

I felt defeated.

Then a friend of mine mentioned she had made her own laundry soap. I was thrilled--I may have hugged her for joy! I discovered quickly that making laundry soap was super cost effective, low on the allergens scale, and totally liberating as a budget conscious mother!

Cost breaks down to about $1 (or less) a gallon! I know--life changing!

And, I've decided to share the wealth to those looking to cut costs.

Laundry soap also makes a great holiday neighbor gift!

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients

So here is what you need:
Fels Naptha soap

(found in the laundry soap aisle at the store...less than $2...most places under $1)

Super Washing Soda
(huge box about $5--turns out you can make your own by baking baking soda...)

20 Mule Team Borax
(about $5 a box)

You will use the entire bar of Fels Naptha, but only about 1/6 of the other items.

So, buy 6 bars of soap ($6), SWS ($5), and Borax ($5), about $16-20 and that will make 30 gallons of laundry soap!

Guess what? 5 gallons of laundry soap lasts my family of 5 about 6 months. Booyah!

Step 2: Soap Making!

Picture of Soap Making!

Grate your entire bar of soap.

Add grated soap to large pot of 6 cups of hot water...
with the heat on medium/high.

Once the soap dissolves add

1 1/2 cup of washing soda

and 1 1/2 cup of borax, stir well.

Then add 12 cups of water...don't breathe in the steam!

Turn off the stove top element.

Pour the soap mix into a 5 gallon bucket and add about 4 gallons of will fill nearly to the top!
Stir well.

It will get gelly and chunky...Perfect!

Step 3: Fill Bottles, Set Up, Wash!

Picture of Fill Bottles, Set Up, Wash!

I use a pitcher and a funnel and fill up my old laundry
soap bottles or cleaned out plastic containers...or quart mason jars!

The soap is a plain scent (great for our allergies!)

You can add essential oils if you like a scent.

Let it set up overnight. It will "gel" still remains slightly chunky...

so I shake it up before I pour it out!

Use about 1/4 cup per large load.

This works great as a stain fighter prewash too!

I will never pay high laundry soap prices again.
Love it! I've used it in High Efficiency machines and

regular washing machines...both work GREAT!

Step 4: Gifts!

Picture of Gifts!

And because I love homemade gifts that are useful non food items...

this one is perfect!

"I'm dreaming of some White Laundry!"

Here's my plan for neighbor gifts for Christmas this year!

1 quart of soap...25 cents,

mason jar...about 70 cents...

Under $1! :)

And super useful...and not fattening!

(Feel FREE to copy my genius idea! Right click to save off the printable tags!)

Check out my blog Doodlecraft for more daily fun and budget friendly ideas!


mommyhen42 (author)2016-01-27

make sure you really clean the blades and gasket between jars or your gasket WILL slip and be torn up in your blades

mommyhen42 (author)2015-01-26

I make this all the time in my crockpot, but I make it more concentrated so that a level tablespoon is all I need per load. Gotta love it, works awesome!

Hippy Nerd (author)mommyhen422015-07-17

@mommyhen42 Please share your method for a more concentrated form! I need to save $$ and space!

mommyhen42 (author)Hippy Nerd2016-01-27

your basic recipe but combine all in crockpot with 4 cups of water and cook on medium until the powders are dissolved.
keep an eye on the crockpot because it will boil over if you dont.
once dissolved pour into 2 quart mason jars and wait till cool, it will seperate into layers.
cut into the solid layers in an X pattern, add more water till it is at the shoulder of the jars.
Then screw the blade attachment from your blender onto the jars and blend till smooth and thick.
most blenders blades will fit standard mason jars

ElkoGlasser (author)2015-08-23

I have seen on other sites that they microwave the Napa soap first to change the texture before grating. Also I just found "ALL" (brand oxy booster) that is made for sensitive skin. It happened also to be on sale and cost less than any other oxy in the store. Score!

There is nothing

pixie.zolin (author)2015-01-15

I'm in the UK... It's hard to find these... But thanks... Looks so easy :)

GroundUp (author)pixie.zolin2015-01-18

Any drug store should have it. Ask for Sodium Borate (Borax) and Sodium Carbonate (Washing Soda).

littleredbox (author)GroundUp2015-01-20

Thanks groundup always useful to get the chemical name (guys in the US, while your inventiveness is great, brand names aren't helpful to the rest of us...could you poss give us a clue....for instance, what is fels naptha? I think it's just a pure laundry that correct?)

ElkoGlasser (author)littleredbox2015-08-23

Fels Naptha is a concentrated bar laundry soap that my mother used to pre-treat stains on clothing. It is the closest thing to an ash based home-made lye soap of yester-year, now made by Purex. Borax is a ground mineral i.e. Twenty Mule Power..the mules used to transport the mineral from Death Valley California. A bit of history.

lbuser (author)GroundUp2015-01-20

You can use any pure bar soap that is designed to be used for laundry. Or, if you can find it, any pure soap that is already flaked or grated. If you are adventuresome you could make your own.

ghellyer (author)pixie.zolin2015-01-18

me too but savers and wilko has borax Super Washing Soda or backing powder so not that hard to find no need to order online

Boygasmo (author)pixie.zolin2015-01-15

You can try ordering them online. The expenses would be well worth it if you have 6 to 7 months worth of laundry soap.

joanna.howard.925 (author)2015-01-20

I keep the dry mixed soap ingredients in Tupperware and take out a cup or so every month. Put in a mason jar and pour boiling water over it the night before laundry day. Mix it with a stick blender in the morning and you're good to go. I don have space to store all those plastic bottles, I tried using just the dry ingredients, but didn't think it dissolved well enough.


Could you tell us more preciously how you do this? I really want the convenience of liquid but lack the storage space! Your method is the perfect solution!

Mix about half a cup in a mason jar and fill with boiling water. set on the counter overnight and in the morning mix with a stick blender. The consistency you are after is a soft gel. If it is too thick, it won't melt quickly in cold water. I use about a tablespoon per load.

chikid68 (author)2015-01-21

another option is to use Ivory soap bars in place of the Naptha bars thats what I did last time and for the liquid version it does great

Hippy Nerd (author)chikid682015-07-17

@chikid68 How much Ivory did you use? I'm in Canada (Toronto, with almost 3 million others) and still haven't found either Zote or Fels Napha

@ follow Canadians (at least those in the GTA) I bought Borax @ No Frills along with Washing Soda (not all stores carry them)

chikid68 (author)Hippy Nerd2015-07-17

last time I made it I used 3 bars of Ivory (regular bath sized bars)

tlebsack made it! (author)2015-02-23

thank you !!

snausages22 (author)2015-01-20

I am sorry that a few people here felt the need to bash you.

You article is great, keep it up!

I intend to try it, dry version, soon. I get intense migraines just walking down the household cleaner isle! I was at my favourite dollar store the other day and they had both the generic Fels Naptha(you can tell what it is by feel-the bar is extremely hard and usually has deep grooves running the length of it for ease in scrubbing off stains) and generic Oxy-clean for only $1.25 each…score! I live in Canada, and the difference in cup sizes is negligible when it comes to mixing up a batch of soap powder. I also plan to add a few drops of tea-tree oil(for anti-bacterial properties) and lavender for a natural, non-toxic scent. You could also use lemon or grapefruit oils, just keep those oils' products away from your kitties…citrus is toxic to them.

Esmagamus (author)snausages222015-01-30

People bash this because it's ripped off of Duggar Family and other sources and claimed to be "my genius idea", not giving any credit to people who came-up with the recipe.

Then there's censorship. That is why this comment will be deleted, but there's no surprise in that. The standards in creating content for this site are in the gutter.

MoTinkerGNome (author)Esmagamus2015-02-22

People are too uptight, This or some variation of this recipe is an old one and if you want to get technical my grandmother showed me how to make a similar washing soap hers used Zote. Ivory works too well but I like the Lye of Fels.

seamster (author)Esmagamus2015-01-30

Esmagamus, there is nothing "ripped off" in this project. It contains original images and text created by the author, showing you a recipe for homemade laundry detergent.

While that has certainly been done before, how many projects on this site are completely, 100% all new and original ideas?

It is not reasonable to request a full list of every other place where the same or similar idea has been presented in the past. It is safe to say that this recipe for homemade laundry detergent probably did NOT originate with the Duggar family.

Besides that, doodlecraft's "genius idea" is clearly not referring to the recipe itself, but to the idea of putting the mixture in mason jars with pretty tags and giving these as useful, inexpensive, and non-fattening gifts.

Regarding censorship, you need to read the Terms of Service in detail, specifically section 4 (and even more specifically the last paragraph in section 4).

This site is not a free-speech zone, and the moderators of the site will certainly remove harassing, rude, or otherwise unfriendly comments, which is completely in line with the Terms of Service.

All users can flag content they think is inappropriate or that violates the "Be Nice" policy, and authors of projects have the right to curate the comment sections attached to their own projects.

If you have any further questions, you can email and someone will assist you.

cereste (author)2015-02-02

could I use other soaps? fels naptha has animal fat in it and im a vegetarian. thank you!!!

Nara_Gypsy (author)2015-01-27

Thx for this my daughter and I are allergic to all perfumes.

tlebsack (author)2015-01-20

Thank you for this. My wife is allergic to the extra ingredients added to most store-bought soaps. I've been using Ivory bars instead of Fels Naptha to make dry laundry soap but now that you've shown me how to liquify it, I will give it a try. Look for me to click on I Made It.

Perla Middleton (author)tlebsack2015-01-21

tlebsack If your wife suffers from allergies to ingredients, her route is to go more toxic-free...
if you want to know what all is in these products which could cause harm here are the links to them:

Fels-Naptha scored a D in the grading scale of A to F (actually scored moderate concern for cancer, definitively check it out)

The Washing Soda came back with an A, so that is good..

Borax scored an F. One of it's main ingredients- SODIUM BORATE is known for developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects; skin irritation/allergies/damage, respiratory effects.

I use this site, and choose the guide I need when researching fun projects I see like this one (which I was stoked about doing, but now not so much). You can search anything from food, cosmetics or household cleaning products among other things. Great resources. If you ever want to check out a company with completely Ecocert, Organic, Toxic-Free ingredients check out I saw the allergies note and my instinct was to respond immediately. Have a fantastic day!

I love too!!

dsantil71 (author)2015-01-27

I would like try this too but like wrench409 asked I'm curious to know as well how it effects plumbing. Especially since we own our home & have a septic tank & all waste water runs through it. I looked up Fels Naptha Soap & it has chelating agents, colorants & perfumes in it. I would substitute ivory bar soap for myself & nix Borax as well. I use as well. It's an awesome site. If I can make this to where it doesn't gel up then I would feel safe using. So I'm gonna experiment!

wrench409 (author)2015-01-25

Any idea how this soap reacts in the plumbing pipes? Does it cake up and clog?

nullandvoid made it! (author)2015-01-23

it thicker than i expected the kids liked poking it..on the second load with the stuff works great so far except for my dogs blanket

CopterRichie (author)2015-01-20

Great Instructable, I made this however I used some of my home made soup verse the Fels Naptha soap. Great way to save money and my clothing wears much better as well.

kskipper (author)CopterRichie2015-01-20

joanna.howard I would have the same problem with space. How much dry & how much water do you use in the mason jar? & is the jar a quart size?

doodlecraft (author)CopterRichie2015-01-20

Homemade Soup? Haha, I'm kidding, I'm sure you meant soap! Awesome. I love cutting costs on things like laundry so I can splurge elsewhere! :)

CopterRichie (author)doodlecraft2015-01-20

LOL, yeap, soap. Don't know why I put soup.

ejohnson9 (author)2015-01-20

How much would you need for a machine that holds 6 loads of laundry? I wash my family's clothes at the laundromat.

caohaoim (author)2015-01-20

Having made variants of this before I find that adding the washing soda and the borax to the 4 gallons of water makes for a much smoother product, just as gelled just smoother.

mdudoward (author)2015-01-20

Grating soap: I use a small electric Black and Decker cheese grater / slicer I bought from a 2nd hand store. Works great - the grater / slicer of course can be washed to get rid of soap residue - this works like a hot damn for making several batches of this fabulous laundry detergent. The Moulinex machine will also work - it has a number of attachments. Fels Naptha isn't available in Canada, so Sunlight bar soap, Ivory bar soap - or any other soap you like can be substituted. I also make my own washing soda from baking soda, since WS isn't available in Cda, either. My first batch of soap was powdered, but I prefer the liquid soap that I smear on oil or other stains. Thank you to the many contributors who post these recipes, I really appreciate it.

superator (author)2015-01-20

Thank you for sharing Natalie.

tomw54 (author)2015-01-20

I make this soap but instead of making a liquid I just mix all the ingredients together put in a coffee can and put a tablespoon or two in each load. You can also buy some cheap Oxi-Clean and add it to the soap. Works great if you need a stain remover dampen the powder into a paste rub in let sit then throw in with the wash.

fliegflieg (author)2015-01-20

I love the idea ! Is it also sustainable ?

Cheese Queen (author)2015-01-11

If Fels Naptha is hard to find and you live in an area with a Hispanic population, you may be able to find Zote laundry soap, either in bars or already flaked. The flakes save a lot of grating time. You can also grate soap in a food processor- look for old one at a garage sale for a buck or two.

GroundUp (author)Cheese Queen2015-01-18

Don't do it on a food processor. Blades won't last long. Believe me, i tried it.

kiz330 (author)GroundUp2015-01-20

That's why she suggests getting one at a yard sale... so when it gets ruined it doesn't matter:)

Beekeeper (author)2015-01-20

Very interesting but before I start making it will you clarify something for me please doodlecraft. In the recipe is it one and a half cups of washing soda and borax or is it one half cup? You the word 'cup' in the singular so it is confusing. Of course cups themselves are confusing because cups in Canada are a different size to cups in the USA, and most other countries in the world don't use cups at all. Best to convert to grams then there is no confusion.

doodlecraft (author)Beekeeper2015-01-20

Sorry, yes, 1.5 cups. I probably wont start taking the time to do the conversions, since there are plenty of conversion calculators online...but in this case 1.5 cups equals about 354.88 grams. :)

dsm811 (author)2015-01-20

can this be used in HE washers?

steddie1 (author)dsm8112015-01-20

Her article states, toward the end, that she's used it in HE and regular washers fine.

mcarr11 (author)2015-01-20

Thank you! I am looking forward to making this. I've tried some before, that was given to me, and I was impressed with how well it works.

wkoltes (author)2015-01-19

Can't wait to give this a try!!

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi! My name is Natalie! I have an awesome husband that lets me be a Play-at-home mom of 3! We homeschool and do projects daily ... More »
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