Introduction: Homemade Laundry Detergent

Picture of Homemade Laundry Detergent

I wanted to
A. Save money
B. Be ecologically phosphate free

If you learn from my mistakes your results will surpass mine in both respects, I am sure.In addition to my clothes coming out "so fresh and so clean, clean" it was a very satisfying and aesthetic making process!

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

You wil need:
Food processor
1 bar laundry soap like Fels Naptha or Zote, or Ivory - Zote can be found in hispanic grocery stores
1 Box Borax - found in the laundry aisle
1 box Washing Soda or Oxi Clean, orBaking soda - (Washing Soda AKA soda ash AKA sodium carbonate available in some grocery stores made by Arm and Hammer or you may find it art supply stores in the dyeing section)

OPTIONAL- essential oil of your choice, I didnt do it but I think tea tree might be nice.

Some recipe considerations, there are many variations to be found online but I based mine on this here

Powdered Laundry Detergent
# 1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap
# 1/2 Cup Washing Soda
# 1/2 Cup Borax
# For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons.

I adjusted for the fact that Zote is at least twice as big as a Fels Naptha bar, and personally if I'm going to make a mess I'd rather double or triple the recipe which still easily fit in the food processor, also I used baking soda AND oxi-clean instead of the washing soda, the reason being that I could not find the washing soda, and Oxi-clean is essentially the same thing but with added peroxide* which does add a mild bleaching action, should be "color safe" though. It is also my understanding that baking soda is similar to washing soda but half as alkaline, so using baking soda will give you a gentler blend.

*note don't try and make the liquid recipe behind the link with "oxi clean" because the peroxide will make the whole mess foam, that was what I originally tried -- and ended up with useless semi solid foamy spooge.

Step 2: Grate Your Bar

Picture of Grate Your Bar

I used the ultra pink Zote laundry bar though the recipe called for Fels Naptha (or you could use Ivory), this is where I wonder if it's actually phosphate free, but look at the color! yummy pink shreds! you may want to cut the bar down a bit before stuffing it in and using the grating disk attachment.

Step 3: Add Other Ingredients

Picture of Add Other Ingredients

The big shreds of the bar soap might not dissolve as is, so you will need to change to the chopping blade of your processor, and now is the time to add the powder to the bowl of the food processor and blend it till it is fine, and don't huff the particulate OK? it will feel and taste beyond gross.

Step 4: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion

Clothes came out great!
But not sure if ....

A. that Zote is phosphate free, and (EDIT: someone commented that phospahates have been illegalized anyway, havent fact checked that though)
B. the purchase of the oxy clean sure drove my cost up, next time I will find the Washing soda.

borax 3.59
baking soda .75
Zote .75
oxyclean 5.00
= 10.09
But since one or two little scoops are enough I estimate about 75 washes? so that comes out to .12 a wash, I guess even using oxi clean it's not so bad.




: D

bigiron57 made it! (author)2016-04-16

I used ivory, threw a little in the first load. Wifey didnt think it made enough bubbles to get anything clean. Anyone know if it has good germ killing properties?

Debra000 (author)bigiron572016-10-25

anyone that has to see suds wont like this//but we all know that SUDS don't clean..whats in the water below them is whats doing the cleaning ( grrr desk top computer doesn't fix contractions and im not a all "get it"..theres NO suds..yep, bothered me also..get over it...wait till you all SEE your clothes

spark master (author)bigiron572016-05-17

just add ammonia to the load as needed, it will add to the rinsing and fat removal and the germs with it. Short of bleach or boiling water, (for 10 minutes), so just soap will suffice. The ammonia kills some things, and allows the dead and others to float off the cloths then the rinse water. Or at least that is what I was taught. Ammonia is also good if you have greasy stuff in the load. It does not strip color, and helps removal. Saponification, soap making, is the mixing of fats/oils with alkali and heat. And you can get biodiesel or soap depending on temperature and alkali mix. Adding ammonia allows the fats to dissolve enough to rinse out"

Detergents are a different class of chemicals, or so I was taught. Detergents do not have to foam, like soaps.

I will check out the ph chemical to make bagels etc as I have used baking sodfa and it was anemic but not horrible. As far as food grade, in the case of a pool chemical, if you are going to dip your person in that water, you are going to absorb it through skin or mucosa, unless you are in a dry suit and mask and are totally covered.

knarker (author)2016-05-17

Sounds like a winner! I just read an article about the benefits of doing laundry in cold water so just wondering how well this detergent works in cold water?

Debra000 (author)knarker2016-10-25

what I do for cold water.... I START machine on HOT just enough to gather about half a cup in a plastic glass...put two tablespoons of my dry detergent mix in and stir for a half min..dissolves fast..switch over to cold are all set

IvyR6 (author)2016-06-02

Hi, I have been wanting to try to make my own laundry detergent but I can't find Borax in my country. Can I use Oxyclean instead?

Debra000 (author)IvyR62016-10-25

you really do need Borax.. my email is below.. im so crazy about this ...maybe I can get you some if its legal

Debra000 (author)2016-10-25

hi again...I took several photos but their in my on desk top

Debra000 (author)2016-10-25

I made this yesterday and am about to go collect neighbors wash!!!!! I made about a years worth and have found that about 2 tbls is all that's needed..whites are awesome..cuts construction type dirt completely..Ill never use store bought detergent again.. I used Zote,Washing Soda, Baking sods, Oxiclean ,borax AND sented crystals. for those that want "dry powdered detergent" instead of the cooking method

CurtisS27 (author)2016-07-21

pattiemelt (author)2016-05-17

Great 'ible. I've been using a similar recipe to make my laundry detergent for a while. At 3 gallons per batch, it's much cheaper & cleans just as well as the store-bought detergent.

However - washing soda & baking soda are NOT the same thing. Baking soda's chemical makeup is NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, one carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). Washing soda's chemical makeup is Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules).

For those of you who can't find washing soda but do have baking soda, there is good news & an easy fix. You can make washing soda out of baking soda. Just spread a thin layer (probably 1/4 inch or less) of the baking soda on a cookie sheet, sheet pan, large cake pan or something oven-proof & bake it at 400 degrees F for an hour. Mix & bake for another hour or until the powder turns dull & yellowish. Now you have washing soda.

mdshay (author)pattiemelt2016-05-26

I did that but it didn't turn yellowish, and it never turned "grainy".

It did become exothermic with vinegar, however.

( I baked it for about 4 hours.)

jessiejw8 (author)2016-05-17

I can't find household soap in the UK to use these home made powder recipes. Can you suggest a brand from the UK for me please. Love this. I want to save money and be environmentally friendly too. Thank you Jessie

jannie.lloyd (author)jessiejw82016-05-23

I've been out of the UK for several years so don't know if it's still available but Fairy used to do a Laundry Soap.

jessiejw8 (author)jannie.lloyd2016-05-23

I can't get a laundry soap in Asda or Tesco. Ordering it online is quite expensive. I will try to find a Fairy laundry soap online thanks for the tip

CazRaX (author)2016-05-19

Your group is closed and not taking any new members, so posting this "info" is just teasing and not at all useful. This type of comment is not very constructive since all you are doing is saying that this is being done wrong, you know the answer but you won't tell us.

DennisS4 (author)2016-05-19

I think you can tell us why but you are fishing for members. If you are not going to share information, do post negative comments you can't or are unwilling to explain. It's just bad manners.

DennisS4 (author)2016-05-18

So why do you say homemade laundry detergent is not good? I think you should explain because you did post on a page that is how to make homemade laundry detergent. Thank you in advance for your explanation.

randi_s (author)2016-05-17

My sister gave me a batch for christmas one year and it works great. I am making the liquid version for when I run out next.

sleepblack (author)2016-05-17

I've been making this for years, using Zote, because of my Eczema ridden daughter, I use three bars of Zote (bought from Big Lot .90 ea) 2 boxes of Washing Soda (from Walmart or Meijer 2.99 ea) and 1 box of Borax (Walmart or Meijer 2.99 ea), I have in the past added a small container of and oxiclean like product also from Big Lot, I didn't notice a difference. It works great.

KatieB103 (author)sleepblack2016-05-17

OMG> the thought of having to go to BigLots, Walmart and Meijer just made me sick to my stomach! But I guess your batch reduces trips to the store. So that's good!

Man Up (author)2016-05-17

Important note: even though it's called Naptha bar, there's no naptha in it. Also, going phosphate free isn't an issue if you're on septic. The problem with phosphates comes when you're connected to a sewer system. The phosphates invariably wind up on rivers and lakes where it fertilizes aquatic plants and algae, upsetting the balance of the ecosystem. Residential use is a small part of the problem (commercial fertilizers are the biggest part of the problem), but it's something you can address individually.

SarahM16 (author)2016-05-17

Washing soda is on the laundry isle in all Walmart stores.

tpapaleo (author)2016-05-17

"Awesome!" - fake oxyclean available at Dollar Tree = $1.00 for 1lb.. Chemically the same.

sleepblack (author)2016-05-17

I've been making this for years, using Zote, because of my Eczema ridden daughter, I use three bars of Zote (bought from Big Lot .90 ea) 2 boxes of Washing Soda (from Walmart or Meijer 2.99 ea) and 1 box of Borax (Walmart or Meijer 2.99 ea), I have in the past added a small container of and oxiclean like product also from Big Lot, I didn't notice a difference. It works great.

triciab1212 (author)2016-05-17

the laundry love and science groups in fb are all private :(

rockcreek_md (author)2016-05-17

Sodium carbonate is also sold wherever pool chemicals are sold as "pH Up." (A&H Washing Soda is not common in stores where I go regularly.)

"ph Up", while not technically food-grade, can also be used to make a weak base solution for boiling bagels and pretzels, if you're into that. :-)

Good recipe - works fine in my HE front loader. Unfortunately, there's no working out that homemade is cheaper than commercial phosphate-free HE detergent. But it seems to work fine.

HopeL5 (author)2016-05-17

I make mine w/ a grater instead of a food processor.

shmamm (author)2016-01-22

I'm sorry but if everybody is using 22 cups of water for 1 gallon, that is why the laundry soap is coming out watery. There is only 16 cups in a gallon...

ppaterson (author)2011-05-01

Can someone help me, I made the liquid laundry soap recipe is
1/3 cup grated soap (I used the sunlight bar soap)
melted in a sauce pan with 6 cups of water, When melted add in
1/2 cup of Washing soda &
1/2 cup borax powder
Stirred until melted.
Then put 4 cups of hot water in large pail, added the soap mixture and stirred. then added 22 cups of water which is suppose to equal 1 gallon + 6 cups of water stirred and let sit for 24 hours and it is suppose to gel.
I had it covered for a while then took the cover off, stirred it now I have the cover on it again and it still hasn't gelled?
What did I do wrong?
It is almost 48 hours now and is still liquid. IT also doesn't bubble when I put it in the wash machine since i don't have any other laundry soap i tried it any way.
Thanks to anyone who can help me out on what to do to make this gel.

UnfadedOne (author)ppaterson2015-06-08

ppaterson, "gelled" is a rather relative term. Did yours thicken at all? This could be what they meant, at least I doubt that they meant for "gel" to be interpreted as "jello-esque" (which is what I first took it to mean). In regards to it not sudsing, that's actually a good thing. Think of it this way: the more bubbles there are, the less soap that's available to grab dirt, oil, proteins, etc. Additionally, bubbles/suds that do form tend to cling to your washables (even through the rinse cycle!).

TL;DR: 1)"thickened" may be what the person meant when they said "gel", but they almost definitely didn't mean "J-ello". 2) [large amounts of] bubbles/suds in the washer = bad.

gmoreno1 (author)ppaterson2011-10-18

How can I help you.......................? I'll be selling your it is effective...can you give me your sample

Hi P,
Just noticed that the recipe you are using recommends much more water than the recipe I use.
I use 1/2 cup of each of the ingredients you use, with the exception that I use a little more grated soap and I use Linda Laundry soap instead of Sunlight soap. I also use only 16 cups of water in total.
So perhaps the reason why your mixture isn't gelling is because the recipe calls for a bit too much water......?
As for sudzing, my recipe doesn't create bubbles, but it does wash well.
Best wishes from

weezie33 (author)ppaterson2011-10-08

I used this same recipe and we divided it into seperate containers. we were going to let it sit all night and i gave some to friends. my husband decided to shake it for about a minute very hard and within an hour it was gel. dont tell him because he is already to smart for his own good lol. hope this helps.

pherrod54 (author)ppaterson2011-09-30

You need to use 1 cup of soap for it to gel.

ttighe1 (author)ppaterson2011-06-11

I wont always gell sometimes you will get what looks like slim or sometimes tapioca. go ahead and use it. it's fine.

lbriggs (author)ppaterson2011-06-09

Of all the homemade laundry detergent recipes, instructions, and comments I have read ever the last several months, it is not supposed to suds up like commercial laundry soaps. The reason being, these items used do not contain the questionable ingredients as do the commercial products.... it is eco-friendly :)

This lack of sudsing also makes it safe for He machines.

ccockrum (author)ppaterson2011-05-24

This sounds like the recipe I use:

And it doesn't gel.. just kind of looks like egg drop soup. You don't want the bubbles on top of the water, they need to be down in it to do any good. :)

aussie_jacki (author)2008-09-17

hey there just wondering what is zote soap never heard of it in Australia's it just a laundry soap?Going to give it a go anyway sounds like a winner!!! how about adding eucyalyptus oil...a great cleaner...and deodoriser.

ubermama (author)aussie_jacki2010-07-11

Hi! I realize this is 2 years later but... if this helps anyone, then great. Powdered laundry soap recipes can be made with many kinds of soap. If you can't find Fels Naptha, Zote, Kirk's Castile, Sunlight or Ivory, then try just about any shower soap bar! Dial, Lever 2000 and many others have been used with success! The only ones that will not work are the ones with added oils or moisturizers such as Dove. No doubt you have lots of brands of soaps in Australia that we have never heard of here, and most of them would probably work just great. Good luck.

Can you explain why the ones with added oils and moisturizers, such as dove, will not work?

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

4 Cups - hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

Powdered Laundry Detergent - Top load machine

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

TIPS FOR LAUNDRY SOAP: We use Fels-Naptha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can often be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2 per batch.

Inexpensive Fabric Softener Recipes

Recipe #1
1 Cup White Vinegar
Add vinegar to rinse cycle. Works great. Removes residue and odors. Also helps to keep washing machine and hoses fresh and clean too.

Recipe #2

1 Container of Name Brand Fabric Softener
4 Inexpensive sponges, cut in half

Pour entire container of softener into a 5 gallon bucket. Fill empty softener container with water twice. (2 parts water to 1 part softener) Add sponges to softener/water mixture. When ready to use wring out extra mixture from one sponge and add to the dryer as you would a dryer sheet.

The Locksmith (author)rgarcia-12011-05-17

Note: Baking Soda = Sodium Bicarbonate. the "bi" states that there are 2 carbon atoms. "sodium carbonate" is a general term. So unless you are specifically looking for Sodium Monocarbonate, then baking soda will work.

UnfadedOne (author)The Locksmith2015-06-08

Sodium bicarbonate has the chemical formula: NaHCO3, whereas Sodium carbonate's chemical formula is Na2CO3. These chemicals are held together by ionic bonds (metal + non-metal). The sodium ion always has a +1 charge (Na+), but carbonate has a -2 charge (CO3--) and bicarbonate has a -1 charge (HCO3-). That's probably more chemistry than you'll ever care about, but I hope it helps clarify the differences. ?

Aember (author)The Locksmith2011-12-17

No, incorrect assumption. :( Sodium bicarbonate & sodium carbonate as sold commercially are not the same. But Google a bit & find out how to use the chemistry to make baking soda into washing soda, by heating it to 450F for 30-60 minutes in the oven. Not difficult. Cheers!

Hi. Any product that has added oils or moisturizers can add stains or even unpleasant odors to your clothes. For this reason, adding bath splash sprays and such that smell good is not advisable for laundry soap. ONLY "essential" oils will work - and not the kind that go in the tiki smell stick thing in the office. It has to say "essential" oils. Not only do essential oils smell great, but many have the added bonus of being cleaning agents! Orange, tea tree and eucalyptus oils, among others, will actually add to the cleaning power of your laundry soap. Good luck.

aaronjehall (author)aussie_jacki2009-01-28

melaleuca, or tea tree oil should work just as well as eucalyptus oil, plus, has many other uses. I know it has been used in natural degreasers and all purpose cleaners as well. I buy toothpicks soaked in melaleuca oil to help my immune system defense. it kinda has a minty flavor to me. rarely do I get sick. Also, it should be readily available in your part of the world.

karinda1 (author)aaronjehall2010-08-26

Hello, Just wanted to let you know that Melaleuca is Eucalyptus Oil - Melaleuca is just one species of Gum Tree and there are three Geno Types of GUM trees but most people even Aussies think there is only one Geno - "Eucalyptus", but there is also Angophora and Corymbia - which are all Gum Trees and there are over 700 different gum tree species. Kind regards an aussie

jentheone (author)karinda12012-02-25

Actually Melaleuca is NOT Eucalyptus oil but is commonly known as Tea Tree. Melaleuca comes from the Latin name for Tea Tree which is Melaleuca alternifolia. The Latin name for Eucalyptus is Eucalyptus radiata or globulus or some other varieties. They do both come from the same botanical family though: Myrtaceae.

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