Homemade Laundry Detergent




About: I'm a creative content creator here at instructables, which means that I have the most awesome job making just about anything and everything! My passions are interior decor, fun and innovative children's pla...

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!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Supplies

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

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

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

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!

1 Person Made This Project!


  • Book Character Costume Challenge

    Book Character Costume Challenge
  • Made with Math Contest

    Made with Math Contest
  • Cardboard Speed Challenge

    Cardboard Speed Challenge

33 Discussions

wilson billcamp6ell

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.

madmedic22wilson bill

Reply 4 years ago

Come on, Bill... let people decide, you don't need to keep posting your strategy on here over and over. He posted what he paid, and it's less than what you did, so maybe the issue isn't the instructable, maybe it's that you aren't shopping around.


Reply 4 years ago

edit: sorry, really old post. I stand by my point, though.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.


5 years ago

I wanna make this

wilson bill

5 years ago on Introduction

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.

2 replies
dchrenekwilson bill

Reply 3 years ago

you need to redo your math pal. Those ingredients will make several bottlles for $23. your 8 dollar bottle is just that. one bottle.

Hummmm 360wilson bill

Reply 4 years ago

That's not right 281 loads for one batch you have enough Washing soda and borax to make at least 12 to fifteen batches so redo your math at 1/3 cup of each


4 years ago on Introduction

Anyone know the answer to the question about using it in and HE washer? (low water, ultra efficient)


5 years ago on Introduction

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.

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.


5 years ago on Introduction

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!!!


5 years ago on Introduction

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.


5 years ago on Introduction

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

3 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

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.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Baking soda is not a good ingredient for laundry soap. Washing soda is a much better ingredient and what the recipe calls for.

wilson bill

5 years ago on Introduction

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.