I Love My Homemade Laundry Detergent!

I get a lot of questions about homemade laundry soap.  People are either excited to try it or very hesitant.  I have been using mine for a couple of years now with nothing but praise for it.

My previous post featuring the same recipes has received a lot of interest so I thought a quick update letting anyone who is still hesitant to try it know it really does work may be helpful.  I use a front-load washing machine {which has it's own issues as we've all heard} and have successfully used both the liquid version as well as the powdered version.  My husband is a contractor and, therefore, comes home very smelly and this is all I use - no additional products.  I do use a stain remover directly on the clothing stick for oily or protein stains prior to wash but nothing additional added to the actual wash.

For a break-down of my cost or for any further instructions please see the original post.  

The ingredients are super simple to find - they are shown below:

The liquid version needs to be shaken before use.  It does tend to separate, but as soon as it's briefly shaken it fully incorporates again.  If using the powdered version in a front-load machine, just remove the plastic detergent divider so the powder doesn't get stuck in the tray.

The Recipes:

Homemade Laundry Soap - Powdered Version:
makes 1 quart and 1 pint (approx. 63 loads of wash}

what you'll need:
a grater {or food processor}
a large bowl {to mix the ingredients}
1 bar of soap (handmade, Fels Naptha, Zote, Castile, etc.)
2 c. borax
2 c. washing soda {NOT baking soda}
1 quart and 1 pint container with lid or 3 pint containers

Pour the borax and washing soda into the large bowl.  Stir together.  Grate the soap bar and add to the bowl.  With a spoon, mix until fully incorporated, taking care not to inhale the particles as you mix.

Transfer the detergent into containers.  Use 1 T. - 2 T. per wash load, either sprinkling on the wash or putting in the detergent tray. 

Homemade Laundry Soap - Liquid Version:
makes just under 2 gallons {approx. 64 -128 loads of wash}

what you'll need:
a large bucket that holds at least 3 gallons {to mix the ingredients in}
2 - gallon containers {to store the detergent in}
a grater
liquid measuring cup
something to mix it together with {I use my immersion blender to ensure it's mixed well - alternatively, you could use a spoon or whisk and shake the final product}
a large pot/stockpot
a funnel {if needed to pour liquid into the gallon containers}
1/2 c. borax
1/2 c. Washing {NOT baking} soda
1 bar of soap (3 ounces)

Add 4 cups water to the stockpot {tap water is fine}.  With a grater {or food processor}, grate the soap bar over the stockpot.  Turn the stockpot on medium heat and stirring, allow the soap bar to melt into the water.  *Large chunks will not melt so if a piece falls off while grating, try to chop it up smaller.* 

Being careful to not bring to a boil, continue stirring until all grated soap is melted {no chunks or small pieces}.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the borax and washing soda, stirring until thoroughly dissolved, about 4-6 minutes.

Put 1 gallon and 8 cups of hot water into the large bucket.  Carefully pour in the soap mixture.  With an immersion blender, blend until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. 

Allow to cool to room temperature.  Stir again, either with a large spoon or the immersion blender, and pour into the 2 - gallon containers, using a funnel if necessary.  This should leave enough room in the container to shake prior to each use.

Use 1/4 - 1/2c. per load of laundry.  {typically 1/2 c. with top load and 1/4 c. with front loading machines}

**The detergent may be watery, it depends on the water you use {hard or soft}.  Within the next 24 hours it will separate and part of it will begin to gel.  Shake each container well.  Give the container a quick shake prior to each use as it will separate again.**

Laundry Softener

The only laundry softener I've used for the last I don't know how many years is white vinegar.  1/4 cup of white vinegar per load of wash in the softener tray of your machine takes away any leftover laundry soap residue, any static cling, and makes your clothes soft.  It leaves absolutely no scent - I promise you will not smell like a salad.

Hanging Clothes To Dry

I love my clothesline as much as I love my homemade soap.  I hang our clothes out as often as possible - there's just nothing like the fresh air smell that lightly scents them.  

If hanging your clothes to dry for the first time, think about the clothespin marks prior to hanging.  For instance, if you're hanging shirts, you don't want to hang them neck-side up.  If you do, you will likely end up with puckers in the shoulder area of the shirts from the clothespins.  Instead, hang them upside down and you will have no marks at all.

Pants can either be hung right-side up or pant-leg up - depends on the thickness of the waist.

Happy wash day!!


  1. Awesome!
    Just one question....I don't have a softner holder for my machine. Would you just add it to the rinse water to dilute it a bit? Cathy

  2. There is nothing like the smell of laundry dried on a clothesline. I used my mother's clothesline to dry my bedspreads--heaven!

  3. I tried some homemade laundry detergent a while back and wasn't impressed, but I will have to give your recipes a go! I'd like to make my own rather than buying it if it works well. Sounds like these recipes are winners!

  4. I've been using detergent for the last couple years too. I think I ought to pool the money saved and buy myself something really fab with the savings. You too! :)

  5. I wash with cool/cold water, will the powder soap work well with cool/cold water?

    I hang out too, wonderful for bedding and whites!

    Jo in MN

  6. Cathy - great question. Yes, add it to the rinse water.

    Terri - I completely agree! :)

    Tammy - I hope you like it!

  7. I'm going to try the vinegar as fabric softener. What a great idea! I haven't used fabric softener in years and our clothes are always pretty crispy.

    I love the picture of your quilts hanging on the line. I line-dry my clothes too. They last so much longer if they don't have to go through the dryer.

  8. I have been using the powdered one for several months and love it. I do dissolve in warm water if I am using cold water. Vinegar in the rinse! I don't know why I am not doing that; I added that do diaper loads years ago and it worked great. I do have a little foil ball that hops around in the dryer to eliminate static cling. Use that little guy over and over! Thanks for sharing on Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

  9. I will have to give the liquid a try!
    Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre hop!

  10. Do you know how this works for High Efficiency (HE) washsers?

    Also, I've seen some other recipes where they will add a drop or two of scented oil to the recipe; have you tried that?

  11. Thanks all! Yes, vinegar in the rinse works really well - I hope those of you not currently using it give it a try. :)

    Just the right size - I have an HE washing machine and have been using my homemade detergent for about 2 years now. I've had no problems. And yes, from time-to-time I add a drop or two of essential oils to the mix. The smell doesn't stay on the clothes once washed though.

  12. Just finished making my first batch of the liquid version today and I have to say, I am totally converted! You cannot beat the price and I like knowing exactly what is going in to my wash. Thank you Staci! I always find the best stuff on your blog!

  13. Christine - I'm so happy to hear you like it!! :) Thank you so much for the kind words.

  14. I add downy unstoppables to mine! I love it!

  15. I add downy u nstoppables to mine! I love it!

  16. I tried making liquid detergent about 6 months ago and it hardened up within a day and all the shaking in the world did not break it back up. So I have to dissolve it in hot water before adding it to my washing machine (I wash with cold). How do you keep it from gelling back up? Is it possible? lol! I've used white vinegar for years as softener and love it!

  17. Nicole - I've never had it gel up like that. Mine usually separates - watery separated from gel, and when I shake it the whole thing blends well. Can I ask - did you try this recipe or did your recipe vary a bit from this one? I'm wondering if not enough water was called for??

  18. I made this powdered soap and have used it religiously for 3 months. My washer is being repaired because the soap clogged the inlet port. It turns out on the Samsung HE washers, the inlet port into the tub is MUCH smaller that the other port and my water is too cold to dissolve it. So I will have to dissolve it before each use. But my laundry is very clean! Just a heads up for anyone with a Samsung (per the repairman). I may have to dissolve all of the powder I made into liquid.

  19. Thank you Brenda! I'll share your comment on Facebook as well so others are aware.

  20. Staci,
    I made the liquid laundry soap years ago, using your exact recipe. Loved it - works great. When we went to sell our home, we decided to have the septic tank emptied as an added selling feature. Oh My Goodness....There was a HUGE crust build-up that was extremely thick. The professional septic company was shocked at what he found. His first question: Does your wife make her own laundry detergent. It seems when the soap is rinsed into the septic, it hardens and causes a thick crust.
    Just thought I'd mention this to alert anyone with a septic tank. I LOVED my homemade soap, still miss it to this day, but will not use these ingredients again. The cost is too high in the long run if it causes septic tank problems.
    Note: To stir your soap, my husband used his hand drill with the paint wand (mixes paint). It worked like a charm and did an excellent job mixing. Still had some separation in the bottle, but it was easy-peasy to shake it up.

  21. Bobbie - thank you for the information. I guess it depends on who you talk to regarding the effect/no effect on the septic. We had our septic pumped last year and there was a huge crust built up that was thick on ours too. I immediately assumed it was either the homemade laundry detergent or the fact that we are making so many bath and body products at our home. The owner of the company assured us that he sees this quite frequently and there seems to be no correlation between homemade laundry detergent and the build up. Who knows. lol

  22. Where do you get your bottles that holds the detergent?

    1. My husband likes the bottled Arizona Iced Tea so those are re-purposed tea bottles. 😊


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