Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homemade laundry detergent

Does the title of this post make you think I'm crazy? That's ok, I probably am!

A couple months ago, I read about how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own laundry detergent. The idea was very appealing to me. After doing quite a bit of research on different ways to make it and how safe and effective it was, I decided to give it a try.

I went with a powder detergent instead of liquid, because to me, it's much less messy and so much easier to store. I read many, many recipes and this is the version I came up with:

  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups washing soda
  • 2 bars Ivory soap, grated (you can use other bar soaps - more on that below)

After you grate your soap (I just use a cheese grater), mix everything well in a large bowl, then put it in an airtight container. The whole process only takes about 5 minutes.

You only need one tablespoon per load of wash! I sometimes add an extra half tablespoon if I have an extra large load. You can make as much or as little of this detergent at a time as you'd like, just keep the ratios the same.

You should be able to find all of these ingredients at your local grocery store, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. They're also available online, but I highly recommend buying them locally to get the best price. The washing soda and Borax are only about $4/box, and I got 10 bars of Ivory soap also for $4. The cost breakdown per load of wash is less than three cents!

2 cups Borax = $0.84 (9.5 cups/box @ $4.00/box)
2 cups washing soda = $1.17 (6.8 cups/box @ $4.00/box)
2 bars Ivory soap = $0.80 (10 bars @ $4.00)

Total cost per batch = $2.81

(about 100 loads total based on 1 tablespoon per load)

Total cost per load = $0.028

You can't beat that!

I was paying about $0.25 a load with my previous detergent (All Free and Clear pacs), and I felt like I was buying new packages constantly! If I keep making my own detergent, I will save well over $100 a year.

I have found that our clothes are just as clean as they were when we used store-bought detergent, and none of us have had any sensitivity to this detergent at all. Although the Ivory soap has a very "soapy" smell, our clothes come out completely odorless and just smelling fresh and clean.

As I mentioned above, you can use almost any bar soap that you like (or soap flakes), including laundry soaps like Fels-Naptha or Zote, but I personally felt that Ivory was a more natural choice. I've read about allergy concerns with Fels-Naptha, and I could only find Zote soap that was dyed pink, which I didn't like, since I was trying to make this as natural as possible.

A few more notes about this detergent:

  • It is said to work in all types of washers, including high efficiency machines (I just have a regular top-loader).
  • It works in cold water (I use cold water for almost everything).
  • I don't use it for Audrey's cloth diapers, because it is not specifically approved by the manufacturer, but I have read that some other people have used it without a problem. 
  • It will not make suds, so don't be alarmed...just know that it's still doing it's job without them!
  • While doing my research, I found some controversy on using Borax in laundry detergent (as well as some other household cleaners). It is my personal conclusion that it is perfectly safe to use in my laundry detergent...but of course you can do your own research to make sure it's right for you and your family. 
  • There are many variations of this recipe online if you're interested...some have fabric softeners in them, and you can also make a liquid version. Some may work better than others for you, especially if you have hard water. 

Let me know if you're currently making your own detergent and what your recipe is! If not, will you be trying this one? I already have my mom hooked on it!

I'm linking up to Sew Many Ways, Sew Darn Crafty Linky Party!


  1. I've seen these recipes on Pinterest a lot and I want to try it myself. Pinning yours now! ;-)

  2. I have been making mu own laundry detergent for some time now. I use a liquid version & I personally love it. I use Borax, Washing Soda & Dawn dish detergent. My husband does not like that it is unscented so I added a scent booster. He is not happy with the detergent but I like it both ways.


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