Do it yourself – Laundry Detergent

I have tried a couple of “detergents” for laundry and I have to say I’m pretty impressed by the results. I have pulled myself away from the Gain and into another DIY homemade product that will forever be a staple in my house!

There are a ton of different yet similar recipes out there. What I have learned about this is the recipes effectiveness can rely on several different factors. For example;

  • Do you have city/town water or well water?
  • How HARD or SOFT your water is.
  • How much chlorine content is in your water.
  • Whether or not you have a top loader washing machine or front loader.
  • Whether your washing machine is a high efficient (newer models are) or something a little more old school.
  • It also depends on what items you are washing.

I recommend doing a few testers before sticking to a recipe for laundry soap that works the best for you. Listed below are a few blogs with recipes that I have tried.

Cherished Bliss

One Good Thing By Jillee

Frugally Sustainable

Crunchy Betty

One Good Thing By Jillee (revisited laundry soap)


ANDREA with Frugally Sustainable! This is her second win for me. I love it for its versatility too!

-1 bar grated castile soap (vegetable fat based soap)
-1 1/2 cup baking soda
-1 cup super washing soda
-1 cup borax
-Optional: your favorite good smelly scent. I went with Lemon Essential Oil (20 drops)

– 2 Gallons of distilled water

Directions: To the stove!! Use a large pot and pour about one quart of your distilled water and begin heating it up on about medium heat. Once the water is heated but not boiling; add your grated soap slowly stirring as it melts. After all the grated soap is added and mostly melted you can begin to add the other ingredients (minus the scented oils or essential oil). Keep stirring to help everything process and dissolve.  Once it has dissolved all the way pour the your concoction into a bucket (I used a kitty litter bucket) and add the rest of your distilled water. At this point you should add your preferred oils and scents then stir everything again. Now put it away for 24 hours and let it all gel together.

I use about 1/2 cup per load. I add white VINEGAR to my white loads in the softener compartment to act as a whitening agent instead of bleach.

That is it! It’s SOOOO simple and it doesn’t cost a fortune. You’re also left with more product to make more. This batch has lasted me for MONTHS so far. It works great imo.

NOW to the FAQs! Let’s clear up some questions you might all have.

Q: Can I use liquid castile soap instead of grating a bar? A: Absolutely, the recipe would need to be adjusted to fit. Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap is VERY popular to use in general. Here is the change-up. 

You Need:

ONE cup of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap.

1/2 cup of baking soda

1/2 cup washing soda

1/4 cup of coarse salt (IE: Sea Salt)

TWO cups of warm distilled water.

OPTIONAL: Scented or Essential Oil (10 drops)

Direction: This makes for a gallon so grab a sturdy jug and pour/funnel the mixed ingredients then add more distilled water to fill up the jug. Shake it up and let it sit. Use about 1/4 cup for a full load.

Q: Why don’t you use the above recipe instead it seems easier? A: I feel like the bar soap versions work better.

Q: Instead of doing gel/liquid detergent can I do powdered  A: Yes you can. I like the liquid because you can run it in cold water w/o dissolving issues. The powdered version you always need to use warm/hot water to make sure it dissolves correctly. It’s merely preference.

Q: I tried the recipe(s) and they didn’t gel, it’s just runny liquid. A: As with the dish soap sometimes you do get batches that just do not seem to congeal correctly. No Harm; it still works just as well. I have had this happen and I just stirred my liquid up and used it all the same. It works just as well.

Q: This detergent has zero suds, what is wrong with it? A: This is a low-suds recipe and works for high-inefficiency washers. Suds is merely a side effect of sulfates it does not mean it is cleaning.

Q: Why doesn’t my laundry smell as it would with store-bought detergents. A: There are a lot of extra chemicals companies put in their stuff to keep that “fresh” clean scent in the laundry. You could add the softener scented crystals that have come out, but again you could save your money and try this Jillee’s version of making your own fabric softener and good smelling stuff it’s genius!

Q: What are these “Ingredients”? What do they do? How do they work? And where can I find them? A: I personally has NO idea was Borax was until I started doing this stuff so investigated and now I’m sharing my results with you all. 

20 Mule Team BORAX: What is it? It’s a water softener. It helps break down hard water. It is often labeled as a laundry booster. It is also a naturally occurring product. It’s technical name is  sodium tetraborate. It’s a mineral and salt based powder.  Is it Toxic? Not Really BUT it can irritate the skin and not to be ingested just like baking soda. If you’d like to know more. Crunchy Betty did a lovely write-up about the Borax.

Super Washing Soda: Not to be confused with Baking Soda. Arm and Hammer makes it. It’s Sodium Carbonate (baking soda’s big brother) and it is also considered another detergent booster and helps break down hard water. 

Baking Soda: Is Sodium bicarbonate and has been a useful cleaning and cooking agent for years.

Fels Napatha:  Although I do not mention this in my recipe it deserves an honorable mention because a lot of people use this as their “castile bar soap”. I also see Kirk’s castile soap running around too.

Where can I find this stuff? I found all of the above items at Wal-Mart put together on one shelf. Including an extra-large box of Baking Soda; it all cost me about $10 and have several uses. Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap I find at Target along with Kirk’s soap. I find that Target has a larger collection of natural items including castile bars of soap. 

Easy Peasy! Please list anymore questions you may have and I will get add them to my FAQ section. Happy Experimenting!


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