I’ve seen lots of recipes for homemade laundry detergent, especially on Pinterest. And then a friend of mine told me she had made some herself and really liked it. Making your own is supposed to be much cheaper than buying it, and I’m always looking for ways to save money…so I told myself that as soon as I used up the laundry detergent I had on hand, I would try making my own. I decided I would do powdered detergent because it seemed a little easier and less messy to make. I looked at quite a few “recipes” and many were very similar. Most of them had these ingredients–Borax, Super Washing Soda, and Fels-Naptha. I decided to add some baking soda to mine because that’s such a good cleaner. I also decided to use a bar of Ivory Soap along with the Fels-Naptha–I’ve read that you could use either, so I thought I’d try one bar of each (I forgot to add the Ivory soap to the photo below!).
You start out by grating the soap bars, which you can either do by hand or in your food processor. I grated mine by hand–I bought a separate grater just to use for soap, and the Ivory soap grated easily…the Fels-Naptha takes a little longer if you’re grating it by hand. One of my readers, Barbara, mentioned in a comment that she found it much easier to use her long Microplane grater that she normally uses for Parmesan cheese–so that’s another option, too. Here’s what the soaps look like when they’re grated–I used the smaller grating side of my hand grater:
Then you just mix the grated soap with the other powdered ingredients, and you have your very own homemade laundry detergent! You don’t even need to scent this with anything because it has such a wonderful fresh-smelling scent of its’ own! This is a low-sudsing detergent, so don’t expect a lot of suds! But I thought it did a good job of cleaning.
You can store your detergent in a container with a tight-fitting lid–I used this glass jar I bought at Wal-Mart and made a tag for it, which I attached with a ribbon at the neck of the jar. You can also use a plastic container, which may be a safer option.
Here’s the “recipe” for my homemade detergent…
HOMEMADE POWDERED LAUNDRY DETERGENT by NancyC
- 1 (5.5-oz.) Fels-Naptha soap bar (or you can substitute similar sizes of Kirk’s Hardwater Castile or Zote bars*)
- 1 (4.5-oz.) Ivory soap bar
- 2 cups Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
- 1 1/4 cups Borax
- 1/4 cup Baking Soda
Grate soap with a hand-held grater or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered (if you grate by hand, your soap will be coarser, but that’s okay–the soap can be either finely or coarsely grated; I grated mine by hand using the smaller grating side).
Put grated soap in a large bowl or small bucket (you can line the bucket with a plastic bag if you like) and add the washing soda, borax, and baking soda, mixing everything together well. Store in an airtight container.
This makes about 6 1/2 cups of powdered detergent (this detergent is low-sudsing, but it still works great). For a light load, use 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons of detergent; for a heavy load or heavily soiled load, use 2 to 2 1/2 Tablespoons of detergent. Depending on what size loads you have, this makes enough for about 60-80 loads. I’m estimating that the cost for making this comes to about $4.20 per batch, which is pretty good for that many loads!
Some of you have asked if this detergent can be used with HE washers, and I don’t know the answer to that–it’s best if you check directly with the manufacturer of your washer.
*Note on soap bars: It’s best to stick with the brands listed; do not use heavily perfumed or moisturizing soaps–the oils in these kinds of soaps can create spots on your clothes.
For a lemon scent to your laundry, add 1/2 to 1 cup of lemon juice to each load. The lemon juice will not only give your laundry a light lemony scent, it also adds extra whitening power!
Have you tried making homemade laundry detergent yet? What did you think of it?